The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 06-19

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Cecil Clarke

Published by Order of the Legislature by Hansard Reporting Services and printed by the Queen's Printer.

Available on INTERNET at http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2006

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 685, Military Appreciation Rally (11/08/06): MLAs -
Participate, The Premier 1202
Vote - Affirmative 1202
Res. 686, Brewer, Ms. Allison - N.B.: Serv. - Congrats.,
The Premier, 1202
Vote - Affirmative 1203
Res. 687, Vingoe, Mary: Arts/Culture - Dedication/Contribution,
Hon. L. Goucher 1203
Vote - Affirmative 1204
Res. 688, War Brides - Can./Home Countries: Contributions -
Commend, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1204
Vote - Affirmative 1205
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 86, Motor Vehicle Act, Mr. K. Colwell 1205
No. 87, Consumer Protection Act, Hon. J. Muir 1205
No. 88, Richmond Stora Enso Taxation Act, Mr. M. Samson 1205
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 689, Crooks, Damon: Death of - Tribute, Mr. D. Dexter 1205
Vote - Affirmative 1206
Res. 690, McLellan, George - Hfx. Chamber of Comm. Person of
Yr., Mr. M. Samson 1206
Vote - Affirmative 1207
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 691, Graham, Glenn: Book Release - Congrats., The Premier 1207
Vote - Affirmative 1208
Res. 692, Breton Educ. Ctr. - Girls Soccer Championship,
Mr. F. Corbett 1208
Vote - Affirmative 1208
Res. 693, MacKinnon, Brett - C.B. Jr. Golfer of Yr.,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1209
Vote - Affirmative 1210
Res. 694, Galbraith, Liz - Windsor Town Council: Election -
Congrats, Mr. C. Porter 1210
Vote - Affirmative 1210
Res. 695, 14 Wing Women's Slo-Pitch Team: Tournament
Success, Mr. L. Glavine 1210
Vote - Affirmative 1211
Res. 696, North Nova Educ. Ctr. - NSSAF Running Championship:
Coaches/Team - Congrats., Mr. P. Dunn 1211
Vote - Affirmative 1212
Res. 697, Smith, Chris: Jamieson's Irish - House Grill - Outreach
Christmas Dinner, Mr. D. Dexter 1212
Vote - Affirmative 1213
Res. 698, Seniors: Funeral Taxation - Investigate, Mr. H. Theriault 1213
Res. 699, Lynds, Ursula - Truro Daily News/Shoreline Journal:
Serv. - Congrats., Hon. K. Casey 1214
Vote - Affirmative 1214
Res. 700, Brookhouse Elem. Sch. Fundraiser: Participants -
Congrats., Ms. J. Massey 1214
Vote - Affirmative 1215
Res. 701, Bridgeport Stingers: Glace Bay Girls Elem. Sch. Basketball
Tournament - Congrats., Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1215
Vote - Affirmative 1216
Res. 702, Bell, Kaitlyn - New Ross Cons. Sch.: Student Coun. Pres. -
Election, Hon. J. Streatch 1216
Vote - Affirmative 1217
Res. 703, Finch, Dani - Hoops for Heart Youth Leadership Award,
Mr. C. Parker 1217
Vote - Affirmative 1217
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 704, Gov't. (N.S.): Rural Dev. Plans - Debate,
Mr. H. Theriault 1218
Res. 705, Brymer, Blair: Christmas Tree Comp. (East. N.S. Ex.) -
Congrats., Hon. R. Chisholm 1218
Vote - Affirmative 1219
Res. 706, MacDonald, Lloyd: C.B. Hall of Fame - Induction,
Mr. G. Gosse 1219
Vote - Affirmative 1220
Res. 707, Snyder, Calvin - S. Shore Ex.: Vol. Serv. - Recognize,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1220
Vote - Affirmative 1221
Res. 708, Gay, Lesbian, BiSexual, Transgender and Intersex (GLBTI)
Commun.: Health Care Needs - Recognize/Serve, Mr. L. Preyra 1221
Vote - Affirmative 1221
Res. 709, Amherst Head: Commun./Church Spirit - Congrats.,
Hon. E. Fage 1222
Vote - Affirmative 1222
Res. 710, Saulnier, Peter: South Centre Mall Christmas Display -
Visit, Ms. M. Raymond 1222
Vote - Affirmative 1223
Res. 711, Ada Mingo Writing Award - Col.-E. Hants Pub.
Library Bd.: Establishment - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 1223
Vote - Affirmative 1224
Res. 712, Tutty, Lauren - Hank Snow Ctr. Focus: N.S. Music Fest. -
Congrats., Ms. V. Conrad 1224
Vote - Affirmative 1225
Res. 713, Payzant, Joan - Joseph Howe Fellowship Award,
Ms. M. More 1225
Vote - Affirmative 1225
Res. 714, Corbin, Anthony - N.S. Phys. Ed. Teacher of Yr.,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 1226
Vote - Affirmative 1226
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
EI: Southwestern Shore - Rezone, Mr. S. Belliveau 1227
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 152, Premier - HRM: Law Enforcement Resources -
Timelines, Mr. D. Dexter 1227
Timelines, Mr. D. Dexter
No. 153, Justice - PPS: Violent Crimes - Sentencing,
Mr. M. Samson 1228
No. 154, Health - VG Transitional Care Unit: Disrepair - Explain,
Mr. D. Dexter 1230
No. 155, Health - Nursing Homes: Secure Units - Shortage
Address, Mr. D. Dexter 1231
No. 156, Women, Status of: Domestic Violence - Address,
Ms. D. Whalen 1233
No. 157, Justice: Community Prosecutors - Appoint,
Mr. K. Deveaux 1234
No. 158, Econ. Dev.: Geomatics Industry - Competition,
Ms. J. Massey 1235
No. 159, Gov. (N.S.): Atl. Gateway Strategy - Funding,
Mr. M. Samson 1236
No. 160, Econ. Dev.: U.S. Markets - Dependence, Mr. H. Epstein 1239
No. 161, Com. Serv.: Surplus - Explain, Mr. S. McNeil 1240
No. 162, Environ. & Lbr.: Wilderness Protection Act - Change,
Ms. M. Raymond 1241
No. 163, Fish. & Aquaculture - EI: Southwest Nova - Eligibility,
Mr. S. Belliveau 1242
No. 164, Nat. Res.: Chignecto Game Sanctuary - Tree Harvesting,
Mr. L. Glavine 1243
No. 165, Com. Serv.: Pub. Housing (Whitney Pier) - Asbestos,
Mr. G. Gosse 1245
No. 166, Nat. Res.: Strategy - Pub. Consultation, Mr. C. MacKinnon 1246
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 20, Public Utilities Act 1247
Mr. L. Glavine 1247
Ms. V. Conrad 1250
Ms. J. Massey 1256
Mr. C. MacKinnon 1262
Mr. F. Corbett 1266
Ms. D. Whalen 1274
Mr. J. MacDonell 1280
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1286
Hon. M. Parent 1291
Vote - Affirmative 1291
Vote - Affirmative
No. 9, Municipal Government Act 1291
Hon. J. Muir 1291
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1292
Mr. M. Samson 1295
Mr. P. Paris 1297
Hon. K. Casey 1298
Mr. L. Glavine 1298
Ms. M. More 1300
Ms. J. Massey 1302
Ms. M. Raymond 1303
Mr. H. Epstein 1305
Hon. J. Muir 1309
Vote - Affirmative 1309
No. 15, Municipal Government Act, 1309
Hon. J. Muir 1310
Mr. P. Paris 1310
Adjourned debate 1311
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Nov. 8th at 11:00 a.m. 1311
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
TPW: Bridge Infrastructure - Review,
Mr. H. Theriault 1312
Mr. C. Parker 1313
Hon. A. MacIsaac 1316
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 715, Pioneer Cemetery - Heritage Designation, Mr. P. Dunn 1319
Res. 716, Choquette, Capt. (Chucky): Duathlon Accomplishments -
Congrats., Mr. L. Glavine 1319
Res. 717, Dykeland Chime Choir: Accomplishments - Applaud,
Mr. C. Porter 1320
Res. 718, Windsor - Hospitality: Mayor/Merchants/Vols. - Thank,
Mr. C. Porter 1320
Res. 719, Harnish, Rhys: Ceilidh on the Cove - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 1321
Res. 720, Heisler, Elizabeth/Zinck, Lisa: Lifesaving Actions -
Recognize, Hon. J. Streatch 1321
Res. 721, Sir John A. Macdonald HS - New Facility: Best Wishes -
Extend, Hon. J. Streatch 1322
Res. 722, New Ross Credit Union - Anniv. (50th), Hon. J. Streatch 1322
Res. 722, New Ross Credit Union - Anniv. (50th), Hon. J. Streatch
Res. 723, Chaplin-Saunders, Christie - Artifacts in Clay: Success -
Wish, Hon. J. Streatch 1323
Res. 724, Creighton, Wilfrid: Success - Wish, Hon. J. Streatch 1323
Res. 725, Tancook Island - Residents: Whale Rescue - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 1324
Res. 726, Tancook Island First Responders - Fundraiser: Organizers -
Thank, Hon. J. Streatch 1324
Res. 727, Relay for Life (S. Shore): Vols - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 1324
Res. 728, Tri-County Rangers: Baseball Efforts - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 1325
Res. 729, Bay Mariners: Baseball Championship - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 1325
Res. 730, Chester-St. Margaret's - Trash Pickup: Youth Vols. - Thank,
Hon. J. Streatch 1326
Res. 731, Chester Dist. Soccer Assoc.: Players/Coaches - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 1326
Res. 732, Hawboldt Industries - Anniv. (100th), Hon. J. Streatch 1327

[Page 1201]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2006

Sixtieth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Cecil Clarke

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we start the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate is:

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government immediately implement a review of the current state of the bridge infrastructure within Nova Scotia with the goal of implementing a program to help address safety risks.

That was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton South. That will commence after the conclusion of regular business today.

We shall now commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

1201

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

[Page 1202]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 685

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas tomorrow, we will be holding a Military Appreciation Rally in support of our Forces personnel and their families; and

Whereas the event will be held on Granville Street, directly behind Province House, between 3:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.; and

Whereas this gathering offers members and all Nova Scotians a chance to show our military personnel how thankful we are for their selfless efforts here and abroad to preserve democracy and maintain order;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House participate in tomorrow's rally, and encourage others to attend to show our overwhelming support for the men and women of our Forces.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 686

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas New Brunswick New Democrat Leader Allison Brewer is closing one chapter of her life and moving on to new challenges; and

[Page 1203]

Whereas public service is not an easy path to choose, and Ms. Brewer should be congratulated for stepping forward and not only putting her name on the ballot but also for running and serving as Leader of her Party; and

Whereas Party President Pat Hanratty will serve as interim Leader until a successor is chosen;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ms. Brewer for her service to the people of New Brunswick, and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 687

HON. LEONARD GOUCHER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Magnetic North Theater Festival is one of Canada's premier artistic festivals, travelling every second year to a different region, highlighting the country's best and brightest actors, designers, playwrights, directors and theater students; and

Whereas the development of a project of this magnitude would require tireless effort and dedication. Mary Vingoe over the last five years has faced this challenge with enthusiasm, skill and professionalism as the theater festival's artistic director; and

Whereas Mary, a Dartmouth resident, prior to working with Magnetic North Theater Festival, also serves as Artistic Director of Eastern Front Theater in Dartmouth and Co-founder of the Ship's Company Theater in Parrsboro, has decided to take some much-deserved time for herself to enjoy retirement;

[Page 1204]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and thank Mary Vingoe for her dedication and contribution to arts and culture here in Nova Scotia and across this country.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

RESOLUTION NO. 688

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas after 1939, 48,000 women from Great Britain and Europe married Canadian servicemen and traded all that was familiar for a dream; and

Whereas women's roles during wartime long went unnoticed, although they kept families, communities and countries running when men went to war; and

Whereas the war brides have helped make Canada a better place to live by undertaking a labour of love that sometimes brought fear, hard times and sacrifice;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature join me in commending the war brides for their contributions to their countries and to Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1205]

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 86 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Mr. Keith Colwell)

Bill No. 87 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 92 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Consumer Protection Act. (Hon. James Muir)

Bill No. 88 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Taxation of Stora Enso Port Hawkesbury Limited by the Municipality of the County of Richmond. (Mr. Michel Samson)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes on an introduction.

MR. KEITH BAIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the gallery today we have Todd Marsman, who is here from Cape Breton. Todd is a member of the Cape Breton Black Employment Resource Centre in Whitney Pier and a member of the Cape Breton SPCA. Mr. Marsman is here for few days in the city and is here to look at the proceedings of the House. I'll ask him to please rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, welcome to our guests and all guests in the gallery here today.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 689

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Hull Technician 1st Class Damon Crooks, a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, who served on the USS Doyle, was killed in Halifax on the past weekend; and

Whereas Damon Crooks of West Palm Beach, Florida, is survived by his fiancée, the mother of his child, by his own mother and a loving family; and

[Page 1206]

Whereas Nova Scotians believe our province and its port should be a safe harbour for all friends and allies who visit, most particularly those whose duties bring them to Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly express its deepest condolences to the family and friends and shipmates of Damon Crooks upon his death, and urge that every step be taken to ensure the safe enjoyment of Nova Scotia port cities by the visitors that we welcome to our shores.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 690

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Mr. George McLellan held the position of Chief Administrative Officer for the Halifax Regional Municipality from 2002 to September 2005; and

Whereas Mr. George McLellan was appointed President and CEO of Emergency Medical Care Inc. in October 2005; and

Whereas Mr. McLellan was honoured with receipt of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year Award at a dinner event at the World Trade and Convention Centre, held last Wednesday evening;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize the accomplishments and achievements of Mr. George McLellan, Halifax Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1207]

[12:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 691

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Cape Breton fiddler Glenn Graham has released a book entitled The Cape Breton Fiddle: Making and Maintaining Tradition; and

Whereas the book delves into the rich history of the Cape Breton fiddle, and also discusses the influence of the Gaelic language and Cape Breton fiddling; and

Whereas the book, published by the Cape Breton University Press, includes a CD featuring kitchen recordings that demonstrate aspects of Cape Breton fiddling - featuring clips from Buddy MacMaster, Angus Chisholm, Winston "Scotty" Fitzgerald, Little Mary MacDonald, and Donald Angus Beaton;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Glenn Graham for bringing this important account forward of a subject near and dear to the hearts of those who play or who simply enjoy the music of the Cape Breton fiddle and who want to understand just why this music is so unique.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 1208]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 692

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on Saturday, November 4, 2006, the Breton Education Centre Bears girls soccer team won the 2006 Division 1 School Athletic Federation Championship; and

Whereas Breton Education Centre Bears girls soccer team won the championship game 3-0, led by a two-goal performance by Samantha McKinnon and a single by Chelsa MacKay, backed by a superb performance by keeper Kirstie Horwath; and

Whereas this team's success has been a tribute to their fitness level and their chemistry, which was a major key to their championship;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Breton Education Centre students, players, coaches, and all involved for a job well done in winning the 2006 Division 1 Girls Federation Soccer Championship.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston on an introduction.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery, we have Lynne Fenerty, RN, Research Nurse in Brain Surgery with the Division of the Neurosurgery Unit and HSAC co-chair, and Lorraine Cardiff-MacDougall, Communications, IWK Child Safety Link, HSAC Communications, and they're here today in support of the bill that was introduced on helmets. I'd like them to rise and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause) Thank you for coming.

[Page 1209]

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to our guests.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 693

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Brett MacKinnon, 13-year-old son of Ian and Wendy MacKinnon of Glace Bay, was named the Cape Breton Zone Junior Golfer of the Year by the Nova Scotia Golf Association; and

Whereas Brett, a member of the Lingan Golf and Country Club, had a strong season, also including a second place finish at the rain-shortened NSGA Junior Championship; and

Whereas Brett will be part of the Junior Match-Play Team representing Nova Scotia in the 10th Anniversary Bell Bay Golf Tournament scheduled for May 2007, in Baddeck;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Brett MacKinnon on his award for the 2006 season and wish him well in his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 694

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 1210]

Whereas in an exceptionally close and competitive race, Liz Galbraith of Windsor won a council seat in a September 10th by-election in the Town of Windsor; and

Whereas Liz is a vibrant spirit and committed to serving the Town of Windsor and its people, having already served on the Town's Police Advisory Board and the Windsor Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary; and

Whereas Liz is a strong believer and remains committed to creating a zero tolerance level for crime within the Town of Windsor;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature today commend Liz Galbraith on her hard-earned by-election win in September and wish her continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 695

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas in their rookie year, the 14 Wing Women's Slo-Pitch team has worked hard, and trained to be the best; and

Whereas the hard work and dedication has paid off as they won the right to represent Atlantic Canada at the 2006 Canadian Forces Women's Slo-Pitch Tournament held at CFB Borden; and

Whereas on September 26, 2006, they ended their rookie season with a first place finish at the national championships;

[Page 1211]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate 14 Wing Women's Slo-Pitch team on their success at the 2006 Canadian Forces Women's Slo-Pitch Tournament and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 696

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the North Nova Education Centre intermediate boys' cross-country team captured the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Provincial Team Championship at the provincials held recently in Bridgewater; and

Whereas the boys' team is made up of Thomas Gourd, Zack MacDonald, Calen Kinney and Aaron Walsh, all Grade 10 students at the school; and

Whereas in senior boys' action, Ivan Lewis ran an amazing race, capturing the silver medal;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate co-coaches Fred MacKenzie, Trevor MacKay and all members of their team for capturing the first provincial running banner in the history of North Nova Education Centre.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1212]

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 697

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Jamieson's Irish-House & Grill is a locally owned, unique restaurant celebrating its 8th year of operation in the Colby Village-Cole Harbour area; and

Whereas the owner, Chris Smith, has established an annual tradition at his comfortable, Irish-style pub/restaurant where he opens his doors on Christmas Day to give back to the community; and

Whereas Chris Smith, with the help of staff, suppliers and many loyal customers, prepare and serve a full-course Christmas Day dinner to people from the area who, for various reasons, may not have the opportunity to share and enjoy a meal on the most special day of the year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize and commend Chris Smith of Jamieson's Irish-House & Grill, his devoted staff, local suppliers and customers for their efforts to give back to fellow community members near and afar, by undertaking his most generous gesture of community outreach by serving Christmas Day dinner.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 698

[Page 1213]

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas senior citizens are an important part of Nova Scotia, maintaining healthy lifestyles and providing many of us with much-needed wisdom; and

Whereas funerals are a part of life and a time to pay respect to those who have passed on; and

Whereas many seniors live on a fixed income and when a spouse or family member dies, they are taxed on top of their funeral costs, causing havoc for many households;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly immediately investigate the matter of taxation of funerals for low-income seniors.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honorable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 699

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Ursula Lynds had been actively involved in her community and North Colchester as a long-time correspondent for the Truro Daily News and The Shoreline Journal; and

Whereas she retired in 2006 at the age of 91; and

Whereas her career exemplifies both a love for her craft and her community;

[Page 1214]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ursula Lynds for her many years of dedicated service and her admirable work ethic.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 700

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on June 24, 2006, I had the pleasure to attend and serve hotdogs at the Brookhouse Elementary School fundraiser; and

Whereas although it was a rainy day, no one's spirits were at all dampened; and

Whereas, as the old saying goes, "Many hands make light work", credit goes to all those who made the event a great success;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank the families, staff, students and everyone else who helped to make the June 2006 fundraiser at Brookhouse Elementary School a happy success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 1215]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 701

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Girls Elementary Basketball Tournament was hosted by the Bridgeport Glace Bay Elementary School; and

Whereas the Bridgeport Stingers won first place in the "B" Division, defeating John Bernard Croak in the finals; and

Whereas coaches Krista McKinnon and Tamalah Ettinger, and the entire team, shared this victory;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate the coaches and members of the Bridgeport Stingers for winning first place in the Glace Bay Girls Elementary School Basketball Tournament.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture on an introduction.

HON. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw your attention and the attention of all members of the House to the west gallery, His Worship, the Mayor of the Town of Canso, Ray White, certainly no stranger to this place. He spent a few years doing some good work in this House. I would like the members to give him a real warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, welcome to a former member of this Assembly.

[Page 1216]

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 702

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas each year as the students return to school, they are faced with a major democratic decision of electing the president, executive and class representatives of their student council; and

Whereas school politics is no exception to the rule in New Ross and is always taken very seriously; and

Whereas after a lot of hard work and dedicated campaigning, my daughter, Kaitlyn, was elected the president of the New Ross Consolidated School Student Council;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Kaitlyn on her recent success at the polls as she begins her political career.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 703

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Dani Finch of Alma, Pictou County, has won the Heart and Stroke Foundation's National 2005-06 Hoops for Heart Youth Leadership Award; and

[Page 1217]

Whereas the 14-year-old, Grade 9 student at Northumberland Regional High School is the only recipient in Canada this year, and was nominated by her former physical education teacher, Terry Hilchey, at West Pictou Consolidated School; and

Whereas Dani Finch is motivated and involved in her high school by participating in the student council, the junior varsity soccer team, basketball, and displays strong leadership skills;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Dani Finch for winning the Heart and Stroke Foundation's National Hoops for Heart Youth Leadership Award, and wish her continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 704

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the out-migration of our people from Nova Scotia is going to create great economic hardships for this province with the population in steady decline; and

Whereas our rural areas are seeing large numbers of youth leaving the province as never seen before because of a lack of sustainable employment; and

Whereas this province could become bankrupt of employable youth if the rural areas stay in decline because of a lack of these taxpayers;

[Page 1218]

Therefore be it resolved that if this government has no sustainable economic plans for its rural areas for this province's survival, that this then be debated in these Chambers immediately before this province does come to the point of the true have-not provinces of this country.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 705

HON. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Christmas tree industry is a significant source of employment and income in Guysborough County; and

Whereas Blair Brymer is a grower in the Christmas tree industry in Guysborough; and

Whereas Blair Brymer was named Reserve Champion of the 2006 Christmas Tree Competitions at the Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition in Antigonish;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Blair Brymer of Manchester, Guysborough County, for his accomplishment at the 2006 Christmas Tree Competition at the Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition.

[12:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1219]

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 706

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on Thursday, September 21, 2006, the newest inductees into the Cape Breton Business Hall of Fame were held; and

Whereas Lloyd MacDonald started his career with one car dealership, then expanded his undertaking to five car lots, including Kia, Toyota and Nissan dealerships; and

Whereas Mr. MacDonald's dealerships now employ more than 100 personnel, which is a testament to his hard work and perseverance;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Lloyd MacDonald on being inducted into the Cape Breton Business Hall of Fame, and for his dedication and commitment to the community of Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce, in the west gallery, Advocates for the Care of the Elderly: Gary Macleod, Nancy Ardenne, Tom Scanlon and Susan Bent. They are here today to observe the House, Question Period and associated debates. So I would ask the members of the House to welcome them here this afternoon. (Applause)

[Page 1220]

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, welcome to all our guests in the gallery today.

The honourable Minister of Immigration.

RESOLUTION NO. 707

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas volunteers have a very positive impact on our communities; and

Whereas volunteers deserve recognition and acknowledgment of their efforts; and

Whereas Calvin Snyder of Bridgewater was recognized by the South Shore Exhibition for his 60 years as an exhibitor at the exhibition;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize community volunteer Mr. Calvin Snyder on his many years of volunteer service to the South Shore Exhibition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 708

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas 75 primary health care providers from metro Halifax recently gathered to discuss how to better address the health care needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex - or GLBTI - community; and

[Page 1221]

Whereas this workshop, organized by the GLBTI health initiative and co-sponsored by Capital Health and the IWK Health Centre, was the first of its kind for health care providers in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas although most health care needs of the GLBTI community are no different from those of anyone else's, some health care concerns, including concerns about discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender, are more prevalent within the GLBTI community than the general population;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend the GLBTI health initiative, Capital Health, and IWK Health Centre for taking important steps toward recognizing and better serving the health care needs of the GLBTI community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 709

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Sunrise-Trinity United Church, built in 1891, is the centre and heartbeat of the community of Amherst Head and surrounding areas; and

Whereas in 1990, the members added a basement complete with kitchen, meeting room and washroom facilities that would serve Sunday school students and community gatherings such as Christmas concerts, turkey suppers and elections; and

Whereas Rev. Steven Longmore provides Sunday services along with organist, Marjorie Fisher and a small choir; an active group of United Church women greet new families with welcome baskets, raise funds, collect for the Amherst Food Bank and help with wedding and funeral receptions;

[Page 1222]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to Amherst Head citizens for their community and church spirit that reflect rural Nova Scotia's true meaning of caring.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 710

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Peter Saulnier is a life-long resident of Spryfield, who has devoted much of the past 40 years to seeking out, preserving and making known the history of his community, particularly the photographic evidence; and

Whereas Peter Saulnier, is also a skilled craftsman who builds scale models of the vanished landmark buildings of Spryfield, for display at the Captain William Spry Library; and

Whereas Peter is also not only a dedicated volunteer in the schools of Halifax Atlantic, but is also known among the cognoscenti as the Santa Claus' Santa Claus, across the country;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend congratulations to Peter Saulnier on his work and that all members make an effort to visit Santa Claus this year at the South Centre Mall and to see the Christmas village of his historic models.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

[Page 1223]

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 711

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Ada Mingo Memorial Teen Writing Awards Program has been established by the Colchester-East Hants Public Library Board; and

Whereas the Ada Mingo Memorial Teen Writing Award will encourage teens to write poetry and prose, and recognize writing excellence; and

Whereas the Ada Mingo Memorial Teen Writing Awards were created in memory of Ada Mingo, owner of the Book Nook from 1982 to 2006, whose genuine, warm interest in her customers and her love of books of all types is sadly missed by the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Colchester-East Hants Public Library Board on establishing the Ada Mingo Memorial Teen Writing Awards Program to encourage and reward original writing by teenagers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 712

[Page 1224]

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Lauren Tutty, Manager of the Hank Snow Centre, and many volunteers and local establishments have become a very integral part of Queens County, creating a presence within the Canadian country music scene, attracting many local people and tourists to the region; and

Whereas Lauren Tutty, volunteers and local establishments have been instrumental in organizing the 19th Annual Nova Scotia Music Awards taking place in Liverpool November 9 to 12, 2006;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Lauren Tutty, the many volunteers and businesses for their successful endeavours to broaden the focus of the Hank Snow Centre, and also extend sincere wishes for a successful Nova Scotia Music Festival.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 713

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Dartmouth Historical Association instituted the Joseph Howe Fellowship Award to recognize outstanding people who have helped to preserve heritage, culture, or have been leaders in community service; and

Whereas this award was presented to Joan Payzant, well-known Dartmouth author, educator and historian; and

[Page 1225]

Whereas Joan Payzant's research and writing included the publications Second to None: A History of Public Education in Dartmouth; and Like a Weaver's Shuttle, the history of the Dartmouth ferries, which she co-authored with her husband Pete;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Dartmouth Historical Association and Joan Payzant on the occasion of her Joseph Howe Fellowship Award presentation and thank her for the many contributions to this community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 714

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Anthony Corbin has brought enthusiastic leadership to the Physical Education Program at Pictou County's Thorburn Consolidated School, and provides a positive role model for students and staff of all grade levels, and makes physical activity non-competitive; and

Whereas Anthony Corbin has activated a wide variety of after school physical activity programs, including the Physically Active Lifestyle Program to encourage adolescents to provide activities for elementary age students; and

Whereas Anthony Corbin has been named Nova Scotia Physical Education Teacher of the Year and his name has been forwarded to a national board along with four others from across the country for a Canadian honour;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Anthony Corbin of Thorburn Consolidated School on being named Nova Scotia's Physical Education Teacher of the Year and wish him well with the national award decision.

[Page 1226]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I've spoken to the other House Leaders for the other two Parties, I'm asking to revert to Presenting and Reading Petitions, with the unanimous consent of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request to revert to the order of business, Presenting and Reading Petitions.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition - to which I have affixed my signature - on behalf of the fish plant works and supporters of Shelburne County who are seeking changes to Nova Scotia EI Economic Regions rezoning.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:42 p.m. and end at 1:42 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

PREMIER - HRM: LAW ENFORCEMENT RESOURCES - TIMELINES

[Page 1227]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. As we all know, Nova Scotians are deeply saddened and shocked by the murder of a young American sailor who was killed while attempting to be a good Samaritan on the weekend. Reports of stabbing, vicious sexual assaults, swarmings and random acts are becoming all too frequent. Something has to be done. Despite these violent incidents, we have not yet seen any of the law enforcement resources that were promised by this government during the last election.

My question, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, is this, will the Premier tell this House, when will the 250 promised police officers actually be walking the beat?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, first of all, through you to the honourable member, I share in his comments regarding the unfortunate situation we saw this past weekend. In fact, I took the opportunity to call the captain of the ship to extend the province's regrets for his personnel. The first phase of the 250 police officers will be moving forward next year.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in a year - well, we know the RCMP is also a big component of policing in Nova Scotia. There are 46 RCMP detachments spread throughout the province. The 2006 federal budget committed to hiring an additional 1,000 RCMP officers in Canada. My question, through you to the Premier, is this, will the Premier tell this House, how many of these officers will be allotted to Nova Scotia, and when will they be on the job?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I don't have that exact number at my fingertips. I would certainly request that from the minister, and update the Leader and all members of the House of Assembly. What I can tell you is that this government is committed to safer streets and safer communities in our province. That is why we are the Party and we are the province, the government, that is hiring 250 additional officers, because we know that is what will truly make a difference on our streets and in our communities.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we've all grown used to the Premier's rhetoric with respect to safer streets and communities, and we all have heard them say he's so focused on safer street and communities, they're so committed to it. Well, they're so committed to it that they haven't even bothered to proclaim the Act that they passed in this House. That's how committed they are. I want to ask the Premier - can he tell the House when he's going to proclaim the Act, and tell us all when his government is going to give the police the resources and the tools that they need to do the job?

[12:45 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, indeed, there are ongoing meetings as we speak with our law enforcement officials here in our province. It is clear, if we take a look at what the Opposition has been talking about during the past week, it certainly hasn't been

[Page 1228]

safer streets and safer communities. This government is committed to ensuring that we get to the issues which the people of the Province of Nova Scotia are concerned about. That is safer streets, that is drugs in our communities, that is getting out there and helping those who need our help, and we'll continue to do so.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

JUSTICE - PPS: VIOLENT CRIMES - SENTENCING

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, we all know of the tragic events over this past weekend, where a U.S. sailor in Halifax on military exercises was brutally murdered in front of a downtown bar. The man now accused of his murder is a young Halifax man who was on parole for a near-fatal stabbing in 2002. This young man, now accused of first degree murder, served only 17 months of a 41-month sentence he received in 2004 for another brutal knife attack on a Halifax couple. After the attack in 2002, this man was on the run for seven months before being caught. The Crown requested a 12-year sentence for his attempted murder, but the judge only sentenced him to five years, and even gave him double credit for the time he had served in jail while waiting for his trial.

Mr. Speaker, if the judge had accepted the Crown's recommendation, the accused would still be in prison today and would not have been out on the streets of Halifax with a knife in his pocket on Saturday night. My question to the Premier is, what direction has your government given to the Public Prosecution Service in regard to sentencing of violent crimes in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I refer that to the Acting Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a very, very serious topic. Clearly I was one who was aghast when I found out Sunday morning what had happened on Saturday night. The honourable member does know that the Public Prosecution Service in Nova Scotia is an independent body and is not subject to being dictated to or directed by the government officials as to what sentences they will ask for.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, that is not entirely correct what the minister has said. In fact, the previous Minister of Justice had indicated to this House that he had given instructions to the Public Prosecution Service that as far as violent crimes in Nova Scotia, that they were to pursue tougher sentences. There is nothing wrong with the Minister of Justice or this government giving that direction as a general theme to the Public Prosecution Service.

Apparently, either this has not been done or it is clearly not happening. When a Crown prosecutor recommends a 12-year sentence, a judge gives only a 5-year sentence and there is no appeal of that sentence, something has obviously failed here. Mr.

[Page 1229]

Speaker, the statistics speak for themselves, crime rates are increasing in the province at an alarming rate, faster than in any other province in Canada. Two more people last night were stabbed in Dartmouth, a woman was sexually assaulted on Friday morning and, of course, the attack that took the life of a U.S. sailor. All these violent attacks in just one week in HRM alone. My question again to the Premier is, what plan does your government have to make our community safer and deal with violent crime here in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I refer that to the Acting Minister of Justice.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, clearly the Department of Justice has been meeting with law enforcement officials and municipal officials to determine an appropriate course of action. The honourable member again raises the question of violent crimes. Like everybody else, this government is very concerned about that, and I think what it boils down to is that it has to be a collective action. It is not government action or a police action, it has to be a people action, everybody working together to solve this.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, if the minister had, as he has in the past, just thrown up his arms and said I give up, it would probably have been a better answer than what he just gave us there. This is the same gang who in 1999 told Nova Scotians vote for us because we have a plan to make your community safer, make our streets safer, and we're going to make sure that violent criminals are dealt with accordingly. Yet they are the same government that sat silent when someone accused of brutally trying to murder two people with a knife, given a 12-year sentence, got only five years from the judge and did absolutely nothing, and because of their inaction, possibly, we have a sailor dead today, whereas they could have taken action on that, which may have reversed that sentence and kept that person in jail, which is what they promised in 1999.

My question again to the Premier, when will you finally demand that the Public Prosecution Service pursue through every avenue tougher sentences for violent crimes here in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, no government in many, many years has been more committed than this government to making sure that our communities and our streets are safer. How dare the Acting Leader of the Liberal Party suggest that this government is not.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - VG TRANSITIONAL CARE UNIT: DISREPAIR - EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. My question is through you to the Premier. Members of the group known as Advocates for the Care of

[Page 1230]

the Elderly have come to the House today to emphasize their concerns over the conditions in the Transitional Care Unit of the VG site in Capital Health. These concerned family members have all had loved ones in the transitional unit and they are concerned with the paint peeling off the walls, the mould problems, the foul odours, the leaking pipes on the floor. So, Mr. Speaker, my question through you to the Premier is this, this is not a new problem, so why hasn't his government worked with Capital Health to address these issues immediately?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Acting Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. The process of putting beds in place, one which we are actively pursuing with Capital Health and finding some short-term beds before the new additional 150 beds are underway and provided, is part of what we're working toward. We want to improve the conditions, to which the honourable member referred, as quickly as we can.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the fact is that it's shameful that a group like ACE has to have been formed. Most of the members of this group would not normally consider coming to this House to protest about much of anything. I'm sure they would much rather be visiting or caring for their ailing family members. However, given the condition our seniors are expected to live in at the VG site and the government's inaction, they feel they have no choice. My question to the Premier is this, how can his government justify allowing elderly ill Nova Scotians to live in unhealthy, unsafe conditions?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Acting Minister of Health.

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the situation to which the honourable member refers is one which, as I indicated, we want to improve as quickly as we can.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, they've known about this for a considerable period of time, and they continue to put it off. Much like their answers on the previous set of questions, everything is put off until some point in time in the future. A study by Capital Health into the condition of all of its buildings could take many months. Meanwhile, our seniors and their families are suffering unimaginable stress over this distressing and completely unnecessary situation. So my question, through you to the Premier, is this, why won't his government simply provide emergency funding to Capital Health to fix the worst of the conditions while the study is being completed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Acting Minister of Health.

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member would know that we are in the process now of providing an additional 150 beds in Capital Health. Those beds will come. They are the first part of our commitment for 826 long-term care beds and

[Page 1231]

that process is well underway. The fact is that we have in place programs to address the long-term care needs and in the interim, we're going to do whatever it is we can in order to improve short-term situations such as described by the honourable member.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - NURSING HOMES: SECURE UNITS - SHORTAGE ADDRESS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my questions continue to be for the Premier. One of the biggest issues facing continuing care across the province is the lack of nursing home beds in secure units. These units house seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's, and all adult protection clients must go to a secure bed. Just over one-third of the nursing homes in Nova Scotia have secure units, but over half of the residents in nursing homes have some form of dementia. My question to the Premier is this, since secure units are obviously in high demand, why are there so few nursing homes equipped with secure units?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Acting Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the situation to which the honourable member refers, of course, is something that will continue as our population in the nursing homes age. The planning that's taking place with the new beds that are being added to the stock of nursing home beds is planning that will employ the needs referenced by the honourable member. There are facilities in the province where additional secure beds are being developed, and certainly in any new facilities that are opened, that security is being addressed.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to table a letter from the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth. The letter raises concerns that there is no appropriate treatment unit for Alzheimer's and dementia patients in that region. Properly designed secure units are essential for the safety of residents and the staff and, certainly as we've all heard before in this House, the practice of sending seniors to nursing homes hours away must stop. So my question, through you to the Premier again is, when will this government finally start addressing the needs of secure nursing home beds in communities like Yarmouth?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the entire issue of continuing care through this strategy is one that we all recognize is vital when you take a look at the number of long-term care beds needed across our province, the number of individuals who are in acute care beds who should be in long-term care beds. The government recognizes this and that's why we do have a 10-year strategy in place. That is why though - that's 1,300 beds - over 800 of those beds we will see in the next short while with the planning that's underway.

[Page 1232]

Mr. Speaker, the government recognizes the issue. The government is working not in isolation. The government is working with the district health authorities and those involved who know health care best in our province to make sure that we take the necessary steps and precautions to do the right planning, to ensure that individuals in our province who need those beds, or who want to stay in their own homes, have those opportunities.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier was very careful to say that the province and the government want to move cautiously and make sure that they have the right options. Well, there was a report done in 1992, almost 15 years ago. The residential profile back then showed that 58 per cent of the residents in nursing homes were either significantly confused or had behaviourial problems. So my final question to the Premier is, these numbers have been out for 15 years, when will the studies and the consultations stop and action on addressing the needs in long-term care begin? When will that happen?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the minister announced the strategy in the Spring and that was, of course, part of our budget, a budget which both the Opposition Parties voted for.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

WOMEN, STATUS OF: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - ADDRESS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. While this government has done little to address violence on our streets, they have done even less to address the issue of domestic violence. In 2004, one in 12 women in Nova Scotia reported having experienced violence at the hands of their current or former spouses or partners, and that was in the previous five years. We can safely assume from these numbers that it's actually much higher because a 2004 survey on victimization found that only 28 per cent of victims of spousal violence turned to the police for help.

The fact is, Mr. Speaker, many women in Nova Scotia are living in fear of violence. Despite attempts by various organizations across the province, this government has failed to address the problem of domestic violence against women in the province. My question to the minister is, what steps has the minister taken to address this very serious issue?

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, the safety of women and children in this province is definitely a fundamental issue and something that this government takes very seriously. We have partnered and worked with different

[Page 1233]

organizations throughout this province and we will continue to do that, recognizing that, yes, there is definitely still work to be done.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, the government has a responsibility to the women who are victims of violence in this province. The recommendations that came from the 2002 meeting of the federal, provincial and territorial ministers who are responsible for the status of women, said that all provinces should develop strategies to eliminate violence against women. I haven't heard of any of these strategies for Nova Scotia. I want to ask the minister, is your government committed to addressing the issue of violence against women?

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, the answer to that is simple - yes.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, actions certainly speak a lot louder than words and I'm not seeing any action from this government whatsoever on this issue. Unlike the government, I take the recommendations of the 2002 All Minister's Report very seriously and in May, before the House fell, I had introduced a Private Members' Bill, calling for a strategy to eliminate violence against women. My question to the minister is, will the minister and her government support a bill that addresses the issue of violence against women?

MR. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, violence against women is one of the key areas that Status of Women works with. We work and we partner with all avenues across this country. The FPT meetings that were held that the member opposite refers to, we are working collaboratively, to make sure that we do have a resolve for these issues.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

JUSTICE: COMMUNITY PROSECUTORS - APPOINT

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. One of the keys to crime prevention is integration of services between police, prosecution and others involved in the justice system, and particularly police can benefit from coordination with other police units and from access to prosecutors at a local level.

Now Manitoba recently introduced something called Community Prosecutors, which is something that has been around in the United States for a fair bit of time, but what it is a prosecutor who's stationed locally, so that they can begin to develop an institutional memory of the issues in a community in which there are crime issues, and justice issues, and it has been very effective in the United States. So my question to the Premier is, this year, not next, is he prepared to ensure that this province begins to introduce and appoint community prosecutors?

[Page 1234]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we're always to open new ideas and we would be willing to take a look at what the member is suggesting.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the federal Tory Government, in its budget this year, passed a line item that had $20 million earmarked for crime prevention, and on top of that, yesterday we heard an announcement that the federal government has agreed to provide $10 million - I believe extra money - to the Government of Quebec, with regard to programs for youth, to give them positive choices, instead of being active in crime. So my question to the Premier is, what money has his government secured from the federal government, this year, so that we can begin to address the issue of crime and youth?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the acting minister.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice has ongoing conversation with his federal colleagues to deal with a number of matters, and the issue of particular targeted money is always one that is considered.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, this is the concern we've heard here today in Question Period. We have people committing crimes. We need to ensure that we're bringing them to justice as soon as possible, and ensuring that supports are in place, both beforehand and afterward, to ensure that we can reduce the amount of criminal activity. Yet, this government today has stood, both the Premier and the acting minister have stood in their place and continuously tried to deny the fact there is a problem in this province with regard to justice, crime and safety, and they continuously try to talk about next year. So my question to the Premier is, what is he going to do right now, this year, to ensure that the streets are safer in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the acting minister.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the platform contained, as has already been mentioned here today, the introduction of 250 additional police officer in this province. Consultations are ongoing now to see how those police officers can best be deployed. The Minister of Justice is mandated under legislation to meet with the Director of Public Prosecutions at least 12 times a year, and I know that a lot of the discussion now is concerning what appears to be the recent and unfortunate violent outbreaks that we've had in HRM.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

ECON. DEV.: GEOMATICS INDUSTRY - COMPETITION

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. Last September, NSBI - Nova Scotia Business Inc. - announced payroll

[Page 1235]

rebates for Crape Geomatics, an Alberta-based firm, to establish in Nova Scotia and hire 75 geomatics technicians. The announcement came as a complete shock to local companies, and they are still feeling the impact. Locally-owned firms have lost personnel to Crape Geomatics and their government-subsidized salaries. My question to the minister is, I'd like to ask you, why did NSBI not consult with the local geomatics sector before making this investment decision?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, I guess the honourable member does not want our residents of Nova Scotia to have jobs here in their own province. We've attracted a company from Alberta to our province to set up business and create jobs in our province, and I do not apologize to anybody for doing that.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, well, my question will again be to the Minister of Economic Development. Local firms have indeed built successful business here without the support of payroll rebates. They welcome legitimate competition, but they do have a problem with their taxes being used to assist competitors. Recently the minister invited a number of geomatics companies to take part in an NSBI-sponsored trade mission to Alberta. The trade show is a move in the right direction; however, existing companies may not now have staff to respond to the opportunities created by that trip. Does the minister agree that although the intent may be genuine, NSBI is indeed working at cross purposes in this instance?

MR. HURLBURT: No.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, well, it's nice to see the minister has a lot to say about this topic. My question, again, will be to the Minister of Economic Development. A local geomatics company I spoke to with a staff of over 20 would be able to grow substantially if they could find skilled employees. This company is turning down work now for lack of qualified personnel. They recently ran a national ad campaign for additional personnel, but had limited success. They did that on their own. Local companies just can't compete with Alberta and U.S. salary levels. I would like to ask the minister, what does he intend to do to assist this company to grow now?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member and all members of the House, I can tell them that this government is very open to business, and this province is open to business. We will do what we can to attract and secure jobs in this province, and maybe the member ought to turn to the member for Queens and ask the member for Queens if that member is offended by the incentives we gave to a company to create 200 jobs in Queens, as of as early as yesterday. The company the member is speaking of, I can assure the member and all members that we have had dialogue with that company, and we will work with that company.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

[Page 1236]

GOV. (N.S.): ATL. GATEWAY STRATEGY - FUNDING

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Premier recently travelled to Ottawa with 45 bureaucrats and met with the Prime Minister to discuss funding possibilities for the Province of Nova Scotia. Despite this meeting with his federal cousins, the Premier came back, once again, empty-handed, which means no commitment of monies from the federal government for our province. However, the government did come back with a bill, which I'm sure we'll all find out about once we receive our freedom of information request. However, we have learned recently that the Government of Canada has committed to invest $600 million in a British Columbia pacific gateway strategy. My question to the Premier is, can you tell the House and all Nova Scotians why your government has been unable, to date, to secure a commitment from the federal government to fund the Atlantic gateway strategy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, indeed, there were two issues that we were focused upon, and I was focused upon with the Prime Minister. The first one was ensuring that we're treated fairly in the area of equalization. In fact, today the Minister of Finance is in front of the standing committee in the Senate speaking to that very issue and making sure that the offshore core that we worked so hard for, and the previous Premier worked so hard for, is protected.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, yes we did discuss the Atlantic accord. That member can be assured that this Premier will continue to champion that cause until we get our deal with Ottawa.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm curious as to whether our Minister of Finance, while appearing in front of the Senate, was also pushing for the Premier's new-found policy on wanting eight-year fixed terms for our Senators as well, and maybe he could have been putting forward that issue as well, along with equalization.

Mr. Speaker, economic prosperity for the Atlantic region is at stake if this government cannot secure the Atlantic gateway commitment that will benefit all Nova Scotians. Recently Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe has stated that Quebec City, and not Halifax or Nova Scotia, should be the site of the Atlantic gateway. This statement threatens Nova Scotia's economic potential; as we know, the Prime Minister is trying to gain support in Quebec to try to secure a majority in the next election.

So my question to the Premier is, what guarantee can your government give to the people of Nova Scotia to ensure that the Port of Quebec City is not given the Atlantic gateway for political reasons?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

[Page 1237]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. You know the honourable member discovered Gateway just recently. The concept of Gateway is something that the previous federal Liberal Government worked with the British Columbia Government for a period of over six to seven years, in terms of its development and implementation.

[1:15 p.m.]

Since the Spring, we have made great progress with the Government of Canada with respect to advancing the idea of the Atlantic gateway. That gateway is designed to allow us to take advantage of the most up-to-date transportation technology and capacity that exists in the world, and it's here in Nova Scotia where we have the natural resources to be able to handle that kind of technology. (Applause)

MR. SAMSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, it's always interesting when you have the Premier answer a previous question saying how much he's going to fight for something, only to watch him hide behind one of his ministers when asked a follow-up question to that, and that speaks volumes.

Mr. Speaker, it appears that the Premier and his government have not been effectively advocating for the interests of Nova Scotians. Nova Scotia has two of the largest ports in the world and the geography to handle large vessels on a regular basis. Making Nova Scotia the Atlantic gateway will benefit the entire region and not only encourage foreign investment, but also create future economic opportunities here at home.

Mr. Speaker, the comments made by Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe should be taken seriously and should be of great concern to this government, as it is to all Nova Scotians. So my question to the Premier is, what is your plan to secure a commitment from your federal cousins, which guarantees that Nova Scotia will become the Atlantic gateway?

THE PREMIER: Again, Mr. Speaker, as the minister said, there is a great deal of work which has been done since the Spring on the issue of being the Atlantic gateway here. Without a doubt, Nova Scotia is well positioned to be that gateway to the rest of North America and to the world.

The opportunity that we have with our ports, given their depth of water, given that they are ice-free ports - we have tremendous potential and we are going to capture that potential. We will take every opportunity, but we will not do it again in isolation. We will do it in working with our federal government. We will also do it, more importantly perhaps, working with the private sector.

[Page 1238]

Mr. Speaker, if you take a look at our location on the East Coast, if we don't take advantage of this opportunity, we'll see this opportunity lost perhaps somewhere along the Eastern Seaboard in the United States.

Mr. Speaker, it's absolutely imperative, and I'm glad to see the Liberal Party here finally jumping on board, johnny-come-lately with our government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ECON. DEV.: U.S. MARKETS - DEPENDENCE

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. The Atlantic Province's Economic Council's Business Outlook seminar, held yesterday, presented sombre conclusions to the Nova Scotia business community. Our province's dependence on U.S. markets means that we need to keep a very close eye on its slowing economy - when the U.S. gets a cold, Nova Scotia gets the flu. We all know this.

This year's tourism figures are one indicator of the possibility of some lean years ahead of us. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister what is this government's plan to protect our provincial economy from this threat?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, I can assure the honourable member the sky is not falling, Nova Scotia is doing its share, and we are creating jobs all across this province. We have two great tools in this province to work with, and that's Nova Scotia Business Inc. and the Office of Economic Development, and we are utilizing those to make sure we create jobs for Nova Scotians.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I'll give another example. The APEC Business Outlook specifically highlighted a downturn in the U.S. housing market this year, and predicted this is very likely to continue well into 2007 and perhaps beyond. As the minister will know, this slump is already having a big negative impact on Nova Scotia's wood product sector. We can only guess that even more difficult times are ahead for one of our key rural employers. I'd like to ask the minister, what is his department doing to attempt to develop new markets for Nova Scotia's wood products?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I've been working with my colleague from Natural Resources, and I've been working with the industry looking at what we can do to move, advance our wood products in this province and look at new markets. That's

[Page 1239]

what we have to do, we have to look outside the box in this province, and that's what this government is doing.

MR. EPSTEIN: Well, it goes on, Mr. Speaker. Out-migration from Atlantic Canada has become a serious issue again. APEC figures state that over 13,000 people left the region in the 12 months up to July 2006, and this isn't just young people anymore. A strong Canadian dollar is affecting our competitiveness, a weak transport infrastructure is putting off investors, other provinces are trying to recruit our skilled workforce and the U.S. economy is tanking, but this government is doing nothing to prepare us for the effects of all of this on our provincial economy. We're looking for a plan. I would like to ask the minister when is he finally going to fight for a strategic response to these economic threats at the Cabinet Table?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, the annual report - 13,800 jobs being created by this government in the last four years, 3,500 new jobs in the next five years in the IT sector, 600 jobs annually over the next number of years in the aerospace industry, working with the Minister of Education, letting our youth know in the high schools that there are jobs in the sectors in this province for them to stay in their home communities to work. That's what this government is doing. We are creating the environment for our youth to stay in our province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

COM. SERV.: SURPLUS - EXPLAIN

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. This year, the Department of Community Services left $9 million in its Family and Children's Services Division budget. The reasons they provided the Public Accounts for this surplus were lower than anticipated spending on early childhood programs and reduced demand for special needs and emergency placements. They also credit this surplus on lower than expected spending on early childhood development initiatives. Nova Scotia ranks third-lowest in the country when it comes to having sufficient early childhood care spaces. In 2003-04, we only had enough spaces for 14.8 per cent of our children from ages one to 12, while the national average was 24.4 per cent. Our child care workers are among the best trained in the country and yet receive the lowest wages. My question is, why was this surplus not spent where it is most needed, on creating spaces and raising daycare workers' pay?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, to my honourable colleague across the way, I appreciate the question. The new made-in-Nova Scotia child care plan, which was announced in May 2006, has committed over $130 million of a 10-year plan, five years to have it implemented and five years to sustain it. We will ensure that all Nova Scotian children enjoy a good start to life and are nurtured and supported by caring families and communities - that's what this government will do today and in the days to come.

[Page 1240]

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, that still doesn't explain why there was $9 million left over in that budget when it was earmarked for early childhood. The Family and Children's Services Division of Community Services is also responsible for foster care and children in permanent care - it is this division that is responsible for children like the 16-year-old girl who is now before the courts. This child has been in the permanent care of the province since 1999, and has been diagnosed with a dissociative identity disorder. She and many others like her require professional help, so my question to the minister is, why did your department not use part of that $9 million surplus to get help for this girl, and create programs to help others in her situation?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, the commitment by this government to create a made-in-Nova Scotia child care plan is one that we take very seriously. I was pleased to be able to announce the 150 portable child care spaces earlier this Fall. We are continuing to develop a family home daycare program, which is underway. The operational funding for centres is to become available in the days to come, and as well funding for repairs and renovations to current centres was available on October 4th. This government will continue to invest in children and families in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the 150 daycare spaces the minister speaks of don't even come close to meeting the demand. Rather than put that $9 million left over in the Community Services budget to good use, this government decided to give the Deputy Minister of Community Services a $19,000 bonus. They could have created more daycare spaces or increased wages for daycare workers, provided programs to help children like the 16-year-old girl who is now before the courts, so my question to the minister is, what were the criteria you used when deciding to issue this $19,000 bonus?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I take great pride in being responsible in the spending, as all members of this House would be. I want to assure this member and all members that the government of the day is extremely concerned about responsible spending, and we will continue to invest wisely in the families and children of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

ENVIRON.& LBR.: WILDERNESS PROTECTION ACT - CHANGE

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, as we're all aware, Nova Scotia is a very precious area with many important wilderness areas, but these protected areas are still very much in need of protection because the Minister of Environment and Labour retains the broad-ranging discretion to issue permits to use off-highway vehicles even in these protected areas. One of this minister's predecessors did commit that he would make the needed changes to the Wildreness Areas Protection Act, but these have not yet

[Page 1241]

been made. Will the minister keep the word of his predecessor and be making the change as promised?

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the honourable member. As the honourable member may know, I've taken very proactive steps in terms of protecting the protected areas - ordering signage to be erected in all the protected areas to be finished by the Spring of next year, starting with the areas that are most under assault by illegal ATV use, and also we signed off on the Tobeatic management plan, which was in discussion for 10 years and most recently under the Tobeatic Advisory Group for three years, and we have banned OHVs from the Tobeatic area as a result of the advisory group's suggestions.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, while I appreciate the efforts of the current minister, those who do not remember history are certainly doomed to repeat it - and as long as this kind of ministerial discretion remains, we will continue to repeat these exercises.

I am continuing to repeat the exercise, asking yet again the question which we have asked numerous times. We have brought forward legislation asking for an end to ministerial discretion, and still there has been a refusal on the part of this government to move forward on this commitment. It would be a very simple change for the minister to make. My question is, when will the Minister of Environment and Labour give up the discretion to grant licences in protected wilderness areas?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, I've stated publicly that I would never use that loophole. I have no intention of using it, and that's on public record.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, while I appreciate the intentions of the minister, one can never speak necessarily for successors, and it is the minister's predecessor who had promised that this type of discretion would be ended. It hasn't happened yet, and there is nothing to prevent the further exercise of discretion in unfettered ways. This minister has, and has committed not to use, the discretion to issue permits. However, will he commit to end the discretion so it is not used by future ministers to grant access by off-highway vehicles in protected wilderness areas?

MR. PARENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and thank you for the question. As I have stated before, I publicly stated that I will not use that particular option. The Wilderness Areas Protection Act, an Act voted on unanimously, I believe, in the House in 1998, offers protection for the protected areas, which I intend to keep up. I think my record on this issue speaks for itself.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

[Page 1242]

FISH. & AQUACULTURE - EI: SOUTH WEST NOVA - ELIGIBILITY

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, currently fish plant workers in South West Nova have to work 560 hours to be eligible for EI, while in other parts of this province fish plant workers need only work 420 hours. These workers are in the same industry, depend on the same supply of product, and they all are being affected by the same market conditions. I have written to the federal minister, the Honourable Diane Finley, seeking a better deal for these fish plant workers. Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is, will this minister support the fish plant workers of South West Nova and raise this issue with his federal counterparts?

HON. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. We certainly do support our fish plant workers not only in South West Nova but right across this province, and we have the same problems, the same issues that he speaks of.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I tabled a petition today including over 450 signatures of fish plant workers and their supporters who are asking for the help of this Legislature to bring pressure to bear on the federal government to have the necessary changes made to the EI system. My question to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is, will he support a move to a system of one set of hours for coastal communities regardless of the geographic location?

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. CHISHOLM: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I have discussed that issue with my federal counterpart, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. I know there was a letter sent by the previous Minister of Fisheries for the Province of Nova Scotia supporting that issue. Like I said, we do have the same issue right across the province. The downturn of the fishery has caused some great stress on a lot of our fish plants that we have around the province. The federal Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Canada in the last couple of weeks has come out with a program to help older workers adjust to the downturn in any industry.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, no matter where you go in Nova Scotia, an unemployed fish plant worker is still an unemployed fish plant worker, and they all should be treated fairly. I'm asking the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture a very direct question. When, when can the coastal communities of southwestern Nova Scotia count on this minister to put pressure on the federal government to reduce the required EI hours from 560 hours to 420?

MR. CHISHOLM: Again, Mr. Speaker, we have lobbied the federal government as to this issue, and we will continue to lobby the federal government on this issue for the fish plant workers in the province.

[Page 1243]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

NAT. RES.: CHIGNECTO GAME SANCTUARY - TREE HARVESTING

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Between January and May 2005, the Department of Natural Resources conducted a public review on game sanctuaries. Now I know that the government doesn't always listen to the people of Nova Scotia, but you would think that they would adhere to the public on the government's own review. Citizens of Nova Scotia wanted more environmentally protected lands - full protection, not just omitting hunting from these areas. The Chignecto Game Sanctuary is a prime example of the department's continued mismanagement of natural resources in Nova Scotia.

My question to the minister is, why are you allowing 215 hectares of trees to be harvested in the Chignecto Game Sanctuary?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question. In fact, there were a number of comments there that one could respond to on behalf of the department and the government. With regard to the one at the end, he made reference to a game sanctuary. A game sanctuary is a place where you protect wildlife. The protection is absolute and, of course, there is no hunting tolerated in the Chignecto Game Sanctuary.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, hunting I'm not worried about. The government has a habit of asking Nova Scotians what should be done and then turning a blind eye and a deaf ear when the results come in. This situation is no different and the minister must obey the public's will. Your government is ignoring the overwhelming view of Nova Scotians. It's no wonder that people have difficulty believing politicians, with this government's record of backtracking. This is a beautiful piece of wilderness and it must be safeguarded.

My question to the minister is, will you heed the public's call to provide game sanctuaries in Nova Scotia with full environmental protection?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I believe what the member is asking is whether he wants us to convert all our game sanctuaries to protected wilderness areas which, by the way, do not necessarily include the same protections for wildlife. There is a process in place, it involves the Department of Environment and Labour and, indeed, outside of government there is the Colin Stewart Forestry Forum which is working on this, trying to reach agreement between the forestry sector and those who are advocating for the full 12 per cent of Nova Scotia's land mass to be devoted to protected wilderness areas. I'm very impressed with the work that's being done by this forum and, in conjunction with my colleague from the Department of Environment and Labour, I hope to support that initiative.

[Page 1244]

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, forests in Nova Scotia are habitats for thousands of species of plants and animals, and by clear-cutting in these areas we will disrupt nature. We need a forest strategy and we need it now. What kind of legacy will we leave our children and grandchildren? Other Atlantic Provinces, such as Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I., have taken the initiative and are implementing a long-term forest management plan.

My question to the minister is, will your government commission a full, voluntary task force to develop a long-term forest strategy?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite will be very pleased to know that this government has taken the courageous step where we are opening up a review of the strategies not only for forestry in the Department of Natural Resources but also mining, parks and, indeed, biodiversity, and a plan will be coming forward in the near future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

COM. SERV.: PUB. HOUSING (WHITNEY PIER) - ASBESTOS

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Community Services. I will table a photo taken in the bedroom of one of the public housing units in Whitney Pier that is contaminated with one of the most dangerous forms of asbestos insulation on the market. The sign reads: DANGER - Contains Asbestos Fibers - Avoid Creating Dust - Cancer and Lung Disease Hazard.

My question to the Minister of Community Services is, why is your department forcing residents to live in these units that have this hanging over their heads?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, to my honourable colleague, I know he is sincere in his request, he brought this issue to me earlier.

I need to begin by saying that the international environmental consultants, Pinchin LeBlanc Environmental Ltd., confirmed in their Phase I July report on the Cape Breton Island Housing Authority's handling of the asbestos issue in public housing that, based on our audit review, it has been determined that the methods, procedures, and materials used for sealing all meet or exceed federal and provincial standards for this type of work. I will table that report, and stand by the Pinchin LeBlanc report.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, this is what every resident of these units see when they go to bed at night. We already know the kind of condition this government is willing to allow our seniors to suffer through in the VG transitional unit. Apparently our low-income families are expected to sleep in one of these most dangerous - asbestos

[Page 1245]

insulation a few feet away. My question to the minister is, when will this insulation be removed from public housing?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, let me start by saying the Cape Breton Island Housing Authority has been doing an outstanding job dealing with the asbestos issue in the insulation. I would like to table, as well, a letter from Dr. Ann Roberts, Medical Officer of Health, which states there is no risk of exposure to airborne asbestos in public housing because there are no fibres present.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I've dealt with that letter in the past. I won't comment on that today what I've said to that doctor.

Mr. Speaker, an internal report was conducted into the asbestos contamination and these public housing units. The minister refused to release that report until the Department of Environment and Labour completed its investigation. The investigation of the Department of Environment and Labour is now complete. I ask the minister, will she table the internal report by Cyril LeBlanc and Dave Ryan in this Legislature by the end of today's proceedings?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, to my honourable colleague, certainly we are all awaiting the investigation of the Department of Environment and Labour to conclude. However, Justice lawyers advise us we must consider the legal rights of certain individuals and ensure they are not compromised prior to the conclusion of the formal investigation. Neither I, nor my department, would ever want to compromise the legal rights of any persons involved in this matter. Certainly my obligation is to protect the workers' legal rights, and that is what I fully intend to do.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

NAT. RES.: STRATEGY - PUB. CONSULTATION

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. During the June election, all Parties were asked if they would support public consultations on the new natural resources strategy being carried out by an independent third party, such as Voluntary Planning. I know we in the NDP supported this process, and according to the survey, which I will table, so did the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals. A great deal of good work has come out of Voluntary Planning members in the past, and a task such as this is right up their alley. My question is, what are the minister's intentions in carrying out this public consultation on the new natural resources strategy?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for bringing up the question. It's very important to include broad public consultation anytime you move forward on reviewing a strategy or creating a strategy for a department. I look

[Page 1246]

forward to hearing from Nova Scotians and having their input in dealing with the forestry strategy, the mining strategy, the park strategy and, indeed, the biodiversity strategy. It's important to me to hear from them so that at the end of the day, we get it right for Nova Scotians. Thank you.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, will the minister allow Voluntary Planning to carry out the consultations and present its final recommendations to Cabinet?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 20.

Bill No. 20 - Public Utilities Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'm certainly pleased to rise today and speak for a few moments on this bill. First of all, of course this was a bill that was introduced by the Liberal Party, and actually a little bit stronger in the sense that, technically, it probably would have been 15 to 16 months before an increase could have been permitted, because you needed 12 months between an increase and in fact when the application could be filed for another increase. So this bill, however, permits from Day one - April 1st, for example, to April 1st of the following year, when, in fact, the increase can be given.

I think the bigger question here, around this bill is, in fact, the number of increases that Nova Scotia Power has given to Nova Scotians. I remember back three years ago, when I spoke out through an article in the local paper, about Nova Scotia's power increase, at that particular time, and it was the first one for a few years. I remember a letter back to the editor of the Berwick Register, at the time, simply saying that I was using the increase for the purpose of grandstanding. It's interesting now,

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however, that the same person is taking a look at yearly increases and is raising the flag about what is going on with Nova Scotia Power.

So we see these yearly increases now have become a pattern, a trend that we can expect. So we'd ask that larger question of, in fact, why we need these increases? We, of course, keep hearing of the fact that fuel, - whether it's oil, coal or gas - the nonrenewables that are used to generate over 80 per cent of electricity in Nova Scotia, that, yes, are increasing. However, I think that Nova Scotia Power should be moving stronger, more aggressively and, in fact, it may take government legislation to push them in that direction, to implement a stronger program of conversion to renewable energy. That simply is not there, anywhere to the extent that, I think, Nova Scotians are expecting from Nova Scotia Power.

[1:45 p.m.]

When the chair of the board, Mr. Chris Huskilson, appeared before the Public Accounts Committee, when he was asked about the plan for Nova Scotia Power - in fact, any kind of a long term, long range or a vision piece for Nova Scotia Power - moving to a greater percentage of renewables was simply not present in his statement on that particular day.

So, until Nova Scotia Power moves to a greater percentage of green energy, Nova Scotians can expect an annual increase. In fact, we were looking at two within the one calender year; that's what moved and precipitated this piece of legislation. So I think it is now incumbent upon Nova Scotia Power and government to push them in the direction whereby a certain percentage of renewable energy have very clear targets. That by 2015, 2025 - and all we need to do here is follow our neighbour Province of Prince Edward Island, where they have definite targets to start to unplug from New Brunswick, where they won't have to rely on nuclear energy, coal-fired energy, thermal generation. They are moving to primarily wind power, and yes, Prince Edward Island is a small province and it looks like they will accomplish that goal.

When we take a look here, in the province, we have two of the greatest natural resources, renewable resources, at our disposal. Once again, not just to challenge Nova Scotia Power to move in this direction, but also have the urging and, if necessary, the legislation that will push them in that direction because wind power and tidal power, you know, should be much stronger now on the radar for electrical generation in this province.

In fact, we've been talking about tidal power. We go back to the days of George Baker in Kentville, who was a strong promoter, a believer that a project, in fact 25 years ago, should have been put in place. We know that it would have been probably fixed turbines, like the Annapolis Causeway project. Even at that time, there were locations which were hoping to be developed. Today the technology is moving very quickly and

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if we take a look at the potential in the Bay of Fundy, it's not just for Nova Scotia but we could actually be part of helping to light up, renewably, eastern North America. It's an area that Nova Scotia Power has not made much advance and movement towards, even with a pilot project.

Also in terms of wind energy, the Pubnico wind farm with its 17 turbines and producing enough power for about 10,000 to 13,000 homes, again clearly demonstrates this potential and presently unused resource that we have in Nova Scotia. In fact, our province has been identified as the third best place, with some longitudinal studies, to use wind as an alternative source of energy. So I think this is the question here that Nova Scotians are now asking all Parties, all MLAs, to voice strongly and to push the company, of course, that has a monopoly on electrical generation in Nova Scotia towards a greater amount of green energy that will be on the grid and that will be the future.

In fact, you know, we have that great model that has been, I think, referenced by a couple of members of the Opposition. When it came to recycling in this province, we decided to be a leader. Nova Scotia can be a leader as well with the production of green energy and using the two great renewable sources that we have in this province. So I would certainly hope that we're going to see a plan laid out by Nova Scotia Power, also with the Department of Energy pushing Nova Scotia Power in that direction.

We got a little reprieve this year with Stora, but Stora will not be here for the long haul unless we have stabilization of power rates in this province. In fact, as early as next year, we're going to see about an 11 per cent increase in industrial power and, in fact, that could indeed be the tipping point for Stora to once again reassess whether they can remain in this province. The cost of our energy is escalating and I think it will become one of the biggest factors in terms of economic development and the attraction, especially of manufacturing, to our province.

So this bill, while it will limit increases to a 12-month period, really is not dealing with the drivers and with the real challenge that Nova Scotia Power has, because we have to move that percentage downward that we currently have this great reliance on fossil fuels. The year 1973 was a wake-up for us here in Nova Scotia, when we had that first great bump in oil prices from about $8 a barrel to $40 a barrel for oil. Nova Scotians started to take stock and we implemented some conservation in our homes, and there were grants for insulation and retrofit of our homes. That's still going on but, again, nowhere near to the extent that's needed in this province. So conservation has to, again, go hand in hand with the development of new sources of electrical generation.

Currently 60 per cent of households, either wholly or in part, heat by home heating oil and the national average is 12.5 per cent. So again, this means that our citizens are subject to the changes there and that's reflected, of course, in our electrical generation here in Nova Scotia. So I believe that we are at a time in this province where a very kind of minimalist piece of legislation is before the House, limiting a power

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increase to just one year - one calendar year - and certainly doesn't come close to directing Nova Scotia Power to the real challenge they're facing, and that we collectively as Nova Scotians have to face in the next decades.

So I would like to see even a greater investment by Nova Scotia Power in this direction. Certainly the Pubnico wind farm has proven to be viable and I think now that the next locations should be targeted across the province.

Certainly, again, one of the areas that perhaps it may again come down to is the investors of Nova Scotia Power changing their current rate of return to allow a smaller portion for investment that will see Nova Scotia Power continue to be our sole producer of electricity. If we don't make changes, then I think it will be incumbent on government to start to look at deregulation and making the marketplace much more competitive than it is right now. So those are a few of the issues that I think easily flow from this piece of legislation. With that, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place and appreciate the opportunity to speak on the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to be speaking on this bill in regard to the Public Utilities Act, limiting Nova Scotia Power from applying for more than one general rate increase in any one 12-month period. Indeed, this bill does offer consumers some protection. Unfortunately it doesn't offer a lot of comfort, it doesn't offer a lot of comfort for the energy poor. Certainly a lot of consumers across this province struggle every day to meet their rising energy bills, and they are getting a little weary year after year when Nova Scotia Power sees the need to apply for yet again another increase.

Consumers are actually looking at their budget monthly and deciding whether they are able to buy food or whether they are able to pay their energy bills. We have a lot of energy poor in this province so this bill certainly, while offering some comfort, doesn't offer a lot of comfort because people are still being left out.

One thing that concerns me the most is that this was a serious missed opportunity for this government to show true leadership in putting forward a piece of legislation that really talks about the broader issues, the bigger issues, facing Nova Scotians in terms of our energy needs across this province.

This minister who presented this bill had the opportunity to show true leadership, true leadership in putting forward a piece of legislation that would clearly talk about the need to address not only Nova Scotia Power's request for applications every year for rate increases, but also address our energy needs across this province. This was a missed opportunity for this government to aggressively move forward in achieving our renewable energy potential in this province. It was a missed opportunity for this minister

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to show true leadership by creating legislation that would serve notice, to give Nova Scotia Power that notice, that not only addresses yearly applications for their rate increases, but addresses the bigger picture - the bigger picture of really moving forward and really getting serious about renewable energy initiatives in this province.

We all know that the cost of energy is going to rise. It's going to continue to rise every year. It's doing to continue to rise because we have China coming online, China that will use millions and millions of tons of coal to serve their own energy needs, and so coal prices will continue to increase. Of course we all know that Nova Scotia Power uses coal, burning fossil fuels. Coal is going to increase, year after year. So Nova Scotia Power consistently will come back to this House looking for that rate increase.

Nova Scotia Power needs to invest more and more money each year, investing in plant upgrades. Certainly it's encouraging that Nova Scotia Power has put in well over $45 million in the Trenton plant to see new technologies to reduce fly ash and other emissions, but each year they're going to have to consistently look at upgrading other facilities, crumbling facilities that need upgrades. They're going to be coming back to recoup some of those costs, and so they will be looking for further rate increases to help with those costs.

[2:00 p.m.]

Nova Scotia Power will consistently come back to this table, will come back to URB looking for increased rate costs, because they need to meet emission targets. They need to meet emission targets set out by our now made-in-Canada strategy around the reduction of air emissions. We know that rate increases are going to be here facing us yearly. This government had an opportunity to really put forward strong legislation, speaking to the need for a comprehensive energy strategy. This province seriously lacks a comprehensive energy strategy, and a comprehensive renewable energy strategy.

Nova Scotia is blessed with an abundance of rich, clean natural resources. Our wind, our solar, and our tidal energies combined offer a resource that this government is clearly not recognizing. This government had an opportunity through this piece of legislation to really keep on the heels of Nova Scotia Power. We all know that here in this province, Nova Scotia Power is one of the largest polluters, pumping out, daily, toxic greenhouse emissions. We have rising asthma cases in this province. We only need to recognize that climate change is one of the biggest issues facing not only this province, but facing our country and facing all of our global communities.

Another reason that this government missed an opportunity is because they failed to recognize that we really need to be more aggressive in moving forward with our energy needs, looking at investing, clearly investing in renewable energy projects across this province. They need to be holding Nova Scotia Power accountable, accountable for

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not moving forward in aggressively harnessing the wind, capturing the tidal power, really investing in solar energy.

Nova Scotia Power could have been encouraged through this piece of legislation to invest heavily in the transmission infrastructure across this province. Nova Scotia Power is responsible for 5,200 kilometres of transmission lines across this province, 345 KV lines from Sydney, Truro and Halifax. The rest of the province, however, is served by 69, 138 and 230 KV lines across this province - lines that are not adequately equipped to handle a budding wind industry. This government missed that opportunity to seriously hold Nova Scotia Power accountable and say, you need to be investing in those transmission infrastructure lines across this province. If we're really serious about creating a sustainable, renewable energy industry across this province, we need to make sure that the infrastructure is in place for that industry.

This government needs to act responsibly in ensuring that infrastructure exists, and this was an opportunity. This piece of legislation was an opportunity for the government to talk about that. Nova Scotia Power needs to be challenged with healthy, clean competition. We are afraid to talk about competition in this province. Why are we afraid to stand up to Nova Scotia Power and say, you know what, we really need to look at having good, clean, healthy competition in this province? There are many independent power producers who are waiting to step up to the challenge, they're waiting. They have investments in place, they have the expertise and they have been working diligently over the last several years to ensure that they are ready to move forward and this government is stalling. This government has been stalling for the last several years.

There are many leaders from the renewable energy industry and other partners who put forward to government a strategy, a plan. They put forward that strategy and a plan to see renewable energy move forward in this province. They put forward to government 89 recommendations in the form of a report. It was a clear, concise report how this government could have moved forward in this province with renewable energy.

The Electricity Market Governance Committee had asked this government to commit to moving those recommendations forward. There were 89 of them. This government committed and made a promise to adopt all of those 89 recommendations, in particular Recommendation 51 which would allow independent power producers to sell their energy to consumers. What did the government do? They made a promise, they made a commitment, and they failed to act.

When will this government commit to the promises they have made to the renewable energy industry in this province? I'm not suggesting that this government consider full deregulation of the market, but this government has access to all of the best expertise. The expertise is out there, people in the industry who have the knowledge to take the best of the renewable energy examples across countries such as Denmark and Sweden, who are true leaders. We have experts in this province who can learn from the

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mistakes made with deregulation in California. We need to look at Ontario, a province that is moving aggressively forward in offering IPP standard offer contracts. The expertise is there, we just need the will to move forward.

This government and this minister missed a tremendous opportunity when they put forward this bill. Consumers are looking for a choice in power providers. Consumers are becoming more educated. Our young people are most educated in the need for renewable energy choices in this province. We are doing a disservice to our children and our grandchildren not to act now, not to hold Nova Scotia Power accountable not just for rate increases yearly, but to hold them accountable to truly move forward to open up the market, to allow true competition.

Consumers know that if they have a choice, renewable energy in the long run will actually offer a more stable price in power - in green power - than Nova Scotia Power can ever hope to provide with the rising coal prices, with the delivery of coal from Venezuela, with the delivery of coal in other countries. Nova Scotia Power has a very bad track record purchasing coal from countries that are not practising good labour standards for their workforces, countries that really keep under their thumb all of the men and women who work in that coal industry.

There are some true leaders in this province, businesses and municipalities that are ready for renewable energy. In Queens, for example, I sat for four years on the planning advisory committee in Queens. One aggressive step we made was ensuring that Queens was ready. Queens is ready to have wind energy come to that municipality. We made sure in our planning advisory process that we had clear definitions for renewable wind energy development, clear definitions for what bylaws and zoning requirements were needed for wind power development. Queens also showed true leadership when they invested, along with the South West Shore Energy Office, in the South West wind study, a study that mapped out the South Shore, showing the geography for the best wind regimes on the South Shore. That's true leadership.

We are moving forward, but we need to have the other side of the equation, the other leadership equation that this government isn't demonstrating, it isn't demonstrating that leadership in this piece of legislation. We have true leaders in our community, individuals who are choosing to live off the grid. In Queens, a young couple, a young doctor and his wife, are building a new home in one of my communities in Queens, and they're choosing to live off the grid. They're investing in their own wind turbine, they're investing, they're taking responsibility for their own energy needs. This is a young doctor and his wife who are rising to the challenge. They recognize we have a serious energy problem in this province. Our electricity transmission lines are not reliable, our energy system is not working for consumers, and these are true leaders in our community.

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I'll give you another example of true leadership in our communities. Just last week my sister and my brother-in-law invested in their own wind turbine. They're choosing to live off the grid. They're choosing to live off the grid, why? Because they are tired of investing in Nova Scotia Power year after year, month after month, and getting no returns. Our communities deserve to be part of the solution. We have many people in our communities showing that true leadership. Communities deserve to have part of the ownership of the natural resources. They deserve to have part of the ownership of the wind and the tidal resources across this province, because they certainly don't have any ownership unless they're a big shareholder in Nova Scotia Power.

I was really hoping that this bill would have talked about some of those issues. While, again, it does offer some protection to some of our consumers, in terms of, perhaps, some comfort in knowing that Nova Scotia Power won't be going back to the table in eight months' time or 10 months' time but in 12 months' time, but it offers little comfort because consumers will know that year after year after year, Nova Scotia Power will have the ability to go back to the table and ask again for yet another rate increase. It will offer little comfort year after year for those consumers who are energy poor consumers when their dollars don't go up month after month, year after year, but they're still faced with a growing energy bill, a growing light bill, year after year.

What about industry? In Queens, most of you know that Bowater Mersey, the manufacturing plant for pulp and paper, is faced with some serious energy concerns, much like Stora. In fact, Bowater was at the table along with Stora when they were sitting around the URB table and looking for a rate decrease. It's becoming increasingly difficult for our pulp and paper industry to do business in this province and, yes, I know, there are other factors around the pulp and paper industries and the challenges they face. Supply management is a challenge. The up and coming markets in China are changing pulp and paper needs.

I know the industry is changing but one thing they don't need is being faced with constantly increasing costs in their energy rates. They won't be able to survive in this province. Perhaps the government needs to show true leadership and suggest to Nova Scotia Power that perhaps they need to look at competition. Maybe we need to be encouraging some of our bigger industries to start producing power inside the fence. Just imagine what it would look like - a wind turbine, or two, or three, sitting in a community, generating power not only for industry but also generating power for local businesses, small businesses, for schools, for institutions, for residences. Sustainable development, sustainable energy, what a concept, but we're not showing true leadership.

[2:15 p.m.]

As we move forward in the next coming years, our energy issues will continue to grow and we will be faced with these same sorts of questions and concerns - why are

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we not moving forward? We have known for the last 10 to 15, 20, 30 years that we would be faced with these concerns in this province. We have been held hostage and captive with Nova Scotia Power and we refuse to stand up and go toe-to-toe and say enough is enough. We refuse to stand up and say we know better now. We refuse to acknowledge all of the expertise out there. We refuse to seriously sit at the table and take recommendations seriously, to move them forward. This government had demonstrated its inability to act, to act when given a chance. I've looked at the energy strategies. I've read through the renewable energy strategies and what do I see? Nothing that is clearly comprehensive, nothing that is moving us forward.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member if she would take a question?

MR. SPEAKER: Will the honourable member for Queens take a question?

MS. CONRAD: No, I would rather not.

MR. SPEAKER: The answer is no, honourable minister.

The honourable member for Queens has the floor.

MS. CONRAD: If I can continue, I do acknowledge that Nova Scotia Power has been moving forward in little short steps, moving forward with, you know - there are some turbines out there, absolutely, no question, but we need to be more aggressive - 28 is not a lot. In the last several years 28 - and I can tell you probably all of the megawatts of all of those turbines and I can tell you a lot of them are test towers. We're still testing the wind here in Nova Scotia, which I hope doesn't stop blowing, contrary to popular belief. I don't think the wind does stop blowing.

Again, this bill could have had so much more. I'm really disappointed that the Minister of Environment and Labour, who put this bill forward, had such an opportunity to address not only our energy issues here in the province but our environmental issues. Everything revolves around our environment, whether we're talking energy, whether we are talking health issues, whether we are talking educational issues, whether we are talking economic development. What about economic development in this piece of legislation?

This minister missed a lot of opportunities here. A lot. Although I'm sure this piece of legislation will pass, because I totally agree it's time to put the brakes on Nova Scotia Power requesting yet again another rate increase, I agree with that, but we need to be more aggressive. We need to talk about what's happening now in our province. We

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need to leave a legacy, we need to stand up to Nova Scotia Power and really say enough is enough.

With that, I thank you, Mr. Speaker. I look forward to the government at some point in time adding an amendment to this piece of legislation. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I'm happy to stand here today and talk with regard to Bill No. 20, which deals with the Public Utilities Act, and deals with Nova Scotia Power.

It was quite interesting to stand here and listen to the debate of the honourable member for Queens. Certainly, she's very knowledgeable in the energy sector. I think we can all learn from one another here by listening.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 20 basically does one thing, it prevents Nova Scotia Power from being granted more than one general rate increase in any 12-month period. On face value, when you first glance at that you think this is a good thing, especially for people who have just gone through any kind of an increase, which is all of us. In fact, the last one was the 8.9 per cent increase.

However, Mr. Speaker, we all know that, indeed, government's job here is to provide a leading role in the objectives that the people in this province face. One of the big issues people in this province face right now is the rising cost of energy. Instead of the government leading the way for Nova Scotia Power to go down the road of renewable energy, this is the kind of bill we see here today. Little more than two sentences.

It's government's job to hold Nova Scotia Power accountable, to hold them accountable on the amount of emissions they release into the air. We all know Nova Scotia Power is one of the biggest polluters in Canada. In fact, when I was Environment Critic, the top 10 most-polluted places in Canada were here in Nova Scotia. That's not something we can ever be proud of.

We can't forget those facts are a reality, and instead of just staying at a standstill, which is basically what we're doing, we should be looking at proactive ways that are going to generate economic development for our young people in Nova Scotia. We know we have a huge problem here with out-migration, and we should be looking at ways in which we can use our energy problem to come up with solutions for us and for the next generation.

It's the government's job to hold Nova Scotia Power accountable to provide this renewable energy that we need. It's the government's job to be the voice of the people

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in Nova Scotia who don't have a voice as far as their electricity bills are generated. We all know that Nova Scotia Power is in business to make a profit. Unfortunately, the commodity they're making a profit on is a necessity of life for the people who live in Nova Scotia. We're not living in Florida, we're living in Nova Scotia. I've already seen in the last few days that it is snowing, it is cold out, people have had their heat on. If you talk to seniors now who are starting to call the constituency offices, they're going to be telling you they can't put on another layer of clothing.

These are real people with real issues, and it's a shame that the Government of Nova Scotia has not taken on a more proactive leadership role in coming forward with a bill which would address some of the issues that people in Nova Scotia are facing.

I think sometime this summer Nova Scotia Power, if everybody recalls, sent out along with your power bill, a little piece of glossy paper that gave you some tips on how to save on your energy consumption. One of them was to hang out your clothes - that is one of the ones that I recall. Now a lot of people don't have a clothesline.

Another thing that the government and Nova Scotia Power were talking about is to upgrade your insulation. Believe it or not, a lot of homes in Nova Scotia are still insulated with seaweed. Some homes have no insulation at all. Seniors are living in homes in Nova Scotia where they are not living in a comfortable environment. They have, indeed, closed off portions of their home, sometimes only a room, sometimes the whole upstairs or the downstairs, or their recreational areas and such. This is what it has come down to in Nova Scotia. I am not just talking about a comfort level here as far as being comfortable in your home and enjoying your home, I am talking about people in Nova Scotia making hard decisions every day on whether or not they are going to pay their power bill, pay their rent, put food on the table, buy the sneakers for their kids to go to school with, give their children the necessities they need. These are the kinds of issues people are facing in Nova Scotia because our power rates keep going up and up and up.

This bill may address the issue of, well, they are only going to go up once a year, but it is not going to stop the amount that they are going to go up, even if they went up once a year. Maybe it is going to be double the amount that they went up if they had gone up twice, who knows. It is not addressing the issue that, if we continue along the road we are following now, which is not the road to renewable sources of energy, this is only going to get worse and I don't really know where it is going to end, Mr. Speaker.

Last year in my office, when we had the summer budget here, after we found that the Keep the Heat Program was going to be cancelled, people were astonished and even now some people don't understand that the Keep the Heat Program is no longer in existence. That was a good little program and indeed - some people, even though the HST has come off right now, the Keep the Heat Program - actually some people would have come out further ahead with that because of the amount of energy that they actually

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use, Mr. Speaker. Some people are using a very small amount of energy because they simply cannot afford to use more.

Last year I had people in my constituency who got the Keep the Heat Program rebate, they applied for it. They also ended up going to various churches in my community and outside the community to try and get help. They went to the Salvation Army because last winter the Salvation Army did have some money that Nova Scotia Power provided for them. I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, and maybe I will find out later, I don't think people know if Nova Scotia Power - it was in the paper the other day, I believe the Salvation Army was saying that they didn't know if Nova Scotia Power was going to provide them with that pot of money again this year. I have people in my constituency who have now moved out of the constituency, who have been living in a duplex, cannot afford the heat any longer, had to move out of the constituency into an apartment because the apartment's rent included the heat. They felt downtrodden, they felt that the could not afford to pay the heat anymore. It is not nice to have to phone churches and ask for money and I am very thankful to the churches in my community and in other communities that have helped people out when they have had their backs against the wall.

What does this do to people when they have to phone their MLA and ask for help and tell the MLA that they can't pay their heat, that they've been to the food bank already that month - you can only go to a food bank once a month, Mr. Speaker - what does that do to people's self-esteem? What does it do to the children who live in the home? These are the questions that are facing some of our lowest income earners in Nova Scotia.

We're talking about electricity, but electricity is a necessity of life. Unless you own a share in Nova Scotia Power, you really don't have a say in what Nova Scotia Power is going to do. The only say that people in Nova Scotia have with Nova Scotia Power is through this facility that we're standing in here today, Mr. Speaker. We're the voice - specifically the government and the Official Opposition, trying to hold them accountable. The government there is supposed to be the voice of the people. They're supposed to be protecting the people of Nova Scotia, making sure that Nova Scotia Power does everything that they can possibly do to bring down the cost of electricity in this province.

Mr. Speaker, we've heard one of the ministers talk about, the wind doesn't always blow. Now, he didn't make that quote up himself. When I was the Environment Critic, and I won't say the name, but somebody high up in Nova Scotia Power, after sitting through some questioning by me on renewable energy, told me, but, Joan, you know the wind doesn't blow all the time. It's not just the minister saying that. I'm sorry, but Nova Scotia Power, people who are at the top of the pyramid there think the same way. Now that's not a good thing, I don't think.

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Let's face it, we also get that old adage all the time, well, we burn coal, we can't change overnight. Well, at this rate - we have to move in some kind of direction. We have to move, not at a snail's pace, at least let's go at a turtle's pace or something. Come on. Let's move a little bit faster on these kinds of issues.

Mr. Speaker, it's a shame, it really is, that we're faced here today with a couple of lines on a piece of paper that really shows the missed opportunities that this government, the Government of Nova Scotia - maybe they're going to address them down the road, I don't know. Maybe there's a bill waiting in the wings somewhere that has more teeth to it. I can't help expressing that it's the government's job to lead Nova Scotia Power. Nova Scotia Power is not going to do it on their own. They're there to make a profit, they're there to get a guaranteed 10 per cent return, I believe, for their shareholders. It was a previous government that signed all those documents that made that happen. We can cry over spilled milk now, but I think there are opportunities to move forward on.

Right now in Nova Scotia you can go through the energy audit. I know some people can afford to do that, but I have people phoning my office when they read about it in the paper or they hear about it on the radio. They don't see all the details. Unfortunately, a lot of people can't afford the $150 to start with, and then if they can afford the $150, someone comes in and they do your post-refit evaluation. They figure out what percentage of energy efficiency level you're at now in your home, and then they leave with a list of possibilities that you can do to improve the use of less energy. That's what we're all trying to do.

[2:30 p.m.]

Then they come in after you have spent however much money it's going to cost to upgrade, and that could be your insulation - and we all know that the average - if you put around $2,000 of insulation in your home, that makes a huge impact on the amount of energy you're going to save over the life of your home or how long you live in it. Unfortunately, a lot of people simply just can't afford, they don't have the $2,000, they don't have the $1,000. So, instead, there are people like, an example, I think we all received an e-mail a while ago, from I believe it was a daughter, her mom has been living in the same house since 1941. The house was never insulated. That senior is paying $420 a month for electricity to heat her home.

We all know that the government grants are for home energy repairs. They're for emergency repairs only, those grants. This lady has an income of $12,000 a year. If we're talking about a government that wants to keep seniors in their homes because it's more cost- effective, they're happier there, they're in their communities with their loved ones, we have to find a way to keep them in their homes. We have to find a way to make their homes safe, secure and energy efficient. Those are the kinds of things that we have

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to look at doing, Mr. Speaker. But again, you know, we've got a missed opportunity here.

Government is not addressing our energy needs in a really defined and detailed process. They're not moving forward with a renewable energy strategy that has timelines, that will show people that indeed the government is accountable, that when they make a promise, they keep a promise, and if they don't reach that timeline, they have to let us know why that didn't happen. They're not moving forward in helping us conserve energy but, Nova Scotia Power, it's fine and dandy for them to say hang your clothes out on your clothesline. Well, we don't all have a clothesline. The simplistic view that Nova Scotia Power is taking, well, you can't blame them, they're in it for profit but the government is again missing these opportunities.

This is a huge opportunity for economic development. The Human Resources Committee this morning had student reps in from the province talking about the cost of post-secondary education in Nova Scotia and how we have got a real problem with rural students not being able to access post-secondary education and that it costs them more because, Mr. Speaker, they don't live here in the city where the universities are, they have to move from home and most of the students are holding down 17 hour, 20 hour to 30 hour a week jobs on top of trying to get a post-secondary education.

So why are we not looking at being the producers of technology for wind power, tidal power, solar power? Why are we not planning on being the exporters of this technology from our harbour to other parts of the world? Instead I believe ships probably come in here loaded up with the stuff and head back out. We're not producing this technology here. So this is a way for the province to move forward with economic development.

Mr. Speaker, you know, recently, well, last summer, the summer before - I know a lot of the MLAs get out and they canvass their constituencies. I was lucky enough to have a petition with me which was our petition on the rate increase. That petition received over 32,000 signatures and that was asking the government to stop the power increases, Nova Scotia Power to stop the power increases until people could receive some kind of help in reducing electricity consumption. I think Nova Scotia Power's answer to that was hang your clothes out on the clothesline, but people on low and fixed incomes, I can't say enough. They are not prepared. They cannot afford another rate increase. Whether it's one a year, one every two years, you know, it really comes down to that. People on fixed incomes, seniors are making hard decisions. Single moms in the province are making hard decisions. Single dads in the province are making hard decisions.

We're talking food versus heat here, Mr. Speaker, it's as simple as that. People on income assistance in Nova Scotia are the largest group that access our food banks. The most common person who goes to our food banks is a lone parent, more lone parents

[Page 1260]

are accessing them. These parents are trying to feed 8,000 children in Nova Scotia. We know that the average power bill consumes 11 per cent of a social assistance income and in 2003 there were 2,131 households that had their power disconnected. Now, Nova Scotia Power goes out and disconnects people from being able to receive their power source and, you know, that doesn't just happen, like somebody says, oh, I'm just not going to bother paying my bill. They struggle. People are struggling to put food on the table, to heat their homes, to do what they can for their children, and often times, you know, you'll cut back and you'll cut back on your heat, but eventually you have to have some and what happens is people just come to the point where they can't afford to pay it at all.

Mr. Speaker, it's very sad and what are we going to do about it? Well, we're going to have a bill that says Nova Scotia Power can't be granted more than one rate increase in a 12-month period. That's what we're going to do about it. We've missed an opportunity here. I would like to see a bill come forward that says, how are we going to invest in tidal power? How are we going to invest in wind solar power? How are we going to cut our emissions. We have the highest asthma rates still, I think, in Canada. We're one of the most polluted provinces. This is not something that we can be proud of. We need to come to be known as an exporter of renewable technology. We need to invest in these kinds of projects.

Mr. Speaker, recently now we've seen that the energy rebate on oil/wood, wood pellets and our propane, kerosene and coal, has come forward. The government was not going to bring that forward until January and through pressure from us, we'll now see it come forward earlier. So I think Nova Scotians, on the average, are hoping to save around $200 per year with this initiative. There's something that is addressing the immediate concern, the immediate issue, but we need to have a vision. We need to go forward with a bigger plan so that we don't have to be reactive all the time. We should be proactive. We're just reacting to crisis after crisis with our energy problems.

Mr. Speaker, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member if I could ask her a question.

MR. SPEAKER: Will the honourable member accept a question from the Minister of Energy? (Interruption) The answer is no, honourable minister.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, recently, I've had some correspondence with a lady who is involved with the YWCA, and this lady works in the office of women in supported housing, that is the name of the department. She is telling me that this increase is simply not acceptable. It's basically the fourth, or something, that we've had in two

[Page 1261]

years. I don't know? I can't keep track of it myself. Many people in my constituency are living below the poverty line. They simply, I'm sorry, cannot afford another power rate increase. That's the bottom line.

This women is asking me, what can you do to help these women? What can I do? I can stand here and debate Bill No. 20. I can talk about the things that I'd like the government to start working on and to start doing, but my hands are tied. I'm not the government. I'm in the Official Opposition. This is what Province House is for. It's for us to stand here, listen to one another, debate thoughts and see what kind of a reaction and if anybody's listening and they're going to go out there and do something about it.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say, thank you again to the churches and service clubs in Dartmouth East and around my constituency, and the Salvation Army, that have really helped constituents in Dartmouth East. I wish they didn't have to do that. The food banks were supposed to be a temporary thing in Nova Scotia. How many people a year are they feeding now? I think it's a crutch for the government. If those disappeared, it's like taking - if you took all the volunteers out of the school system, if you did all these things, where would that leave us? It's just simply not good enough.

I'm going to end by saying, I hope that we see some bills in the near future that address some of the issues that myself and other members from the Liberal Party, members from our Party, have talked about here, on this bill and I just hope somebody has been listening. So on that, I'm going to take my place. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour on an introduction.

HON. MARK PARENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, in the gallery behind me, I would like to introduce to you - is he gone? Oh, he's gone. I'd like to introduce you to Casper the Ghost who just disappeared. (Laughter)

I was going to introduce my campaign manager and laud him on getting me re-elected three times, with ever-increasing majorities. Anyway, I'll sit down, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'm sorry that the campaign manager is gone. I'm sorry that the government is still here. However, I do like to always begin on a positive note and I will do so again today by saying that this bill is good in the fact that it's designed to restrict Nova Scotia Power Inc. to one general increase in a 12-month period. Certainly that's much better than one times two

[Page 1262]

or whatever. It's a situation where we have had up to three and maybe even four increases in a year.

I believe a primary concern of this bill is the fact that there is even an escape mechanism in relation to this bill if the board determines that exceptional circumstances exist. Well, Mr. Speaker, that really concerns me because the bill allows for a hearing to determine whether exceptional circumstances exist.

[2:45 p.m.]

Now my question is, who is best represented at these hearings? Mr. Speaker, is it the hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotians who are out there trying to eke out a living and to find enough money to pay for their household needs, including electricity costs? Or, Mr. Speaker, is it the power utility with the high-paid lawyers and the chartered accountants and all the other expertise that they have available to bring in for support at a hearing?

Now, talking about hearing, I'm hearing a lot in my constituency of Pictou East about power rates. I'm going out into the constituency with office hours on a weekly basis, rotating office hours throughout the constituency every Thursday. What I'm hearing from the people of Pictou East is that service was, in fact, better back in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, and we have already had a bit of a debate in relation to public versus private. I will not get into that today, Mr. Speaker.

However, what has changed in the last two decades? Well, a lot of things have and perhaps I will even entertain something on the lighter side. Certainly back in those days, in the 1970s and 1980s, and even back in the 1960s, we never heard of interruptions by salty fog. Salty fog was not an issue back then. One of the changes that just came to my mind as I was about to get up today is that when you look at the changes in our households, one primary change, which is perhaps the lighter side that I was referring to, is in relation to alarm clocks. Back in the old days we had a basic clock; today we have hybrid clocks. They are radios and they don't make any noise. (Interruptions) Yes, even digital.

The situation today, Mr. Speaker, is one that I know from a personal perspective. I've always over the years hated to have a clock in my bedroom, close to my head, with a tick, tick, tick. Now, lots of times, the thing that bothers me even more than that tick, tick, tick is the constant flash, flash, flash when the power has been out and the power has come back on. I don't know how many times I have looked at that alarm clock in recent times, and I've seen that flash, flash, flash because the power has been out.

Just in the last week, in my hometown of Westville, Halloween came twice. It came on October 31st, and the very next night a huge transformer was sending off sparks like you would not believe. It did that for quite some time before the darn thing

[Page 1263]

exploded. Mr. Speaker, a large number of residents in my community and extending right out into the community of the member for Pictou West, right out to Salem were without power for a period of time in relationship to that transformer. That's just a little example of what we're experiencing. The very same night, I understand that the power went off twice in the metro area because of that salty fog. The salty fog was there.

Mr. Speaker, I'm really concerned about what's happening with this, and to have a bill that has a one-sentence Explanatory Note, to have a bill that is half a page when we could be dealing with tidal power, when we could be dealing with wind power and hydro power, I think it's fundamentally wrong that we deal with such a bill, a bill that is designed, I believe, to clean up one of the messes. We could call this a mess cleaning bill.

Mr. Speaker, that is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I have a question, if the member would entertain a question.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member entertain a question?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I have a limited period of time, and I will entertain any speakers when I'm through, and any questions . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would take that, honourable minister, as a no.

MR. MACKINNON: . . . but not at this moment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, in Pictou County, $45 million has been allocated to do some major overhaul of stack No. 5 in Trenton. There is a move afoot by Nova Scotia Power Inc. to come up with a bagging system to collect the particulate matter that is coming out of the stacks. The question being put to me in Pictou County is, who will pay for the $45 million being spent there? I'm wondering, will it be the shareholders who will invest in this, or will it be the ratepayers who come up with footing the bill for that $45 million? My guess is that there's a reason why they call us the ratepayers, because I think it's going to come back to us.

Mr. Speaker, I have had over 325 concerns presented to me since June 13th of a very serious nature, not just the phone calls but those that require a lot of looking into.

[Page 1264]

I have one here from a constituent who is legally blind, who is an advocate for the disabled, who is an advocate for the poor and for the destitute. He's asking me a series of questions in relation to Nova Scotia Power Inc.

The first one is, who will pay for the Stora Enso break? He's asking about bonuses that are paid to executives of Nova Scotia Power Inc. He's asking, why are bonuses paid to people when they're doing a good job, because isn't it expected that if you're a high paid executive that you're going to be doing a good job? What is the salary of the current CEO? He says the previous CEO was from the United States and spent 25 per cent of his time here. He's wondering what the status is of the present CEO. I think these are good questions. He goes on with a series of other concerns as well. I intend to investigate and look into those concerns for him.

Last night, the member for Halifax Chebucto talked about a new word that was being used in circles in relationship to power, and that was energy poverty. Energy poverty, and I'm running into that on a day-by-day basis in my constituency.

I had a person come to me the other day and say, Clarrie, I have a $150 power bill that I can't pay and the power is going to be turned off within two days. I have had a number of cases like that where I have had to intervene on power bills, where I have had to talk to the head of customer services for northern Nova Scotia. I know that on this very day in my constituency, there are some people who are very, very concerned about getting power bills paid.

I say that because by this point, this House should realize that one of the primary concerns that I have is out-migration. Out-migration is occurring to such a great extent in my constituency because just at this time last year there were 1,000 workers at Trenton Works - 400 of them were laid off before Christmas last year, 550 of the remaining 600 were laid off a few weeks ago. I was told by the president of the union yesterday that the current employment figure is now 28 workers - 28 workers and there were 1,000 last year.

A number of people working at Trenton Works have come to me regarding their bill situation. Not only are they waiting for the two-week qualifying period for EI, but they're also waiting for that very vital first cheque, and the power bills that are on their fridges waiting to be paid are a real concern to them. They're an extra concern because of the increases that have taken place within the last year.

Mr. Speaker, there are some people who will be going to bed tonight in Nova Scotia who will awaken in the middle of the night in a cold sweat being very concerned about power and other bills that they cannot afford to pay. They are having nightmares over their bills. I can't help but contrast that to the pleasant dreams of profit that other people may be having.

[Page 1265]

Mr. Speaker, this is a serious situation that we face with Nova Scotia Power Inc. It is a situation that requires more than a half-page bill. On that note, I'm about to conclude by saying I wish there was, in fact, a better way than Bill No. 20 to transfer just a little comfort from shareholders and provide a little comfort to the ratepayers. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in my place today and say a few words about Bill No. 20. Much has been said about the lack of overall verbiage in this bill and I also want to put in my two cents' worth about the lack of any large amount of substance to this bill.

[3:00 p.m.]

I think most people agree with the premise of the bill. The problem is, and it's indicative of this government in a large way, we do have a problem in the electrical marketplace, we do. So what they do, rather than this government coming forward and looking at the Electricity Marketplace Governance Committee, their report from two years ago, they bring in these little bills that nibble around the edges of the problem in the energy market in this province and don't do anything substantive - I will get to this later - it's obviously other modes of producing energy so that we're not bound to NSPI's version of how we produce our energy.

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that Nova Scotia Power has tied itself heavily with coal generation and they are quite happy to stay there, although they do it, I would say, with a great deal of inefficiencies. You know back in the early Spring of this year, or late winter, the power authority at this time was talking about putting scrubbers on the generating station at Lingan, which is the largest generating station in the province and which happens to be one of the largest polluters in all of Canada - not just this province but in all of Canada.

We have now seen that they can't get consensus on what precipitator to use, so now that project has been shelved for awhile until they go back and reconfigure and decide what they are going to do.

Now where is government in all of this? They are going to go back to NSPI and say, okay, you can only come to us for a rate increase once a year, except under extraordinary circumstances, but they basically ignored this real problem. In my community, Mr. Speaker, we have continuous problems with fly ash and we know we have that in Pictou County and in Dartmouth North. It's a problem throughout this province. What this government chooses to say, the government says, you know what, we have to look at the EMGC and say, what are we going to do? Let's look at this bill, or let's look at this report on the governance and it's done by experts.

[Page 1266]

It was asked for by government, they initiated it, they went out and picked the experts to do this and now they're studying it. Now, did government go and say, look, do you know what, some of this information is flawed and so what we're going to do is we're going to ask another group of experts to study it? No. As a matter of fact, in Question Period last week when I was asking the Minister of Energy on this very subject, it's the handpicked leader of Conserve Nova Scotia who is going to tell us what the experts have already told us.

So, Mr. Speaker, where is that at? What and where does that make any sense? We have someone who has told us that they know absolutely nothing about the energy sector, nothing about conserving energy, but yet she is going to be the final arbiter on what EMGC said. Does that make sense? EMGC has come up with some proposals that if they were put forward here, we could debate them in this House. We could bring them forward and we would have a more substantive bill than Bill No. 20. We would not be just talking about one small little aspect of how we approve the energy costs in this province but yet this government, rather than say, look, we are a minority government, there are more people sitting on this side of the House than that side of the House, let's work towards a compromise and use this as an opportunity. We'll take this opportunity now to formulate an energy policy that all Nova Scotians can embrace.

No, this government has chosen the "do nothing", or "do very little" attitude. What they've decided to do is give us these little moves and, you know, later on we'll be debating Bill No. 84 which suffers from the same problem. It takes energy and just kind of piecemealed it as opposed to looking at it and making us real, real players in a green economy. It just grabs little bits and pieces that make no real sense and no real difference in the marketplace; often by themselves they're not offensive changes. Bill No. 20 is not offensive. I guess if it is offensive, it's offensive in its lack of overall vision for this province. That's what's wrong with it.

I don't think anybody on any side of this House is necessarily against the fact that the regulators should curtail the utility coming back just once a year. I think most people here agree with that, but this government has really done nothing substantive because, you know, my colleague, the member for Pictou East, started talking earlier about the impact at Trenton Works, indeed about Stora Enso, and the large suppliers. Well, I'm not so much worried about who's going to pay for that. One would always hope that Stora will pay for its own dime and that's fine.

What really worries me, Mr. Speaker, without a comprehensive energy plan for this province, Trenton Works may never open again in a substantive way. What we will have with Bowater, what effect, and what effect does Stora have because if you listened last year, Stora's problem was its ability to forecast for a decent view into the future - five to six years - so they could stabilize that market because we all know what the international markets are around pulp and paper. That's what they're looking for and that's what I think in a roundabout way they were saying that government was helpless

[Page 1267]

with this vision, but government has ignored that. Government has ignored industry and its role here of trying to stabilize our energy market. We've completely ignored it, but we're going to pander to a very small - and say, look, at what we've done, much like Question Period today when we debated about the substantive thing they did around crime.

It's stuff, it's bills they haven't proclaimed. It's a lot of bills that are off in the future, nothing in the present, Mr. Speaker. So there's absolutely no vision here. Now, you know, last night, my colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto, spoke much more eloquently than I could about the overall ownership of NSPI and, you know, he is absolutely right that the ownership of NSPI is so far out of this province, it's sometimes more than half a world away. It's run - and it's not motivated for the people of Nova Scotia, it's motivated for the profitability of its investors, and those investors, by and large, aren't residents of this province. Their idea is - they don't care if you burn coal and don't put precipitators on a stack, they don't care if the land is laid to waste, it's just a matter of being able to reap that profit - they're not living here, so why should they worry about that?

With the absence of real ownership and the province being involved as a regulator, that's where we have to show vision. That's what I would have liked to have seen in Bill No. 20, a real idea around the energy marketplace, the electricity marketplace, but this government does not want to bring that forward. This government does not want to be a forward-thinking government that would allow its citizens to have a real debate about the larger issues in this House, where we should be. We've seen ministers getting up and wanting to ask members of our caucus questions today. Well, I hope those ministers are asking their Cabinet colleagues questions about this bill, not our members. We're trying to educate them, but they should be asking those questions in Cabinet. That's the problem, apparently they're not. I don't know if they're being muzzled or whatever, but the reality is why aren't we looking at the more substantive issues around the energy marketplace as opposed to a small bill like Bill No. 20?

We can all talk about the problems with the service around Nova Scotia Power, and indeed Nova Scotia Power is an easy mule to kick - it doesn't take any great orator to say nasty things about NSPI.

Mr. Speaker, I've got to really look at this and say that I have, just within three kilometres of my house, one the largest polluters in this country, and that's the Lingan generating station. There is the overall problem with that, when you see that the people in Dominion, they suffer from the fly ash and so on and the hazards to their health, the damage it does to their automobiles, the siding on their houses, all these things, and then you have other problems, too. You have an ongoing battle with Nova Scotia Power and the amount of water it takes from CBRM on a demand load, to the point that residents on Hinchey Avenue in New Waterford are having problems getting clean water, potable water to even do their wash, where it comes out grey and dirty because they're causing

[Page 1268]

such a surge of water and they're using overcapacity. Yet, when we talk to Nova Scotia Power about that, they deny doing it, and you talk to CBRM and they say, yes, they are doing it, and we're trying to get to the bottom of this.

If we had a full discussion around the electricity marketplace, Mr. Speaker, then Bill No. 20 may be a more substantive bill than what we see in front of us today. Still, the people in my community that I represent still have these problems. There were people there last year when Nova Scotia Power - everyone was out - when they were going to put the precipitators on, but nobody was there from this government to talk about the problem when they pulled back from it. Many of us can remember, it was the weekend before the June 13th election when they brought it up, but now we're backing off from it. Where was government to play a role in that? Well, the government was silent on it, much like this bill - overall it's silent.

One would hope that as this bill moves forward, we'll say, that the government will realize the error of its ways, and when it gets over to the Law Amendments Committee they'll say, you know what, we're not going to just put water in that soup, we're actually going to put meat and vegetables in it, and we're really going to thicken it, and we're going to make it something substantive for Nova Scotians to get a hold on - but I don't hold out any great hope for that, Mr. Speaker.

Many of my colleagues spoke on the fact of what Nova Scotia Power is using for their source of energy, coal, and the problems. Mr. Speaker, as you well know, many of us - members from up around Springhill and Cape Breton and Pictou County know all too well the line - blood on the coal.

That is probably echoed fairly loudly now when we see some of the areas that NSPI goes out to get its fuel source from in Third World countries, such as Columbia, and the conditions those workers are forced to work in that Bill No. 20 does not address at all, that these workers are not much better than slave- or feudal-type systems they work in. Whole towns being destroyed by the mine barons and so on. People being killed and maimed in these mines. Yet when these incidents are brought forward to Nova Scotia Power, it seems to just roll off its back. It says, well, you know, that's the cost of doing business.

Mr. Speaker, I come from a perspective that people should not have to give up their lives to work. You should work to live, not to die. That is a blight on Nova Scotian industry, and it goes back to the fact that industry is not owned by Nova Scotians, it is owned by people far from the borders of this province, and I would say, indeed, far from the borders of this country. Yet we'll be the ones marred with that, because it does have the name Nova Scotia on it, and we will have that blot on our record.

I guess none of us can really speak and try and give up the opportunity of this fog story from the other week, because it is truly a bizarre story. It is only made more bizarre

[Page 1269]

that the PR flacks from Nova Scotia Power would actually expect us and the public to believe it. As long as I can remember in this province we've had fog. Maybe at the height of the building over here where their headquarters are, maybe the fog doesn't reach up that high, I don't know. Mr. Speaker, we've had fog here since forever. I don't know, maybe places where we had the eternal sunshine, like Sydney Mines, it never gets foggy. Maybe in Cranberry it is tropical, I don't know, Mr. Speaker, you could probably fill me in on that better.

[3:15 p.m.]

After over half a century, more than half a century of producing electricity in this province, all of a sudden fog is causing outages. Fog. Fog in Atlantic Canada, who would ever have thunk it, huh, that we'd have fog in Atlantic Canada.

You know, Margaret Murphy, God love her, she did a great job for the then Premier Russell MacLellan, she is doing just a great job for Nova Scotia Power, but to come and say that and foist that on the people of Nova Scotia is rather embarrassing. Look, if it is inadequacy of maintenance, well, then say it, but don't be putting it out there, because even scientists will tell you that there is no such thing, actually, because the salt will dissipate in the fog, it doesn't rise with the fog, it dissipates. It is just water vapour, there is no salt in that vapour. It is as simple as that, and they know that. So why would they purport that and put that out there for hard-working Nova Scotians to try and swallow? That is quite erroneous, but yet we're out there to do this.

Again, I have to go back to the premise of the bill, and if Bill No. 20 was to talk about that, talk about maintenance and so on, then we'd have less to talk about if there was more in the bill, if that makes sense, Mr. Speaker. It is true, because we would not be here - we would be engaged in a very earnest debate, I am sure, more earnest maybe than even this one, but we would be able to say to the people of Nova Scotia, look, this is a substantive piece of legislation and we're really moving forward.

We're moving forward, Mr. Speaker, and even from New Waterford all the way to Amherst, we went from border to border, we would go out and we would try to do something substantive. No, what we have here is a little bill that nibbles at the edges, barely breaks a sweat, if you will, when it talks about what we can do about the energy problems that face Nova Scotia.

We'll have Bill No. 84 coming up fairly soon in this House, talking about wind energy, and how it's going to be taxed municipally, and, again, on the face of it, it's a very good bill but, again, there are some inadequacies and I'll certainly talk more about that when that bill is brought forward in this House.

Mr. Speaker, some of the suggestions that we see around here as it relates to the energy concerns, we have groups now talking to us about tidal power, we have wind

[Page 1270]

energy, actually we even have wave power, well, that's not such a large item for energy consumption here. Certainly in British Columbia it seems to be hitting a stride there, and it's certainly something to look forward to, as any kind of energy change. It certainly has its pros and cons, as it relates to production and how it may affect fish habitat, I'm sure, some tidal power operations.

One of the real jewels in our energy production in this province is Wreck Cove. Now, Mr. Speaker, Wreck Cove is a peak demand type plant, as you're well aware. It's one that's used just at peak hours, morning and noon and supper hour, and then I don't think it produces on weekends or on holiday, but by and large it's used for peak demand. I want to assure my colleagues here from the HRM that that's who's the prime beneficiary of that power, people here in HRM.

I don't want to ever get into a debate in this House when I stand up about energy production and remind everybody in this House of the 1970s when everybody was being told to let them freeze in the dark - what energy source saved the bacon of Nova Scotians? That was the coal miners of Cape Breton. They opened mines, and these men worked hard long hours and kept the economy of this province going. There's a debt to be paid to those miners that some people seem to forget in their zealousness because it was a Crown Corporation and people thought that these men - that it was all a free ride for them.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you, and I'm sure you know first-hand, also, about the work that they've done, and the hard work, and, indeed, yes, some paid with their lives, and some are still paying today with broken bodies and so on. I want to make sure that gets on the record in this debate. No matter what we ever do with our energy needs in this province, this province will always owe a great deal of debt to the miners of Cape Breton for what they have done. Especially in the 1970s when there were sectors here that were in great trouble of folding and so on. We helped industry go, and we helped the Michelins go, because they could get power. We sold coal under the market rate, and so on. Some would say that was probably the downfall of the Cape Breton Development Corporation, because for years we supplied coal at below the market rate when we could have shipped it offshore.

Mr. Speaker, we had a Nova Scotia-first policy. I think a lot of people should be cognizant of that. Sometimes people say, well, these miners in Cape Breton got a lot of stuff for free, well, I'm going to tell you, as someone who had meat and potatoes on his table because of a coal miner, as you did, too, that it was not an easy life, and they deserved every penny and more, I would suspect. They deserve a great deal of our respect.

Mr. Speaker, a lot of these things have since gone. We don't see this - we don't look at that, I would suspect that was in an era when both those regimes were owned by government entities, one a federal one, one a provincial one. As my colleague, the

[Page 1271]

member for Pictou West said, that's probably a debate for another day. It's important that it really underlies that when we have control of the resource that creates our energy, how the marketplace works for us. That's why I think we go back to talking about renewables, and that we can get our own renewables here, how important that will be for us to take over the destiny of our energy production.

Within the wind energy sector, I know there are some differences - there are bigger ones, some are run by municipalities and some other small entities - and this is a constant to-ing and fro-ing of how they can best become economically viable. I think that debate will take place very soon, I hope, but yet that's an industry that could have been encouraged had we gone with EMGC, had we taken that report and moved it forward rather than leave a political entity, if you will, to decide the future of that report. I don't think that was a wise or prudent decision. Nevertheless, that was what the Premier opted for and I think it's one that will be more harmful, it lacks the vision, as I said earlier. That's what Bill No. 20 does not give us, it does not give us vision.

I guess the idea of once a year is an interesting one because while it will ensure that they will only ask once a year, except for kind of catastrophic reasons, but it will assure you that they will be here every year, whether they need one or not, there will be no benefit holidays like the government took with the health care workers. They will be here. They will be here every year, they'll be sitting there and as my colleague, the member for Pictou East, complained about his alarm clocks, well, their alarm clock will be set and it will beep about two days before and they'll say, let's get the brief together because we want another raise. Our year is up, come on.

What we have assured ourselves here is that they will be in front of URB every year, every year they'll be here, saying, we are entitled. We're entitled, here it is, our year's up, here's our note from the Premier, our year's up, he said, give us a year, here's our note. They will pass the note over and we'll move on from there.

You've guaranteed that every year the only people really happy about this are Nova Scotia Power and the commissioners of the URB who know they will have a little job to do once a year.

That's a problem that we will see here, but does Bill No. 20 contemplate that? No. It is a bill that lacks any real vision. We can talk about what goes on in the energy sector. We have stock here in transmission lines, power poles that are literally falling apart. That's part of what happened the other week, there are transmission lines, with Nova Scotia Power coming out of Lingan Generating Station that are now 30 years old.

These towers, I don't know how often they're inspected, I know they have a right-of-way on my property to go in. In the last 10 years, I haven't seen them use that right-of-way. My brother-in-law next door, same thing. They haven't used that right-of-

[Page 1272]

way to go up there. There's a horse track that's up there that's plowed, they can go right up there to the race track, the jogging track. They can get right in there.

THE PREMIER: Good horsemen live there.

MR. CORBETT: The Premier said good horsemen live there and I have to say there are some good horsemen in Inverness County, some of my very good friends. I would think the Premier would agree, we have mutual friends there that are in the horse industry. We won't name them because it would embarrass them. That is a good industry. I'm getting the eye from the Speaker, I think I'm wandering off the bill a little bit. It was rabbit tracks from the Premier. It's electrical power or horse power, I just got them mixed up, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions) I think it's another name for a donkey, for me.

But, this is very serious - we wish the government would have brought forward a bill, though, that would have helped Nova Scotia see a vision around our energy needs. We are looking at a time when renewables are coming up, we saw reports just last week out of Britain about what's going on and the future around what will happen with greenhouse gases and so on. This is something we may disagree in the kind of road map to get there, but we know where we want to go and there may be debate around it. This is the time to seize it because we see that the community is ready to talk seriously about alternate energy sources. The province, as a whole, is willing to go and say, look, we need this, we need this for our future. We can't be continuously mortgaging our children's futures around using carbon-based fuels. We've got to start looking at other things, but yet this bill will not offer this. This bill offers us just a very small little nibble. Bill No. 20 does not offer the people of this province much at all.

So, Mr. Speaker, while in essence I support this bill, I think there's much to be done and I think the government owes it to the people of Nova Scotia to bring in a bill that is more substantive. A bill that will really tell people that, you know, we, as 52 members in this House, are worried about what's happening today, what's going to happen to the future, what energy needs mean to our economy. That's what we're asking for this government to bring forward. We as a whole, I said, will be supporting this bill but I had wished, and maybe time is not too short, that the government will look at EMGC, bring the recommendations forward, let us all debate, and that's where we'll be.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, there are just a few comments I would like to make as well on Bill No. 20 which is the Act to Amend the Public Utilities Act. Certainly I've learned a lot in listening to previous speakers and we've certainly been all over the map when it comes to energy in relation to this bill. At the same time I think it's a subject that's very important to the people of Nova Scotia and, you know, we need to debate and consider the way that Nova Scotia Power deals with customers, the way

[Page 1273]

that the government can control or work with Nova Scotia Power as well to ensure that we have a reliable power provider for the province.

As has been said, Nova Scotia Power has a virtual monopoly. There are really no other producers of energy of any size - a little bit of wind power that we've talked about and a need to do an awful lot more to increase the amount of green energy that this province produces. That means helping the entrepreneurs who want to engage in that kind of development of green energy and also making a regulatory environment that's going to favour that rather than create obstacles, Mr. Speaker. Because we all feel very strongly in the Liberal caucus, and I'm sure others in this House as well, that the way to go in future has got to be to set the bar high that Nova Scotia will be a leader in green energy and we are not doing anything to position ourselves really in that way.

[3:30 p.m.]

We are slow to adapt, to innovate, and to modify partly because of our regulatory environment and frankly because of the nature of minority government, I would suggest, because it takes some bold thinking and it takes some strong action to bring in a plan that would really encourage green energy in this province and take our attention away from the status quo which has been the power plants that are using very low quality coal which creates very bad air and you know it better than anyone, Mr. Speaker, in Cape Breton, as was mentioned, the coal-fired plants are very damaging in terms of the health of the population.

Here in HRM, Tufts Cove is another example of a power generation facility that is spewing out a lot of pollution and we know again that Nova Scotia Power ranks among the top five polluters in the entire country and here we are in Nova Scotia ranking in the top five on a list we don't want to be on. You would expect that those big polluters would be in the heartland of Canada where the big industry is, you might expect it would be in Ontario or in Quebec where there are some really heavy industries but, no, the top polluters are here.

One of the top polluters is here in our own province, Mr. Speaker, and the cost of that is extreme. It isn't just an isolated idea that we're talking about. We're talking about health costs and we're talking about respiratory problems. Nova Scotia has one of the highest rates, I believe the highest rate of asthma in the country, it's either Nova Scotia or P.E.I., together having that dubious distinction. We have childhood asthma. We have respiratory problems. We have a high rate of cancer. You know these can be traced back to environmental problems and I think when we're looking at the costs of energy and we're looking at the regulatory environment for Nova Scotia Power, it's really important that some more bold thinking comes to the fore and that we start to look at ways that we can address this. As I say, there is a certain inertia that comes with a minority government and I think that we know that ourselves, sitting here, and perhaps the public doesn't know that inertia sets in and people don't want to do bold things. The

[Page 1274]

government doesn't want to propose things that are going to create a lot of change or discussion. Therefore we do small bills, as was just mentioned by the previous speaker.

This is a small bill, Bill No. 20, to make a small change in the way Nova Scotia Power does business and how we regulate the business of Nova Scotia Power. This bill is proposing only that we prevent NS Power from asking for more than one rate increase per year. That is a great idea, given that sometimes they have come for more than one and there has been a threat that they will come for extra increases in a given year. Clearly we would want to control that and say that once a year is plenty.

One of the things I would like to mention , Mr. Speaker, is just what a costly process it is to go before the Utility and Review Board. I had, I guess, the privilege of being there not long ago to sit in for those hearings. The Liberal caucus was an intervener at that time so we were following all of the proceedings. It went on for days and days and the lawyers for both sides wheeled in entire bookcases full of their background details, all of the information that supported whichever side of the case they were on. For Nova Scotia Power it was their lawyers making a strong case for why they needed to have an increase and all the costs and all the pressures they faced. On the other side there were other people wheeling in their bookcases full of material on poverty, on the impact of high costs of energy for business, and other interveners. We certainly had other interveners. We certainly had interveners from the large pulp and paper companies whose work is very much affected, their profits completely affected by the cost of energy which is probably their single largest overhead cost.

They came in with their strength, with their lawyers. This process went on for days and days with, again, our Utility and Review Board members listening to all of the evidence and then they have to go away with their lawyers. So, Mr. Speaker, as you can only imagine, there is a huge cost to doing that for all the stakeholders, for the interveners and all the players and the government as well. I see us going more and more to putting more work on the shoulders of the Utility and Review Board. Certainly they do a good job and they are dealing with these things well but I am not sure that we are not making too much use of them and that some of these decisions could be made here or could be made by the government, rather than having everything go before the Utility and Review Board.

Again, we don't want to see Nova Scotia Power having more than one increase a year so clearly this bill will have support. I have to go back to what the previous member spoke of, that is that this is really just a tiny detail in a picture that needs a complete strategy.

We can have a multitude of these bills come before us. One I would like to suggest to the government is one that would prevent Nova Scotia Power from disconnecting power in the winter months. I think that has been discussed in the past, some provinces have that in place. That would be another little piece that is very

[Page 1275]

important that would protect poor people who perhaps are behind in their payments, from being cold in the winter. I think, as members, we have all had individual constituents who have come to us in concern in the winter. I had one last March whose power was disconnected. It was still cold and she was a single mother with two children in her apartment.

This is a problem and that's another issue that I hope the Premier is listening - I see that he is. I am sure that he is going to consider that suggestion as well, while we are looking at small pieces of the puzzle that we can put together.

Really, as I say, one of the things we need to consider most of all is a bigger strategy for power and power generation and sale in this province. Without some dramatic changes in our thinking, we are going to continue to support the status quo, which means that we are going to have a lot of high energy costs that we can't control because we rely on coal, we rely on fossil fuels, we haven't taken any dramatic steps to alter that scenario. Other parts of the country use natural gas in significant quantities. Certainly Alberta and all the way across Ontario and Quebec use natural gas but here in this province we have 85 per cent of our households using either oil or electricity for heat. That makes us doubly vulnerable, Mr. Speaker, to the impacts of these high world energy prices.

For that reason I think that we need to have some dramatic thinking, whether it's a round table, whether we involve industry, but we have to signal, as legislators, that we're not satisfied with the status quo and that something has to change and it won't start until the government begins to ask for that to happen. If you're comfortably guaranteeing your investors a certain return and if you're able to go annually and get an increase, or at least ask for that increase through the mechanisms of the Utility and Review Board, then Nova Scotia Power is in a comfortable position of being able to go steady as she goes and not make any dramatic changes or dramatic investment in different kinds of energy.

I know there are a lot of risks associated with a switch to wind energy. I'm not saying that is the panacea for all of our power generation problems, but I do think there needs to be some pressure brought to bear to get Nova Scotia Power to consider these things more seriously.

Another example would be the natural gas I was speaking about that we actually have flowing right now in pipelines through our province and we're not making use of it. I know there has been an announcement not long ago that we were going to convert the hospitals and I believe Dalhousie University and Saint Mary's to natural gas and that's a good step forward, although I have no idea when that pipeline is going to reach over to this part of the city.

[Page 1276]

But right now natural gas is available at Tufts Cove and Nova Scotia Power is not utilizing it in any significant way, I'm not sure if they do it at all. What I've been told is that they get more money back by selling it through to the United States, letting it flow right through our province, right through New Brunswick and sell it in the United States for a better price.

But we could intervene, we only have at most maybe 20 years' worth of that Sable project natural gas. It's not infinite. We're going to sit here year after year and watch it flow to the United States and fuel their industry and their economy, while we accept poor air quality and pollution that we shouldn't accept in Nova Scotia, especially when the alternative is flowing by the door of one of the power generation plants. That can be utilized any time and it's not being utilized.

Maybe it requires some regulation. Maybe we should be looking at a bill right now that would require Nova Scotia Power to make use of the natural gas that is available to it right now and help improve the air quality here in this city and in other parts of the province. We're accepting, right now, that the Health Department is our biggest, single department, that it absorbs coming on close to 50 per cent of our budget and that's because we have health issues and health problems. We know some of them are related to air quality, so why would we not take some steps to do something meaningful about that?

Those are really the sort of questions that I think are important and that we should be discussing in this Legislature. I think the reason the speakers before me have also gone off topic is because these are pressing issues and they're not before the Legislature for us to talk about directly. I know you're going to offer me the same opportunity as the preceding speakers; however, I do recognize we are drifting off the immediate topic of having an annual review of the rates of Nova Scotia Power. (Interruption) That's right.

It's a very small bill. We're glad to see it, in that it will prevent multiple increases annually, but it does create a pattern where Nova Scotia Power asks for some double digit increase and ultimately gets a single digit increase and they're quite happy. Maybe that's the plan all along.

What I would like to see is Nova Scotia moving away from its dependence on fossil fuels and taking a lead. Every year we let go by, we are not the leaders, other jurisdictions are taking that lead. I've heard New York mentioned recently when I was listening to a radio documentary, California taking big steps. In fact, what was said was both those states have gone ahead of their federal government in making strong legislation and good rules that will protect their citizens and start to move into the wave of the future, which is to move away from fossil fuels and this dependency.

[Page 1277]

Yet, in Nova Scotia we say it, I think every Party has said it, we want to be world leaders and show the way, but we're not doing it. I would like to see something that pushes us beyond the inertia of this House so we can start to set that direction and start to make some really strong demands of industry and big incentives to help people that want to take the risks to go and develop these alternatives that we need so badly.

Again, as I said, we're very different from the rest of the country. In our province, 60 per cent of households, either wholly or partly, use home heating oil to fuel their house. The national average is 12.5 per cent. You know how vulnerable we are to the high cost of oil. We saw it in the summer with gasoline for cars. The prices spike and Nova Scotia, with less than 1 million people, a small amount of industry, 3 per cent of the Canadian market, is not about to influence world energy prices. That's beyond our control.

What we need to do, Mr. Speaker, is look for alternative ways that we can be better prepared for these cost increases because, although they ease off again at different times in the years and they're cyclical, overall the pressure is for increasing prices, and they're just going to move up and up over time. We know that's going to come, and there's no point in having our heads buried in the sand and expect that it won't. We know that's the move. We need programs that are going to help people be more fuel efficient, have their homes be more fuel efficient and better insulated, ways that we can have the same amount of energy go further.

That's the way we're going to help Nova Scotians. I think that requires, again, a concerted effort, a strategy, a plan, and we've not even really begun to scratch the surface on those things. Conserve Nova Scotia may have some hope in the future, but their first big announcement was just for the replacement of furnaces and nothing else. They've had three or four months to go away and vision, and they come back with one small program for the replacement of furnaces. (Interruptions) Well, they outsourced their visioning, and came back with the idea of one small program to start with.

There are so many other things that can be done. There have been other bills before the House, I would say Private Members' Bills from the Opposition benches, that have suggested other things that would be part of an overall strategy, one by one. Again going back to Bill No. 20 and Nova Scotia Power and their role, I really find the emphasis is so much towards the big consumers of energy and to the needs of Nova Scotia Power, and very little to the individuals who are very dependent on these rates in terms of making their ends meet. It's a major bill in most households, to cover electricity.

[3:45 p.m.]

I notice in this bill, in Section 64A(3), it actually says that the board can actually come back for another increase during the year if ". . . exceptional circumstances . . .

[Page 1278]

that have caused or will cause substantial financial harm to the ratepayers of the utility or to the utility." Now I certainly understand how the utility will speak up for itself when it's experiencing some kind of exceptional harm, but I'm not sure who the voice will be for the ratepayers who are suddenly feeling the pinch and are under some sort of exceptional harm as the year progresses.

I have a good idea that that will never be invoked on behalf of the ratepayers, and I think it's lip service to have included it in there, to say that we care about both sides of the coin, both the ratepayers and the utility itself. I would love to know what mechanism would ever trigger the exceptional decrease in the rates that would be based on hardship for the ratepayers. I think that really almost bears looking at in some further detail, because having put it in there I really don't believe that it would ever be triggered to lower the rates in the midst of a year, after you've allowed a rate increase for a utility.

I hope that the government will continue to work with groups that are trying to lobby for the needs of low-income Nova Scotians and their need for the security of electricity for heat and power for their daily living. There are a number of groups that have spoken out about this, and I believe that they need to be included in consultations as we go forward on anything to do with power and power rates.

I think what I'm really saying today is that there is a sense of urgency that's needed here in the Legislature, and that this bill should pass, and it can go to the Law Amendments Committee, and I hope we will hear from a few of the stakeholders around this bill, particularly those who are concerned about poverty and about the impact of power rates on those who live on social assistance or live on very limited income, because that's going to make a big difference, as well.

As it stands, the bill has our support in the Liberal caucus, and we hope to see that would be a maximum number of times for Nova Scotia Power to seek increases in a given year. As I say, I'm concerned, Mr. Speaker, that it doesn't go far enough to start mapping out or even signalling that the government has an intent to do something more far-reaching and something with more vision than what we're seeing here on this single bill with just a very small aspect that it's proposing.

Mr. Speaker, I do look forward to the Law Amendments Committee. I hope this will be noted by the ratepayers and by consumers, and that we will hear from them as well at the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad for an opportunity to speak to this piece of legislation, and I guess I'll preface my comments with some information from the Emera Web site. Whether members would know, the third quarter net earnings for the company are up this year. The consolidated net earnings were $19.5 million for

[Page 1279]

the third quarter in 2006 compared to $15.9 million in the third quarter of 2005, so a difference of approximately $4 million - slightly less. I'll quote from this and I'll table it for the members.

"The quarterly earnings improvement reflects higher earnings at the Company's largest subsidiary, Nova Scotia Power Inc. (NSPI). NSPI's contribution to consolidated earnings was $12.7 million in Q3 2006, compared with $2.7 million in Q3 2005." - a difference of $10 million - "The re-establishment of earnings levels in 2006 is due to the combined effect of an electricity price increase earlier this year; and higher proceeds from the resale of natural gas, which reduced overall fuel costs. Sales and production volume decreases associated with the temporary shutdown of a large industrial customer had a minimal effect on electricity margin in the quarter." - now I think we can all figure out who that large industrial customer would be - "On October 10th, Nova Scotia Power requested an average 7.5% increase in electricity rates for the coming year, to recover higher projected fuel costs, and previously deferred and approved expenses. Hearings are scheduled to begin January 22, 2007."

So, Mr. Speaker, October 10th is when Nova Scotia Power made its request to go before the Utility and Review Board and the hearing will be January 22nd - November, December, January, so it's slightly over three months. The piece of legislation we're talking about today, Bill No. 20, actually states that the utility may not be granted a general rate increase to take effect less than 12 months following the effective date of the last preceding general rate increase.

Mr. Speaker, this is something I think the government may want to look at because what it's saying is there's nothing to stop Nova Scotia Power from starting the process less than 12 months previous, it only means they can't be granted the rate increase in relation to a previous one within 12 months - and I think this is something the government may want to look at because it would seem to be even more fair if they couldn't even apply or start that process within a 12-month period. So actually the process will start certainly within a nine-month period, or eight months, and the decision can be made after the 12-month period.

Mr. Speaker, I have a few problems, not that the bill (Interruption) A few problems with the bill - thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, I'm glad I clarified that. The legislation does something that I think that the public out there is hearing this and they're probably thinking, hooray, the government has taken the bull by the horns and they are finally going to do something with Nova Scotia Power, but it's really difficult to see how serious the impact of this legislation will be for Nova Scotia Power. Probably the biggest impacts would be if they apply for a particular rate and they don't get it.

What's the difference between the rate that they apply for and the rate that the Utility and Review Board gives them? I think, if I was Nova Scotia Power, I would be trying to pad that number as much as I could on the off chance that we don't get what

[Page 1280]

we want but we'll come close to what we need, and therefore the bottom line for our shareholders won't be terrible, because we know the bottom line for the company is not terrible. This is a company that has been making money, for sure. So it's a question, I think in particular, of what they pay out in dividends to their shareholders is really at the crux of the matter. Considering that very few of their shareholders are Nova Scotians, it's pretty hard to have a whole lot of concern for Nova Scotians in this regard.

Now, I'm one of those people who lives in rural Nova Scotia. I grew up, probably, in the 1950s, or early 1960s, when I was a kid. I lived in an environment where in the Spring of the year if you could get your car through the road, that was an event. More than likely you were going to be stuck, and I can actually remember reaching out of our car and touching the alder bushes along the roadway. That's just how narrow the road was, or how close to the ditch, if there was one, that we were. It was certainly common enough to be stuck on the Renfrew Road.

I can tell you this, Mr. Speaker, we didn't lose our power very often. Well, I grew up in what might be referred to as the backwoods of Nova Scotia. We had good power service. We had good electricity delivery where I lived, outside of Enfield. I had a constituent of mine who lives in Hornes Settlement call me after the heavy snowstorm we had in November. He was from North York, I think, in Toronto, had been there for some years, moved into the Hornes Settlement where he thought he moved into the woods. He said, and this was a man who had two specialties in engineering, he referred to it as double-engineering, but he actually was an expert in two engineering areas. I'm not sure if they were mechanical and electrical, or what. Anyway, he was no slouch when it came to talk about this.

The reason he called me was in response to the towers that had come down, Nova Scotia Power's towers that came down in the Dartmouth area, I think. He said, there's absolutely no reason that those towers should come down if that infrastructure is properly maintained or it gets to the point where it has to be replaced, that it's replaced. He said, when I came to Hornes Settlement from North York, I commented to my wife, what good delivery of power we had in Hornes Settlement. He said, it was better than North York. He said, you could count on losing the power outside of Toronto for an hour a day, quite often.

He said, we had really good power delivery in Hornes Settlement. He said, we don't anymore. He said, the amount of power outages that they had experienced was certainly noticeable by him and noticeable by the rest of us, and that's with all we know of improved technology and better equipment and all that. I have to say I agree, because I have some memory of the service we got when I was a kid.

I have to say that I worry about the infrastructure of Nova Scotia Power. I know that they had an independent assessment of their infrastructure. Whoever did that assessment indicated that their infrastructure was in good shape. Well, I want to tell you,

[Page 1281]

now, I'm not a meteorologist, but I didn't think the snowstorm, that heavy wet snow that brought down those towers was all that odd for Nova Scotia, a place that has a fairly high moisture content sometimes when you get a snowfall. People acted like it was extraordinary, but I'm not sure that I agree.

I worry, and I've had this worry, I guess, ever since Hurricane Juan, that at some point we're going to have an event that's going to impact Nova Scotia Power's infrastructure in a way that's going to be very serious, and we're going to be without power for some time - I mean some time more than a week, like maybe more than a month. If we have an ice storm like they had in Quebec, then we could be in very serious shape for two reasons. One is that it would happen in the winter, and the other one is that it's pretty hard to deliver power from another source when the infrastructure is gone, the transmission lines are down.

One of the issues I've tried to raise with ministers, I think the former Minister of Community Services actually, and certainly the minister involved with Emergency Measures, is the need to ensure that we have backup generation. Now I think seniors' complexes have generators, but they will not run the complex. They will keep the hall light on and so on, so you can find the door, but you can't run the stove in your apartment, you can't keep the building heated.

If we have an emergency, it's going to be widespread. In other words, there would be lots of communities, places where you would think you would want to take the elderly, or anyone, to a single location where they're going to be without power, as well. I think one of the smart moves of this government would be to ensure that seniors' complexes are fully operational when it comes to power generation so that you're not taking 80- and 90-year-old people out into inclement weather and put them somewhere for a month. I can see that this is a recipe for disaster.

[4:00 p.m.]

If the government believes in the adage an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, well this would be an ounce that would be cheap compared to the alternative. In my community of Enfield, the Montgomery Branch Legion has paperwork - hopefully on Minister Fage's desk - an application for funding to make that a stand-alone site in terms of power generation. They are trying to get a generator for that site, so if an emergency does happen we'll at least have that location to take some of the surrounding people to.

I think this is a serious issue. I know we've raised similar issues, I know we've raised issues around hurricane season , after Hurricane Juan, and the minister's response was, well, that's hypothetical. Well, gee, it's not so hypothetical when a hurricane has just hit you.

[Page 1282]

So to think that with all we know about the change in climate, global warming, et cetera, we know that weather patterns are not what they used to be and that you get these extreme changes in weather, and we could seriously wind up with the equivalent of the Quebec ice storm.

The most serious part of this is if you think about Hurricane Juan, if you think about White Juan, if you think about any of these particular disasters that have affected Nova Scotia Power and the lack of power for Nova Scotians, one of the key components of these outages has been that Nova Scotia Power could get help from Maine, get help from New Brunswick, get help from Quebec. What the government doesn't seem to think is that something that could impact Nova Scotia, if it was a weather system, could certainly be large enough to impact New Brunswick and Maine and Quebec. So, therefore, there's not going to be any help. We aren't going to have anyone coming over the hill to help Nova Scotia Power get the lights back on, and that's going to be serious, Mr. Speaker.

What makes it even more serious is the fact that this is a company that has cut its workforce so that maintenance of its infrastructure has been let go. I would think that besides giving a dividend to shareholders, it might want to think about hiring another 25 - or whatever - 50 linemen and have those people actually bring the infrastructure up to scratch, but also you have them on staff in case of an emergency.

If 50 linemen at $50,000 a year was to cost $25 million, then instead of having a profit of $100 million, you'd have a profit of $75 million, but you would have the lights on. I would think that in terms of a monopoly - which is what this company has, it has a monopoly to sell electricity to Nova Scotians - this would be something the Nova Scotia Government would be interested to see, they would regulate this company to this point to ensure the delivery of service in time of an emergency.

If anybody is foolhardy enough to think those emergencies won't happen, well, they have happened. We've only just slightly dodged them. In other words, the track of Hurricane Juan was relatively narrow compared to the province. It didn't affect everybody the same as it did those along that track. Therefore, we didn't have enough personnel at Nova Scotia Power; they still had to bring linemen in from other jurisdictions to help us on that 50- kilometre track that Hurricane Juan went through the province.

But, what would happen if it were twice that? What would happen if it were the whole province? We would be in serious trouble and we'd be in very serious trouble if after this disaster, you get temperatures of minus-20 for three weeks or four weeks. If there were an upside to Hurricane Juan, it was that the weather afterwards was beautiful. As far as people having to get out and work and restore those lines, they had absolutely gorgeous weather to do that - it was sunny and warm and it stayed that way for a long period of time. If we get into a situation where this is January or February and it's minus-

[Page 1283]

20 for a month, then that's going to seriously impact our ability to get the power restored.

My colleagues have all touched on this issue of the energy poor. It's a really interesting point because I have to say - I would assume all of us, if not all of us, most of us, have had our constituents call us with regard to the inability to pay their power bill. Therefore, we make the calls to Nova Scotia Power and try to bargain for some payment schedule or whatever. Most often, these people are people who are on Community Services.

I think in all the cases that have come to my office, we were able to come up with a plan or the people at Community Services were able to come up with a plan to pay that bill and for that person to pay back that money. Here's someone who doesn't have enough money to pay their power bill. So, then we're going to cut their cheque a little bit off, $40 a month or whatever, to go pay back to Community Services because they covered their bill. They didn't have enough money to start with, now they have less money.

I really find it kind of odd that the taxpayers of Nova Scotia are bailing out the company really by trying to help these people, but we're paying the bill for a corporation that makes $100 million in profit every year. Doesn't that seem to be odd? It seems strange to me and if they have - I remember, I think two years ago, Mr. Huskilson, Mr. Tedesco and Mr. Doig came to our caucus, and it was around the time that Stora was looking for a change in the rate. I think it's about two years ago. They got concessions from the woodlot owners, they got concessions from the municipality, I think they got concessions from the union, and they were looking for concessions from Nova Scotia Power.

The thrust of this conversation was that they were looking at the possibility of giving a preferential rate. So my question to them at that time was, okay, let's say you give Stora a break in its power rate, does that mean that I'm going to pick it up? Oh no, they assured me, that doesn't mean that. We have a price structure, composed of about 14 different components, so we have large industrial, et cetera, et cetera, so, therefore, no, you're not going to pick that up. I don't know if it was a week before I read the headline in the newspaper, after they gave Stora a change in its rate, that they were going to go to the Utility and Review Board to look for a rate increase. Nova Scotians, like myself, were going to pick up that preferred rate that Stora got, so we were basically subsidizing Stora on their power.

Now, it would seem to me that if the largest industrial user can get a preferential rate, why can't the poorest? Why can't the poorest people in Nova Scotia get a preferential rate? Well, I know part of the answer - it sits across the room from me. We deal with a bill. If the wind catches this, and I know the Minister of Energy will say, well, the wind might stop blowing, so there's not much chance that would happen.

[Page 1284]

Here's a bill, well, if it wasn't for the title page and the cover on the back, that's the bill. That's it. (Interruptions) Well, at least you didn't say propaganda.

So here's a piece of legislation that is so slight that it really has nothing to do with the serious issues that Nova Scotians face in terms of their power delivery. As a matter of fact, I was surprised that the Minister of Environment and Labour introduced this bill for second reading. I was curious as to why the Minister of Energy didn't introduce this bill. Perhaps the Minister of Energy will be able to speak to this before it finally makes its way through the House, because (Interruptions) Well, I thought it was the responsibility of the Cabinet to look out for Nova Scotians. (Interruptions) Well, if that's why you're here, then get at it.

We sure haven't seen much of it, I have to say, since 1999. As a matter of fact, if my memory is correct, didn't Stora get a preferential rate and go around the URB? (Interruptions) No, okay. Wasn't there something about that? It seems to me that they were able to do that without going to the URB. Maybe one of the ministers will explain that. (Interruptions) The minister makes a good question there. I would have to tell him, they both have been equally bad.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I'll be interested to see this bill go through the House. I think this is what we would refer to as a better-than-nothing bill. The government obviously doesn't want to tackle real questions about energy in this province. I won't go get it because I'll be blamed for having a prop, but any of the members opposite who want to look at the Atlantic Forestry Journal, the latest publication, there are a couple of very good articles on biomass and the production of electricity from that. I have a couple of dairy farmers in my area who are really keen to be under way on biogas and I would say there's absolutely no incentive as far as I can see coming from this province, or federally, to try to move us to any alternative energy sources and this, for the 21st Century, is the type of thing that Nova Scotians are looking for.

I mean people are ahead of the government on this and I would say that you would be well advised to think about what exactly is coming down the road in terms of trying to cut our costs. We know that, just looking at fuel costs in particular, Nova Scotians will be well served by alternative strategies for production of energy. With those comments, Mr. Speaker, I'll take my seat and look forward to whatever comments any of the members opposite have to make on this.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to take a few minutes to speak to Bill No. 20 because I think it's really important that the government hear from as many people in this Legislature as possible about what the real concerns out in our communities and across the province are with respect to Nova Scotia Power, and with

[Page 1285]

respect to a growing problem for many Nova Scotians and that is the affordability of energy.

[4:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we've heard from many members who have talked about what Bill No. 20 does, that it limits Nova Scotia Power to one general rate increase per year. The real question, I think, is how much does this bill actually do to protect Nova Scotians from the growing stress on their incomes, their household incomes, to be able to afford electricity? For all too many Nova Scotians, this is a substantial problem, a growing problem. A problem where we have seen the costs of electricity over the past two years in this province escalate beyond the means of more and more people - a growing number of people in our constituencies.

Mr. Speaker, you know, this is not only a problem for people who are in receipt of income support. This is a problem for people who are working. This is a problem for people who live on fixed incomes. This is a problem for seniors in our communities who have other demands on their incomes, often a growing demand to purchase health care services and pay premiums on their drug plans, and co-pays for prescriptions. Quite often, that's the choice that all too many people are facing - will I be able to pay for my power, my electricity? Will I be able to pay for my car insurance? Will I be able to pay for my drugs? So we do need to ask ourselves, to what extent does this bill address this serious, serious problem of affordable energy for people?

Mr. Speaker, I'm probably one of the few people in this Chamber who has ever appeared in front of the Utility and Review Board as an expert witness. The Minister of Environment and Labour says that he, too, has appeared in front of the Utility and Review Board as an expert witness and gave testimony. The Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission also has been in that position. So, Mr. Speaker, it is a very interesting process.

Now mind you, I have not been in front of the current configuration of the Utility and Review Board, but the prior configuration of the Public Utilities Board when Nova Scotia Power was still a Crown Corporation. If there is anything that I would say to the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto who last evening spoke at some length about the questions and concerns he had with respect to the privatization of Nova Scotia Power, I would like to say to him that I didn't like Nova Scotia Power any better when it was a public utility than I do now that it is a private utility. Nova Scotia Power, when it was a public utility, had a fairly ruthless reputation and approach to its credit and collections practices. As a Crown Corporation and as a monopoly on energy in this province, they routinely used the big stick of disconnection as a credit and collection tool.

[Page 1286]

Now very few businesses in our province are able to muster that kind of power - no pun intended - as a credit and collection practice. Nova Scotia Power was ruthless, unrelenting and certainly with respect to people living below the poverty line - quite often women and children, who are disproportionately represented in the groups living below the poverty line - their approach to credit and collections around outstanding power bills was a sight to behold. I was actually part of a small effort out of the Dalhousie Legal Aid office on Gottingen Street, we made a videotape called "Disconnection, the Credit and Collection Practices of Nova Scotia Power". In that particular production, there were a number of customers of Nova Scotia Power, mostly single parent mothers, who told the stories of the credit and collection practices of Nova Scotia Power. Their stories were supported by members of the clergy who often saw these families coming to them, looking for assistance in getting financial support to either get the lights back on or to keep the lights on.

The Legal Aid Clinic had decided that because we had done so many interventions - in fact I remember being on the courtroom steps on Lower Water Street on the 23rd of December, Mr. Speaker, attempting to get a certiorari application heard to require Nova Scotia Power to restore electricity to a family over Christmas, and the Power Corporation's lawyers literally met us on the steps of the courthouse and said that as we spoke the workmen were out restoring power to the family. They were not doing this in an altruistic way. They were terrified of the precedent that this particular case was going to set if we got before the courts with it because it truly was an abuse of power on the part of the Power Corporation, with respect to their credit and collection practices.

Mr. Speaker, since I have been a member of this Chamber, my constituency office is frequently contacted by members of my constituency who are experiencing difficulties with Nova Scotia Power with respect to the affordability of their electricity and with respect to keeping the lights on. I would be very surprised if there are any members in this Legislature who haven't encountered those situations.

Mr. Speaker, they are very difficult situations, as you may know yourself. First of all, the customer service representatives that work in the Nova Scotia Power call centre are not permitted to provide their full names to the customers who they're dealing with on the phone. So, right away, as an MLA, if you're trying to call through to that number and speak to the customer relations officer who has been dealing with your constituent, that's an impossibility. The other thing that happens is unless your constituent adds you to their account, Nova Scotia Power won't speak with you as an MLA trying to get information, trying to intervene to keep the power on for a family in your constituency.

You have to go through that little procedure and be added to the account of your constituent. Then, perhaps, eventually you will get to speak with a supervisor on these accounts. With a little luck, you're able to arrange some kind of a payment scheme that

[Page 1287]

is manageable for your constituent, and often, certainly in my office, we involve the Department of Community Services, as well.

The question of affordability of energy lies at the heart of these processes. We're often able to keep the lights on or get them turned back on, but I rarely feel good about that, because I know that my constituent is having to pay for that electricity out of their food budgets because anything that Community Services contributes is treated as a special need and is recovered as an overpayment in the subsequent months. Quite often families, once again, will fall into arrears on their power because they're confronted with making a choice between unaffordable electricity or feeding themselves and their children.

Mr. Speaker, does this bill address those serious problems? Does this bill do anything to assist people in making electricity a necessity of life and not something that they can go out and buy freely from alternative sources, because Nova Scotia Power has a monopoly? What options do people have? Does this bill improve those situations? I'm afraid that it doesn't improve the situation for all too many people in my riding and in our province, and, as I said, not only people who are on income support but also people who are working very hard but with very low take-home pay and people on fixed incomes, particularly seniors and people with disabilities.

Mr. Speaker, many people here have raised concerns about the lack of a conservation plan for Nova Scotians and Nova Scotia Power's seeming inability, to get its act together to produce alternative energy and conservation measures that would really make energy more affordable for people. The very people who can't afford to pay high electricity costs, are the same people who can't afford those conservation measures in their homes - insulation, new windows, all of the kinds of things that can be done to limit energy use, new appliances, these things are not cheap. They're extraordinarily expensive and for many Nova Scotians, they're beyond their reach. Any of the programs that I've seen to date out of this government have not really addressed the problem of people who don't have money in their hands upfront to be able to invest in the conservation measures. Again, this is such a small, small piece of what needs to be done to address what is a much larger and much more substantial problem.

The final concern that many people have, a growing sense of concern and urgency in the province and in our country is the environment and the degradation of the environment. We've seen the study that just came out of the U.K., with respect to the potential economic impact on climate change. I don't think there's anybody in this Chamber who feels they can stand and be proud of the fact that Nova Scotia Power is one of the five, it's the fifth worst polluter in North America. That is truly a very sad state of affairs and in a province that is as extraordinarily beautiful and as enriched in many respects, as ours is, this truly is a very negative mark on our reputation. We can do a lot better. Sadly, the government doesn't see the urgency of having to address this situation. It truly is an urgent situation. It's something we need to deal with.

[Page 1288]

[4:30 p.m.]

I think the last point I would like to make is the concern that members of my constituency have, and I don't think they're unique in this, the concern that Nova Scotia Power has not adequately maintained or invested in its infrastructure. People are finding it very hard to accept the explanation - some would say excuses - that Nova Scotia Power officials advance in the instances that we see that are all too frequent now, of power outages and power failures.

[Page 1289]

In the north end of Halifax, we see these power outages quite frequently. When they happen, the stop lights are gone, the street lights are gone and people in the highrise apartments, public housing, manors where senior citizens live in high proportion, sometimes, people who are in need of medical assistance with oxygen and the need for insulin and what have you, they're left to wonder how long these power outages are going to last. Is this a power outage that's going to last for five or 10 minutes or a half hour and I don't really need to be too concerned. Is this a power outage that's going to go on for several hours? What does that mean when you're on the 16th floor of a highrise apartment building and you're a senior citizen who requires medical attention and you are a diabetic and you may have any number of other health issues. How do you get out of that building if you need to get out of that building? How do people get to you if you need medical attention?

Mr. Speaker, we have become so dependent on electricity, there are so many things in our homes that only function because of electricity, telephones today function only because of electricity. People are reliant on their communication to the outside world, to get information from the outside world, television, radio, there are an awful lot of people - if we were in an energy blackout that really indicated a crisis, I am not sure how well prepared we are to deal with the many people who wouldn't even know what had occurred and what it is that they should do, what would be the most sensible thing for them to do. How do we communicate with people given our energy dependence on all of those devices that are our communication tools, like our telephones. Not everybody has a cell phone, not by a long shot, Mr. Speaker.

This is a very serious concern, it is a concern I have as a member of this Legislature who represent a lot of very fine people who are elderly and who aren't into a lot of the cell phone gadgetry and what have you and they are very reliant on the traditional means of communication and often live in buildings accessible only through the elevator system which, as you know, unless there are generators in those buildings - and certainly there are an awful lot of buildings in this city that do not have generators for lights in the hallways, for elevator services - then you are looking at people who are not physically capable of getting up and down a large number of stairs.

This bill - one of the former speakers called this bill the bill of small measures, or limited measures - is certainly a bill that I could support but it is not a bill that does a lot to address the fundamental, the core, the very serious problems that are growing for many people in our province with respect to the affordability of energy. I would encourage the government to really get its act together on this one. People are growing increasingly dissatisfied and disillusioned with the ability of this government to manage the issues that are most important and have the biggest impact on them and on their households. With that, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

[Page 1290]

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. MARK PARENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the speakers opposite for - I was going to use a pun - their enlightening comments. I appreciate it. I think I heard their support for the bill and what they were saying in the end was that they wished the bill would go further, but as it stands, they will support the bill.

I heard their talk on renewables and the need to pursue renewables and I am sure that the Minister of Energy heard those comments as he sat through this discussion himself and, in fact, tried to ask a few questions during the process of the debate to clarify that. So with those few words and with thanks to the Opposition, I recognize that debate is closed on this bill and it will move on to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 20. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 9.

Bill No. 9 - Municipal Government Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to say a few words about Bill No. 9 as second reading of this amendment in the Municipal Government Act proceeds. Actually the bill is very straightforward and if passed, Halifax Regional Municipality will provide supplemental funding to the CSAP, or Conseil scolaire acadien provincial, which is the French language school board. As everyone would know, at least those who are in HRM, Halifax Regional Municipality already provides supplemental funding to the Halifax Regional School Board but not to CSAP.

Under this legislation, where HRM provides funding to the English school board, it would also provide funding for the French school board. In this regard HRM would have two choices. It could either provide a share of the existing supplemental funding to the French language board or it could provide additional funding. This choice, Mr. Speaker, is one that will be made by HRM Council. Whatever choice HRM Council

[Page 1291]

makes, the contribution to CSAP must be in proportion to the number of students attending CSAP schools.

Mr. Speaker, that's really the bill in a nutshell, the provision of supplemental funding to the French language school board in HRM in a proportion similar to that which is provided to the English language school board. With that, I will move second reading of Bill No. 9.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to stand to say a few words on Bill No. 9. In HRM especially, it has always been a hot topic talking around supplemental funding for the Halifax Regional School Board. After amalgamation, there was an amalgamation of the school board and the funding formula that the municipality has with the school board differs from the core city, Halifax, Dartmouth and the old County of Halifax. It has always been a contentious issue with the municipality. I know the mayor for HRM always spoke around the need for government to revisit what the funding formula is for education here in the province, especially around the funding that the municipality here in Halifax gets.

I don't want at any time to state the importance of funding throughout the province and that one area should be cut to fund another area, Mr. Speaker. One of the things that I know needs to take place here in the province is the implementation of the Hogg report and that hasn't taken place as of yet. I think we need to look at, and hopefully encourage - and government realizes the importance of implementing - those recommendations in the Hogg report. I know over the years the increases that the different school boards were supposed to get, they've been trying to negotiate with the province. Some of the smaller school boards - there's a big issue with the out-migration of the population in some of our rural communities, and the majority of those individuals, if they don't leave the province, which many of them do, end up towards the metropolitan area here in Halifax.

I think it's worth noting that the government needs to recognize that and needs to take action to hopefully help the Halifax Regional School Board continue to offer the services that they do. It's always important that we recognize the need to properly fund the school boards in this province, especially those school boards that are strained at the moment trying to find the funds needed to continue promoting and delivering the services that they do now. Many of those services have been cut over the years because of a lack of funding, a lack of maybe a will from the government to look at what funding is there in place now, and changes.

It's an evolution, Mr. Speaker, of population changes and shifts in the province. Figures that we came about years ago, don't work today. As a father of two young kids in the school system - my son just started this year - I'm concerned with what the future

[Page 1292]

holds for them, especially representing an area that came from the old Halifax County, where supplemental funding is significantly lower in the region that I represent. I'm wondering and I'm concerned about what implications will have on my children and the children of the residents of the area that I represent, in the future.

[4:45 p.m.]

I don't want to see those extra-curricular courses or courses that seem to be not so important be cut in the future because they can't fund them anymore. Things like drama courses are, I think, very important to the delivery of education in the province. It, hopefully, improves the outcome of our children in the professions down the road and the choices they have and the choices they'll make in trying to come up with a career choice for those individuals.

I do have concerns with cuts to programs or the inability for the school boards to fund the curriculum as it is today, in the future, as expenses rise, Mr. Speaker, as that shift in population happens where we're seeing more and more Nova Scotians coming to the larger urban areas like the Halifax Regional Municipality. I think government needs to recognize that. They need to start implementing changes to hopefully promote and support that shift we see in demographics.

M r. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier around the Hogg Report, this is something that needs to be implemented by this government. I know that members of our caucus, my caucus, have questioned the current government on this time and time again over the years, and tried to encourage them to implement this report. It has really fallen on deaf ears, I believe, at this point. I think it's important that we recognize the changes in the education system that Nova Scotians want to see. This piece of legislation pertains to the education of our francophone residents here in the province, which is very important. They felt that they've been neglected over the years. They've felt that they've been denied funding that should have gone to them, many years ago.

I know, from my area, the increase in the number of students and parents who are sending their children to French schools. I know, for myself, when I was growing up, I actually attended one of the French schools that was across the bridge in the military base, Wallis Heights (Interruptions) Shannon Park. It was a few years ago. It was only for a few years. I got on a bus every day from Sackville and was sent to Shannon Park. The reason I had the opportunity to attend that French school, Mr. Speaker, was that my father was in the military and it was made up of military families. So it is important that we recognize this demographic in Nova Scotia, that they deserve, in this province, to seek education in their language of choice. Many of them are choosing now to be educated in French.

I know that the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial has been a strong advocate to get these changes to take place and to ensure that government is listening to them, that

[Page 1293]

they need these changes to properly fund the education of the children whose parents decide to send their children to French schools here in the province. I know that I believe it came to - and I could be wrong - the threat of possibly a court challenge on this. I don't believe they actually went through that step, but I think they actually made that threat, Mr. Speaker, that this group of Nova Scotians were being discriminated against for not being properly funded in the school system here in our province.

So I know that it is important for many of the families, not only in my area but throughout HRM and really throughout Nova Scotia, that government recognizes the need to ensure these students get the education they want, in the language they prefer. I know that the Minister of Health, also the Minister of Acadian Affairs, has stood in this House many times over the last couple of years trying to promote the francophone language here in the province, trying to offer government services in both official languages. They get an A maybe for effort, but I would say that the grade they get is a lot lower than that in implementing these changes and actually delivering the services that they talk about, Mr. Speaker. We need to continue to push for those changes, because we have such a diverse group of Nova Scotians, a diverse history here in Nova Scotia with francophone and English speaking individuals who contribute every day to this province, who contribute to the history of this province, and I think it is important that we recognize that.

I do, in principle, support this bill, this piece of legislation to go through, in hopes that those families in Nova Scotia who choose to have their children educated in the French schools get the respect they deserve and get the attention they deserve. As I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, this piece of legislation doesn't solve all the problems we see, especially in the school board here in the Halifax Regional Municipality. As I said, there is still this constant battle on supplemental funding that the old part of Dartmouth, Halifax and the old Halifax County have. There are differences of opinion amongst members here who represent those areas in the province.

I think it is important that we all try to encourage representing the residents that we represent to the best of our ability and that government recognizes there has been a change, a shift in what Nova Scotians want when it comes to education, to the delivery of education and also the funding when it comes to education. If I am not wrong, Mr. Speaker, I believe that the Halifax Regional School Board is the least funded school board in the province. I believe, per capita, the funding towards education and students in our province is one of the lowest throughout the country. That is something we need to change. We need to ensure, and government needs to ensure, that our students have the best possible education they can have and that they receive that education in the most appropriate setting. As we see from this piece of legislation, many Nova Scotia want that setting to be in a French language school. We have seen their struggles over the years just to try to be recognized by government and by school boards, that they do exist, that they are important and they are an important part of the education system.

[Page 1294]

With that, Mr. Speaker, I would hope that other members will stand and speak on this piece of legislation to give input to the government, but hopefully they recognize the importance of equal funding for students not only in English-speaking schools, but in French-speaking schools, as well. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill No. 9, amendments to the Municipal Government Act. I certainly want to thank my colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, for his remarks prior to this. I'm sure he had the opportunity to speak a bit of the history of what brought us to this specific issue which is being dealt with in the bill which, in essence, is allowing the schools within the Halifax Regional Municipality that are part of the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial to also be eligible for supplementary funding made available by the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with representatives of Acadian and French organizations throughout the province and I can certainly tell you this was one of their most pressing issues, to make sure the students in their schools were eligible for the same level of supplementary funding that was being made available to neighbouring schools throughout the municipality.

I certainly want to take this opportunity to commend the parents and all those involved to help bring this matter to the forefront. It's unfortunate it took legal action, but I am certainly pleased to see the government is moving forward with these changes to make sure we don't have any sort of discrimination within the supplementary funding system and that schools such as the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial schools are also eligible for this extra funding.

At the same time, Mr. Speaker, I think it's important to take this opportunity to thank both Mayor Peter Kelly and all of the elected councillors of HRM for the fact they continue to provide supplementary funding for schools in the Halifax Regional Municipality. I'm sure the former Minister of Education, now Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations would be well aware that it is their belief the province should be picking up this extra cost and not the ratepayers of Halifax, who, in essence, are being asked to pay twice for educational services - first to their regular educational tax, which all municipal units are expected to pay, but the fact that they are as well providing an additional tax to provide for this supplementary funding.

I know there's been a great deal of debate amongst the elected members of the Halifax Regional Municipality as to whether the supplementary funding should continue or whether it's something they should even be responsible for. I can appreciate the challenges they face, and, again, I think it's important to publicly acknowledge the contribution they do make and the importance that plays for the schools throughout the

[Page 1295]

HRM that benefit. I have no doubt the schools of the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial will also be able to put that money to good use for services that are being offered within those schools.

I find it, as well, a timely issue, because we've heard the government speak more and more about their concern for the military community here in our province. As I've mentioned before, access to French language education is of great concern for many military personnel, especially those who are transferred to Nova Scotia from other jurisdictions who want to make sure their kids who, in many cases are attending French language schools, are also given that same opportunity when they come here to this province. I'm sure this will be very reassuring for them, and certainly fits into the government's overall desire to want to improve military relations and make sure they're shown the proper appreciation for the great contribution they make not only to our country, but certainly to the social, cultural and economic life here in Nova Scotia.

M. le président, je veux juste prendre quelques minutes pour remercier les organizations, les groupes francophones-acadienne que j'ai eu l'occasion de rencontrer sa fait quelques semaines. A ce point là ont a eu l'occasion de discuter plusieurs des projets, des dossiers qui font face à la communauté française acadienne içi à la Nouvelle-Ecosse. Une des questions qu'ils ont posé c'était est-ce que le comité électoral libéral est prêt de donner leur support au projet de loi no. 9 qui doit faire avec le subvention d'argent qui est mis par la municipalité de Halifax envers l'éducation dans les municipalités?

Comme ont su avant ceçi jusqu'à date c'était seulement les écoles anglophones qui recevaient la subvention de la municipalité. Ca pris un cas qui était en cour par des parents francophones qui ont dit eux-mêmes du fait qu'ils sont entrain de payer leur taxes içi à la municipalité et que eux aussi sont entrain de payer la taxe pour la subvention d'éducation. Pourquoi qu'ils n'auront pas le droit d'avoir partie de cette subvention aller aux écoles acadiennes comme qu'ils vont aux écoles anglophones? Alors, je suis content de voir qu'ils ont eu du succès en cour pour faire certain que nous avons pas la discrimination qui prend place entre les écoles anglophones et les écoles francophones acadiennes. Je suis content de voir que la province et le gouvernement est entrain d'addresser cette question avec le projet de loi no. 9.

M. le président comme j'ai dit je veux remercié les parents et les organizations francophones qui ont assisté dans ce projet de loi, qui ont eu des réunions avec le gouvernement et avec le parti NPD pour recevoir leur support sur cette question au même temps. Je veux aussi, comme je l'ai dit en anglais, remercier le maire de la ville d'Halifax et tous les conseillers pour le fait qu'ils sont entrain de continuer d'avoir la subvention pour l'éducation içi dans la municipalité. C'est une question que je sais chaque année a beaucoup de débat et ont voudraient voir que le ministère de l'éducation et que ce gouvernement seront entrain de mettre le propre montant d'argent dans nos écoles et de faire certain que ce n'est pas juste les programmes d'éducation mais aussi

[Page 1296]

les programmes de musique et des autres services qui ne serait pas possible si ce n'était pas pour la subvention qui est donné par la municipalité de Halifax. C'est une question pas juste içi à Halifax mais c'est une question pour nous quand ont regardent dans les autres régions de la province, est-ce que nous sommes entrain de recevoir les mêmes services dans nos écoles que les services qui sont donné içi à Halifax? Est-ce qu'il y a l'égalité dans l'éducation au même temps?

[5:00 p.m.]

Alors c'est un petit projet de loi, la loi no. 9, mais les questions qu'il s'adresse sont des questions très grandes et des questions qui ont a faire plus que juste la municipalité de Halifax. En terminant, je veux encore félicité toutes les personnes qui ont joué un rôle dans ce dossier, j'espère que la municipalité va être dans une position de faire les changes nécessaire pour assurer que les écoles du Conseil scolaire acadien provincial reçoivent le pourcentage de la subvention de l'éducation qu'ils ont le droit et que ça peut être mise en place aussi vite que possible pour faire certain que les étudiantes qui assistent les écoles acadienne içi à Halifax vont recevoir la même support de la municipalité que les étudiantes dans les écoles anglophones.

Je félicite le gouvernement pour avoir eu presenté ce projet de loi et j'espère que ça va recevoir le support du parti NPD - je pense que les commentaires du membre de Sackville-Cobequid indique qu'ils vont donné leur support aussi. J'espère que le projet de loi peut être passer et je peux vous dire que notre comité électoral va donné leur support et j'espère qu'après le deuxième lecture de ce projet de loi on va voir s'il va avoir des présentations au comité des amendements de lois pour voir s'il y a des questions spécifiques à ce projet de loi. Alors avec ses petits commentaires là je vous remercie et j'espère que le projet de loi no. 9 va passé cette assemblée avant trop longtemps. Merçi.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

MR. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I wish I could do this in both languages, but merçi beaucoup and comment allez-vous, that is about the extent of my French, so I'll leave it at that.

I just want to say, Mr. Speaker, and I'll only take a minute of your time here, but living in the riding of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank, we've had a growing population in the riding now for the last number of years. Certainly a large part of our population attends the French school. It was just in recent weeks that I had a number of parents come to my constituency office expressing their concern about the lack of funding as it pertained to their school. So it's good for me, and it certainly speaks well for them to see anything when it comes to additional funding for the French schools within the riding of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank, and as it affects HRM.

[Page 1297]

I just wanted, I think the word for me is wanted, I think I had an obligation to get up and speak to this bill, but beside the obligation, it was something I wanted to do, as well. I wanted to go on the public record for those students who are going to the French schools and for those parents who have fought for additional funding and who will be pleased to see this bill move forward.

I just want to stress how important funding is for those students and for those families, and because of population growth, this funding will be most welcome. Again, I wish I could end this on a French note like my colleague, but, again, the extent is merçi beaucoup, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If I could just provide a clarification, perhaps, in response to some information that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education has the floor.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, if I could begin again, just to provide some information, a point of clarification, some of the information that was shared by the first speaker I think needs to be, I guess, corrected. That is with respect to the Hogg report. I think the reference was made that the Hogg report recommendations should be implemented, and I would just like to remind everyone in the House that $5 million went into the budget this year to implement two recommendations from the Hogg report, specifically the funding to school boards. So, for information, that has been achieved.

Secondly, with respect to the funding per student, just again for information, the funding per student has increased 8.3 per cent over last year, for a total of $8,200 per student, and I would remind the House that in 2000-01 that funding was $5,600. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, Madam Minister, for that clarification, as well. I think that the heart of this bill is the reality of the funding for an education in Nova Scotia. Perhaps this is how we're going to see us deal with education funding, a little bill here and a little bill there, and enough dollars, perhaps, at the end of the day and enough directed funding to deal adequately with programs such as French education. Certainly, in Nova Scotia, we are the second-lowest funded now in Canada. That is in my view, and our caucus has talked about this, and this is at the heart of supplementary funding. If we take a look, in fact, I believe HRM Council, today, is taking a look at supplementary funding; some of the items that are now in supplementary funding are really what should be part of mainstream funding for education in this province.

[Page 1298]

French education, physical education, music, these should not be the extras that supplementary funding is being asked to cover. Also, some of the administrative and teaching roles are embraced by supplementary funding. So it is an area that I think the province and the government need to address in a stronger direction and not have people paying taxes twice, because supplementary funding and our provincial taxes shouldn't be in a double manner to fund education.

One of the things, yes, that the Hogg report has permitted, is additional funding to the school boards, an increase of per-pupil funding, but in many respects per-pupil funding is really a very limited way of looking at funding education. We need to look at program funding. What are the varied and sundry programs that our school boards are offering across Nova Scotia? I think that a change and a real strong direction towards program funding, and then you would have something as important as French education in our 13 French schools across the province, and also immersion programs. These, in fact, would be quite adequately addressed if we used that kind of funding.

Certainly in my riding, knowing what happens in the program at École Rose des Vent, in the French school there, in a military community of 2000-plus members in the Forces there, and the number that come from French communities across Canada having that program and that school and having it adequately funded is really essential to offering a basic education in our country and in our province.

One of the real worries that I have is that supplementary funding may in fact grow to other parts of the province. The school board that I worked for, AVRSB, is now in a discussion around centralization of French immersion programs, that in fact French immersion will not be available in some of the schools throughout that school board.

So that certainly raises a major concern. Also, in fact, we could have parents supplementing, if not directly to the program but potentially for transportation. If they want to keep it in their own smaller school, they may in fact have to find a way of coming up with adequate funding.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much chatter in the Chamber.

The honourable member for Kings West has the floor.

MR. GLAVINE: So this is a very important issue, and it is one that I believe needs to move beyond this bill and legislation and receive a proper addressing, proper funding, and keep French education in this province strong.

I speak to parents in my riding, and I have been to the French parents association here in metro, and I know their passion to see as many programs in our schools. When they lost the delivery of science programs, for example, here again, it was a diminishing of an educational program those parents felt they deserved under equal opportunity and

[Page 1299]

equal education here in our province. So, certainly, there will be others who hopefully will come to the Law Amendments Committee and address this very important issue and this piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, with those words, I will take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

MS. MARILYN MORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Tonight's discussion actually has taken about 30 years off my life because, indirectly, supplementary funding is how I got my start in small "p" politics. I belonged to a group in Dartmouth, back in the early 1970s, that was attempting to get more women on school boards throughout the province. I was that club's observer at school board meetings and I went faithfully every month for about five years and followed the ups and downs of the Dartmouth School Board at that time.

It was always interesting to me to see the tension between the school board and the municipal council rise as you got closer to the budget period, because in those days actually the school boards were made up about 50 per cent municipal councillors and 50 per cent appointees from the provincial government. Supplementary funding was always a bone of contention and it still is today, 30 years later. I have no problem with the parents, staff, and school boards of the francophone system wanting their fair share of the resources raised through the area rates in HRM, but I think it's like adding another bump to the elephant in the room, which is supplementary funding, and I think this is an issue at some point that the school boards, municipal governments, and provincial government are going to have to settle once and for all.

Despite the reassurance from the Minister of Education, supplementary funding would not be such a big issue if it weren't for the inadequate funding formula for the school boards in this province. It's my understanding that even with the Hogg Report the Halifax Regional School Board is still not getting the amount of funding that was recommended in that report - they're building towards it, but they do not have the full amount.

[5:15 p.m.]

Back in 1978, when we had partially elected school boards (Interruption) 1978, yes, Dartmouth actually had the first election, and a third of the members were directly elected across the City of Dartmouth, and I'm sure my colleagues to my left would be interested to know that Dr. John Savage was one of the first four people elected; I was another one. So a third of the board were directly elected, a third were still provincial appointees, and another third were appointees from the municipal government. Those were interesting days I have to tell you, but again the tense point of the year was the time when we used to go to present our budget to the municipal council. Those councillors

[Page 1300]

felt that because they were not in charge of spending the money, they didn't want to have to raise the money and at that time the school board was quite prepared to be given tax raising authority themselves.

You know I haven't changed my mind. I think if you're going to have that level of government in this province - this is not a Party position I want you to know, this is my own personal view - that you have to allow the form of government that is closest to the schools and the community and has the greatest knowledge of the needs in that area, that they should be given the ability to raise money. I have no problem with the levies that the school boards are requesting the municipal government to raise, but I think they should be given direct power, authority themselves, to decide how to do that. I'm just wondering, I know that the whole issue of school boards having taxing authority is being discussed municipally in HRM and I'm hoping that some of the presentations at the Law Amendments Committee on this bill might indicate how the francophone school board feels about that and how that would be worked into the legislation if those changes were, in fact, acted upon.

I think the underlying principle that the residents of HRM are looking for, what they value the most is something that's fair and equitable and across the whole HRM area. It's very difficult to defend why the area rates are different in four different regions of HRM, under the same school board. There's a different rate for Bedford, for the former City of Halifax, the former City of Dartmouth and the former county area.

There's no rationale that I've seen that makes any sense, that can explain the difference in the money raised in each area and how it's able to be spent. I think that municipal areas and school boards deserve the right to add on to the basic amount of money provided by the province. We'd never want to get into the position where we're content with the lowest common denominator in terms of funding across the province. I think it has been mentioned earlier in the debate that sometimes it costs more to provide a certain program in one area of the province than somewhere else or one area of a municipality than somewhere else. So, I think there always has to be some flexibility and discretion there to allow that to happen, no matter whether it costs a little more or a little less.

I think parents and school boards should always have the right to add on to the basic curriculum that's provided through provincial dollars. I certainly support the francophone school board having access to these municipally raised supplementary levies, but I think we failed to come to grips with the wider problem, which is getting a fair and equitable system of supplementary funding across HRM.

I think this is something, with the rapid growth in HRM, the fact that 40 per cent of the workforce in Nova Scotia is now living and working in HRM and it's such a growth area, an economic engine for our province, that I feel the provincial government

[Page 1301]

has a responsibility and duty to take a leadership role in trying to resolve some of the tensions around educational funding to that particular school board. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and speak on Bill No. 9. This bill is about fairness, fairness to the two boards that provide education in Nova Scotia to our children and our youth. I don't have a problem with the fairness issue and certainly we need to share fairly what we do have.

However, when you first look at this bill, it's another one of those bills that is very short and it looks like a good thing at the beginning when you see it. But, when I read it now, I realize there are some questions that pop up. One of the questions is, if we're talking about taking the supplementary funding that's available now - it's the same pot of money, the pot of money is not going to grow, it's the same people that have been paying into it and not accessing the funding - so the pot of money is now going to be spread farther and thinner through the programs that supplementary funding provides money to.

The question then arises, how is that going to affect those programs that supplementary funding has been helping out? Those are programs like our arts programs in the school of music and such. That then leaves the question, is the government going to now provide more funding to offset this money being spread thinner across the province?

Supplementary funding has always been - if you want to find an issue to divide parents quickly, instead of bringing them together, you just need to talk about supplementary funding at any meeting and people really get heated up. There always seems to be a conflict between the Halifax Regional Municipality, specifically, and the province, when it comes to supplementary funding. Everybody knows this happens every year.

What we need to be doing is talking about the things that are stressing the education system now and that bottom line is basically a funding formula that we use and a lot of the issues we face now - deferred maintenance, special needs, students needing the resources they simply aren't getting, resources for our teachers, the way we use our school facilities. We need to look at the dropout rates, the effect that bullying is having in our school system. Some of these things are addressed through supplementary funding.

Unfortunately, and I'm not going to take a lot of time to talk about this, I really feel that supplementary funding, if you look at it, has really become the food bank of our school system. It is similar to something that was set up to provide some really great extras on top of what we already had. I really feel now it is because education has been

[Page 1302]

cut down to the bare bones and it has been cut and cut and we have ignored a lot of things in the system. The Hogg report did not look at the busing issue in the province. They said it was too complicated, or some such nonsense. So that whole issue has not been looked at.

We have a lot of issues facing rural schools that urban schools don't have and then we have the opposite. So the question also is, is HRM going to provide more funding? Is the province going to provide more funding? Who is going to provide the funding if, indeed, the supplementary funding money is spread thinner. I don't want to see it come to an issue where you are now going to be looking at the two different boards and saying where is the money going to be spent and how is it going to be spent? I think the government needs to answer the questions that we are going to talk about here today.

The bottom line is that they are not funding the education system to levels that it should be. We are one of the lowest around and things don't seem to be getting a lot better for kids who are really in need in the system. The dropout rate is phenomenal and I think those are things that the government has to look at so even though I look forward to seeing this bill go through the Law Amendments Committee, it does make me think of a lot of questions, Mr. Speaker, and I hope we'll get some answers to those. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I'll be very brief on this topic. My riding, as you know, does include both rural and urban areas and supplementary funding is very much a live issue in many parts of this riding. There is a tremendous, extraordinary differential within the schools, both English and French. I find it absolutely extraordinary when I need to go to a similar event or ceremony at any one of the different schools in my area to see that in one school, for instance, I am thinking particularly of graduations, there is enough money left around for the provision of a comfortable feast and so on for everybody, for parents, for children, for graduates, for everybody. There are carrots and lemonade and sandwiches and cake. Another school may just have lemonade and cake. At another school, which I could name, I was horrified the last time I visited to find that at the end of the graduation ceremonies for the young people, who were Grade 6, everybody in the audience was asked to please remain seated while the Grade 6s went over to eat cake and if there was any left over then everyone else could have some, too. I find it absolutely extraordinary that within a few miles, schools which are delivering exactly the same programs, have such an amazing differential in what is available.

Although that is not specifically a question of supplementary funding, it does tell us what is left over at the end of supplementary funding, what it is that has to be paid for. I know that I am literally - I have been told by some schools that if you can bring us paper, that would be wonderful. That is how far down into the barrel people are

[Page 1303]

scratching on some occasions. In other places it is difficult to actually get somebody to recycle paper because there is always going to be more.

So there is a very uneven playing field even within the municipality and when you add to that the fact that there are, in fact, two school boards functioning, there is the remaining school board and there is the CSAP, which I must say I am very grateful to see. I am very glad that we do, in fact, have this school system available to the children of French- speaking parents and I know that is a very fine education which is provided. Part of the very fine education, I think, is the strong sense of community which is available in the francophone schools. I think you will find that wherever there is, in fact, a program, as opposed to an individual course, which defines a body of students then you will tend to find a very strong sense of community. I would not want to in any way see one community disadvantaged by the fact that funding paid for by taxpayers to support the education system is not available to one of those communities.

So I would wholeheartedly support the extension of supplementary funding to the other school board, and I would note that we have in the past had separate school boards, but I would not support the dilution of the available funding. Supplementary funding is probably something which shouldn't be required. The province should be funding education in such a way that, in fact, a similar education is delivered and not just in the narrow sense, not only in the curriculum sense, and even that is not always taking place, but in the sense of extracurricular activities and in the sense of a physical plant.

As I say, I certainly welcome the initiative here and the former County of Halifax, which is also included in my riding, does not benefit from this. While I welcome this initiative, I hope that it is simply a step along the way to pointing up the fact that the quality of education in this province should not be dependent on the location in which a family resides. We should, in fact, be ensuring that a similar education in the very broad sense is delivered throughout the province and that can only be the responsibility of the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, as you can see, this seemingly simple piece of legislation has stirred up a huge amount of interest on the floor of the House. Although the bill is presented to us as an amendment to the Municipal Government Act, it should be noted that the amendment is to the part of the Municipal Government Act that applies exclusively to HRM. The new proposed sections would not have any direct effect outside of the geographic and political area of HRM. Nonetheless, of course, that's considerable because it represents some 55 per cent of the population of the province. A good many of us here in this caucus represent constituencies that are located in HRM and many of us have a longstanding interest in how this particular question plays out.

[5:30 p.m.]

[Page 1304]

Let me say immediately that the basic thrust of the bill is a good idea. Let me say immediately that I think it has long been something of an omission, something of an oversight in the way supplementary education funding has been provided previous to the effect of Bill No. 9, that the Conseil scolaire has been omitted from the beneficence of the municipal level of government - HRM. That I think was a mistake. It was unfortunate and it is a fundamentally fair and appropriate step that this omission be corrected by legislation.

I think it has to be recognized that the thrust of our sympathies is indeed in favour of what it is that the bill seeks to accomplish. At the same time we have to recognize what the problems are that we're dealing with and also recognize what might actually be some problems when it comes to the implementation of this legislation.

Let's deal first with what seems to be an obvious problem in the implementation of this legislation. The difficulty is that, of course, the municipality is being given a choice. They're being given a choice as to whether they wish to dilute the existing amount of dollars that is assigned by way of supplementary education funding when the Conseil scolaire becomes part of the objects of this funding or will HRM Council decide to add to the number of dollars? That's the option they have. If they don't add to the number of dollars, then in effect what they've done is they will have been required by this bill to consider the fact that there is an extra school board with extra students, and that the dollars should therefore go further, same dollars go further. Well, that's a difficulty, and that will be for HRM Council to decide. I think we're flagging that here as something we're simply worried about.

But all of that has to be seen within a context. It's the context of overall provincial funding and the context of overall split between provincial and municipal funding for education that's important to remember here. Let's start with this question of the split between provincial and municipal funding for education. This question in Nova Scotia goes back a long way. I can remember in the early to mid-1970s, the Graham Commission, the Graham Commission Report that addressed a whole range of issues of jurisdiction and funding in the province. They looked at how schools were funded, they looked at how hospitals were funded, they looked at how the Community Services portfolio was funded. In essence, Professor Graham was asked to try to bring some rationality to how that system was both administered and funded.

The principle that was set out, and the principle that has attempted to be worked out in the ensuing decades, has been that the level of government that has the jurisdictional responsibility for setting the policy, and administering some particular topic should also be the level of government that funds it. Now, that has never been perfectly implemented by any means. The last attempt we saw was about a decade ago when we saw what was called service exchange. This is a common problem around the country, in other provinces, it's known as disentanglement. How do you get one level

[Page 1305]

of government that is not jurisdictionally responsible for some area out of the business of having to pay for it? That primarily means municipalities.

Municipalities continue to be in a position in our province where they're hit up to pay for the education system over which they have no jurisdiction. The total cost to the municipalities in Nova Scotia, for their mandatory contribution - this isn't the supplementary education, this is the mandatory contribution - the total number of dollars that municipalities in Nova Scotia have to turn over to the provincial level of government is around $200 million a year. Now that's a substantial number of dollars.

That money is not paid out of revenues that come from an income tax system. An income tax system is probably the sort of fairest and generally most equitable kind of tax system we have. Those dollars that the municipality has to turn over to the province come out of the property tax, which is really the almost exclusive - certainly the main element of municipal revenue in Nova Scotia. Property tax is widely seen as essentially not a particularly equitable kind of tax. It has all kinds of flaws with it as a system.

Those dollars are being used, in part, to fund the education system over which the municipalities have no control. None at all. They don't set the curriculum, they don't hire the teachers, they're not the Department of Education, they're not the school board - they just don't have any power. They simply are the partial funders of that system. This is not a satisfactory state of affairs. We know that UNSM, year in and year out, puts it on record that they don't like it. We know that they're pushing the province to try to make a change. Would that we had some commitment from the government to a phase-out of this, that would be important. I know changes are being talked about, but it would be good if we moved away from that. It would be a very good thing. It's no wonder that municipalities approach the question of funding for education very warily.

There's another problem when it comes to the funding of education at the school level in Nova Scotia. That problem is the question of the overall level of funding, even when the province receives the $200 million from the municipalities and adds in monies from the general flow of provincial revenues from other sources, we hear complaints that maybe it's still not enough.

I know there are parents everywhere in this province who are concerned about the quality of education their children receive. Quality means different things to different families, but they all seek quality for their students. If their children are particularly bright children, they want to see International Baccalaureate at the high school level, they want to see extra classes for those students, they want to see their students challenged in particular ways, they want French Immersion Programs and on it goes.

If their students have some kind of learning disability or a physical disability, they want personalized attention. The parents of those children want personalized attention for those students and they deserve it and they should get it. Just as we learned

[Page 1306]

when we read the Kendrick report about Community Services, it's important to think about how to individualize the services that are offered.

It doesn't matter whether it's health care, it doesn't matter whether it's community services, it doesn't matter whether it's education. As much as possible, there should be a system that recognizes individual differences and tries to deliver high quality education, in this case, according to the needs of the person who comes to the system. Maybe that means more money, it certainly means more equitable distribution of money amongst the school boards.

But what it shouldn't mean is that on top of the mandatory contribution that municipalities are told they have to make, are required by law to make, in Nova Scotia, to the education system as a whole, that communities should be driven to say, the system is so bad that on top of the mandatory dollars, we're going to toss in more dollars.

I think if supplementary education funding really were about finding a few extra things that really were a supplement, if we already had a really good system along the principles that I've outlined, maybe there might be a little room left over in some communities for adding on a little bit extra.

Historically, that's not what supplementary education funding has really been about in HRM, the one municipality that has decided to pay it. They invented it in HRM, and not even in the whole of HRM, they invented it in the former cities of Halifax and Dartmouth and it's now spread out since the formation of HRM. They invented it because they were concerned really about the fundamental quality of the education system. They worried about the quality of the education system, they felt what they called supplementary education money, supplementary dollars, should have to be put in place in order to give the quality of education they thought their children ought to be receiving in the first place if the system were adequately funded. That's really the story.

Although it's a very good thing that these dollars should also go to the Conseil Scolaire along with the other school board, nonetheless, we have to recognize that there is a problem. There is a problem with the quality and funding of our education system and parents know it. Parents who have their children in the public school system know there's a problem there.

Why do we continue to see an increase in the numbers of students who go to private schools? The parents who can afford it are all too often tempted to take their children out of the public school system and take them to where they think they're going to get a better education. That's a hard fact. It's not a good state of affairs; it's not desirable. Many of us, like myself, made a policy choice to keep our children all the way through the school system. We weren't entirely happy but we felt committed to it, wanted to do it and felt it was the way to learn about the school system for us, as parents, and if that was what was on offer, then our kids would have to take what was on offer.

[Page 1307]

I feel dedicated - as I know every parent does - to try to get the best education system for my children and for other children not just during the time that they are in school. We are looking longer term, we are looking to set up a good system for all students in Nova Scotia, well on into the future.

So although in a way this is an HRM question and should be seen as such, it exists in a context in which we have to call into question what it is that's going on with the funding arrangements in our education system. I want to assure the government members opposite that we are very alert to those questions, and I want to assure the government members opposite that parents are alert to those questions, and I want to assure the government members opposite that parents vote on the basis of their observations and determinations of the education system. That's something that's universal in this province - along with health care - and people pay attention to it. They want it, they value it, and they insist that they are going to get a good education system.

[5:45 p.m.]

This bill goes a small way towards addressing an inequity, but if the dollars are watered down as a result of this, then we will have achieved a small form of equity but at the expense of another form of equity. So I hope that first, when HRM Council receives this new power, it looks seriously not at reducing the supplementary education dollars but increasing them. When the Municipal Government Act was first put in place after amalgamation - or at the time of amalgamation actually, it was before the Municipal Government Act - at the time of the legislation to create HRM there were clauses in the Statute that essentially said to HRM Council that they could phase-out by up to 10 per cent the supplementary education funding, by 10 per cent per year. It was clear that it was being suggested to HRM Council that they phase it out.

That's not what HRM Council has done, although they have wavered a little bit about that money. Now we're finding a crunch and I hope that the council, when it receives this new power, looks seriously at increasing it, but I also hope that in the budget this year we see solid measures from this government to increase the funding of the education system overall and in an equitable way amongst all of the school boards around the province. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the members on the opposite side for supporting the bill, saying that it's a good bill. Some of the information which did come from members on the opposite side of the House I think is open to debate, but anyway with those few words, both the Opposition Parties do recognize that

[Page 1308]

extending the supplemental benefit to the CSAP under the Municipal Government Act is a good thing, and I'd like to thank the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto for pointing out that this legislation does apply only to HRM and also for pointing out that the section in the MGA did appear because, at the request, of HRM.

Mr. Speaker, with those remarks I'll close debate on Bill No. 9 and ask that the vote be called.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 9, the Municipal Government Act.

Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 15.

Bill No. 15 - Municipal Government Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to say a few words in second reading to introduce Bill No.15, Municipal Government Act amendments. It's a very straightforward bill, and if passed, what it does is provide the HRM Council with the authority to reduce the property tax payable on a residential property if the assessed value is increased more than a specified percentage. In other words, if the property assessment increased by over a certain percentage over the previous year, the owner could, if the HRM so desired, get a tax break. This authority was granted first to HRM in the 2005-06 year. It did expire, so, what it really amounts to is that if this bill is passed, and I hope that the Opposition Parties will endorse it, HRM Council will be able to apply the program in any year it chooses, without requiring legislation.

Mr. Speaker, this amendment has been requested by HRM. With those comments, I move second reading of Bill No. 15.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

[Page 1309]

MR. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how to best characterize this bill. I think the Explanatory Note, although only two lines, maybe three lines at the most, probably describes the bill adequately. I think that you'll recall that on at least one occasion, if not on two or three occasions, I've risen in my place here at the House and talked about property assessments in the riding of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank, and the hardship that residents were facing in the riding as a result of increased taxes, especially those residents with significant history in the riding. Those residents are now at the age of having fixed incomes and no longer in the position of having an income coming into the family home able to support the homes that they do have.

With the increases in taxes and the new homes that have been built in the area, the $300,000-plus homes (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank is having a hard time hearing himself speak.

The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, the bill is a simple one, simple in nature but let's not just look at the simplicity of the bill and let it confuse us. This bill was inspired, from my research, by the request of HRM. It has been discussed or raised at times in the House, and I was mentioning about the increase in residential property taxes within HRM, and I can speak specifically for the Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank riding. I would like to say, as the MLA, as the representative for that riding, any sort of legislation that will ease the burden, ease the hardships on those residents would be fully appreciated.

The rising taxes, Mr. Speaker, are an ongoing concern for residents, and I would probably say throughout all of Nova Scotia. I might take some risk in saying that, but I think that's a common thread throughout this province. It remains a concern for many of us, I would think, even in this House. This bill will serve HRM to reduce taxes as deemed appropriate; a positive step to decrease the burden on families within HRM would be looked upon certainly by this side of the House as beneficial and as favourable.

I could probably talk at great length about the tax situation in HRM when it pertains to assessments and property taxes, but I think it's a given. I think we are all fully aware of the hardships that families have suffered over the years and any measure, regardless of how small it may be, would be a step in that direction. It is with - I almost said the word eagerness and maybe I might modify that a little bit, but it is with - some enthusiasm that certainly I support this bill. Taking into consideration the time of the hour, I would like to adjourn debate on the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 1310]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government's business for today. I would call upon the House Leader for the Opposition for the agenda for tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the hours for tomorrow will begin at 11:00 a.m. and conclude at 2:45 p.m. The business to be called after the daily routine will be Resolution No. 656 and Resolution No. 658. I now move that we adjourn the House until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

We have now reached the moment of interruption. The subject of this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton South:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government immediately implement a review of the current state of the bridge infrastructure within Nova Scotia with the goal of implementing a program to help address safety risks."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby Annapolis.

TPW: BRIDGE INFRASTRUCTURE - REVIEW

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to speak on the matter of bridges here in Nova Scotia. Many bridges in our province are in a state of despair. After the disaster in Montreal back in September, bridges and overpasses have become a major topic of discussion and I think we have to address this issue immediately, if that is possible. Bridges have collapsed in Nova Scotia in the past and fortunately nobody was hurt, but we cannot take the chance that every time a faulty bridge collapses, nobody will be on it. In August 2003, a two-lane wooden bridge in Meteghan collapsed moments after a transport truck crossed it. With more transport trucks on our roads every day, it is only going to become worse, as time goes by.

[Page 1311]

Now, these bridges may have been old and outdated but it still begs the question, Mr. Speaker, why have these out-of-date bridges been allowed to serve the public? A 10-year study by the Department of Transportation and Public Works released in 2001 estimated that $560 million was needed for the bridge repairs and replacements over the next decade. Nova Scotia's highway engineers assess bridges in this province on a daily basis and they are recommending we need over $500 million in the next decade for bridge repairs alone. Some bridges in our province are over 100 years old.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation and Public Works is responsible for operating and maintaining more than 4,100 bridges on 23,000 kilometres of road in this province. So why have these out-of-date bridges been allowed to serve the public? Well, I can give you a few ideas of my own. This province has a deficit of $3.5 billion in road repair. The need is over $400 million per year to bring our roads up to standard. We are putting about half of that amount into our roads as of today. In Digby-Annapolis we don't even have our roads finished yet, yet we are behind $400 million per year in road work. So if the roads are not finished in our province, how could we ever get at repairing our bridges? We can't even cut the alders in Digby. The ditches are full of alders and mud because there is not money enough to do the job.

Before I came into this job three years ago, the Department of Transportation and Public Works in our riding of Digby-Annapolis was digging mud out of the ground to put on our roads because they were saving $1.50 per tonne. For 10 years, this went on in Digby-Annapolis. Every day it rained, the cars were in clear to the frame. Tow trucks made more money than regular people around Digby-Annapolis. The average person in this province spends $350 per year repairing their cars from bad roads.

The local machinery the department uses, they are welding it together piece by piece to keep it going. As people move away from the rural areas of Nova Scotia, we are not going to see more, we are going to see less road work done, because we believe that the less taxes we pay with the deficit that we have now of $3.5 billion, it is only going to grow worse, so how could we ever get at the $500 million needed to repair the bridges in this province? The only way I know is, for the last six years the federal government has taken $841 million in taxes. They have given back $31 million.

[6:00 p.m.]

The government across this room, for the last three years said to the Liberal Party over here, go after you federal cousins in Ottawa to get us some of those tax dollars back here in this province. Well now I am saying back to this government across the room, it's your turn to go after your federal cousins in this country to get more taxes for our road repairs in this province.

I don't know, and I don't think anybody else knows where the money is going to come from to fix our roads, let alone our bridges. We could take a couple of years off from fixing our roads at a couple of hundred million dollars per year and we could put

[Page 1312]

it into the bridges. We would have fine bridges, but where would the roads be? We have no roads to the bridges.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, that's the way I see it, that's the way the people I represent in Digby-Annapolis see it. I must give credit for this past year. We have been getting better gravel on our roads, and I thank the government for doing that, helping us out to change that mud on our dirt roads to gravel. The people truly appreciate that. If there was only something we could find to do with those dammed alders on each side of that road that they are putting the gravel on, we might come ahead there a little on our gravel roads.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, that's all I can stress about it. I don't know where the money is going to come from to fix these bridges that are 100 years old - a lot of these bridges - and they are certainly going to get dangerous, 4100 of them in this province. The cost it is going to be to fix these, the only place I know it is going to come from, if we don't grow our population and put more people to work in this province, especially in our rural areas, it has to come from the federal government. I am going to leave it for this government across this room to go after those federal cousins in Ottawa to get more of that back. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to debate this resolution my colleague has brought forward and it's all to do with bridge infrastructure and the safety of our roads, our bridges and our overpasses in Nova Scotia. It certainly came to light with the tragedy that occurred in the Province of Quebec on September 30th. It was certainly unexpected that an overpass structure fell there; unfortunately there were five people killed and six injured. I'm sure when those drivers were going down the road that day, the last thing on their mind was that the road would disappear under them or would fall away.

I understand there's a public inquiry now to try to determine what exactly did happen and why did this overpass bridge structure suddenly collapse. It was a wake up call to the folks in the Province of Quebec and it is a wake up call here to Nova Scotians and to maybe the Department of Transportation, to realize what happened there could happen here. It was a structure in that province, in the city of Laval, that was only 35 years old; it was scheduled to last for something like 75 years, the normal length of time for these structures. It brings into question the safety of our overpasses and bridges.

Today, with modern technology, there are ways to test our bridges. I know the department goes out and does visual inspections and does the hammer test to see if there's any reverberation or any indication the concrete is not sound, but there are other techniques now you can test concrete structure with - one of them is laser scanning that takes a picture of the structure. There's ground penetrating radar that gives you a handle

[Page 1313]

on the quality of the concrete within the structure, and there are even remote sensors now that are used; they're implanted into the structure at the time the bridge is built.

I know the fixed link to P.E.I. has remote sensors within it and they're constantly monitored to find out what the condition of that particular structure is. That one is designed to last for 100 years and they're constantly monitoring it to see how it's doing.

Hopefully, our local Department of Transportation here is using some of the technology that's available to test the structures here in Nova Scotia, to see how sound they are. It is all about public safety, it is something Nova Scotians are wanting an assurance of - that our bridges and overpasses are safe in this province and that no similar tragedy will occur as did in Laval, Quebec.

That particular structure in Laval was built in 1970 and it was built with a mechanism called a Curvel Joint - that's the type of mechanism that held the beam to the upright column. It's sort of like a step structure, it sets down on the column. I'm not sure how many overpasses we have here in Nova Scotia that are like that, but that would certainly be one good thing to know- how many structures were built with this similar Curvel Joint?

As we know, all of these bridges or overpasses are built out of concrete. One of the worst corrosive materials that attacks concrete is salt. Certainly in Quebec, there's a lot of road salt used and that's an indication of perhaps what did happen there in that province. As you know, here in Nova Scotia, we also use a lot of road salt to keep our highways safer, but it has the disadvantage of corroding materials that it comes into contact with, not just vegetation, but items like concrete can be eaten away by road salt. So, it's important that we too test our bridges and overpasses here in this province, considering the amount of salt that comes out of Pugwash and is spread on our roads.

I want to bring to the attention of the House and to the minister - I'm sure he's aware of it- the badly damaged overpass on the Highway No. 104 at Salt Springs in Pictou County. The overpass there, over the West River, East Side Road, was hit by a truck in February, 2005. It's almost two years and it was badly damaged by this large truck hauling a piece of forestry equipment. It struck the overpass and did a lot of damage, and in fact the department has come out and investigated and decided that it's not safe for vehicles to go over the overpass with two-way traffic. There are traffic lights that control it to one way only, over top the road structure. It was given some attention here right after the damage, the tragedy in Quebec, and certainly it was on ATV news and other media.

It's very obvious when you look at it, there's a lot of concrete missing, there are steel rods that are exposed, there's rusted exposure on these rods. It looks bad, although we're told by the department that it's safe to use. I hope that the minister is listening and

[Page 1314]

that we're able to get that repaired - I'm told in 2007. The sooner the better, because it's obviously unsafe if traffic cannot go over top of it in two-way direction.

In the past, we've had other bridges, of course, that have been damaged or that have gone down with a large truck going over it. There's one in Stillwater, in Guysborough County, a couple of years ago - I guess Glenelg is maybe the official spot, is it? There's another one in Meteghan, in Digby County. If I remember correctly there's another one in Petit Riviere, I believe in Lunenburg County, within the last few years. So, we've had a number of bridges go down, usually to heavy truck traffic. It's important that all our bridges be constantly monitored, constantly inspected to make sure that they're safe for traffic of any weight that's legal within this province.

Mr. Speaker, bridges are like people, I think. They only have a certain life span, they're only going to last so long. It's true. The bridge in Quebec was scheduled for 75 years, well, that's not uncommon to a human life span. It's important that thorough testing be considered on an ongoing basis and that our infrastructure is not neglected. As was mentioned by my colleague, the member for Digby-Annapolis, we do have a huge infrastructure deficit in this province, something like $3.5 billion. I think it's actually now up to $4 billion or $4.5 billion. A good part of that is our bridge infrastructure that has been neglected, something like $560 million. There are over 4,000 bridges in this province, many of which are over 100 years old. It's vital that they be monitored and inspected on a very regular basis.

To sum up, Mr. Speaker, we do have a lot of bridges and overpasses in this province. Some of them are decades old, even over a century, and it's vital that the department has constant up-to-date equipment to look at the testing of these structures and to assure Nova Scotians that we have safe driving in this province, and to prevent any accident, similar to what happened in the Province of Quebec. I thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis for bringing forward the resolution this evening. I note with interest the wording of the resolution that says:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government immediately implement a review of the current state of the bridge infrastructure within Nova Scotia with the goal of implementing a program to help address safety risks."

Well, Mr. Speaker, the fact is that we have a continuous review underway with respect to the bridges in this province, and they are inspected on a regular basis and there are various levels of inspection that take place, and various reports that are generated and those reports help in assigning priorities with respect to work that is done on the bridges. That work ranges all the way from a complete replacement of a bridge to improvements,

[Page 1315]

the basic painting of bridges and shoring up anything by way of support that's required for the bridges. There is always the challenge of replacement of decks, things of that nature.

Mr. Speaker, I think, really, we're debating this issue tonight because of the incident that occurred in the Province of Quebec. I want to assure all honourable members, as well as the people of the Province of Nova Scotia, that we are not heavily dependent upon structures such as the one that was in Quebec. We have only one such structure in this province and that had been inspected immediately after the incident in Quebec and it was found to be in good shape, but we have commissioned a more detailed inspection of that facility that is being carried out by SNC-Lavalin. They are doing a detailed inspection, and I hope to have the results of that report in early December so that we will have a complete analysis of that particular structure, but that is the only one in this province that is similar to the situation in Quebec.

Now, having said that, the honourable member for Pictou West indicated that we have over 4,000 structures in this province, and that is a considerable challenge. The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis made reference to the need for us to spend upwards of $400 million a year in capital with respect to the highways of this province in order to put them in the shape that is required and, of course, to eliminate all of the bothersome alders along the way. That is a funding challenge for us. I'm not going to get into a political debate here this afternoon, but sometimes the messages are confusing with respect to the desire to go ahead and spend more money, but also the desire for us to reduce taxation levels all in the same breath.

[6:15 p.m.]

That having been said, I know that we do carry out a very detailed program. We do a considerable amount of prioritization with respect to the bridges in this province. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, there is quite a list of bridges that have been built over the past number of years. I believe, in four years, we have replaced 23 bridges in the province, the average cost of about $1.5 million. That's $36.3 million that has been expended on the replacement of bridges, and that does not in any way relate to the bridges themselves. In the last six years, we've spent $154 million on the bridge replacement and construction within the province, and $48 million on bridge maintenance over the last six years, and that's at the rate of approximately $8 million a year. This year we've spent $45 million on maintenance and construction of bridges.

Now, there are some bridges, Mr. Speaker, that are of particular interest to members. The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour, he and I, a couple weeks ago Friday, spent a day in his riding, but he took me out of his riding to look at a bridge in Pictou East because so many people from Guysborough travel that particular road. The bridge is the Black Brook Bridge on Route 347.

[Page 1316]

Mr. Speaker, I can tell the House that it is our intention to place that bridge on the capital program this year, and that will constitute sort of a rerouting of the crossing over the river and a complete replacement of the bridge that is there. I know that's of particular concern to a number of people.

The other problem we often run into - a reference was made to the Stillwater Bridge. There isn't a great deal we can do about it when somebody decides that they're going to drive a huge truck into the side of a bridge and knock it into the river. We can't do that, or we can't do anything about people who decide they want to burn a bridge down. When that happens, it complicates an already difficult situation, but we have certainly encountered those over the years. I know the honourable member for Lunenburg has had difficulty with people deciding that they want to push bridges into the river rather than keep them over the river. So those are part of the challenges that we encounter as well.

We do have a program, it's a very detailed program. We have six crews that deal with bridge work throughout the province, Mr. Speaker. As funds become available we will continue with the replacement and the repair of bridges and, of course, the very important work of inspecting those bridges to ensure that the appropriate priorities are set.

Mr. Speaker, if time has reached that stage, I know you're anxious to have me move on and I will so that you might move on.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. That concludes debate. We stand adjourned until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:18 p.m.]

[Page 1317]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 715

By: Mr. Patrick Dunn (Pictou Centre)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the historic Pioneer Cemetery in New Glasgow was recently designated a municipal Heritage Site; and

Whereas Mayor Ann MacLean said that the new designation offers the site protection, and it will now be recognized in town documents and protected from development; and

Whereas the cemetery Board of Trustees member, Bill McTague, insists that such a designation helps attain similar recognition from provincial and federal governments which will help to secure more funding for upkeep of the aging cemetery;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the efforts of the Town of New Glasgow for securing measures to maintain and protect the important historical and cultural elements of Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 716

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the 2006 Duathlon Championships, consisting of a 15 kilometre run, a 73 kilometre bike ride, followed by an additional 7 kilometre run took place in St. George, New Brunswick; and

Whereas with a 4th place finish overall, and 2nd place in his category, Captain Choquette (Chucky) of the 405 Squadron has earned a spot on the Canadian National Team; and

Whereas in order to compete in an extreme event such as the Duathlon Championships, an athlete has to commit both physically and mentally to endure the challenges they will face;

[Page 1318]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Captain Choquette (Chucky) for his accomplishments and recognize the tremendous commitment and sacrifice he has made to reach this level.

RESOLUTION NO. 717

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Chime Choir at Dykeland Lodge in Windsor involves a number of individuals under the capable direction of music therapist, Ben Robertson, and assistant, Megan Church; and

Whereas a grant from the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund assisted in the establishment of the Dykelands Chime Choir, and today is funded by the generosity of The Friends of Dykeland and Dykeland Lodge; and

Whereas the Dykelands Chime Choir can play a variety of songs and are now learning Christmas carols;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly applaud the tremendous accomplishments of the Dykelands Chime Choir while offering our kindest regard for the musical inspiration they provide.

RESOLUTION NO. 718

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on July 12th , the Town of Windsor hosted some 200 Historica student delegates and their chaperones from across Canada for a hot dog barbeque at the Windsor waterfront, where the Windsor Fire Department's Steve Benjamin was the hot dog chef; and

Whereas delegates also enjoyed a "taste" of Nova Scotia, with samplings of fresh local strawberries and watermelon, and Mayor Allen presented guests with a cake decorated with the Historica logo, provincial and territorial flags; and

[Page 1319]

Whereas the student delegates were then treated to a walking tour of downtown Windsor and a performance of the Windsor History Hour called An Almost True Story, presented by the Windsor merchant's Business Enhancement Society;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House give our sincere thanks and appreciation to Mayor Allen, Windsor merchants, and many volunteers for showcasing the history and future of Windsor by offering second to none hospitality to our visitors.

RESOLUTION NO. 719

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas every July 1st, Rhys Harnish hosts the Ceilidh on the Cove; and

Whereas the Ceilidh on the Cove provides great local and traditional entertainment, Irish dancers, a flag-raising ceremony, a giant birthday cake, a family BBQ, a smorgasbord buffet, followed by fireworks at dusk; and

Whereas many people from all over come to help celebrate Canada's birthday;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Rhys on a job well done and wish him much success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 720

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas in 2003, while out for their evening walk, two Chester residents, Elizabeth Heisler and Lisa Zinck, noticed a lone individual fall from his boat into Chester Harbour; and

Whereas the individual was drowning, and if it were not for the quick decisive action by Elizabeth and Lisa in saving the person's life by helping the person from under the water to a nearby dock;

Whereas although this was reported in the local paper a few weeks later, no formal recognition of the fast, life-saving action of these two individuals occurred;

[Page 1320]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize these unsung heroines, and thank Elizabeth Heisler and Lisa Zinck for their quick and unselfish actions resulting in the saving of another's life.

RESOLUTION NO. 721

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas in 1965 Sir John A. Macdonald High School opened its doors for students; and

Whereas many students have passed through the doors of this great school; and

Whereas the teachers and students of Sir John A. Macdonald High School have moved to a new, modern facility thanks to the Department of Education, in which they celebrated this occasion on May 25, 2006, by providing the public with a final chance to walk the halls of Sir John A.;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their best wishes as staff and students get set to move into this new facility.

RESOLUTION NO. 722

By: Hon Judy Streatch (Community Services)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas in 1956 the New Ross Credit Union was started from very humble beginnings; and

Whereas the success of the New Ross Credit Union has been astonishing, thanks in no small part to their focus on their members; and

Whereas 50 years later the New Ross Credit Union has grown from just one small location to the present two modern branches in New Ross and Chester Basin;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Board of Directors, staff, and members of the New Ross Credit Union on their 50th Anniversary, and wish them success in the years to come.

[Page 1321]

RESOLUTION NO. 723

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Artifacts in Clay is a production pottery studio specializing in functional stoneware sculpture; and

Whereas on Saturday, June 17, 2006, Christie Chaplin-Saunders celebrated their grand opening in Chester; and

Whereas the company prides themselves on providing functional pottery to retailers across Atlantic Canada and New England;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish Christine, her family and staff, much success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 724

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Wilfrid Creighton is a former resident of St. Margaret's Bay; and

Whereas no one would ever guess that Mr. Creighton is 102 years old, especially if you would happen to stumble across him as he is managing the harvesting of his blueberries and maple syrup on his woodlot in Musquodoboit; and

Whereas he credits his longevity to a combination of genes and healthy lifestyle;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish Mr. Creighton much success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 725

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

[Page 1322]

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas it is not very often when you get the opportunity to feel a whale's heartbeat; and

Whereas on October 6th an 18-foot, 3-ton pilot whale beached himself on the shores of Tancook; and

Whereas a small group of residents gathered together to keep the whale alive;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the residents of Tancook for saving this whale's life.

RESOLUTION NO. 726

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas a dedicated and talented group of individuals help to keep the wheels turning when a medical emergency is called in on Tancook Island; and

Whereas with operating costs of approximately $7,000 to field approximately 25 emergencies each year; and

Whereas Chester paramedics and firefighters organized a ball tournament that helped raise $881.50 towards the Tancook Island First Responders;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the organizers of the ball tournament and the First Responders on Tancook Island on a job well done.

RESOLUTION NO. 727

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas people volunteered by the hundreds and raised money by the thousands for this year's Relay for Life across the South Shore; and

[Page 1323]

Whereas from St. Margaret's Bay to Bridgewater about $175,000 was raised in three events, contributing nicely to the almost $1.5 million raised province-wide; and

Whereas Chester-St. Margaret's two first-time relays raised $60,000 to help in the fight against cancer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank the many volunteers who made this event possible.

RESOLUTION NO. 728

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Tri County Rangers is a baseball team made up of 12 young people from various areas within the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas on August 23 to August 27, 2006, they participated in the 2006 National Peewee Championships in Victoria, B.C.; and

Whereas after having much fun and many games, the Tri County Rangers placed 5th overall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Tri County Rangers on a job well done.

RESOLUTION NO. 729

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas almost 20 years ago the St. Margaret's Bay Baseball Association was formed as an umbrella organization; and

Whereas this year their recreational Peewee Team, coached by Steve Benjamin and several dedicated assistants and parents, excelled to the lead, not looking back once; and

[Page 1324]

Whereas on Labour Day weekend, the Bay Mariners captured their first Nova Scotia Provincial Championship by outscoring their opponents 51 - 12 over the four games;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Bay Mariners on a job well done.

RESOLUTION NO. 730

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas a group of youth from around Chester-St. Margaret's Bay gathered on Saturday, September 16, 2006, to clean up some trash, with no pay in mind; and

Whereas as one participant put it, they simply wanted to make a safer, cleaner place for everyone to enjoy; and

Whereas the group of youth focused their attention on Micous Island in Glen Haven;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the dedicated individuals who helped to make this event such a success.

RESOLUTION NO. 731

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas if someone were to grade the Chester District Soccer Association on how well it performed this year, even the toughest marker would have to cough up an A; and

Whereas the under 10 co-ed team went 22 and 0 this season, and the under 12 and 14 girls team finished first in regular season play, and the under 12 and 14 boys team improved enough this year to make it to the playoffs; and

Whereas the under 14 girls team won gold at the South Shore playoffs and the under 12 girls team won silver;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the players and coaches of the Chester District Soccer Association on an exceptional 2006 season, and wish them nothing but continued success.

RESOLUTION NO. 732

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Hawbolts Industries began from very modest beginnings in 1906; and

Whereas Hawbolts started in just one barn and expanded to two buildings on North Street in Chester, and eventually expanded to its present day location on the Windsor Road and became a staple of our society in Chester-St. Margaret's; and

Whereas Hawbolts has celebrated its 100th Anniversary on September 22nd with an open house, so the community can take a walk down memory lane;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Hawbolts Industries on its 100th Anniversary.