The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

HANSARD 06-27

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

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2006

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Barneys River: High-Speed Internet - Provide,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 2025
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1009, Nat'l. Child Day (11/20/06) - Children: Views -
Respect, Hon. J. Streatch 2026
Vote - Affirmative 2026
Res. 1010, Addictions Awareness Wk. (11/19 - 11/25/06) -
Recognize, Hon. B. Barnet 2027
Vote - Affirmative 2027
Res. 1011, Vial of Life - VON/Organizers/Vols: Distribution -
Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 2027
Vote - Affirmative 2028
Res. 1012, Dalhousie Univ./Partners: Research Grants -
Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 2028
Vote - Affirmative 2029
Res. 1013, Nat'l. 4-H Mo. (11/06): Members/Leaders -
Congrats., Hon. B. Taylor 2029
Vote - Affirmative 2030
Res. 1014, Paul, Daniel: Order of Can. - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 2030
Vote - Affirmative 2031
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1015, Sisters of Charity (New Waterford): Dedication -
Thank, Mr. F. Corbett 2031
Vote - Affirmative 2031
Res. 1016, Gov't. (N.S.) - Gas Regulation: Failure - Admit,
Mr. M. Samson 2032
Res. 1017, Nu-Air Ventilation/Caldwell, Earl & Dianne: Work -
Acknowledge, Mr. C. Porter 2032
Vote - Affirmative 2033
Res. 1018, Langille, Wayne - Heating Systems: Init. - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Parker 2033
Vote - Affirmative 2034
Res. 1019, Comeau, Cylos: Rescue - Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 2034
Vote - Affirmative 2035
Res. 1020, MacLeod, Marc-Andre - Cadet Awards, Mr. P. Dunn 2035
Vote - Affirmative 2035
Res. 1021, Butler, Barbara - Women of Excellence Award,
Mr. L. Preyra 2036
Vote - Affirmative 2036
Res. 1022, Addictions Awareness Wk. (11/19-11/25/06) - Recognize,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 2036
Vote - Affirmative 2037
Res. 1023, MacLeod, Irene - Sobeys Green Jacket Award,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 2037
Vote - Affirmative 2038
Res. 1024, Friends of Port Mouton Bay/Commun.: Efforts -
Support, Ms. V. Conrad 2038
Res. 1025, United Way - 211 System: Efforts - Acknowledge,
Mr. L. Glavine 2039
Vote - Affirmative 2050
Res. 1026, United Way (Lun. Co.): Vol. - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2040
Vote - Affirmative 2040
Res. 1027, EnerGuide Prog.:Funding - Ensure, Ms. M. Raymond 2040
Vote - Affirmative 2041
Res. 1028, Immigration - Adoption Process: Legislation -
Introduce, Ms. D. Whalen 2041
Introduce, Ms. D. Whalen
Res. 1029, Rogers Wireless: Wake Up Call Prog. - Congrats.,
Hon. E. Fage 2042
Vote - Affirmative 2043
Res. 1030, Sir John A. Macdonald Football Flames: Season -
Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 2043
Vote - Affirmative 2043
Res. 1031, N.S. Home for Colored Children: Broadcast for Funds -
Anniv. (75th), Mr. K. Colwell 2043
Vote - Affirmative 2044
Res. 1032, Duinker, Abby: Athletic Talents - Commend,
Hon. D. Morse 2044
Vote - Affirmative 2045
Res. 1033, Commun. Access Prog. (CAP): Extension/Continuation -
Support, Mr. C. MacKinnon 2045
Res. 1034, Chisholm, Art & Shirley - Commun. Literacy Vol.
Award, Hon. K. Casey 2046
Vote - Affirmative 2047
Res. 1035, Aoukar, Father Kheirallah - Lebanese Commun.:
Dedication - Commend, Mr. G. Steele 2047
Vote - Affirmative 2048
Res. 1036, Nat'l. Child Day (11/20/06) - Acknowledge,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 2048
Vote - Affirmative 2048
Res. 1037, Yarmouth Co. Athletic Awards Banquet: Recipients -
Congrats, Hon. C. d'Entremont 2049
Vote - Affirmative 2049
Res. 1038, Watton, George/Clark's Barbering - Anniv. (40th),
Ms. J. Massey 2050
Vote - Affirmative 2050
Res. 1039, CEC Cougars Organization - NSSAF Football
Championship, Hon. J. Muir 2051
Vote - Affirmative 2051
Res. 1040, Pictou Co. Red Friday - Support Our Troops Comm. -
Congrats., (by Ms. M. More) Mr. D. Dexter 2052
Vote - Affirmative 2052
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 1041, Arsenault, Rob: Talent - Recognize, Mr. L. Glavine 2053
Vote - Affirmative 2053
Res. 1042, Frape Rink: Eight-Ender - Congrats., Mr. C. Porter 2053
Vote - Affirmative 2054
Res. 1043, Smiley, Muriel/Fam./Friends: Run for the Cure -
Congrats., Ms. V. Conrad 2054
Vote - Affirmative 2055
Res. 1044, Cox, Catherine - CCAA Nat'l. Scholar Award,
Hon. J. Muir 2055
Vote - Affirmative 2056
Res. 1045, Newcomb, Paula: Duke of Edinburgh Award,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2056
Vote - Affirmative 2056
Res. 1046, Billard, Lewis - Dartmouth in Recent Memory: Book
Publication - Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 2056
Vote - Affirmative 2057
Res. 1047, Nat'l. Film Bd.: Spryfield Films - Congrats.,
Ms. M. Raymond 2057
Vote - Affirmative 2058^
Res. 1048, Murphy, Ellen: Hillside Girls Club - Dedication,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 2058
Vote - Affirmative 2059
Res. 1049, Ball, Chris/Comeau, Richard/Winds of Change -
Congrats., (by Hon. E. Fage) Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2059
Vote - Affirmative 2060
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 2:52 P.M. 2060
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 3:27 P.M. 2060
CWH REPORTS 2061
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 61, Motor Vehicle Act 2061
Hon. A. MacIsaac 2061
Mr. C. Parker 2062
Mr. M. Samson 2064
Mr. K. Deveaux 2066
Hon. A. MacIsaac 2073
Vote - Affirmative 2074
No. 117, Members and Public Employees Act 2074
Hon. M. Baker 2074
Mr. D. Dexter 2077
Amendment moved "bill be read six months hence" 2091
Mr. K. Deveaux 2091
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2112
Mr. F. Corbett 2124
Mr. J. MacDonell 2139
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Scott 2155
[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]
No. 117, Members and Public Employees Act 2155
Amendment [debate resumed]
Mr. G. Steele 2155
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Nov. 21st, at 9:00 a.m. 2159
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1050, Heart & Stroke Fdn. - Curves Liverpool: Work -
Recognize, Ms. V. Conrad 2161
Res. 1051, Queens Co. Fair: Exec./Directors - Recognize,
Ms. V. Conrad 2161
Res. 1052, Robinson - Dexter, Jean/Vols.: Sea Fest 2006 -
Congrats., Ms. V. Conrad 2162
Res. 1053, Int'l. Ukulele Ceilidh: Vols. - Recognize,
Ms. V. Conrad 2162
Res. 1054, N. Queens Elem. Sch.: Donor Groups - Congrats.,
Ms. V. Conrad 2163
Res. 1055, Richards, Duanne/Crouse, Dave - Big Brothers Big
Sisters Award, Ms. V. Conrad 2163
Res. 1056, Wabanaki, People of the Dawn, Part One - Film Proj.:
Participants - Congrats., Ms. V. Conrad 2164
Res. 1057, Butler, Barbara - Women of Excellence Award,
Mr. G. Steele 2164
Res. 1058, Liverpool Reg. HS Boys Soccer Team: Prov. Finals
Silver Medal, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2165
Res. 1059, United Way: United in Friendship Prog. - Congrats.,
Mr. P. Dunn 2165
Res. 1060, Pictou Co. Chamber of Comm. - Achievement Awards
Winners/Nominees - Congrats., Mr. P. Dunn 2166
Winners/Nominees - Congrats., Mr. P. Dunn
Res. 1061, Pictou Co. Coats for Kids: Participants - Thank,
Mr. P. Dunn 2167
Res. 1062, Bradbury, Janet/Ashlei Ballet Sch.: Relocation -
Congrats., Mr. P. Dunn 2167
Res. 1063, McCarron, Jamie - Locks for Love Charity: Donation -
Commend, Mr. P. Dunn
Res. 1064, Wentworth FD: Ladies Aux. - Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 2168
Res. 1065, Westchester FD: Ladies Aux. - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 2168
Res. 1066, Ferdinand, Polly: Westchester Ladies Aux. - Serv. (25yrs.),
Hon. M. Scott 2169
Res. 1067, Montrose, Darlene: Westchester Ladies Aux. -
Serv. (25yrs.), Hon. M. Scott 2169
Res. 1068, Moore, Judy: Westchester Ladies Aux. - Serv. (25yrs.),
Hon. M. Scott 2170
Res. 1069, Bentley, Jean: Westchester Ladies Aux. - Serv. (25yrs.),
Hon. M. Scott 2171
Res. 1070, Dobson, Elaine: Westchester Ladies Aux. -
Serv. (25yrs.), Hon. M. Scott 2171
Res. 1071, Billie, Jamie: Hfx. Airport Auth. Bd. - Appt.,
The Premier 2172
Res. 1072, More, Marilyn/Fam. - Grandchild: Birth - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 2172
Res. 1073, New Ross Country Market: Businesses - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 2173
Res. 1074, Hutt, Rubia/Wolf, Lisa/Connors, Tina - New Ross
Market: Participation - Congrats., Hon. J. Streatch 2173
Res. 1075, Wicker, Louis/Felix, Janie: Java Factory - Success
Wish, Hon. J. Streatch 2174
Res. 1076, Sir John A. Macdonald HS/Principal/Students -
Official Opening, Hon. J. Streatch 2174
Res. 1077, Chisholm, Amanda: S. Shore Health Bursary - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 2175
Res. 1078, Hasler, Amanda: S. Shore Health Bursary - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 2175
Res. 1079, Friday, Cody: Yukon Can. Games - Qualification,
Hon. J. Streatch 2176
Hon. J. Streatch
Res. 1080, Dyer, Emily: Whitehouse Can. Games - Selection,
Hon. J. Streatch 2176
Res. 1081, Keuhm, Jayne: Hubbards Area Bus. Assoc. Shop Local
Campaign, Hon. J. Streatch 2176
Res. 1082, Latremouille, Keifer & Morgan: Can. Games -
Qualification, Hon. J. Streatch 2177
Res. 1083, Turner, Kyle: Michelin Bursary Award, Hon. J. Streatch 2177
Res. 1084, Reeves, Debbie/Organizers: New Ross Commun. Fair -
Congrats., Hon. J. Streatch 2178
Res. 1085, New Ross Vol. FD: Importance - Recognize,
Hon. J. Streatch 2178

[Page 2025]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2006

Sixtieth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Cecil Clarke

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We shall commence with the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from the residents of Barneys River area of Pictou County seeking high-speed Internet service. The petition is signed by 63 residents, including the owners/operators of lumbering and trucking interests that transport internationally from this area. They say:

"We feel that we are being overlooked and denied the privilege of high speed and understand that it is being made available to other rural areas and would like the option of this service."

I, too, have affixed my name to the said petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

2025

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

[Page 2026]

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1009

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

Whereas National Child Day is November 20th and is celebrating this year's theme, the Right to be Heard, emphasizing each child's right to have a voice in matters that affect them; and

Whereas in Canada we committed, as a member of the United Nations, to ensure that all children are treated with dignity and respect; and

Whereas on this day, Nova Scotians, families and individuals are encouraged to honour the most important members of our community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage Nova Scotians to promote the importance of listening to children and respecting their views, and that this will promote tolerance and build self-esteem to empower Nova Scotia's greatest resource, our children.

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 Health Promotion and Protection.

RESOLUTION NO. 1010

[Page 2027]

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

Whereas harmful use of alcohol, other drugs and gambling is an important public health issue that impacts individuals, families, friends and communities across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Addiction Services is committed to providing the highest quality of prevention, early intervention and treatment services to help Nova Scotians affected by the harmful use of alcohol, other drug use and gambling; and

Whereas Addiction Services staff and volunteers, together with community partners, will be hosting a variety of events to focus attention on the impacts of harmful use of alcohol, drugs and gambling during National Addictions Awareness Week;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize November 19-25, 2006 as Addiction Awareness Week in the Province of Nova Scotia and commend its thoughtful observation to all citizens of our province.

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 Emergency Management.

RESOLUTION NO. 1011

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

Whereas the Vial of Life is a packet that contains vital health information that helps first responders treat seniors and others who may need emergency health treatment; and

[Page 2028]

Whereas the Victorian Order of Nurses of Cumberland County handed out 355 Vials of Life during the Christmas parade in Amherst this past Saturday, a parade that I was very happy to participate in along with the local VON; and

Whereas the Vial of Life packets also contain information on the province's 911 program to encourage effective use of the 911 program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate organizers Darlene Turnbull and Tara Nix, along with the staff and volunteers, for arranging the distribution of the Vial of Life material to the public and for their continued service throughout Cumberland County.

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 Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1012

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

Whereas Dalhousie University has received a $1 million grant from the federal Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to study Nova Scotia's restorative justice program; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has the most developed program for restorative justice in Canada; and

Whereas this Community University Research Alliance project will give the province tremendous insight into our restorative justice program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dalhousie University and their partner institutions and organizations on being awarded this very prestigious grant, and wish them much success in their research endeavour.

[Page 2029]

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 Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1013

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

Whereas 4-H has helped thousands of youth in Nova Scotia build positive life skills and reach full potential since 1922 when the first 4-H club began in Heatherton, Antigonish County; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia 4-H program provides youth with skills such as confidence, poise and responsibility through learning and by doing; and

Whereas during the month of November, 4-H members, volunteer leaders and supporters celebrate National 4-H Month across Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all Nova Scotia 4-H members and leaders as they celebrate the accomplishments of the 4-H program this month.

Mr. Speaker, just on Saturday past, the 4-H leaders held their annual meeting up in Truro. I had the privilege of attending.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2030]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 1014

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

Whereas Daniel Paul has become the third Mi'kmaq recipient of the Order of Canada; and

Whereas Mr. Paul has spent most of his life fighting racial discrimination through his writings and his work with various organizations and government agencies, including the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission; and

Whereas his work has helped Nova Scotians to better understand Mi'kmaq history and culture;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly take note of Daniel Paul's lifetime of work on behalf of the Mi'kmaq and all Nova Scotians, and congratulate him on receiving this high honour.

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1015

[Page 2031]

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

Whereas the Sisters of Charity began their early years teaching in parochial schools; and

Whereas the Sisters of Charity have been teaching in the Town of New Waterford since 1921; and

Whereas the last remaining three sisters living at St. Agnes Parish in New Waterford have retired, and the convent will now be closed;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank the Sisters of Charity for their dedication and kindness, and wish them good health and happiness in their retirement.

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. 1016

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

Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia continues to pay higher gas prices due to an ill-thought-out regulated system introduced by this government; and

Whereas both consumers and retailers are facing difficult decisions as to whether or not they can afford to purchase and supply fuel at a reasonable price; and

[Page 2032]

Whereas gas regulation has been carelessly championed by both the current government and the NDP without any consideration for the people of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly urge the Government of Nova Scotia to admit that gas regulation simply does not work and to listen to the people of Nova Scotia who don't want regulation.

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 member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1017

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

Whereas Nu-Air Ventilation Ltd., located in Windsor-West Hants Industrial Park, is considered to be one of Canada's leading exporters of alternative energy sources while generating nearly $3 million in the local economy, annually; and

Whereas earlier this year, Nu-Air Ventilation and President Earl Caldwell won the National Research Council's Regional Innovation Award for Sustainable Development; and

Whereas Nu-Air Ventilation has grown rapidly over the past few years with sales having taken off in Europe and Asia, along with their traditional market share in North America;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House acknowledge Nu-Air Ventilation President Earl Caldwell, his wife Dianne, and dedicated staff for their ongoing work in heat recovery technology while wishing them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 2033]

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. 1018

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

Whereas Wayne Langille of Melville, Pictou County, a full-time fisherman and a confirmed tinkerer, has built five solar panels from ordinary materials that supply most of his home heat; and

Whereas Mr. Langille uses flexible dryer vent tubing, black solar paint, Lexan, a fan and thermostat, along with hours of experimentation to build these solar collectors; and

Whereas more information on these high BTU pads can be found on his son's Web site at www.altantic-energy.ca;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Wayne Langille on his initiative in building a cleaner, more efficient heating system and wish him success on his future projects.

[2:15 p.m.]

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.

[Page 2034]

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 1019

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

Whereas nine-year-old Cylos Comeau, of Mayflower, overcame his Tourette's syndrome, ADD and speech impediment in order to come to the rescue of his grandfather; and

Whereas his grandfather was seriously injured from a fall which broke his back, neck, collarbone, shoulder, arm, and ribs, along with fracturing his skull; and

Whereas Cylos, who saw his grandfather fall and heard his calls for help, quickly ran for help, staying focused, and was able to find someone to help and clearly explained what had happened and directed the paramedics to his grandfather;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate Cylos for his quick response and effort to save his grandfather after this terrible accident.

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. 1020

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

Whereas young Pictou County Air Cadet Marc-Andre MacLeod was the recipient of two prestigious awards that have more to do with hard work than luck; and

[Page 2035]

Whereas Mr. MacLeod was presented with the Wyman Young Award, which goes to the top power candidate in Nova Scotia, and he was also presented with the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans Association Medal, awarded to the top power candidate in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas Mr. MacLeod was humble upon learning of his awards and admitted that he worked hard in Moncton, finishing the seven-week course in six and said he can't wait to finish high school and attend flight college in the New Brunswick city, the next step in accomplishing his dream of becoming an airline pilot;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their sincere congratulations to Marc-Andre MacLeod on his fine achievement - such hard work and excitement for the future is an inspiration to all Nova Scotians of any age, and through our support we can look forward to enabling more talented young people in this province to achieve their dreams.

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. 1021

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

Whereas the Halifax-Cornwallis Chapter of the Canadian Progress Club recently announced the 18 recipients of the 2006 Women of Excellence Award; and

Whereas recipients of the Women of Excellence Award are recognized for their outstanding contribution in the fields of Arts and Culture, Communications and Public Affairs, Education and Research, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Health, Sport and Wellness, and Management and the Professions; and

[Page 2036]

Whereas Barbara Butler, founder and artistic director of the St. Cecilia Concert Series, artistic administrative director of Musique Royale, and organist and artistic director of the St. John's Anglican Church Chamber Series, received a Women of Excellence Award in the field of Art and Culture;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly applaud Ms. Butler for her invaluable contributions to the field of art and culture and to the communities she serves, and extend congratulations on being the recipient of a Women of Excellence Award.

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 Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 1022

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 November 19th to 25th is Addictions Awareness Week; and

Whereas the focus of Addictions Awareness Week in Nova Scotia is on celebrating and raising awareness about the work of Addictions Services; and

Whereas Addictions Awareness Week will bring to our attention the impact of alcohol on the health and well-being of all Nova Scotians, as well as offer services to those who may suffer from alcohol addictions;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly recognize November 19th to 25th as Addictions Awareness Week and acknowledge the important work that is provided by Addictions Services in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 2037]

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 Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 1023

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

Whereas Antigonish resident Irene MacLeod was honoured for her hard work and significant contribution to autism in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Irene MacLeod was presented with the Sobey's Green Jacket Award which recognizes volunteer work, fundraising and service to the autism community;

Whereas Irene and her husband, Brian, have been very involved in autism support since their son, William, was diagnosed with a pervasive developmental disorder at the age of five. William is now 17 years old and enrolled in Grade 12 at Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional School;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Irene MacLeod on being the recipient of this prestigious award and thank her for her commitment and dedication to such a worthy cause.

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.

[Page 2038]

RESOLUTION NO. 1024

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

Whereas Aqua Fish Farms Limited from Grand Etang, New Brunswick, has applied to open a 29 hectare salmon farm west of Port Mouton Island; and

Whereas The Friends of Port Mouton Bay are local residents, fishers, property owners and business folks who want to protect the bay as a natural resource that can aid in the development of the local economy through the lobster fishery, tourism and other activities; and

Whereas the Municipality of Queens and the community have come out overwhelmingly opposed to the proposed expansion in Port Mouton Bay;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly support the efforts of the community and the members of The Friends of Port Mouton Bay in their working to preserve Port Mouton Bay from the proposed expansion of Aqua Fish Farm's current development.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1025

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

Whereas 211 is an easy to remember telephone number that connects citizens to a full range of non-emergency social, health and government services in their community; and

Whereas 211 has been successfully implemented in several Canadian cities including, Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton, and the Provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba are currently reviewing the potential of this service; and

Whereas the United Way Halifax Region has led the creation of a multi-stakeholder committee to develop the business case to ultimately implement a 211 system across Nova Scotia;

[Page 2039]

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly acknowledge the United Way Halifax Region in its efforts to create a 211 system for Nova Scotia and encourage all to aid them in implementing this much needed service.

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. (Interruptions)

Order, please. There's too much chatter in the Chamber.

The honourable Minister of Immigration.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to do an introduction at this time. I would like to introduce 14 Grade 12 students in the global French Immersion Program who are visiting here from Bridgewater High School. One of the students who is in the east gallery is also Minister Baker's niece, Samantha Baker. There are also three teachers, Sandra Bergeron; Chuck LeCain, a retired teacher; and Nancy Varner. So if you would please rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Immigration.

RESOLUTION NO. 1026

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 contributions by volunteers are invaluable to their communities; and

Whereas volunteers throughout Lunenburg County have made contributions to the United Way of Lunenburg County; and

Whereas the United Way of Lunenburg County has provided over $68,000 to various worthy community projects;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the volunteers and the United Way of Lunenburg County for their dedication to supporting local community projects.

[Page 2040]

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. 1027

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

Whereas recognizing the problem is the first step towards any solution, but only the first step; and

Whereas energy audits do allow homeowners to recognize efficiency problems, while the federal EnerGuide Program for low-income housing was, until recently, helping the most needy Nova Scotians actually do the repairs needed for their homes; and

Whereas the EnerGuide Program, which allowed repairs to make homes more energy-efficient and heat-tight has now been cancelled, leaving many Nova Scotians with the ability to recognize their problems but with nothing to enable them to fix them;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly not abandon its own share of the federal EnerGuide Program, but ensure continuing funding for those who wish to do more than watch the heat stream out of their homes.

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 2041]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 1028

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

Whereas Nova Scotia has a stated goal to attract more immigrants and help more newcomers stay in our province; and

Whereas the recognition of qualifications and credentials is an obstacle to many new Canadians, and other provinces are moving to set clear guidelines for regulated professions to follow to help immigrants; and

Whereas newcomers are often disappointed by the slow process of credential assessment and find themselves under-employed or forced to relocate as a result, while needed jobs in Nova Scotia remain unfilled;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature call on the Minister of Immigration to make Nova Scotia more competitive by adopting legislation that allows an efficient, transparent process to recognize the qualifications of immigrants.

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 Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1029

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

Whereas Rogers Wireless gets behind the Wake-Up Call program, giving major sponsorship and support to Chairman Ron Elliott and his committee for the 2006 Awareness Day; and

[Page 2042]

Whereas those coming by the Awareness Day booth on November 22nd will be able to make a call to a relative or friend anywhere in Canada to remind them to have their annual medical checkup; and

Whereas this is a free call on behalf of Rogers Wireless, nationally;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join with me in sending our congratulations to Rogers for their part in the Wake-Up Call program to have our medical checkups done each year.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1030

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

Whereas the Sir John A. Macdonald Football Flames had a successful second season in the Nova Scotia High School Football League; and

Whereas Flames football has become an immediate and instant hit in our community; and

Whereas head coach Al Wetmore, staff, players and all involved should be proud of their accomplishments;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Sir John A. Macdonald Football Flames for their 2006 football season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 2043]

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 1031

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

Whereas the 75th Annual Broadcast for Funds in support of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children will be held on Sunday, December 17, 2006, from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in front of a live audience at Alderney Landing Theatre, as well as being broadcast live by EastLink Television; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children was incorporated in 1915 to meet the needs of neglected and orphaned Black youth, the home has always reached out to help all disadvantaged youth without regard to religion, racial origin, creed or colour; and

Whereas this year's Christmas telethon, the oldest Christmas fundraising campaign in Nova Scotia, marks a very special accomplishment for the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children for carrying out this long-time fundraising tradition, and also for the tireless work that has been carried out by this organization for the past 85 years on behalf of youth in Nova Scotia.

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 2044]

The motion is carried.

[2:30 p.m.]

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1032

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

Whereas Abby Duinker of Cambridge, Nova Scotia, a co-captain on the Nova Scotia Under-15 Girls Basketball Team scored 11 points and eight rebounds as Nova Scotia rallied from a five-point halftime deficit to defeat British Columbia for a bronze medal at the Canadian Midget Basketball Championships at Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec on August 5th; and

Whereas Abby Duinker marked her second national bronze medal in as many years; and

Whereas Abby Duinker was named second team all-star;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature commend Ms. Abby Duinker on her continued athletic talents in supporting our Provincial Girls Basketball team.

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. 1033

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

[Page 2045]

Whereas many rural areas in Nova Scotia are suffering from lack of high-speed Internet service; and

Whereas the Community Access Program, CAP, is being threatened through federal cutbacks; and

Whereas numerous rural communities are at a distinct disadvantage from not having high-speed Internet, while others fear a loss of the Community Access Program;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly go on record in support of extending high-speed Internet services, and the maintenance of CAP in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

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

Whereas the province is striving to become energy efficient and has created the agency, Conserve Nova Scotia; and

Whereas I have introduced a bill that would reward Nova Scotians with a tax credit for buying fuel efficient and hybrid cars; and

Whereas Conserve Nova Scotia is, "the central government agency dedicated to conservation and energy efficiency measures in the residential, commercial and industrial sector in Nova Scotia.";

Therefore be it resolved that this government support the passing of this bill which is consistent with the mission of Conserve Nova Scotia and adopt it as a real step towards conservation in our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is out of order. It refers to a bill before the House.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1034

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

[Page 2046]

Whereas the Department of Education's Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning Community Literacy Volunteer Award was created in 2001; and

Whereas it honours volunteers involved in community-based adult literacy programs; and

Whereas Art and Shirley Chisholm of Great Village were recipients of this award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their thanks for the valuable contribution that Art and Shirley Chisholm have made to their community through the promotion of adult literacy.

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 Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1035

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

Whereas Father Kheirallah Aoukar came to Halifax in 1979 at the request of the congregation of the Oriental Churches and was instrumental in the establishment of Our Lady of Lebanon Antiochian Maronite Catholic Church; and

Whereas during Father Aoukar's service to the church, he was nominated Vice-General of the Maronite Diocese of Canada, was ordained Chor Bishop and received the title of Monseigneur from the Pope; and

Whereas in September 2006, Father Aoukar retired after 27 years of service to the parishioners of Our Lady of Lebanon Church;

[Page 2047]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend Father Aoukar for his dedication to the spiritual and social life of his parishioners and for his contributions to the Lebanese community in Halifax and indeed, of Halifax and Nova Scotia themselves.

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 Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 1036

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 United Nations Association in Canada is a national charitable organization established in 1946 with a mandate to engage the Canadian public in the work of the UN and the critical international issues which affect us all; and

Whereas children are our most precious resource and we must continue to improve the world for generations to come; and

Whereas the Government of Canada has designated November 20th as National Child Day to commemorate the day on which both the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and the Convention of the Rights of the Child were adopted;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly acknowledge November 20th as National Child Day and strive to achieve greater success for the rights of all children.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2048]

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1037

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas each year, Yarmouth County recognizes athletes, coaches, and teams who have achieved success at the provincial, Atlantic or national level at their annual Yarmouth County Athletic Awards Banquet; and

Whereas on November 17, 2006, at the 30th annual banquet, Janesse Boudreau was named Athlete of the Year; Janesse is from Wedgeport and has been involved in many sports from an early age, and is presently in her third year at Saint Mary's University starring on the volleyball team and led her team to a conference title and a spot in the national tournament where she was also named team MVP and Female Athlete of the Year at SMU; and

Whereas also recognized were Greg Cottreau from Pubnico, who was presented with the Fair Play Award, Ricky Muise from Pubnico was named Coach of the Year, Donnie Jacquard from Wedgeport was named Volunteer of the Year, and Steve Brewer of Yarmouth was named Official of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Janesse, Greg, Ricky, Donnie and Steve for their hard work, dedication and accomplishments in their respective sports.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2049]

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. 1038

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 October 25, 2006, I had the pleasure to attend the celebration marking the 40th Anniversary of Clark's Barbering and Hairstyling; and

Whereas George Wotton started his career by working at his Uncle George Clark's shop in 1930; and

Whereas George states he has no plans to retire any time soon;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate George Wotton on the 40th Anniversary of Clark's Barbering and Hairstyling and wish him future 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.

There is too much noise in the Chamber.

The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 2050]

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, if I could re-enter the therefore clause regarding the resolution on 211, and it should read:

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly acknowledge the United Way Halifax Region in its efforts to create a 211 system for Nova Scotia and encourage them in investigating this much-needed service.

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 Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 1039

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution, and this kind of builds on the one my colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, did:

Whereas the Cobequid Educational Centre Cougars won the 2006 Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Football Championship, defeating the Dr. J. H. Gillis Royals 17 - 2 in the title game; and

Whereas the Cougars were led by the two touchdown performances of league MVP Craig Leger and the stubborn "bend, but not break", defence; and

Whereas the Cobequid Educational Centre had an unbeaten season as the school won its 13th NSSAF football title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all parts of the CEC Cougars organization, including the players, the school, the trainers and equipment people, the parents, fans, Scott Cameron and his coaching staff, on winning the 2006 NSSAF Football Championship and wish the team continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2051]

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage on an introduction.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member for Dartmouth North indulging me for this moment. I want to introduce in our west gallery an old friend of this House, Peter O'Brien, formerly with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. If we could give him a hand and a warm welcome, and good to see him back around the House. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1040

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

Whereas on Friday, November 17th, more than 2,000 Pictou County residents assembled in Glasgow Square theatre to show their support for members of the Canadian Forces and for the families of those serving their country; and

Whereas this was a timely demonstration of support for Canadians serving in Afghanistan and all around the world; and

Whereas the Pictou County schools, Pictou County MLAs, Member of Parliament and former Premier Dr. John Hamm were among those who showed their support;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Pictou County Red Friday - Support Our Troops Committee and everyone else who contributed to the success of Red Friday in Pictou County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 2052]

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. 1041

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

Whereas Rob Arsenault has nurtured his ability as a painter for nearly three decades, and the precise details in Mr. Arsenault's acrylic paintings are so accurate that his works appear to be a photograph; and

Whereas Rob has been commissioned by CN Rail, and you will find his work hanging in both the CN Tower and their corporate office in Edmonton; and

Whereas Mr. Arsenault's work is focused on military aircraft; however, he has extended his brush to motorcycles and trains which have been commissioned and hang in both private and corporate collections all over the world;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the talent of Rob Arsenault and wish him every success in 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. 1042

[Page 2053]

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

Whereas an eight ender in curling is an end where all eight stones score for one team, and is considered an exceptionally rare occurrence; and

Whereas an eight ender is similar and, by many sport historians, considered to be even more rare than a hole-in-one in golf; and

Whereas Bill Frape's rink threw one of these rare curling milestones last Thursday evening at the Windsor Curling Club during Mixed Recreational Curling League play, when his team scored eight in the sixth end;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud not only Bill but his team members, Steve Swinamer and Wanda Donelle, for their achieving what is so rarely accomplished in the great game of curling.

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. 1043

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

Whereas after being rated the top Family and Friends Team in the Run for the Cure event in Canada last year, raising over $10,000, this year they were once again rated the top team across Canada; and

Whereas this year's Run for the Cure event hosted over 50 family and friends and raised over $22,000; and

[Page 2054]

Whereas the Family and Friends Team was originally started six years ago by Eunice Gaskell who lost her battle with cancer almost two years ago;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Muriel Smiley, formerly of Port Medway and now living in Liverpool, and her family and friends, for their most worthy fundraising efforts on behalf of the 2006 Run for the Cure.

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 Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 1044

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

Whereas Catherine Cox of Truro, a Mount Allison student, received a National Scholar Award from the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association; and

Whereas the CCAA National Scholar Awards are for students who achieve honours standing academically while demonstrating excellence in athletics; and

Whereas Catherine Cox was a valued member of the Mount Allison women's basketball Mounties that won the 2006 Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association Championship;

Therefore be it resolved that all members extend congratulations to Catherine Cox on earning the CCAA National Scholar Award, and wish her continued success in her academic and athletic pursuits.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:45 p.m.]

[Page 2055]

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1045

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

Whereas the Duke of Edinburgh Award is presented to recognize young people who have met the standards of the program in both community service and self-improvement; and

Whereas this award, founded 50 years ago by His Royal Highness Prince Phillip, helps foster personal excellence in our youth; and

Whereas this year the Nova Scotia Division of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Canadians Challenge, presented Pamela Newcomb of Hubley with the Bronze Award Certificate;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Miss Newcomb on her Duke of Edinburgh Award and for challenging herself to reach the goals set by this prestigious program.

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.

[Page 2056]

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1046

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

Whereas Lewis Billard has been active in the community of Dartmouth for many years, having worked for the Dartmouth School Board for 24 years as well as being treasurer for the Dartmouth Heritage Society; and

Whereas for almost 70 years Lewis Billard has been an avid photographer, recording thousands of photos of events, people, historic buildings, and whatever he saw around him; and

Whereas, in collaboration with the Dartmouth Heritage Society, Lewis Billard at the age of 83, father of four children and five grandchildren, recently published his first book entitled Dartmouth in Recent Memory;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Lewis Billard on the publication of his first book, Dartmouth in Recent Memory, and commend him for his contribution to recording and preserving the life of the community, as he sees it, for many generations to come.

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. 1047

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

[Page 2057]

Whereas Spryfield was established in 1766 by Surveyor General Captain William Spry as a farming community to supply food to the stony Halifax peninsula; and

Whereas since the 1950s Spryfield has become more a suburb and less of a town with an increasingly mobile population; and

Whereas the National Film Board directors have spent the past six months working with 14 local residents, aged 11 to 60, helping them produce four short films about Spryfield which were screened to a capacity audience during the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax in November 2006;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly applaud the creators and producers of Guardian Ancestors, No Boundaries, Spirit of Spryfield and Governors Brook, and recognize the irreplaceable value of artistic production in solidifying community identity.

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. 1048

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

Whereas the Hillside Girls Club, founded in 1943 for girls aged five to teenagers, has been organized by Ellen Murphy since 1967, with participants numbering from 45 to 90; and

Whereas the Hillside Girls Club program is offered to girls from all regions in Pictou County and teaches skills such as sewing, knitting and crocheting with the help of other dedicated women; and

[Page 2058]

Whereas the Hillside Girls Club encourages its members to be active participants in their community through food bank donations, as an example;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend Ellen Murphy for her steadfast and unwavering dedication to the Hillside Girls Club, allowing girls to learn and grow in a positive, supportive program.

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. 1049

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

Whereas amateur theatre groups provide excellent entertainment for citizens within their communities; and

Whereas the Winds of Change amateur theatre group of Liverpool, Queens County, has provided quality amateur theatre for over 30 years; and

Whereas the Winds of Change amateur theatre performed a very successful Fall production of Nunsense at the Astro Theatre;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate directors Chris Ball and Richard Comeau, along with approximately 20 cast and crew volunteers, for their excellent cultural contributions to the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 2059]

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.

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

Whereas high school sports help develop school spirit and improve skills; and

Whereas individual and team skills along with dedicated coaches can produce winning teams; and

Whereas the Liverpool Regional High School Boys Soccer Team won the silver medal in the Provincial Division II finals on November 4, 2006;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate members of the Liverpool Regional High School Boys Soccer Team and their coach, Mike Milosovich, for their very successful soccer season culminating with a silver medal in the provincial finals.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: That motion is out of order. That was a third resolution on the same day, I'm told by the Clerks. You'll have to re-do that another day, honourable member.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

[2:52 p.m. The House resolved itself into CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[Page 2060]

[3:27 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Cecil Clarke, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 67 - Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act.

Bill No. 89 - Provincial Court Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 61.

Bill No. 61 - Motor Vehicle Act.

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

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I move this bill be now read for a second time. The legislation that's before the House is one which will enable the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to bring forward, to Executive Council, recommendations with respect to steps required to implement an interlock licensing program for this province.

Currently, it is anticipated the recommendations being brought forward will likely include a program that will be consistent with the Criminal Code of Canada recommendations. Those recommendations are ones which are implemented, for the most part, by all jurisdictions in Canada - or most jurisdictions in Canada. I shouldn't say "all" because there is an exception.

[Page 2061]

That program is a hybrid program, and by hybrid I mean it contains a combination of provisions for voluntary participation in the interlock program for first offenders and mandatory participation in the program for repeat offenders, or circumstances which the registrar feels warrant a mandatory participation. As I indicated, that is consistent with what is taking place in most jurisdictions within the country as provided for by the Criminal Code of Canada.

The departments involved in implementing the interlock program are Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, the Department of Health Promotion and Protection, the Department of Justice, as well as the Registry of Motor Vehicles. All of these departments will be working together with respect to the recommendations that are required, so all of these departments will be participating in the implementation of this program and, of course, it will become effective through recommendations of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to Executive Council.

[3:30 p.m.]

I would recommend the bill for the consideration of the House. I do know that members have had some questions, and I have had discussions with them, and certainly look forward to their participation in the Law Amendments Committee process should the House decide to advance the bill to that next stage of consideration.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that the bill is, again, one which enables us to proceed. I also want to indicate that there are programs that will provide for an evaluation of the program once implemented so that we can see whether further changes would be necessary as we move forward. I look forward to the participation of other members in the House as part of this debate, and I will point out to all members that the Road Safety Advisory Committee of the province is expected to provide recommendations to me in the very near future. Among those recommendations will be a recommendation with respect to the blood alcohol content for beginning drivers, or drivers with less than five years of experience. The issue that is anticipated there is an issue around zero tolerance with respect to blood alcohol content. I look forward to those recommendations coming forward. I look forward to, as I said, members of the House participating in this debate. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to have a couple of minutes here to speak on Bill No. 61, amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act. It's certainly an important safety issue for the Province of Nova Scotia.

It seems almost like déjà vu, it seems like it was just a few months ago that I went to a bill briefing on this very issue. I think it was in December of last year. This very bill was before the House after that. I guess it has come back in its revised form, I

[Page 2062]

assume because there were some flaws in the bill or there was something that perhaps wouldn't stand up to a legal challenge. At any rate, just this month it has come back again and here we are discussing it once again. Hopefully this time the government has it right and has the authority to proceed with it.

In many ways, Mr. Speaker, it's a good bill. It's the right way to go, I think, because we're all touched by deaths and injuries that have occurred on our highways and byways. We've all seen the white crosses on the sides of the roads where somebody has been killed by a drunk driver. As we know, there are still far too many people drinking and driving out there who shouldn't be. As I travel down here to the Legislature from Pictou County, I see a number of those white crosses along the side of the Trans-Canada, put there by MADD Canada, indicating to me that there are still too many accidents, too many deaths occurring on our highways.

This bill, now in its second version to come back for approval of this House, is designed to try to do something to address that very serious problem. I know MADD Canada, in their work not only putting up white crosses, but in education and in programs to try to combat this problem, certainly has given a rather disappointing rating to Nova Scotia this year compared to other provinces. I think a couple of years back we were rated number three for our initiative, in comparison to other provinces, and now we're well down the list. I think it's seventh or eighth or ninth, somewhere in that range, I forget the exact number. A lack of initiative over the last couple of years has brought us down the list, or perhaps other provinces have gone ahead of us.

This bill to allow alcohol interlock in the province is a good thing, I believe, although I do have a couple of concerns that I'll mention in a minute. The device is basically a small, little instrument that is attached directly to the vehicle. I understand you have to have a licensed installer, somebody who would be designed to put it on a vehicle, a muffler company or a service station of some type that would have that authority. It's a little breath alcohol testing device that you blow into and it determines the BAC, the blood alcohol content of your system at the time.

I wonder, though, if there is a chance for any abuse of that. Could a passenger blow into it? Could somebody outside the vehicle blow into it before it's started? Although, I can't imagine why a passenger would want to drive with somebody who has been drinking. It's not likely to be abused in that way, but I suppose the possibility always exists.

I guess if there's a concern, Mr. Speaker, it's a couple of things. One thing is around the cost. I understand it's approximately $1,500. For some people that's not a problem; for other people that's a whole lot of money and it might be difficult for them to come up with the dollars necessary to participate in the program. As I said, some people could pay that and participate in the program and after three months get their licence back with this device in their vehicle. For others, who are maybe struggling on

[Page 2063]

minimum wage or have a job to go to at the local lumber mill or the hardware store or wherever, $1,500 might be just too much for them to be able to afford all at one time and it may actually mean that they have to wait the full 12 months before they would be eligible to get their licence back.

So in many ways it allows those with the means to get their licence back in the prescribed period of three months, with the device in their car, and it might prevent someone else - you know, maybe a first-time offender who has made a mistake, who's not an habitual offender but it was just an error in judgment and yet they're being discriminated against because of the cost of the device. So that's one concern that I might have, Mr. Speaker.

The other concern is around the length of time that somebody can get their licence back or even buy back their licence, if you look at it from that perspective. Three months, is that enough penalty for what has happened here, for the risk that's involved? I'm thinking that maybe six months might be a more reasonable length of time, rather than the three-month period. It gives people a little longer to reflect, to realize that what they did was not right, that they're taking their own life and the lives of others into their own hands. Six months, to me, might be a more reasonable time to reflect on what they've done, before they would be allowed to participate in the program.

Of course we all know that education is still the best method of combating the problem of drinking and driving and we hope that in addition to this legislation, there might be increased impetus on education in our schools and in our workplaces and through the public media to show that it really is not acceptable to be drinking and driving. It's something that's gradually coming into place, but it's still done by many people and obviously there needs to be more education done.

So with those few comments, Mr. Speaker, I'm going to take my seat and look forward to hear what other members have to say on this particular bill. I look forward to it going to the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the Leader of the Liberal Party, if you would just allow for an introduction. I would ask members to draw their attention to the west gallery today. There's a young man visiting with us today who is the son of one of the members. This is his first time here to watch his dad in action on the floor. He's the son of the member for Cape Breton Nova. I would ask Daniel Gosse to stand up and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause) A very proud dad and son in the House today.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As Justice Critic for the Liberal caucus, I take this opportunity to say a few words on Bill No. 61. It was

[Page 2064]

interesting to hear the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, who has introduced the bill, say that the departments involved are Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, Health Promotion and Protection and the Registry of Motor Vehicles, none of which fall under his jurisdiction. The one department that you would have been sure would have had some involvement - the Department of Justice - isn't mentioned either but I figured as Justice Critic, I would take the opportunity to say a few words on Bill No. 61.

Mr. Speaker, any time we do speak about issues such as addressing concerns surrounding drinking and driving in this province, we know just how sensitive an issue it is for all Nova Scotians and the tragedies that have taken place and that have torn families apart in our province. We're all cognizant, as well, of the recent grade that was given to our province by MADD Canada, which is something, I'm sure, no member of this House is proud of, and the recognition that we must do more.

Mr. Speaker, I do believe that Bill No. 61 is certainly a step in that direction of doing more in trying to address the issues surrounding drinking and driving in our province. We've certainly had a healthy debate regarding Bill No. 61, and I think it's going to be important that all of us as elected representatives hear what Nova Scotians have to say through the Law Amendments Committee process, which I believe the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has alluded to looking forward to.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister and his staff who have been very quick to provide us with detailed information, especially regarding what's being done in other Canadian jurisdictions. It was certainly very informative for me to see how common the interlock system is in most other provinces other than our own.

So certainly this legislation, in essence, brings us in line with other Canadian jurisdictions, but again, as I said, this is a topic that certainly ignites a significant debate amongst Nova Scotians. I think the process that we have here in our Assembly that allows for Nova Scotians to come and speak to us directly in regard to any proposed legislation is an important element, and I believe no truer than on an issue such as Bill No. 61.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, we'll be looking forward to hearing what Nova Scotians have to say. There may be an opportunity for possible amendments to the bill as we go forward, but it's premature at this stage. So we hope that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works will be favorable to doing whatever possible not only to have this bill passed, but to strengthening the laws of our province and making sure that our roads and streets are safe for all Nova Scotians.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, we'll certainly be voting in favour of this bill moving forward to the Law Amendments Committee and hearing and listening to the comments that will come out of that process. Thank you.

[Page 2065]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage on an introduction.

HON. LEONARD GOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to rise today to introduce a gentleman in the east gallery, Mr. Paul Gallant. Mr. Gallant is the chairman of the Nova Scotia Arts and Culture Partnership Council. Paul is doing a great job. We really appreciate having you here today. Paul would you rise and receive the warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, welcome to our guests and all visitors who have joined us in the gallery today.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm glad to have a few moments to speak on Bill No. 61, a bill that I publicly commented on at the time it was introduced in the House.

A bit of background. This is a bill that the government has brought forward as a result of getting a very bad report card from Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada; MADD Canada. This is a government that when it first came into power - I want to do a bit of background history in this - when I first got elected to this House in 1998, I don't know if he was the Justice Critic at the time or not, but the member for Cumberland South, now the Minister of Justice, was sitting right back there, actually, where the member for Digby-Annapolis is sitting, and he brought forward a bill on drunk driving.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There's too much chatter in the House. The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage has the floor.

MR. DEVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So the member for Cumberland South in 1998 brought forward a bill on a couple of issues, including seizing vehicles - I stand corrected, I believe it was actually the Leader of the Third Party at the time, the member for Pictou Centre, and later the Premier, who brought forward the bill, but the Tories in Opposition brought forward a bill that would allow for the seizing of vehicles and impounding of vehicles that were used in a commission of drunk-driving offence or driving while impaired, or refusal of the Breathalyzer. At the time, they stood in this House and praised the importance of this and why it was a good idea.

I know that our caucus, at the time, for those members who were here, thought it was a good idea. We were prepared to support it. That bill has never been proclaimed. So when they came into government less than 12 months later, the Tory Government, in the past seven years - they've had an opportunity on a weekly basis, Cabinet has met, to proclaim that law - have refused to proclaim the law, something MADD Canada noted in their report card earlier this year - a few months ago.

[Page 2066]

[3:45 p.m.]

Now, when they first proclaimed it, I believe there actually might have been some interlock provisions in there, as well. They were doing it, I believe, for political reasons, because they thought this would give them some opportunity, with MADD Canada, to be seen as a good government, and in return - I may note, MADD Canada, in 2000-01, gave this government the third-highest rating in its report card. They got a B or a B-plus, because they were seen as a government that was working hard towards these issues. Of course, at the time, we said, we're not so sure, they didn't proclaim this particular provision, what have they actually done?

Now, years later, MADD Canada has finally realized that they were jilted at the altar, and this government has actually done nothing with regard to addressing the issues of drinking and driving in Nova Scotia.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame. Shame.

MR. DEVEAUX: What we have now, I think it was from a B or a B-plus six years ago to a D-plus, we are now the lowest, next to New Brunswick, in Canada. I think, for those members of the House who were teachers, including the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, a D-plus is not a good mark. It's not a good mark. Why they picked a D-plus over a D, I don't know. I didn't even think you could give a D-plus, but they gave them a D-plus.

So what they laid out in their recent report, Mr. Speaker - and I think I tabled that in the House when I asked a question on this not that long ago - what they suggested were some changes. One of them was interlock. Now, I'll get to the interlock in a minute, because that's one of the cruxes of this bill.

They also suggested zero tolerance with regard to people with a graduated licence, which means no alcohol level above what is perceptible with the machinery - if you are in your first five years of having a driver's licence, mostly it would apply to youth and adolescents and young drivers, but it could apply to all drivers. That's a provision that MADD has encouraged, and one that has not been implemented by this government. I would argue that's one that should be implemented, and our Party supports that, yet this government refuses to do that. And they still haven't proclaimed the seizure of vehicles, something that's noted in the MADD report, as well.

So a year ago they brought forward another provision to address the interlock. They said, this is going to - I'll stand corrected, but it probably came out shortly after the MADD report card last year or the year before. This government came forward and said, we're going to fix the interlock issue, see, it's going to be fixed. We all stood up and said, well, that's one good thing this government's doing. We passed the bill. We come back this session, and they're bringing forward another interlock bill, and we're told it's

[Page 2067]

because the last one that we passed into law really didn't work properly, so we need to fix it. Again, for political reasons, this government comes forward with another change to this bill in order to ensure that we can finally have interlock in this province.

Mr. Speaker, it's really quite disheartening to see a government that seems to be working from one press release to another, from one special interest group - one group, MADD Canada does wonderful work in this country, work that, actually, they are trying to expose governments, make them accountable for their lack of action with regard to drinking and driving in this country.

What we have from this government is not thoughtful legislation, it's not legislation that's based on some sense of seven years of studying this issue. If the minister had stood up in this House and said, when we first got elected in 1999, we appointed a committee and we've been waiting seven years for a report that will detail exactly how we are going to address drinking and driving in this province, at least in the Opposition benches we could say, we saw that there was work happening and this government was trying, and they're coming forward with a well-thought-out and thoughtful approach to drinking and driving, and provisions in our legislation.

But that's not what we have. We have a press release, we have a report, we have a reaction - we have a press release, we have a report, we have a reaction - and I have no doubt that we'll be back at this next year, probably trying to tinker with a bill that, again, this government probably didn't get right one more time. Now what are we supposed to do on this side? Stand here and say, well, you know, it's a motherhood issue, it's against drinking and driving, so of course we're going to support it.

Our job as Opposition MLAs in this House is to make sure the government and the Executive Council and those in the government who work on their behalf get it right. Obviously they have a lot more resources than we do with regard to exactly how you get it right with regard to legal legislation and the Motor Vehicle Act. But I think it is very important that this House understand that this government has played politics with the issue of drinking and driving in this province for too long. To this day, we still do not have adequate provisions in this province to ensure that people are safe on our streets and highways from people who drink and drive, Mr. Speaker.

This government can get up again and dust off the old press release with the old comments saying, we are doing our bit, but the fact is that the one group in this country that is repeatedly analyzing and reviewing legislation says they are not getting it right. If it was just the interlock, I doubt they would get a D-plus, they probably would have gotten a higher mark. They list other things as well that this government is doing. In fact, I believe, without quoting it, that they actually note that this government has done almost nothing in the seven years since they have come to power and that is why they got a D-plus.

[Page 2068]

So if this government thinks that somehow next time maybe they'll go up a C-minus, I guess hope springs eternal, but what we have in this situation is a government that is reacting to a political situation caused by a group that has very effectively provided an analysis of this government's inaction and as a result has been highly critical of their inaction or lack of action and this government is reacting one more time.

Now, I know there's a committee out there, a road safety committee, that looks at this stuff. I would have almost rather waited to see what that committee was going to say. Maybe that would take until the Spring. Maybe we would see a more comprehensive review of what this province has done. Maybe we would see more concrete provisions other than one small provision that's being brought in, Mr. Speaker, and again, probably will have to be tinkered with and fixed next year after they realize it doesn't work properly. Indeed, I could raise some points with this very one.

It came to our attention, for example, and we raised it with the minister and staff, how do we know that someone with a driver's licence requires an interlock. We give them their licence back after three months. How do we know that that is something they're going to, for example, what prevents them from going out and renting a vehicle and in renting that vehicle, there's a licence, they write down their master number, and then they give them a car, no interlock on it and they're driving away. I'm told by ministerial staff, well, if they're stopped, the police will know. Great, but the whole point is they're not supposed to be driving without the interlock. We all know, given our system of policing and the limited resources they have, it's very uncommon that someone is actually stopped and checked.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would say that that isn't working. Nothing stops someone from borrowing their friend's car. In fact, I believe when myself and the member for Pictou West were talking to the ministerial staff, they admitted nothing stopped someone else from breathing into it to start the vehicle. I would suggest to you that there are certain technical issues around the interlocking we would say, and I'm sure MADD Canada knows this, there's limited effectiveness.

Another aspect of this law that MADD Canada specifically wanted was a mandatory provision that if you want your licence back, you need to have the interlock because I know from the beginning of this issue, we've reviewed and saw from certain groups that deal with this legislation that the actual people, the number of people who volunteer is limited, I believe it's actually quite small. Fifteen per cent maybe of those who are actually convicted of drunk driving offences actually agree to a suspension of their licence being reduced if they put on the interlock. Now, if only 15 per cent are doing it, why? Well, some will tell you it's because the other 85 per cent are driving anyway. Maybe out of that some are obeying the rules and aren't driving but most are driving anyway. How do we know, again, that if they put an interlock on them they're not going to drive vehicles that aren't their own that has the interlock installed.

[Page 2069]

So, Mr. Speaker, I would say that this government, again by reacting to a political situation with band-aid legislation, is avoiding some crucial questions around how the interlock can work, how it should work so that Nova Scotians truly can feel safe. If we're going to give somebody their licence back after only three months, instead of the 12 months, is that enough? Are there provisions in place, and I've already noted some. We're giving that person a piece of paper or a laminated card that says you have your licence back after three months and unless you actually do a computer check on the police computer system, you're not going to know whether or not this person actually has the right to drive a vehicle without an interlock.

Yet this government has ignored that again by rushing in a bill. I suspect we'll see in another year we'll be back here fixing this again because this government is again reacting as compared to being out there thoughtfully trying to address the issue that Nova Scotians face on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. That's what's wrong with this government. That's what's wrong with this legislation. It's piecemeal, it's band-aid. It does not show a sense of commitment to any issue and in this case with regard to addressing the fact that we have people on our highways who are driving while intoxicated, that is what needs to be addressed. That is what we need to ensure is being addressed.

Frankly, Mr. Speaker, we have federal rules coming in with regard to people who are using drugs when they drive. Now, obviously, if they're impaired, they're impaired, but if this government again was thoughtful, instead of just trying to repair with a band-aid that will move them from a D-plus to a C-minus on the MADD Canada report card, maybe they would be thinking of the future, with some forethought as to what needed to be done in that area, as well, but, again, we don't. We don't see that, we see patchwork, we see a quilt of laws that, half of them are badly drafted, not by Legislative Counsel but by the people who give them instructions, of course, and as a result, we end up getting legislation that has to be repaired in another year.

I feel sorry for the government that has to come in after this one, in a few years, Mr. Speaker, because I swear they'll be spending half their time introducing legislation, fixing the holes in the legislation that this government has drafted, this government has produced. Of course in Opposition it's very difficult, there are political ramifications if you stand in this House and say, we are going to oppose a bill on interlocks. Well, of course people want interlocks, they want to know that those people who have been convicted of drinking and driving are not going to be on the streets driving while intoxicated. Interlock may help a little bit with regard to that. But I think it's fair to say that MADD Canada says that's one component of five or six or seven that they would like to see in this province. Yet, this government picks the one, the one that they have to repair from last time, that they promised in 1998, which they never proclaimed or never actually dealt with.

[Page 2070]

That is the problem that we face with this legislation, a government that does not seem to have any clear forethought as to how we deal with the issue. That's what Nova Scotians want, that's what they demand, and that's why we made the comments we did back a couple of weeks ago when this bill was introduced. I pine for the days of a government in which this was not the way they did business, but actually had a process in place, considered legislation thoughtfully, brought forward changes that would ensure that Nova Scotians would have the ability to know that whether it's drinking and driving that's being addressed or whether it's - what was the other one they brought forward that they had to tinker with because there was a problem with it, I forget, it was another Justice bill.

Mr. Speaker, all we see are repairs to bills that they repaired because they were trying to do something. Well, it's not unlike the issue of the tax rebate, $155 cheque, and then five months later they're rescinding that whole tax, because they made a decision for political reasons and then they turn around and have to fix it because they realize they got themselves into a quagmire over a political decision that was hastily made.

Mr. Speaker, that's the problem with the government, that's the problem with this legislation, and that is why we need to ensure that we are much more thoughtful in reviewing these pieces of legislation. There are technical issues with this bill. There are technical problems, potentially, with an interlock. There is a need to look at other issues. Again I go to the point, and I know I've talked to the minister about this, zero tolerance with regard to alcohol levels in the bloodstream for those who are driving for the first five years of having a licence, something MADD Canada has asked for, something our caucus supports, something we want to see in legislation. Why not put it in this bill?

If this government is going to rapidly try to bring themselves from a D-plus to a big C-minus in the report card from MADD Canada, why don't we go a little further, add an amendment and make them a C-plus. Maybe we might even be able to get them to a B-minus. Mr. Speaker, that would actually take planning on the part of this government, that would actually take them having to think about things beyond how do we put out a political fire. That's the problem we have with this legislation. Are we going to support it? Of course we want to see it go to the Law Amendments Committee. I want to hear from some people at the Law Amendments Committee as to how they feel about this legislation.

In itself, the technical limitations on the interlock are not a panacea, and the people of Nova Scotia have to understand that, Mr. Speaker. As well, this government has to understand that every time they bring forward legislation, we are going to be there to look at it, we're going to be there to critique it, we're going to be there to improve it, because that's our job on this side of the House, and as much as possible, given their limited legislative agenda, it's amazing how these bills come forward in the quality they do. It's not like we're passing 400 pieces of legislation a year, maybe then I could understand that four or five or six have technical problems that need to be repaired

[Page 2071]

within 12 months. This government can't even bring in a limited agenda of legislation without us having to stand here and get it fixed.

Mr. Speaker, that's the problem we have with this bill. We also have a problem with the three months. I understand it may be a national standard, but that doesn't necessarily mean it works in Nova Scotia. We need to analyze that. We need to think about it. We need to ensure that MADD Canada, and what they want as a group that is actively out there lobbying for changes with regard to legislation, those changes that they want, that we can all agree on, are actually put into legislation, not left on the wayside in hopes of a political hit that this Party thinks they can get on a one-off bill that's repairing a bill they fixed last year, that they should have passed seven years ago but then they forget about it. That's what the problem is with this government, that's why this bill has been given a rough ride by this caucus and any other piece of legislation will continue to get a rough ride, but we look forward to Law Amendments Committee and hearing what people have to say. Thank you.

[4:00 p.m.]

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would ask the members of the House to turn their attention to the east gallery. We have one of the municipal councillors, actually from HRM, Mr. Reg Rankin, who represents District 22. He is also the Chair of the Solid Waste Management Committee for HRM, which everyone knows is one of the great examples of solid waste management in North America and perhaps internationally.

Also, I just want to say about Mr. Rankin, he also started on Back Street in Mabou. So I would ask if the people would stand and welcome him. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, a welcome to Councillor Rankin today.

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

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I thank honourable members opposite for their participation in the debate. I have just a couple of comments I'll make with respect to points raised by honourable members. The reason there is a voluntary recommendation in the initial phase is for precisely the reason mentioned by the honourable member for Pictou West, it is to ensure that those who feel they are not in a position to participate because of financial reasons won't be put in a situation where they can never get their licence back. If it were made mandatory, then

[Page 2072]

that is what would happen and then, indeed, what goes on after that is that very many of those people will wind up doing what we don't want to have happen and that is to operate outside the law and drive with licences that are suspended. So we want to avoid that circumstance.

We also want to encourage people to become involved in rehabilitation programs. We often hear the phrase, a first-time offender. Statistics show that there really isn't such a thing as a first-time offender. There is first time being caught, but statistics show that there are probably as many as 2,000 offences before somebody actually gets caught. That is what the statistics show, before somebody actually gets caught. So the first-time offender is really a misnomer, for most circumstances.

Now I indicated, and I'll just repeat what I said when I moved it and I know that is against the Rules of the House but I just want to re-emphasize, if I can, that it is in keeping with the Criminal Code of Canada, the recommendations that we intend to bring forward.

With respect to whether somebody will be driving or rent a car and be able to drive, we will be bringing in some form of identification on the licence that would indicate that the person is driving with a restricted licence. Whether it is a big "R" that will be stamped on it or some other symbol or letter that would clearly indicate to people who are examining the licence that there are restrictions on the licence and those restrictions would be written on the back. It is anticipated that that would be part of the program.

Again, we cannot stop anyone, as I just indicated, with the 2,000 offences that are very often the case for first-time offenders. We are not going to be able to eliminate completely people driving outside of the provisions of the law, but if we have an opportunity to educate people and rehabilitate people, then we have an opportunity to minimize the incidents of people operating beyond the law.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the bill being considered at Law Amendments Committee and I thank honourable members for their indication of support at this stage of the legislative process.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 61, the Motor Vehicle Act. 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 Government House Leader.

[Page 2073]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 117.

Bill No. 117 - Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased today to present Bill No. 117, amendments to the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act and also, of course, Bill No. 119, the Elections Act, for second reading.

As you know, our government is committed to the goal of enhancing the democratic process in our province. This bill proposes a change in the way political Parties are financed in Nova Scotia. It is about improving transparency and accountability in the electoral system in Nova Scotia and promoting grassroots participation in the process. And, we believe these changes are fundamental to promoting a healthy democracy.

There are three key features to the bill. Number one, it will impose limits on the amount of political contributions and by whom they are made. Number two, it will provide public funding for political Parties through an annual grant based upon votes received in the most recent general election. Number three, there will be restrictions around other sources of political funds such as loans and trust funds, as well as more open and accountable disclosure.

The legislation is based on similar systems that have been introduced at the federal level and in several other provinces. While each government has slightly different provisions to meet the unique needs of their own political histories, the bill reflects many of the same features that have been adopted in recent years in other provinces.

I would like to take a few moments now to discuss some of those details. First, the bill now puts a limitation on political donations. There are some good reasons behind this. Obviously, the most important feature is to control the amount of the donation. Whereas in the past years, we have seen donations in the tens of thousands, it is now proposed that an individual or organization can only donate a total of $5,000 to a Party, its candidates or riding association.

The type of donation is also affected. It's not just about the money. Also covered are contributions like goods or services provided in kind which have traditionally been available to offset election campaign expenses, for example. As well, the donor must be a resident of Nova Scotia. The point here is that Nova Scotians should be in the driver's seat when it's election time in their own province. They should also be assured that no one private individual or organization will have an undue influence over a certain Party

[Page 2074]

at election time or afterwards. And, a rich organization from outside Nova Scotia can't influence our election simply by spending money in Nova Scotia.

All Parties will generate funds in roughly the same way, by getting small donations from many more grassroots voters and by encouraging Nova Scotians to come out and vote for them. Elections will be a contest of ideas and not a contest of money as they should be a contest of ideas.

To go along with this, the bill proposes to change the tax treatment for political donations. Donations under $1,000 will be encouraged by a 75 per cent tax credit. This means that a donation of $1,000 could attract a $750 tax credit, an increase from the existing credit. We hope the effect of this will be to encourage more donations of smaller amounts.

What we want to do is to change the fundamental character of donations in this province from large donations to small donations. We believe this bill is an important step on that way.

However, limiting the donations in these ways comes with a trade-off. The fact is, political Parties will be giving up potentially significant amounts of fundraising through political donations. And, that is why the legislation provides for public financing of recognized political Parties. Each year government will pay recognized political Parties $1.50 for each vote their candidates received in the most recent general election. This is a transition funding for two years to allow time for Parties to adjust to the new fundraising system. Parties have the option to take 90 cents for each vote, plus $125,000 base amount. Or to receive the full amount in the case of a Party such as the Green Party, of $1.50.

There is no doubt this is a substantial commitment on behalf of the taxpayer. Of the total of $745,000 in 2007, $185,000 would be payable January 1st. I expect some people will say the cost of public financing for political Parties is too high, and the money is better spent elsewhere, however, the reality is there is a cost to democracy. A democratic system has a price and we need to make sure that we pay that price, to make sure that we have a healthy and vibrant democracy in Nova Scotia. We believe it is better to have defined amounts of financing from the public, compared to the system that is at risk of the whim of large donors. You need to only look to other countries to see how large and often anonymous donors can skew the election result.

Mr. Speaker, the bill also puts limits on other funds used by political Parties, including trusts and loans. These provisions go hand in hand with the limitations on campaign donation. A loan should not be a donation in disguise. As well, there is a need to clarify the role of held funds at election time. The bill provides that these assets held in trust may not be used at any time, for advertising or by a candidate, electoral district

[Page 2075]

or Party, during an election. In order to ensure all funds are used appropriately, Parties will be required to produce audited financial statements.

Mr. Speaker, these are general provisions of the bill. In reality, there are certain fundamentals about the reforms that we are proposing. Any Party or candidate, shouldn't be able to win the election just because they have secret reserves of money, or in particular, generous benefactors. Instead, Parties and candidates should be on a relatively similar playing field financially. We think these reforms will have a long-lasting, positive effect on a democratic system.

Mr. Speaker, we are determined that this bill should be passed and implemented for January 1st. If there is a political Party in this House that has reservations about that, we believe that it is too important to lose the issue of accountability to Nova Scotians. We believe on January 1st, of this year, there should be a transparent and accountable system. That is why we are prepared to support a select committee with an idea that we had been prepared to support in any event dealing with an increased democratic participation in Nova Scotia. We are, as members of this House, all upset and surprised at the low level of participation in the last provincial election. We are therefore prepared to allow this select committee of the House, to consider the issue of financing and make recommendations to this House, along with other matters that would improve the transparency and accountability.

Mr. Speaker, we believe that it is too important to allow the forums that we can all agree upon, to be lost for January 1st. There's never a good time, but January 1st is the best time for Nova Scotians. We are prepared to have a select committee to hear Nova Scotians on a wide range of issues and provide recommendations to this House. Thank you. I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to stand and speak today on this bill because the one thing I do agree with, which the Minister of Finance said, is the importance of transparency and accountability with respect to election financing and with respect to the disclosure of funds that are used for the purposes of fundraising. So I want to make clear, right at the very beginning that there are some things that we are prepared to do to amend this bill, which will, I think, go and set a better standard than the one that the government has set. Just to get them out of the way, right off the top I think is the best thing to do so that the minister knows, right now, the position of the Official Opposition and the way that we can go about improving transparency and improving the accountability of big money into these kinds of campaigns.

The first thing that we should be doing, Mr. Speaker, is to simply ban all donations from labour and from corporations to ensure that never again will the people

[Page 2076]

of Nova Scotia be able to point to one of the political Parties and say that they are somehow hostage to money from corporations. (Applause)

Now, Mr. Speaker, this is a real opportunity for the government to show some great leadership in this particular aspect of this bill.

[4:15 p.m.]

So the government does not misunderstand what I have to say - I am not proposing that there should be any increase in the amount of money that the government proposes be paid on a per vote basis. I think that the amount they have allocated is adequate, when coupled with the individual donations that are made to Parties, to be able to support and run elections and to support a contest of ideas, which is what he says he is interested in having. I am interested in that, too, but let's really make sure that there is absolute transparency, that there is absolute clarity in who is going to be supporting political Parties in this province.

In his opening statement he talked about this costing the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, I think he said something like $745,000, that is the commitment of this government. But you know, Mr. Speaker, it is actually a lot more than that because when he proposes that $750 of a $1,000 rebate be given for every individual - and I think that is a very progressive move, I think that people who are willing to participate in elections by donating to campaigns should get a recognized benefit for doing that; it is one of the ways that people participate in the democratic process - but that $750 that you get by way of rebate is a cost in deferred revenue to the province.

I have no idea, and I don't know if the minister has done projections on what he thinks the uptake is going to be at the $1,000 level, how many people are going to take him up on that, but that could be a significant cost item to the government as well. Surely with those two pieces put together, we ought to be able to go out to the people of Nova Scotia in sufficient numbers and say that the only people we're coming to for the financing of political Parties are the individuals in this province who have a direct stake in their own democracy; surely we ought to be able to do that. That is why we're going to move an amendment to ensure that that is the way in which money for political campaigns will be raised.

I would hope that the minister or the members of the Third Party would be willing to join us in ensuring that if there ever was that cloud of cynicism held over the political Parties in this province, that it is absolutely done away with.

I would point out to the minister, and to the Premier, that right now their federal counterparts in the House of Commons have Bill C-2, and I believe it is before the Senate right now, Mr. Speaker, that does exactly that - it takes away all contributions from trade unions, from corporations, from other organizations, and allows for only

[Page 2077]

individual donations. That is the standard that has been set by Prime Minister Harper and by the federal Conservative caucus.

I watched the press conference in which the Prime Minister set out the Federal Accountability Act and talked about how important it was to clean up big money in government and how he talked about no more $5,000 lobbying parties for MPs, how he said that they were going to ensure that never again were people going to be able to say that corporations and trade unions were the ones who were running and influencing government as a result of their contributions.

So there are a lot of things, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister and I don't agree on, but on that one I believe that was the right thing to do by the federal government; I think it would be the right thing to do for this House.

The next one I am going to explore in even more detail. I am going to touch on it first in a more cursory way, but then I'm going to come back to it because I think it is something that requires a great deal of explanation and examination - and that is the whole question of held assets, what are called "held assets", they are in fact the Liberal trust funds. Let's remember, Mr. Speaker, that the Liberal trust funds are not trust funds at all, they are the result of political corruption, they were a result of money that came to the Liberals as a result of activity that was, in fact, in many places criminal. So I don't think that the House of Assembly should be endorsing, because that's what this bill does, it endorses the use of money from Liberal trust funds that were raised by influence peddling.

These aren't my words, Mr. Speaker, they were convictions entered in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia with respect to the Liberal trust funds and I can't help, I'm sure, maybe you couldn't hear it, Mr. Speaker, but I could hear the member for Cape Breton South saying they were cleansed. Well, in fact, they never were cleansed and what happened, I can tell you what did happen. In the 1990s the Premier (Interruptions) Well, does he have something to say, Mr. Speaker, because (Interruptions) You can hear me?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I can hear the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DEXTER: What's going on here, Mr. Speaker, is that the member for Cape Breton South is starting to carp on because he doesn't like the idea that we are going to discuss what is a stain on the Liberal Party that has existed for a long time and for that matter on Nova Scotia politics.

Mr. Speaker, I will deal with this one small piece of it, which is the idea that the funds were somehow cleansed. In fact, what happened is in, I think it was 1993 or 1994, the Liberal Party hired an auditor to go in to have a look at the funds. What they found

[Page 2078]

was that they could not identify the source of the money. What they did identify was the money on which they could absolutely point to criminal activity and that they were good enough to give back to the province, but the rest of the stuff that they couldn't find who it belonged to, they decided to keep - so hardly any kind of cleansing that took place.

I think for us to look at this kind of a piece of legislation and provide that it now be moved into the realm of operating funds for the Liberal Party would be an endorsement that I don't think the people of Nova Scotia would want to see happen. We all know what the reality of this is, Mr. Speaker. The money would be paid over to the Liberal Party as a held asset and then they would replace the money that they would normally use for operating. Then that money would go over to their election campaigns. So, in fact, it's just a flow-through where the money actually ends up so they can use it in election campaigns.

I'm going to go into this further, Mr. Speaker, in a few minutes but there are other things that I think we ought to be talking about as well with respect to this bill. For example, there ought to be something in the bill that provides that provincial corporations and agencies aren't able to contribute to political Parties. This is the example of the Trade Centre Limited and other organizations really, and I think if the minister thinks about it for a second, he will say that that's probably an appropriate amendment to the bill that ought to prevent that kind of, what is really a misuse of public funds and those kinds of contributions.

So I don't think that that's going to be something that he should really be all that exercised about. I think there are other things. I think you should probably be of voting age in order to make a contribution. That's another one of those ones. We had that example. We'll call it the Volpe amendment, if you want, where there were 12-year-olds and 14-year-olds making contributions to the Volpe campaign. So these are things that are all designed really to clean up the funding of political Parties.

I know that there's a provision in the federal Act that actually provides money for the purposes of covering the audits that have to take place. I don't know if that's something that the minister wants to consider. How do you go about ensuring that corporations then aren't just donating through their employers or labour parties, through their employees, giving money to their employees. I don't think that's illegal under the bill. It's not clear under the bill, but the minister seems to think that that would be covered. It will be interesting to see what he has to say in that respect. All of these are aspects of this bill which I think really need to be discussed.

I would point out to anyone who is watching and to you, Mr. Speaker, and to my colleagues opposite that, over the past number of years, there has been a process by which amendments to this Act would go forward, and that amendment included the Electoral Commission. They would take this bill to the Electoral Commission - the Electoral Commission has all-Party membership. All the Parties would have an

[Page 2079]

opportunity to go through what the proposed amendments are, try to work out the details in advance. The Chief Electoral Officer would have an opportunity to see proposed changes, and then this would come back to the Legislature.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this was not done in this case. It leads one to wonder why. I think the speculation is - and I'm trying to be as fair as I can, both to the members of the Third Party and to the government - but the suspicion is that the government and the Third Party got together and cooked up this particular bill. I see looks of shock on their faces, but that's certainly the perception of what they did. I don't think anybody could be faulted for wondering if this is the price of the Liberal support for the budget coming in the Spring. Is this what it came down to, a couple of million dollars in their trust funds? (Interruptions) The members of the Liberal Party do protest too much, if you ask me. (Applause)

And they have good reason, I think, because you have to remember, and I pointed this out . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just note that the Leader of the Opposition referred to, and suggested, that two political Parties were cooking something up, and I determine that to be unparliamentary. I would ask you to withdraw it.

MR. DEXTER: Certainly. My apologies, Mr. Speaker. They were not conspiring, they were not cooking up, they were co-operating in trying to bring forward pieces of legislation in this House on the suggestion, one to the other. How is that? Perhaps that's better. (Applause)

Now why would you say that would happen, Mr. Speaker? Well, let me just take a little stroll how this stuff actually works. Last Spring, there was a Liberal convention here in town and at the convention, it was disclosed that the Liberal Party had run up a very large debt. They had something like $700,000 in bank debt, and they were looking at coming into an election. So, what they did was they went to those trust funds that I talked about earlier - and I believe it was the member for Cape Breton South who moved a motion at the Liberal convention in which they took $500,000 out of these trust funds for the purposes of paying down their bank debt, and another $500,000 out for the purposes of financing an election campaign. As he says, he was disappointed they didn't get more.

Mr. Speaker, just so that we're clear where this money came from, I'm going to table - perhaps you'll have the opportunity to read it - the first part of the Irvine Barrow trial transcript. We'll table that as soon as we can find somebody to table it. (Interruptions) I'm sure the Liberals don't want to hear this. This is a 1984 decision and what it does is, it goes through the facts.

[4:30 p.m.]

[Page 2080]

This is not something we're making up, this is the facts that were determined by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, by Justice Denne Burchell, and those facts that were then considered by the Appeals Court of the Province of Nova Scotia. In case you're not familiar with the trial, it was a trial with respect to the fundraisers for the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia. It describes in some detail, and I'm not going to go through all of it, but since I've tabled it I will quote some of the parts that are perhaps best describe what actually happened. It says in Paragraph 3:

"During the period of the indictment and, indeed, for many years before the appellant; Mr. MacFadden and Mr. Simpson were actively involved in the affairs of the Liberal Party in Nova Scotia as, to use Mr. Cooper's expression, unpaid volunteers. The Liberal Party was out of power during the 1960's and its financial position was not all that strong. In 1968 the Nova Scotia Liberal Association established a finance committee for the purposes of raising revenue for party purposes. The committee consisted of the appellant, Mr. MacFadden and Mr. Simpson. The appellant was the chairman and the roles of MacFadden and Simpson were principally that of collectors.

We go on to collectors - that's an important word in this trial. We go on to Paragraph 8 and it says:

"During the period of December 1970 to May 1979 the finance committee collected contributions totalling $3,836,468.13; of this amount $2,770,773.52 was deposited to the bank account of Cambridge Investments and $1,065,694.61 to that of J.G. Simpson in trust."

Now, Mr. Speaker, the facts of this go on and say in Paragraph 9:

"As a result of documents received from the offices of the R.C.M. Police in Ottawa and from the Quebec Provincial Police an investigation was carried out . . . into the collecting or fund raising practices of political parties in Nova Scotia. The investigation commenced in the fall of 1978. Numerous documents were taken under validly issued search warrants from the business offices of the appellant and of Simpson and MacFadden and from certain departments and agencies of government and also from several wineries, distilleries and other corporations."

So, Mr. Speaker, I'll just explain how this worked. What the Liberal Party was doing through their agents, on their finance committee, was they were going out to liquor stores and to these distilleries and saying look, you can't put any of your product on the shelves of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission without paying a kickback, without paying money to the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia through these trust funds. This is how the trust funds arose.

[Page 2081]

It wasn't limited, though, to the distilleries, and I'll go back to Paragraph 12 in the item that I have tabled:

"The contributions respecting liquor companies and wineries were based on a fixed amount per case of product sold to the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. Other companies doing business with the government apparently paid a percentage ranging from 3% to 5% of the fees received."

In Paragraph 13:

"Again, by way of illustration, the president of Acres Consulting Services Ltd., Mr. Hugh Rynard, testified that: ' . . . One of my functions was to insure [sic] that we as a company did whatever was necessary to improve our ability both in obtaining work and in execution of our work. And it was . . . I was told that it would be in order for me to seek an appointment with Mr. Barrow.' . . . Mr. Rynard and the appellant met on March 7, 1973 and the capabilities of Acres were explained by the former to the latter. Mr. Rynard stated that the appellant 'told me during that conversation that we would be expected to pay from 3% to 5% of the fees generated from Provincial Government work to the . . . into the coffers of the Liberal Party.'"

So this is where the money in the trust fund, that the government is now proposing to place in the hands of the Liberal Party for operating expenses, comes from. Mr. Speaker, it's not some innocent fund, it's not something that was donated to the Party by individuals. It was money raised at the expense of the people of Nova Scotia because it was paid in response to the request for influence, and the right thing for the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia to do is to give the money back to the people of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

That is who they took the money from, Mr. Speaker. This is money that should have been part of the price paid - if at all - to the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. In fact, if you actually read through the testimony, there are times when agents on behalf of the Liberal Party are actually portraying themselves as members of the Liquor Commission establishment itself.

For those who think the Liberal's scandals arising from fundraising is somehow limited to Justice Gomery and his report into the scandals in Quebec around sponsorship, this is not the case. The scandals around Liberal fundraising in this province go back a long way and they go back even further in other provinces. Mr. Speaker, you may not know this, but it's a matter of record that, for example, in Saskatchewan, the Liberal Party of Saskatchewan had a scam where they would - I think it was a scam - they had a scam where what they would do, they would take the dye - they had incorporated a

[Page 2082]

company called the Acme Dye Company - not everybody knows this (Interruptions) Exactly, like the Road Runner. It was called the Acme Dye Company and what they would do is buy purple dye that's used in colouring gasoline for farm tractors and they would resell it to the government at a huge profit.

What would happen is essentially money from the purchase of this dye company would go into the coffers of the Liberal Party of Saskatchewan. This was uncovered after the Liberal Party went out of power in Saskatchewan. You don't need to think these kinds of scandals with respect to the operation of the Liberal Party is somehow limited just to the Province of Nova Scotia.

Justice Gomery's findings were fairly clear. I also wanted to point out, one of the most interesting parts of that whole trial procedure with respect to these items was that one of the fellows, Mr. J.G. Simpson, was known as Suitcase Simpson because he was the guy who went out and collected the money on behalf of the Liberal Party. (Interruptions)

What's that? He says there was a ballplayer. Well, I'll tell you, Mr. Speaker, this particular individual eventually struck out because the reality is that the activities he was engaging in were uncovered.

I remember - maybe a lot of other people remember - a guy who was prominent in the Liberal Party - I certainly remember him - George Hawkins, and I remember Mr. Hawkins standing up at Liberal conventions and beseeching members of the Liberal Party to finally give up these corrupt trust funds. I can remember him saying, is there no sense of decency in this Party? We can no longer be a hostage to these trust funds. He begged the Liberals to give up these trust funds.

What gets me is that right across this province, there are people who have invested their political capital for years in electing Liberal candidates from one end of the province to the other and they've been successful in many instances. I believe they themselves would tell you, if they had the opportunity to get rid of this stain on the Liberal brand, that it has damaged them in this province and that it is the unwillingness of the current Liberal Party to do the right thing and get rid of these trust funds, is part of the real problem they have in trying to convince anyone to support them at election time. I think it's part of the problem they're having with respect to any kind of notion of electoral success.

Mr. Speaker, I know that shortly there's going to be a Liberal convention in this province, that they're going to select a new Leader. I'm sure there are several people in the Liberal caucus right now who are going to offer for that position. They're elected members of this House, and I think they should come forward and comment. They should be prepared to stand up and say whether or not they think it's okay for their Party to operate, to undertake its daily operations on the basis of money that has been raised

[Page 2083]

as a result of influence peddling, that has been raised as a result of activities of political corruption.

I don't think that's what people expect. I don't think that's what the people of Nova Scotia expect from their political leadership in this province. I believe that they would say, if under this bill we are going to be funding the operations of the political Parties of the province, the very least that the Liberal Party could do would be to be prepared to give up the trust funds that they have had for so many years, having had taken far more advantage of the people of Nova Scotia than was their due.

Mr. Speaker, for years, they have lived on the backs of money taken as a result of political corruption. I just can't imagine that they would think that this is right. So I can't imagine that today's Liberals would want to put themselves in the category of those, over the years, who have taken advantage of the trust of the people of Nova Scotia in this way. So we're going to be proposing an amendment to the bill that is going to exclude these trust funds. I'm hoping - the grand gesture that the Liberal Party could make in this, the Liberal caucus could make in this House would be, if they supported only one amendment of ours, it would be to agree to support the abolishment of the trust funds that have so stained and plagued their Party for so many years. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, surely, that would be the right thing. That would be reforming our political contribution law in a way that was meaningful, would be meaningful to the people of Nova Scotia. It would be a way forward for their caucus, it would demonstrate a commitment to the principles of transparency that the Minister of Finance says are so important. It would be a commitment to integrity that could be easily made before this House rises.

Mr. Speaker, I heard the Minister of Finance say that he simply wants to make sure that this is in place for January 1st, and I don't see any problem with that happening. He knows, and we know, that all the government has to do is stay here long enough and they're going to be able to get this bill through with the assistance of the Liberal Party. I want him to know and I want the Liberal Party to know that we're going to take every opportunity available to have a full discussion of this bill to ensure that all of the opportunities are canvassed and to try to convince the government to do the right thing, to ensure the integrity of the process, to ensure that, as I've said, to support our amendment, to get rid of, once and for all, all labour and all corporate donations; a very good thing to do for the minister.

[4:45 p.m.]

If he wants a shorter period than is allocated for us here in this House, if he will agree to support that amendment, if he will agree to support the provision that gets rid of the Liberal trust funds - and we can either get rid of them or what we could do is limit their use. If they want it to do scholarships or some other kind of good work that would

[Page 2084]

try to make amends for the years which this fund was abused, we could certainly work out - and I extend to the Minister of Finance and to the government members, the opportunity for discussion around appropriate amendments that would actually establish the integrity and the transparency that they said they want.

They try to paint this as a minimum of things that we could agree on. Well, Mr. Speaker, if that was true, why did this bill never go to the Electoral Commission? Why did it never go through a process that would ensure that this would, in fact, be the minimum on which we could all agree? Why didn't that happen? It is because, really, they have no - and we'll see, because we're going to test the resolve of the government, but apparently they have no intention of this actually being the minimum on which we could all agree, because if they really believed that then, surely, they wouldn't have shown this to us on Thursday just before the bill was introduced. Surely, there would have been some kind of discussion, some request for input, some recognition of the role of the Electoral Commission.

Now, on the day it's introduced, the Minister of Finance stands up and says that in addition to this bill he's proposing that future amendments to the bill be brought forward by a Select Committee of the Legislature. Well, he doesn't explain, first of all, what that select committee would look like, who would be on it, he doesn't agree to be bound by the recommendations, whatever recommendations come forward from the select committee. These are questions, if he were serious about bringing forward this kind of mechanism to have real electoral reform, that we would be perfectly prepared to entertain. Perhaps over the coming days and weeks, as we discuss this bill, perhaps the minister will want to flesh that out. There are always discussions that take place, Mr. Speaker, as you know, between the House Leaders, so perhaps he'll be able to put a little meat on the bones of this kind of a suggestion.

At this point, it's very difficult for an Opposition Party that has not been shown any of the details with respect to the proposal being made to have any faith whatsoever in the process, when the process, which ordinarily would have been used, has been sidestepped. I don't even know if they had the courtesy, Mr. Speaker, to send over a copy of the bill to the Electoral Commission before they introduced it. I don't believe that to be the case. We have representatives on the Electoral Commission, I think they got the bill from us. I think that's where they saw it for the first time. What kind of dedication to process is that?

So, Mr. Speaker, I don't know, I'm sure it couldn't have been an oversight, surely the minister understood. I mean, he knows the process as well as anyone in the House. Surely he would have understood that there is an Electoral Commission - and they brought forward recommendations in the past, I believe that the minister actually introduced them in the past, the result of recommendations from the Electoral Commission. (Interruption)

[Page 2085]

The minister says there weren't any recommendations to come forward. Well, that's because he never asked for any. He never asked for anything to be placed before the Electoral Commission. There has to be some agreement that the government is going to bring forward something before the Electoral Commission. The Electoral Commission doesn't just go off on its own on these things, they look for some direction that the government is going to seriously consider changes, modernizations to the Elections Act, modernizations to the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act.

Now, Mr. Speaker, to some degree, I perhaps have some advantage over other members in this House. I had the opportunity some years ago to act as a panelist on the federal Lortie Commission when it was involved in the reform of political Parties and political financing in this country. I had the great opportunity to sit through the presentation of much of the research work that went into the recommendations that came out of the Lortie Commission. It's a fascinating process, to bring together - in this case the Lortie Commission brought together people from around the world to have a look at the potential kinds of changes that could be made to enhance and strengthen democracy. Well, the reality is we don't have to do that because the Lortie Commission, which fills many, many volumes, is there, it's on record; in fact I think we have it, even here, and some of the recommendations that the Lortie Commission made.

Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you that the fundamental point here that the minister is trying to make, and the government is trying to make, is that the people of Nova Scotia have to have faith in the transparency and the integrity of the process. Well, how can you do that when you have a process that endorses the use of money that was raised through politically corrupt practices? Surely that must make some people on the government side uncomfortable; it must make them wince that they're going to support a bill that's going to allow the Third Party to operate on money that was raised through the tollgating on distillers and putting liquor into the liquor stores, that they're going to operate on money that was the result of influence peddling. Surely, for those of us who have practised law in this province, we have good reason to have faith in our court system.

So, this is not stuff that's being brought forward as a result of idle speculation; this comes about as a result of an RCMP investigation into the fundraising practices of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia on the basis of which three people were charged, MacFadden, Simpson, and Barrow, were charged with influence peddling. All three were convicted at trial, and they paid substantial fines. Eventually Senator Barrow was acquitted at the Supreme Court of Canada, might I add, on some technicalities, but the other two influence-peddling charges were never challenged.

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, the greatest thing that the members of the Liberal caucus could do would be to stand up and say that they would be prepared to support our amendment to get rid of, once and for all, that stain on their brand, that stain on their Party, that stain on the politics of this province. If they're not going to do it, if they don't have the gumption, they don't have the wherewithal, they don't have the backbone to

[Page 2086]

stand up and say that for 20 years we have been living on the avails of money which was raised through activities involved in political influence peddling, if they don't have the wherewithal to do that, if they don't have the gumption to do that, then surely the government, surely the government that is charged with the responsibility, for example, of enforcing the law in this province would say we won't allow that to stand.

I would point out to the government that this would not be a new thing for them, because back in 1991when they brought in the disclosure guidelines, they brought in specific provisions that were designed to prevent the use of trust funds outside of the political Parties for political financing reasons. What happened is as that bill was actually going through the Legislature, the Liberal Party was smart enough to consolidate the trust and move it in-house, because they read the bill that the government was bringing forward that was designed to put an end to that, and realized that this was a way to get around the intent of the bill, and so were able to continue to use that money, despite the fact that the government clearly intended, the government of the day clearly intended to make those funds illegal.

So here we are, now 15 years later, for 15 more years the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia has been able to use the interest and, to some extent, the capital of those accounts to finance the operations of its election campaigns - for 15 more years. What is the government proposing? Are they proposing to put, once and for all, an end to this corrupt practice? No. Instead, they want, and they are asking us, all of us, to join with them in endorsing this practice.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think that is something that we can, in conscience, do. I don't think that we should be allowing this kind of activity to continue to go on. I don't think the people of Nova Scotia want this activity to continue to go on. I think that deep down somewhere that members of the Liberal caucus must be embarrassed by the fact that this practice continues, or at least maybe some of them are. There would be a good thing, maybe over the course of the election campaign, some of the leadership contenders will want to differentiate themselves from other leadership contenders and maybe they will stake out a principled ground and say that they wouldn't be prepared to do that. That would certainly be a refreshing change.

We have a real opportunity, we have a great opportunity with this bill to do exactly what the Minister of Finance, the Government House Leader says he wants to do, and that is to increase transparency, to increase integrity in the political financing process. I say that we need to get it done. Let's do it. All it takes is for the Government House Leader to stand up and say that he will support the amendments, those two key amendments to this bill, and that would do it. We would then move on to the select committee that he has proposed and we could look at all of the other pieces.

Now, while we're here, there might be some other things that he will want to get done just because we can get them done, and we'd be prepared to agree with that, as

[Page 2087]

well. Mr. Speaker, this is the full opportunity that the Legislature has to deal with the matter of political financing, and I can't for the life of me understand why the minister would not want to do that.

Mr. Speaker, what is interesting about it is, the Liberals, over the years, have tried to justify their use of illegal trust funds by trying to point to the use of funds by other Parties that are part of the election financing law, which is bizarre to me, that somehow they could try and justify the illegal use of money raised through politically-corrupt practices by pointing to the fundraising practices of other Parties that are within the law. I can't understand, and I think the people of Nova Scotia can't understand.

You look at what happened with Justice Gomery in the sponsorship scandal, and the Liberal Party had the audacity to send somebody to the Gomery inquiry to find out whether or not the Liberal Party had been taken advantage of. Do you remember that? I remember that. They actually sent a lawyer to the Gomery inquiry because they felt that the Liberal Party somehow was duped into taking all this money, that they had somehow been taken advantage of. There just is no limit, apparently, to the way in which they will try to turn these things to their advantage.

This bill has in it the provision that would allow these dirty trust funds, this heap of cash that was raised through these practices, to be transferred, or to become held assets of the Party and then be used to operate the day-to-day operations of the Party. The result of which will be that the money that the public will give to the Liberal Party through this bill, will then be transferred into the election account and used for election purposes. So it is essentially a flow-through of this money that otherwise would have been used for the operation of the Party. It flows through from the trust funds into an election fund.

[5:00 p.m.]

I don't believe - maybe he just didn't think it through. I'm sure the Liberals thought it through, but maybe the government members just in looking at this piece of legislation didn't actually think about it, but I don't think that this is all that needs to be done to clean up government around these practices. I think there's much more, in fact, that needs to be done, but this will be a great place to start, wouldn't it? It would be a great place to start. (Applause) Get rid of the trust funds and make sure that there's no more money available from the corporate community, no more money from the trade union community, and only individuals then able to contribute to political Parties. That would be a refreshing change in the funding of political Parties. I believe that here's the opportunity for the government to do something that would be a positive effect on the political presence. I'm running out of water. (Interruption) This is dry stuff sometimes.

You know, Mr. Speaker, there have been numerous articles written over the years and I know it's not right to necessarily plug media outlets here, but if you want a really

[Page 2088]

good look at the Liberal trust fund's stand, well, I would tell you to go to the CBC radio Web site and put in the words, follow the money. There is an excellent piece done there by Kathy Large that has a look at the whole Liberal trust fund scandal. It has a look at how it is actually today still being used to benefit members of the Liberal Party and how it's used to pay off bank debt, how it's used to operate the Party.

I think the point on this is that if you think this is something because it happened between 1970 and 1979, if you think that the raising of this money and its use somehow ended some years ago, that would just be wrong. This lump of cash is still operating today. It's still being used today for the purpose of the Liberal Party and what always amazes me is you assume that everybody knows these stories, but whenever you go out and start to talk to people, you realize that, in fact, there are many people in Nova Scotia who don't know that this is what has happened.

I don't know, Mr. Speaker, maybe it's worth repeating the sequence of events with respect to the way in which Irvine Barrow, Charles MacFadden and J.G. Simpson were the fundraising committee of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia and the way that they went about raising money by tollgating on liquor stores and by demanding kickbacks to the Liberal Party off government contracts, that led to these trust funds that are still operating today. I know that that's really kind of - that's a very short synopsis and there's a lot more to it that could be said, but that's essentially what happened with it.

So, I want to just come back for a second to the Government House Leader's initial comments and the fact that the Party that he campaigned for in the last federal election - I am assuming all the members over there campaigned on behalf of the federal Conservative candidates for election during the last campaign. It is that caucus in the House of Commons in Ottawa who have brought forward Bill C-2, the Federal Accountability Act that specifically provides exactly what we are asking the government here to endorse in this House.

They endorsed them over the course of the election campaign, they promoted their platform, they said it was good for Canadians, they said it was the right thing to do, they encouraged people to vote for the candidates who brought Bill C-2 before the House of Commons - it was good enough for their federal candidates. They went door to door. Up and down the streets of Pictou County for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. They went around New Ross with the member for South Shore, with pleasure, they said, with pleasure.

They went door to door for candidates in Amherst. (Interruptions) So, the question is, if it's good for the goose, why isn't it good for the gander? If it's good enough during the federal campaign, why isn't it good enough for the people of Nova Scotia today? (Applause) You can just see them, you can just see the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations out campaigning on behalf of the member for

[Page 2089]

Colchester-Cumberland-Musquodoboit, knocking on the door. It was January, it was cold, he'd be standing there rubbing his hands, maybe blowing into them, he'd say folks, you have to support this guy because they have a Federal Accountability Act that's going to reduce the influence of big money on election campaigns.

I have no doubt that he went door to door trying to help that member get elected. I have no doubt that it was the strong ethics package of the federal government that he talked about when he went door to door. He talked about the Federal Accountability Act and how important that was going to be to their new government.

Do you know something, I'll tell you this. Do you know the first piece of legislation, I think one of the first pieces of legislation the federal government brought forward after its election? It was the Federal Accountability Act and the very provisions that we are asking this government to bring in. Can you imagine? If it was good enough for the Conservatives during the federal election campaign, why is it not good enough now?

Mr. Speaker, I feel as though I've gotten to the point where I've actually laid the foundation for the argument I want to make, but I don't know how much time I have left.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has until 5:13 p.m.

MR. DEXTER: Oh, well that's unfortunate. That means I only have about another three minutes to speak on this very important topic and I know that I have the rapt attention of the government members, maybe a little less though, the members of the Third Party. It appears that they are really listening over there. (Interruptions) Oh, I'm sure he's just kidding.

I think the reality is though, there are some very important things in this bill, there are some very important things in this Act and I want the minister to know that I agree with him entirely. That it should be in place for January 1st. What we disagree on are the elements of the bill that have specific application to the questions of how to get big money out of the process, what we disagree on is the inclusion of the Liberal trust fund in this. These are two small things - two small things that could be fixed by the minister. I believe that it could be easily fixed. For that matter, if the members of the Third Party were willing to support this, were willing to simply go on record saying, look, we're willing to support these and vote for them, then we would be more than happy to bring this matter to a conclusion.

But, as it is, Mr. Speaker, I'm afraid that this is really going to have to take some more study, a better opportunity for us to make our point to the government. In that regard, I intend to move:

[Page 2090]

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words following the word "that", and substituting, therefor, the words:

Bill No. 117, an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1991, the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The amendment that has been moved by the honourable Leader of the Opposition is in order.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to be able to speak on the motion of my colleague and Leader of the Opposition. We are in a situation now with regard . . .

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The NDP House Leader is speaking on the amendment, it would be nice if we had copies of it.

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

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I believe it has been tabled. If it's okay with my colleague, the House Leader of the Liberal Party, there is a copy being presented to him right now.

Mr. Speaker, this is with regard to what we believe is necessary with regard to Bill No. 117, and that is ensuring time for the people of Nova Scotia to have an opportunity to give their feedback with regard to this legislation. The problem with this legislation, and the Leader of the Opposition has spelled out very clear reasons why we have concerns, among those, and one of the jumping-off points I would like to take is with regard to the issue of consultation. We have a process in this province that has been adhered to by government after government after government, for at least the last 15 or 20 years, where we have a sense that consensus has to be agreed upon before we move forward with electoral reform. Indeed, I'll talk more about this in some detail. This is a process that is recognized, I would argue, not only in our democracy, not only in Canadian democracy, not only in the Westminster democracy, but in democracies throughout the world, that you do not go about changing, making changes to electoral laws without some form of public consultation.

If there is one law in a democracy that must be done open and transparently, it is electoral reform. What stops any government when they have a majority? Now in this

[Page 2091]

case, that's not the situation. But what stops any government with a majority from making changes to electoral laws that benefit themselves? I think I recall recently this was actually being tried by Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister of Italy, where he was trying to change the electoral laws so that come the next election, there was a better chance that he'd be able to win. Now, it didn't work. Romano Prodi and the Centre-Left Party ended up winning the last election, ironically, considering the rules were stacked in favour of the Centre-Right Party of Berlusconi There was a large outcry in Italy as a result, not necessarily because of the rule but because there wasn't consultation taking place to ensure that those rules were being done for the good nature of democracy.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that's what's important with regard to this. I think sometimes in politics people can become oblivious, or - oblivious, yes, - to the fact that governments change and the rules you set today are the rules that can be set differently by a different Party. I've always understood historically in this province, in our country, in democracy generally around the world, you do not create reform and changes to electoral law without some form of an open, transparent process that involves individuals, organizations, political Parties, politicians from all stripes and that they have an opportunity to be part of the process.

If there's one law in a democracy that needs to be done on consensus and done in an open and transparent manner, Mr. Speaker, it is a law regarding electoral reform and campaign financing. (Applause) That's what the people of Nova Scotia should be demanding and that is why we want six months for the people of Nova Scotia to have an opportunity to give their feedback on this legislation. That is what is necessary.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, democracy, it can be very fragile. I think we've seen historically in different parts of the world how a democracy can be quickly snuffed out, and I'll give a couple of examples to prove my point with regard to this motion.

We saw recently in Thailand where there was a prime minister, or president - I can't remember under their system which one it was, and don't ask me his name - but, Mr. Speaker, he was overthrown in a coup and they've gone back and created a whole new process, not because he was doing anything necessarily wrong, though I'm sure if you were in Thailand you may have a debate on that point, but what he was doing was there was an election and he won it, and the military and some of the opposition, particularly in the middle class, didn't like that. As a result, you saw them coming forward and trying to overthrow him instead of doing it democratically. I would argue that's not the type of democracy we want and that is why we want six months for the people of Nova Scotia to have some say on this process.

Mr. Speaker, we've also seen recently in Venezuela, where you had Hugo Chavez, the president, you had again a middle-class uprising and strikes where they did

[Page 2092]

not want him to remain as president because he was providing all kinds of provisions to the poor. Interestingly enough, both in Thailand and Venezuela, it was the middle class who was upset with the fact that there was a president actually trying to distribute wealth to the poor - and in the case of Venezuela you had a situation where, again, they had a referendum and in the referendum on his recall, the president won. Democracy was upheld but, again, a process that was in place and was respected and the rule of law was being respected. That's what Nova Scotians are demanding. That's why they want six months - that's why we want six months for them to be able to have input into this law.

Mr. Speaker, that is what they're looking for in a democracy and that is what we should be providing to them. If there's only one law we do that on, it's this one, because we cannot be moving forward with non-consensus positions with regard to changing electoral reform. Now I go back to my point that what we have in this province is a process - we've had it for a number of years - respected by all the Parties. That process was this: there's an Election Commission with equal appointments from every Party who has standing in the House - I believe there are two members from the NDP, two members from the Liberals, two members from the Progressive Conservative Party, and there is also the Chief Electoral Officer and others from her staff.

But the process has been and recognized, up until Friday, that if there were changes to election rules, whether it's campaign financing or rules around it, they go to the Election Commission. Interestingly enough, the bill that is probably the next step for debate after this one is Bill No. 119, a bill involving the Election Act and that came from recommendations from Christine McCulloch, the Chief Electoral Officer, through the commission. They agreed to those; they signed off on it. They're introduced; they're before the House and are soon going to be called for debate in this House. That's the process we all recognize, yet this bill did not go through that process. It did not have the vetting that it should have from the political Parties - a process that has been respected in this province for years upon years and was thwarted by the Minister of Finance in introducing this bill.

Mr. Speaker, I argue that that's not appropriate and we need six months to give political Parties and Nova Scotians a chance to get their feedback - something that should have been done before this bill ever saw the light of day, before it was ever taken to first reading in this House. Yet it did not happen, instead we had a backroom deal between the Progressive Conservative Government and the Liberal Party that resulted in this bill coming forward.

There's something in it for them. Arguably, there's something in it for us as well, but the fact is, that's not the way we are supposed to do electoral reform in this province. It is supposed to be done by means of a consensus and public consultation; open, transparent, that's what is demanded in a democracy. That's what we should be demanding in this province and six months of delaying this bill would give the people of Nova Scotia an opportunity to provide their feedback.

[Page 2093]

These are the points that I think are important with regard to the legislation and that is why, as was noted by my Leader, we need time. This House is being asked to pass this legislation in a matter of days, legislation that our Party only saw last Thursday, legislation that Nova Scotians have only begun to sort of have some sense of.

I spoke on a bill earlier today, Bill No. 61, and talked about bad legislation being brought in by a government that is trying to create political expediency through legislation and in the end we find that we end up having to repair that legislation. I would argue that this government, for once, should take a step back, give it six months to see whether or not in that time people raise legitimate concerns about this legislation.

To rush it through, to proclaim it, to have it in law by January 1st, might mean there'll be cheques cut for political Parties in this province, but there could also be ticking time bombs in that legislation, ticking time bombs that could result in Nova Scotians finding out later on there are problems, whatever those may be.

I'll talk a bit more about the trust fund or I'll talk a bit more about the maximum campaign donation in a little bit, but the fact is, six months would give Nova Scotians an opportunity to see exactly what this law would do, give them a chance to mull it over, give them a chance to think about it. Maybe there are professors of political science, maybe there are individual citizens, maybe there are those involved in government lobbying who would like an opportunity to see and get a sense of this legislation. Instead, we're being asked to rush it through.

I would argue that any time a government asks you to rush through a piece of legislation because it's important that it be passed immediately, that's the time, as legislators, on behalf of the people we represent, we should automatically be putting up flags in our mind and saying, wait a minute now, we need six months to think about this.

It's almost like an inverted law. The quicker the government wants a law passed, the more the Opposition should be suspicious and should ensure there's time to think about exactly what that law is going to do. Absolutely, that's what we should be looking at. I would argue that, for the purposes of this law, we need six months for the people of Nova Scotia to have some input. We'll start with six months and we'll see where it goes from there.

I think the important part of this is that the law in this province with regard to elections has not been dramatically changed in a significant period of time. I think we introduced changes to the Elections Act back in 2000, I believe. I believe there was a bill in 1998 when the Liberals were in power, I don't think it ever passed. Then in 2000 there was a bill introduced and passed by the former John Hamm Tory Government. That, again, went through the Electoral Commission, again, had that consultation process which this bill lacks and something that I think would go a long way to ensuring that

[Page 2094]

Nova Scotians, in six months' time, would have a sense they've been able to provide some input into the process.

But, those were important changes. Much like the ones we're seeing in Bill No. 119, the other bill, the sister bill to this one. but, not of the significant nature these are without some form of dialogue with the people of Nova Scotia. They're the ones, in the end, that are going to end up paying through tax dollars for the public funding of the political Parties, plus increasing the tax rebates and credits for those who donate. Also, potentially paying in the fact that this is going to impact on our electoral process - who can run, how much it costs, how much money they have, how they use that money. All these things will have an impact and yet, these things should be talked about for the next six months.

I'm actually shocked that this House is asking us to rush through a bill that no one in this province, until Friday, had a sense that it was even coming. Yet, this government is so keen on doing that. I ask again, why should the Opposition be in a hurry to support this legislation that this government's demanding be passed immediately? I would argue six months is the only appropriate way of dealing with this, to give us and the people of Nova Scotia time to dwell on this, to think about it. I think the term used in many cases is sober second thought, to think about what this will mean for the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, this is a province with a proud history with regard to democratization. As I speak in this House at this moment, I am staring at a picture of Joseph Howe, who I think we all know in this province is a man who - and you know there is a reason, it is interesting, those who have not been to the Chamber will know there are two portraits, very large, life-size portraits. One is of Joseph Howe on the government side, one is of Johnston who was on the government side until 1848, when the Reform Party created the first basically de facto independent country outside of the British Colony without any violence.

Mr. Speaker, Joseph Howe is on that side of the House because he created the first independent government in Nova Scotia. Back in the mid-1800's, in 1848, this province was a world leader with regard to political reform. We were the first province, the first colony, the first British colony to get independence without having to go through a form of violence or revolution. I look at it and say to myself as I look at him, here's a man - it wasn't only him, there was Uniacke, there were others involved in the process. We know Joseph Howe now because he was such a great man but the fact is that this was a province that was on the cutting edge of the world, as a naval base, as an economy, with regard to politics, with regard to democratization, with regard to law. We were a colony not only of Canada but of the British Empire, that was leading the world with regard to democratization.

[Page 2095]

Particularly if people think about it, and I'm not a student of history but I believe 1848 was also a watershed year and if my colleague was here he might know that, Mr. Speaker, that was a watershed year with regard to retracting a lot of rights, I think, in Europe. I believe that 1848 was the treaty in Vienna that ended up bringing back a lot of monarchs in Europe. At the same time, we were rebuffing that; we were on the cutting edge in this province. It is that kind of democratic renewal that can happen in six months that can take us back to the days of Joseph Howe and to the days of the Reform Party that created an independent Nova Scotia that resulted in the beginning of the process of an independent country known as Canada, Mr. Speaker. It all started here and that is recognized in this House by that plaque that is right across from me, sitting behind the government, the first responsible government in the history of the British Empire.

Mr. Speaker, that's the kind of renewal that can happen if we gave the people of Nova Scotia the time to actually talk about democratic renewal. Why is it that democratic renewal is something that should be held to the back rooms of the Tory and Liberal Parties? Why can't the people of Nova Scotia be part of the process that talks about whether or not corporations or unions should be able to donate to political Parties? Shouldn't that be the purview of the people of Nova Scotia, not just the back rooms of a couple of political Parties?

I argue that it is, I think my Party would argue that it is, Mr. Speaker, and that is why we would like six months, through this motion, to ensure that the people of Nova Scotia have that opportunity to provide that input. That is what can be done, Mr. Speaker, that is what we can do for the people of Nova Scotia, provide them with that input.

As I was saying, Joseph Howe did create a reputation of this province, of this colony, in the mid-1800's as a world leader, politically. Freedom of speech being another aspect of what he delivered, as we all know, and what was the supreme court at the time is now the Legislative Library in this building. He held a trial in 1830s, I believe, that instituted free speech in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, these were things that were being done in this province because it was on the edge. There were people here in this province who were demanding rights, were demanding democratization and, at the same time, sort of parallel to that we had the economic engine that was going as well. We had Samuel Cunard and the shipping lines, we had shipbuilding, we had the Navy here. At that time Nova Scotia was the most prosperous colony in what was then known as British North America, probably one of the most prosperous colonies in the world. Is it any coincidence that at a time in which we were also economically prosperous, we were also very much progressive with regard to our democratic rights and our desire for freedom? I don't think it is a coincidence, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 2096]

Isn't it interesting that in the last 169 years we're seen a slide in this province with regard to its economy? From being a place where people came to find work, people came for work, people came here to build industry, we see that now it is a place from where people leave. People leave this province on a regular basis. The province's population has not grown significantly, if at all, for the past - well, in my lifetime. As a result, people continue to leave, the economy continues to stagnate, to not be able to grow at any rate that ensures future growth that can ensure that our people don't have to leave, don't have to get in cars and go down the road, or now, with the global economy, more likely also getting on planes and flying to other places.

[5:30 p.m.]

Instead of a brain drain that we've created in this province - and I think we all know the saying, Mr. Speaker, about how the biggest import of the Maritime Provinces is its brains. Well, we sometimes joke about that, but clearly that's also a sign that the people who are best and brightest leave, and they leave for a reason. Obviously one of them is the economy. There are jobs other places that they can get.

Mr. Speaker, maybe with a motion like this, that gives us six months to think about it, those brains can also be used to provide Nova Scotians with ideas on how to create democratic reform in this province. I honestly believe progressive politics, progressive democratic reform is very much tied to the economy. There are people who leave all the time from this province, and arguably, now it's at a faster rate than ever. Maybe if we actually showed them that there was a reason to stay. Yes, part of it is the economy, but maybe part of it is also a sense of well-being, a sense of pride, that you're belonging to a province like it was 160 years ago, a province with hope, a province that provides a sense that there is a reason to be here, that we can succeed here in this small province on the northeast corner of North America.

Maybe if we gave people that sense, not only through economy, through economics, through jobs, those are important, but also through politics, through a sense that they are part of a renewal of democracy, that they are part of a process that recognizes that in Nova Scotia we are going to create a system, like we did 160 years ago, in 1848, that will be cutting edge for the world, that will renew democracy, that will do something that the people of the rest of the world have been wondering how it would be done. We did it in 1848, why can't we do it again?

Six months would give the people of Nova Scotia an opportunity to feel that sense of renewal, that sense of pride in themselves that Nova Scotia can succeed, and they can succeed here, and that the brains and those with the intelligence in our province and those who feel the need to leave, instead of leaving, will have some sense of pride in this province, and a sense that they can stay, they can succeed not only economically, but also that this province will show leadership with regard to how it can provide a better society for our people, for our children, for our grandchildren.

[Page 2097]

Mr. Speaker, that is what we should be talking about in this House, that is the kind of vision that they elect us to talk about, that's the kind of thing they expect from a government, the big picture, leadership, a sense that in Nova Scotia things can happen. Again, six months would give people a chance to talk about this, but all too often in this province the phrases are more like, well, that's not the way we've done it, we can't do it that way, or, well, someone else hasn't tried it yet. Do you know what? No one else had tried what Joseph Howe and Uniacke and others tried in 1848, and the people of Nova Scotia, back then, didn't sit back and say someone else better do that first before we do it. They were prepared to do it themselves, because they said democracy is a fundamental right that we need to preserve.

Mr. Speaker, they went ahead and did it, and they did it without a shot being fired or blood being dropped. It was a miracle. To this day, I sometimes look back in amazement that they were the first to do it, and yet now, in this province, we're too timid with regard to that. Instead of talking about structural change, about a real vision, and in this case about democracy and giving the people of Nova Scotia six months to talk about democratic reform, instead we sit back and we look at this process and say, well, why would we bother talking about democratic reform, let's rush this bill through, let's do it in the back rooms to the benefit of certain groups and not necessarily in the best interests of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, that's the problem with this legislation, it's being rushed. Frankly, considering what I've seen come from this government and the Liberal Opposition in the past number of years, I think the people of Nova Scotia should be nervous that this legislation was drafted by them, together, and now is being rushed through the House. They have every reason to be nervous about that, and six months would give them an opportunity to sit down and think about this, look it over and give their input into whether this is an appropriate law for them and for this province.

This province needs to start moving forward. For too long, for almost 100 years - well, since Confederation, when we entered Confederation, this province was on the cutting edge, we were an economic leader, we were the economic engine of the country. Now we can sit and debate - and that's not part of this bill - whether or not Confederation was good for us, but the fact is that since that time we've continued to go down the slippery slope towards where we are now. Economically, culturally, intellectually, democratically, we aren't providing the leadership Nova Scotians are demanding. I would argue that many of them are leaving for that reason.

In six months of debate, maybe they'll begin to see that there is a reason to come back to Nova Scotia, there is a reason to stay here. It's not always about money, it's not always about economics, although I'm sure that is a factor. It's also about the fact that they have a sense that this is a province worth living in, that there is a quality of life, that there is a sense of freedom, that there is a respect for individual and fundamental rights

[Page 2098]

and there is a belief that we can do it in a way that's creative, innovative and will result in a better system that will eventually be adopted by others. That's what we can do.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I would say that this is why we want six months on this bill, to give the people of Nova Scotia that opportunity. I also want to say, for example, that there are - I was talking about when I was in law school, I had a professor of business association who used to always use the phrase, Nova Scotia compromise. It was a pejorative term, I assure you, he was from Ontario. He always used to say, that's a Nova Scotia compromise. Finally one day I went up to him and said, what do you mean by that, I happen to be from Nova Scotia? I said, I'm from Nova Scotia, I know there aren't many of us in this law school but I mean there are a few and so I will take some offence, as a proud Nova Scotian, as to why you use the term Nova Scotia compromise.

He said, look, what I mean by a Nova Scotia compromise is a half measure, or a side deal, some that result in solving the problem in the short term without addressing the longer term issues that need to be addressed. Mr. Speaker, I think we have all seen that. What we see in this bill is exactly the same thing - a Nova Scotia compromise. Half measures, side deals that are resulting in legislation being passed to prop up a weak government, probably for another 18 months, they'll get their budget passed next year, I have no doubt that's part of this deal, that they'll vote for the budget in the spring in return for this. But maybe six months will give the people of Nova Scotia an opportunity (Interruptions) Well, if that's as strong a protest you can make to that comment, it pretty well says that I'm probably right on that point.

Mr. Speaker, six months would give the people of Nova Scotia a chance to talk about that as well. Are these kinds of political compromises the answers that they want with regard to the issues affecting them? Is that what they want to see, a weak government propped up for another 18 months, in desperate hopes of being able to hold on by the fingertips, instead of talking about real structural change in this province, that the people of this province have been desperate for, for years if not decades? That's what they need and that's what six months will give them - a chance to talk about the bigger, big "P" issues that are part of the whole process, giving them a sense of why we have this kind of Nova Scotia compromise that's going on between the Liberals and Tories.

As I said, there is a long history of this. I can think of cases since I came into this House in 1998, Mr. Speaker. I think about the individual who needed help with regard to criminal injury protection, a criminal injury compensation board but the government, in shortsightedness, in 2000, cut out all the funding for that except for counselling. He had no money. Well, lo and behold, we have compromises made, things are done, he's okay. Is the bigger problem solved? Do others who will have the same problem in the future have the opportunity? No, but we solved that problem so let's move on, right?

Let's talk about the Workers' Compensation Board. For decades, it was nothing but a series of Nova Scotia compromises. People were getting political answers, they

[Page 2099]

were getting political decisions that were helping them individually. Maybe that's what we mean by Nova Scotia compromise - we'll sweep the problem under the rug for a while, the person bringing it up will be happy because we fixed it for them, but the bigger problem isn't being resolved. Maybe six months of reviewing this legislation will give the people of Nova Scotia their say on that as well. Is this nothing more than another Nova Scotia compromise that's going to ensure that this whole problem is going to pop up again in a year or two or four?

How often in this House have we debated workers' compensation legislation? I think about a good point we just raised in Bill No. 61, the Motor Vehicle Act. There's an Act that still has in it, Mr. Speaker, clauses talking about horse and buggies on our highways because the Act has not been fundamentally reviewed and amended and adopted and changed, probably for 60 or 70 years, maybe 80 years for all we know. The six months may give people the time to talk about how that can be addressed as well. The fact is that the Motor Vehicle Act is a shemozzle, something that should have been reviewed a long time ago, should have been provided with a full new addition that reflects modern conditions.

Mr. Speaker, we still have references to horses and buggies in that Act because we haven't had a government that is willing to actually go out and work towards that, work towards it because, do you know what, well, we'll fix this little problem, we'll fix that little problem, right, like the Dutch boy trying to hold back the breaking dyke by putting his finger in the hole, we're not ensuring that this is going to happen. Six months would give the people of Nova Scotia an opportunity to comment on that - are they sick and tired of governments that seem to want to patch over the cracks instead of talking about fundamental changes?

You know, Mr. Speaker, I remember when you were the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations back in 1998. You had the fortitude to bring forward a brand new Municipal Government Act. I remember the thing was huge. It had to be 300 pages. It had massive sections in it, and at the time I remember thinking to myself, well, isn't this refreshing? Here I am sitting in the House, just elected, here comes a brand new Act, we're going to get a chance to debate it. There was a lot of discussion with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and it seemed to be very good.

I thought, I'm glad to see that, I look forward to more legislation like this in my years to come in the House. I don't think I've seen one since of any great note. Now, obviously, the Municipal Government Act is still changed regularly, I understand that, but the fact that you brought forward such fundamental change - and do you know what, I will say for the record, from 1993 until 1998 when the Liberals were in power, there were a number of pieces of legislation that were brought in that were wholesale changes to the legislation - the Environment Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Municipal Government Act, the Education Act - you know, we can debate the pluses or

[Page 2100]

minuses of that, but as a government there was a sense that we need to renew. I'll applaud the Liberal Government of the day for that.

Mr. Speaker, the point is that overall this province has not had a record, and maybe it's the Tories particularly since it is the Party that has been in power the most in the last 40 years, of actually going out and effecting wholesale change, renewal and a sense of why we are doing this instead of patchwork. That is why we need six months to talk about this legislation and give the people of Nova Scotia a chance to debate the merits of the legislation.

Mr. Speaker, this is why, as I was saying, you have this quilt, this patchwork that is being brought forward from time to time, and this is another piece of it. Electoral reform should be not something done on the back of a napkin in a backroom somewhere between two political Parties, and six months of review by the people of Nova Scotia would give them an opportunity to provide the input, throw the light open on this legislation to give people a chance to see. That is what we need, and I would argue that that's what six months can provide for us.

You know, Mr. Speaker, as I was saying - well, one of the other issues I haven't even brought up yet is patronage. When I first came in in 1998, I had a sense that patronage was dying in this province. You know, at least there was a moving forward and we were not going to be dealing with patronage and there was a sense that was happening. Any sense of that left probably after June 13th of this year. There's a true sense that patronage is back and what I find so ironic for a government that is so young in its life - it has only been around on this form for a matter of months - is how old they are in their attitude and in their lack of vision. Instead of talking about, again, renewal, talking about reform, talking about actually trying to address problems that we have in this province, whether it's health care, whether it's education, whether it's post-secondary education, all we see are trite political answers to try to make the issue go away.

Sweep it under the carpet, as I said earlier; that Nova Scotia compromise that my professor at law school used to talk about. He used it as a pejorative term and I use it as a pejorative term, but it clearly does not give the people of Nova Scotia much pride to see that kind of activity and that kind of way of government. They deserve better than that, Mr. Speaker. They deserve an opportunity, they deserve a real opportunity to have input into the process and if there's only one law they have that in, it should be the law with regard to electoral reform and how we finance political Parties.

[5:45 p.m.]

Six months would give us that and yet it's not happening. We're told to rush this bill through and maybe we'll look after it later to a select committee, we promise - wink, wink, just in case Hansard can't pick up my wink - wink, wink, we'll take care of it,

[Page 2101]

don't worry, just pass this one because we've got cheques to issue in January. We've got to make sure those cheques get out. I can't imagine the credit card bills that these two Parties must have, Mr. Speaker, that they're in a real hurry to get that cheque out on January 1st. They must have some awfully big credit cards they have to pay off.

Well, Mr. Speaker, that's not the reason to pass and change electoral laws in this province. There needs to be a wholesale, fundamental review, and that is what six months can give us. That's what six months can give the people of Nova Scotia. That is what we should be demanding in this House, wholesale reform not only through laws around health care and education, but to our democracy.

It's what Joseph Howe would ask for, it's what he demanded, it's what he got. It's what he got on free speech, it's what he got with regard to representative government and responsible government, and it's what this province represented for a good part of the 19th Century - progress; progressive, good, solid legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I'll give you another example. Again, in six months, people of Nova Scotia can talk about these examples. I'll use another law school example. In law school, I remember studying family law and how family law was about - divorce, of course, is a big part of it. When I went to law school, I was taught that, actually, in Canada, divorce was something that only became legal in almost all of Canada in about 1940 or so. I think in Quebec it was later, given certain cultural conditions, but in Nova Scotia it actually became legal in the mid-1800s. We were the only place in Canada that recognized divorce long before anyone else. It's funny how these things stick in your head, but I remember the debate at the time about why that was the case. There were certain arguments about being a military town or other things, but you know, probably in the end, it was the nature of what was happening at that time in this province, in this colony, and our place in the world.

We were seen as leaders, we stood up with pride to say we were a colony - at that time, after 1867, a province - that showed leadership, that should have continued to show leadership. In the mid-1800s, we were showing that leadership. Whether it was on family law and the right to divorce, or whether it was on freedom of speech, or whether it was on responsible government, these were the things that we as a province were standing up to say we wanted to be leading on.

Also, economically, as I said earlier, certain economic things, we were the economic engine of British North America and, to a great extent, even North America, as we know it. Mr. Speaker, that allowed us to take a leadership role in those areas, as well. That's the kind of thing people in Nova Scotia, I would argue, are asking for. Again, six months would give them an opportunity, and this could very well be a process to allow them to begin to re-engage in the political process.

[Page 2102]

I think the Minister of Finance said in his opening remarks on this bill that we're in a situation where the voter turnout is going down every election. Why is that? I'm sure we could have a lot of good debates about that, and I encourage the other members to get up and talk about it, that part of this motion. One of the reasons for that, why we have this problem of voter turnout going down is the fact that people don't feel they're part of the process, they're not engaged.

I want to give you some examples around electoral reform, about how other provinces have actually started to engage. Again, maybe Nova Scotia, in six months' time, we could try some of these processes. Ontario, right now, they're in the process of reviewing their electoral reform laws. I must tell you, they must be reading a different playbook than this government, because they're doing it in a completely opposite manner.

They set up a citizens' coalition or a citizens' forum with representatives from each constituency that are doing hearings, are making recommendations with regard to electoral reform and then - like here, we could do it for six months, but they're doing it, and it's going to result in a referendum coinciding with the next provincial election, which I think is a fixed date in Ontario, which I believe is April or May 2007. So the same date they hold their provincial election next Spring, in 2007, they're also going to hold a referendum on what this forum recommends with regard to electoral reform - campaign finance, voting, other things. That's great. I think that's super. I'm glad to see Ontario doing it.

Why did we decide to go in a completely opposite direction? Why did we decide that instead of having a people's forum on this, frankly, other than one comment from the Premier during the election, off the cuff, off message, I presume, someone forgot to give him his script that day, as a result he said something that he probably regretted later on, or maybe one of the people in his Party who does fundraising said, shouldn't say that again. The next thing you know, here we are back here. The next time we hear about it is last Friday when his minister stands up to say we're introducing this legislation, we expect it to be passed this session. In between, no discussion, no debate, no public consultation.

Ontario, on the other hand, has gone in the completely opposite direction and has a created a people's forum, has ensured every area of the province is represented, is going out and listening to the people of Ontario. Nova Scotia - maybe we can get them down here. Maybe we can get them down here to listen to us, for once, maybe someone will listen to the people of Nova Scotia with regard to this issue, because, as sure as heck, people on that side of the room aren't, and as a result, bad laws, potentially, are going to be introduced.

Mr. Speaker, they're in the process of going through this whole consultation. What a wonderful idea. What a weird concept. Again, I think that's the irony of all this,

[Page 2103]

150 years ago it was our province that was on the leading edge of this type of democratic reform, and now we wait for others. I'll get to that a bit more in a minute. Six months would give us an opportunity to actually have some input into this, give Nova Scotians a chance to have their say. Do they like the $5,000 limit, do they want it down to $1,000, maybe they want to ban corporate and union donations all together, maybe they want to talk about how we finance the Parties, maybe they want to talk about the held assets, also known as trust funds? These are things they should have an opportunity to have input into.

Yes, we're elected to be their representatives, but if there's one law, again, that needs to be openly and transparently debated and consulted upon, it is a law relating to campaign finance and electoral reform. By the way, the first province to move to ban corporate and union donations was Quebec in the 1970s a social democratic government, the Péquiste, went out and were the first ones to implement that law. Like a lot of laws in this country, it was the social democrats and the Québécois who ended up moving in a way that is now beginning to be done by other Parties as well in other governments, but it was the Québécois who started with the issue, started the issue of banning corporate and union donations.

Now, Manitoba, Mr. Speaker, I believe, was the second one to do it, and that was back in the mid-1990s, when the NDP came to government. They brought in a rule banning corporate and union donations, as well. At that point, it was still two provinces, and then we had the federal system. I think, honestly, for Nova Scotians, it's a great opportunity. It was a great opportunity for us to see, did it work? The federal government moved to a roughly similar system, limiting corporate and union donations to $1,000 each, and limiting the amount individuals could spend on donations, putting certain rules in place around donations.

We, as Nova Scotians, got our first taste of how that works because I don't know if most people know, but at least in our Party, and I suspect it's in the others as well, most people who work at a provincial level for a Party at some point do work federally as well, for a candidate, maybe for a Member of Parliament, if they're lucky enough to have one elected. They come in and they're working at a provincial level, but I can say on my behalf that it makes my job a lot easier knowing that I have a federal member who's a New Democrat, Peter Stoffer. It makes my job a lot easier. So, of course, I'm going to do work to make sure he's re-elected again and again. It helps me, and I suspect that it helps the Minister of Community Services to ensure that her Member of Parliament is re-elected from time to time. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, this is the sort of thing that happens. So we've all had an opportunity to see exactly how the federal campaign finance law works. We see exactly how that happens. From that we see that it actually hasn't worked too badly. Now, we can talk about the whole registered - it's a whole separate issue - the federal enumeration process, that hasn't worked so well. But we can say that with regard to this issue, things

[Page 2104]

have worked pretty well, and that the system has done well with regard to eliminating those contributions that were excessive. Indeed, it has worked so well that the - I'm sorry, I was going to call them the Progressive Conservative Government - federal Conservative Government has moved to even eliminate corporate and union donations to zero, so there'll be no donations.

So it's good enough for them to think let's move it even further, so, obviously, the Party that's loosely affiliated or not-so-loosely affiliated with the provincial Progressive Conservative Party thinks it's worth moving even further towards accountability by eliminating corporate and union donations. Yet their provincial cousins, who, clearly, are working with them on a daily basis, still don't see the light of day. But maybe six months of Nova Scotians giving them input will allow them to know that it can be done, Mr. Speaker. It can be done.

The people of Nova Scotia very much may demand that it be done. Those who have actually worked on federal elections or have anything to do with fundraising in federal elections know that the system can work. It makes it sound so simple. It may just be a simple question, but one that I've asked since Friday when this bill became public, why are we not just harmonizing with the federal legislation? It would make it so much easier for us. We would be able to see, Mr. Speaker, that every Nova Scotian would know what the rules were, federally, provincially. There would be no difference, wouldn't have to remember two sets of rules. It would save us a lot on accounting bills because we all know that the accountants with regard to this process end up having to do audits and, of course, you have separate rules, the accountants will be able to bill a bit more but if we actually harmonized to one set of rules, it would make it a lot easier for everyone.

We all know what the rules are, they've worked well, no one seems to have a very distinct advantage over anyone else. Why not just move to the federal rules and six months of debate amongst Nova Scotians very much may result in that happening, Mr. Speaker. I would encourage this House to delay this bill six months to give Nova Scotians an opportunity to give that feedback. That's the kind of feedback that Nova Scotians could give.

We're happy with the federal rules, maybe they'll say they are not happy with the federal rules. Maybe we need to tinker a bit more with them but I would be very suspicious, Mr. Speaker, after six months of delaying this bill that we would not have a situation where Nova Scotians would not come back with a bill that would be more equitable, that would be more grass roots in ensuring that democracy can be not only conducted but thrive in this province. This bill doesn't do that; it's a Nova Scotia compromise, as I said earlier. It is a half-measure in order to satisfy a few people for a few months, so they can get another budget passed, but it doesn't do anything to ensure that Nova Scotians and that our democratic process and that our election laws are working not only for now but for 10, 20 years from now. That is the kind of initiative I

[Page 2105]

think Nova Scotians are begging from their government and yet we don't see that. We see them again with Nova Scotia compromises.

This isn't the only area, Mr. Speaker. I talked about needing consultation for this issue, six months would give Nova Scotians that opportunity but there are others as well. I'll get to that in a minute but I want to say the federal government, by the way, as I say right now it is $1,000 maximum for unions and corporations and I think individuals as well, but the federal government now, in Bill C-2 as my Leader noted - and I think it is still in the Senate, I think it is being held up there, the hope is that when it passes, you'll have no corporate union donations allowed. I think a lot of people think that is a good idea. Some people talked about this years ago in Quebec, in Manitoba, in other parts of the country, and it is finally starting to have that snowball effect.

I think that once the federal government has done it, now that they have done it, and people see that it works, I think you are going to start to see that happening. That's another problem we see in Nova Scotia, is that - and I won't mention the legislation but there is another piece of legislation that many have asked to come before this House that isn't before, but the issue is, Mr. Speaker, that there is - instead of looking about, leaping us over, considering that in many issues we are at the back of the pack and I'll agree with regard to campaign financing that we are at the back of the pack. Instead of leaping us forward with the rest so that in 10 or 20 years when we revisit this law we'll be still in the front or in the middle of the pack, what we do is we bump ourselves up to the bottom third, and maybe if we're lucky halfway up, and this is what this legislation would do, not considering the fact that if we actually took that extra leap and pushed it to the front of the pack, it would make us a leader on this issue. It would give our people a sense of pride, especially after having six months of having a chance to debate it, Mr. Speaker.

It would also give us a chance to know that in 10 or 20 years when we revisit this rule again, we'll have a situation where our laws are still fresh, are still legitimate. Some parts of this country have been dealing with laws that are much more progressive than this for 32 years and yet this province wants to talk about moving the ball forward only slightly, a half measure, a Nova Scotia compromise, that does not result in us getting done what the people of Nova Scotia would want us to get done, I would argue. The six months could do that for us, Mr. Speaker, and I would argue that we should be doing it.

As I said, leadership is an issue that should happen every day. Every day the Premier of this Province gets up in that Cabinet, wakes up, they should be asking themselves how can we make Nova Scotia a leader on whatever issue it is - on health care, there are so many provinces over the years that have moved to other ways of dealing with health care, alternative service delivery. Yet this province is happy to take the cash from the federal government and not really talk about the reforms that are necessary to maintain our public system. Six months, Mr. Speaker, would give the province an opportunity to give the feedback to this weak government that they should be hearing about this law.

[Page 2106]

[6:00 p.m.]

Education, Mr. Speaker, is another one. The students in the former County of Halifax are probably the lowest funded per student students in the country. My children happen to go to school in the former county. I see every day the challenges we face as having the poorest funded schools in the country. Yet this government and that minister, when they wake up, don't stand up and say, how can we become leaders on this issue? They talk about other issues; they talk about nibbling around the edges. They talk about half measures. They talk about the Dutch boy sticking his finger in the dike to stop the dam from breaking- instead of talking about how we can build a new dam. This government ignores those problems and every day I hear in the coffee shops, in my office, I hear when I go out to events in my riding, people complaining about the funding of their systems, whether it's education, or health care, or democracy, how many times have we had people talk to us about the fact that we needed more free votes in this House, or maybe we needed to have a better system of ensuring accountability. Yet what we get from this government is backroom deals that don't have any consultation. The motion that was moved by the Leader of my Party would give us six months to talk about that and I think that's what we should be doing.

Mr. Speaker, you know, there are other issues as well that this province is lacking leadership on that also are indicative of why this government is failing the people of Nova Scotia. Again, this bill is a symptom of a bigger problem and six months of being able to study this bill is maybe the wake-up call this government needs to understand that the whole problem, not just the symptom, in this bill needs to be addressed. There are people in this House, like the member for Pictou East who introduced a resolution on Internet access in rural areas. You know, for a Party that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DEVEAUX: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member is to speak to the reason for the hoist, not other parliamentary business.

MR. DEVEAUX: Right. So, Mr. Speaker, we have a motion before the House for six months delay. Maybe that six months delay is part of talking about democratic renewal, talking about campaign finance, could also talk about the fact that how we may be able to use the Internet and spread the Internet throughout Nova Scotia to ensure that Nova Scotians have access to a democracy that is not only a democracy for the 1970s, or the 1980s, but is a democracy for the next century. That's why we need six months to talk about that and to talk about how, as a province, instead of being at the back of the pack, we can talk about being leader. Talk about, for six months, how this province, whether it's democratic renewal, or other issues, can become a province again like

[Page 2107]

Joseph Howe had in 1848, a province of leadership, a province that ensured that we were the cutting edge with regard to democratic renewal.

That is what is needed. That is what the people of Nova Scotia I suspect would be demanding if they had six months to talk about it but instead we have a bill tabled in this House on Friday and we're asked to pass it by the end of this week and when we talk about wanting to delay it, we get harumphing and we get concern, consternation from the Liberals and Tories, Mr. Speaker, because they believe a delay is bad. Well, I would argue again that any time a government wants to rush through a piece of legislation, it's our job in Opposition to pause, to review it with diligence, and to determine whether or not this is the appropriate legislation for Nova Scotians.

There's a lot more that can be done with regard to campaign financing reform and six months will give us a chance to do that, Mr. Speaker, and give the people of Nova Scotia a chance to be part of that process.

Mr. Speaker, I've had an opportunity in the past five years from time to time to do a bit of comparison shopping with regard to democracies. I've had an opportunity, I'm very proud of the opportunities I've had to see how democracy works in parts of the Third World, and some of the legislation they've put in place in the Third World to avoid corruption, to ensure oversight and accountability, to ensure that their democracies are functioning properly. In the six months that Nova Scotians have on this legislation, it would give them an opportunity to also have that comparison of how things work, whether it's in Europe, or whether it's in the Middle East, or whether it's in Asia, there are many emerging democracies that have dealt with the issues that we should be dealing with, frankly, on a regular basis.

Yet instead, instead of waiting six months to hear from Nova Scotians and talking about it as a full-blown consultation, we have a process that frankly in most, if not all, of the Third World and places where they actually consider themselves a democracy, this kind of process would be laughed at. This would be considered a process that is not democratic. This would be considered a process that does not meet the minimum standard with regard to consultation on electoral reform legislation. I've seen it. I've seen what their legislation is and I know full well that this doesn't meet the standard and yet in this province we have a government, again a weak, weak government, that is prepared to accept this in order to ensure that they buy six months more of their life with regard to a budget that they think will be passed if they pass this law.

That's not the way for democracy to work. That's not the way for us to ensure that the people of Nova Scotia can have faith that when laws are being changed around election reform, that they're not laws that are going to benefit one Party or two Parties or three Parties. They should be laws that ensure that there's fair and equitable funding, and that they will ensure that everyone who wants to get involved in the political process in this province will have an opportunity to do that.

[Page 2108]

That's what six months would give the people of Nova Scotia, an opportunity to have feedback. They can tell this government what they think with regard to this issue. There's no other legislation, I would argue, that's more important with regard to consultation than this legislation, Mr. Speaker. That is what Nova Scotians need to be looking at, that is what the people of Nova Scotia need to be thinking about, and I would argue that that is what the people of Nova Scotia are demanding. The more they look at this legislation, the more they are going to want to ensure that this is something that can be done.

Mr. Speaker, that is why I want to ensure that the people of Nova Scotia have this chance. Six months will give them that opportunity. That is why we need to delay this bill, to give them that opportunity. It's only consultation that, frankly, should have occurred beforehand. It's only consultation that should have happened before this bill ever saw the light of day in this House. It's consultation that should have happened before the Liberals and Tories sat down and worked out a deal on a napkin. That's the legislation that should have been developed, that's the legislation the people of Nova Scotia would have wanted to see, and yet, unfortunately, that's not what they're seeing. Six months would give them that opportunity.

As I said, from my experiences in other countries, I know that, generally speaking, electoral laws are not done in back rooms. There has to be a certain amount of consensus. That is something, Mr. Speaker, that has not been done with regard to this legislation. The people of Nova Scotia are being asked to blindly accept that this is good for them without ever really having an opportunity to think about it, that sober second thought that can be important in this process. As I said earlier, there are a lot of laws that I think can result in a lot of laws in this province that this government is introducing, and if this government introduces them, in most cases, we find there need to be changes to them. The laws are shoddily drafted, the instructions are bad, and we end up having to fix them a year later. Six months of delay on this bill would ensure that Nova Scotians could have a very close look, a scrutiny of this legislation to ensure it's good for every Nova Scotian, anyone who wants to get involved in the political process.

Ten, 20 years - 20 years ago, maybe even 10 to some extent, but 20, who would have thought that the compilation of this House would be what it would be today. No one would have thought that we would have 20 seats. There are people in this province who would have laughed at that thought. Mr. Speaker, the fact is that 20 years from now we don't know what this province is going to look like. Maybe the Green Party will be government, maybe there will be another Party we haven't heard of, maybe there'll be a merger of all these three Parties. We don't know. The fact is that when we make changes to laws like this, they do impact for generations, not for years, and this government has to understand that. These Nova Scotia compromises, these short, quick solutions that are half-measures, sweeping things under the rug in hopes of some political lifeline being handed to them are not the answer. Six months of debate amongst the people of Nova Scotia could ensure that we'll all have a chance to ensure that this

[Page 2109]

is a law that's good for Nova Scotia for the next generation, for whoever sits in this House, whichever Party is government, whoever we decide, however we decide we're going to govern ourselves.

It's not about entrenching the rights of some Parties over others, entrenching the rights of any Party over anyone else, it's about building a democracy that ensures equity, that ensures the people of Nova Scotia have a chance to be a part of the democratic process. I assure you, for the Minister of Finance to stand in this House and say we need to talk about, because of declining voter turnout, more things about democratic renewal, I agree. This bill isn't going to cut it. A sense that the three Parties are going to pass a bill in a matter of days without any firm debate amongst the people of Nova Scotia for the six months that it requires, I would argue, is only sending a further message that they're not really a part of this process. That it's a game of baseball played by three Parties, that the people really don't deserve to be involved, that this is going to happen anyway, we're all taking our cut of the pie, and thank you very much. Maybe they'll vote for us next time because we're the least bad of the bunch.

But, Mr. Speaker, that's not democratic reform, and six months would give the people of Nova Scotia a chance to actually have that input. I would argue it's good for Nova Scotians to have that input. I know I'm winding down my time, but how much time do I have left, two or three minutes? Sorry - 6:12 p.m.? Thank you.

So, Mr. Speaker, we are a province that we are, frankly, world leaders with regard to democracy in the middle of the 19th Century - Joseph Howe, freedom of speech, Joseph Howe, Uniacke, independent de facto government, the first in the colony, the first independent colony without shedding any blood, without any violence.

What has happened to the Nova Scotia of the mid-1800s? Why have we allowed it to slip to the point where instead of talking about renewal, talking about democracy, talking about being - gee, I would like to be a regional leader, maybe a Canadian leader, let alone a world leader. Why can't we talk about democracy reform in those terms? Why can't we capture what Joseph Howe and others fought so hard for in the middle of the 19th Century? Why can we not, as a Legislature, give the people of Nova Scotia six months to be part of a process that ensures that we not only talk about a backroom deal that helped some, but actually build a democracy for the next generation that will make Nova Scotians proud of their province the way we're proud of Joseph Howe.

Mr. Speaker, that's what the people of Nova Scotia are demanding; that's why we have moved this motion, and I'm glad to support the motion. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'm certainly very pleased to have an opportunity to stand here in my place and engage in a

[Page 2110]

debate which I think is very, very important. There are a lot of uncertainties in politics, as we all know, but there is one certainty that I have come to rely on since I've been in this place - and that is if the Tory Government can get it wrong, they will. They generally do on their first attempt and it's often up to us here on this side of the House, in the NDP caucus, to help them do the right thing, and that's why I fully support the motion made by the Leader of the Opposition to essentially hoist Bill No. 117 for thorough public and other forms of consultation.

I hear members of the government say that this is a delay tactic. Now please, Mr. Speaker, please, this is one of the most important opportunities that the people in the Province of Nova Scotia have had in a number of years to actually engage in a public debate about how political Parties and elections in their province are funded, and I can think of no more important issue to engage with the public in my constituency and in other parts of the province.

Mr. Speaker, when the minister stood in his place here on second reading, he talked about the concerns that he and members of his Party have with respect to the future of the democratic process in this province. I believe that in spite of whatever ideological or partisan differences there may be between the three different Parties that are represented here in this House of Assembly, there is one thing that I think we absolutely all share, and that is a passion for democracy and a very, very fundamental and strong commitment to the political process and to this province and the people whom we represent. This, in fact, is what this debate is all about and what it goes to the heart of. This is legislation that requires broad public consultation and involvement, which is exactly what the motion before us this evening is designed to do.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, all across this country, in other provinces at a provincial level and, indeed, at a federal level, there is an ongoing debate about the democratic deficit. In the last provincial election that we all went through quite recently, in June, the number of people in our province who went out and voted in that election fell, and it fell again for probably the third, the fourth, maybe even the fifth consecutive election. This is something that we have to take very seriously.

The other day I was looking at the results from my own constituency, the beautiful constituency of Halifax Needham, north and a little bit of central Halifax, and that's the constituency where we make ships and beer, I don't believe there are any other MLAs that have an opportunity to stand in their place and say that. Mr. Speaker, the sad reality is, for the first time in my memory, less than 50 per cent of the eligible voters actually participated in that election. I see this opportunity with Bill No. 117, to actually go out into my constituency and initiate a really important and a very vibrant discussion about why that is, and what we need to do to change the dropping participation rate of people in the political process.

[Page 2111]

There's no doubt about it, there's a cynicism about political Parties, there's a cynicism about campaign financing, there's a cynicism about the involvement of corporations and big money in political Parties, there's a cynicism about trade unions being involved in political Parties. I've been involved in election campaigns in the Province of Nova Scotia since the early 1970s. In my first election, in 1984, I ran against Edmund Morris and Walter Fitzgerald. I used to tell people it was a real horse race - me and two old mayors.

I remember how profoundly uncomfortable I was asking people for money, to make a political donation to my campaign. I remember coming back from knocking on doors one evening and my campaign manager asking me how much money I had raised. I said, I can't ask people for money. My manager said, Maureen, you have to remember Tommy Douglas built this Party with nickels and dimes from the farmers, you ask people for money. Well, Mr. Speaker, on some level, that strengthened my resolve to go out there and ask people. I mean, after all, if Tommy Douglas was able to do that as a way to build our great Party and to forward our movement, then surely I could do this, as well.

But times have changed so profoundly since those days when Tommy Douglas was going door-to-door pretty much during a Depression, following a Depression, looking for nickels and dimes from the farmers. I think today the public is quite concerned about the extent to which they certainly perceive that big money controls political Parties. Mr. Speaker, if we ever had a time to take legislation on the floor of this Legislature, improve it and improve the political process by getting the public involved in giving us their views, then now is the time.

Mr. Speaker, I would very much like an opportunity to talk to people in my riding about how they feel about the public being involved in public funding of political Parties. People don't necessarily understand how our current political system works. Even sometimes people who are in active politics don't even understand all of the mechanisms for how our current political system works. The reality is, there's a certain amount of public funding in our current political system right now, and it's political funding that's there and available to the Parties through the political tax credit system.

Mr. Speaker, there has often been concern expressed by members of the public, you see it in letters to the newspaper, and it's raised with me at different times, that political Parties get a more favourable treatment, sometimes, around political contributions than contributions to charities. If we hoisted this bill for six months and undertook a consultation process, we would really have an opportunity to look at what kind of fairness and equity there is right now in the political tax credit system. What Bill No. 117 is actually doing is it's increasing the tax credit for political contributions, and I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but I would very much like to know what members of my constituency think about that vis-à-vis their commitments to making charitable tax contributions, and what it is they receive through the charitable tax system.

[Page 2112]

Mr. Speaker, this gives us a perfect opportunity to go out and find out what people think. There are many features of this bill that require much more extensive discussion. One of the things about our current system - our current system has no limits on the amount of money you can contribute to a political Party. If somebody wanted to give $10,000 or $40,000 or $50,000 or more, in fact, there is no limit, and this piece of legislation imposes a $5,000 annual limit. Now, on the face of that it seems like a move in the right direction, but I think we need to go out in the Province of Nova Scotia and talk to Nova Scotia citizens about whether or not they think $5,000 is excessive as a form of political contribution.

Mr. Speaker, the federal legislation that is currently making its way - I think it has passed the House of Commons but it's currently in the Senate - actually sets a limit of $1,000. There's a reason for that, there's a reason why the amount hasn't been set at a much higher level. I'd like to make reference to a very good article that was in the journal Policy Options in October of this year. When I complete my intervention here this evening, I will be very happy to table this article. I'm assuming that members of the Liberal Party might want to read this article, because it's written by a very well-known Liberal, although the honourable member for Cape Breton South doesn't seem to be too interested in knowing what's happening in terms of advice to the Liberal Party from a prominent Liberal.

Mr. Speaker, this is written by Tom Kent, and Tom Kent will be known to many members of this Legislature. He was the former senior adviser to Lester Pearson when Pearson was the Prime Minister. The members of the Liberal Party often like to portray Mr. Kent as the father of social policy in Canada, and in fact he did have significant influence in many of our social programs and continues to be way more progressive than most members of the Liberal Party today, with one or two notable exceptions who don't necessarily come from that Party. He has quite an interesting piece on campaign finance reform in this particular article.

So, Mr. Speaker, this is what Mr. Kent says and I think we should - this is something that we could take to the public for more discussion because he says that there are two distinct kinds of campaign financing and we need to distinguish between people and corporate sources of campaign financing. This is what he says, "Political parties are voluntary associations of people sharing some views about public policies." In a free society, it is unthinkable that their members and sympathizers should be barred from contributing to their expenses. The issue can only be a matter of degree.

He goes on to talk about to what extent, where should the ceilings be set, in terms of how much money you should accept. He says that personal donations may be a laundering of money from richer people or corporations if you set the limits too high. He argues for more modest limits because he says that it's a much easier system to police and oversee.

[Page 2113]

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to you that's the kind of system that members of our province, that the public in our province would have an opportunity to comment on. Absolutely, if we had the six-month period to go out into the community, we could talk to people about the various ways that you can make a system more clean, more transparent and more accessible.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot think of too many individuals who live in my constituency who would be in a position to make a $5,000 donation annually to any political Party in this province, regardless of what the tax credit might be. That ceiling seems to be excessive and that's something we really should be out in our communities consulting on.

The minister's bill, the government bill doesn't limit who can make these contributions. So political Parties, corporations, and trade unions are given the same status as citizens. Mr. Speaker, that's very problematic. If we're going to be serious about electoral campaign finance reform, then surely that's the crux of the matter. We value our democratic system. Our democratic system is based on a belief that there is equality between people on the basis of one person, one vote.

Mr. Speaker, a few elections ago I was invited to go speak with a group of young people who, frankly, could be characterized as very disaffected youth. They were primarily people who were eligible to vote and had been eligible to vote in a previous election and they hadn't and they didn't intend to, in the one that I went to speak with them.

[6:30 p.m.]

I said to these young people, why on earth, on the one day when you're as equal as any other person in our province, regardless of your race, regardless of how much money you have in your bank account, regardless of your level of educational attainment - for this one day, you're equal in front of the law in our province in terms of your right to go and make your voice heard. Why would you give that up?

Mr. Speaker, many of the young people in the room looked at me and they hadn't really thought of that. It hadn't really occurred to them that that is the basis of our system, that no matter how rich you are, no matter how well educated, formally, you may have been, no matter what opportunities you may have had in life by virtue of your gender, your race, your social class, in a democracy for that one moment there actually is some equality, but many, many people give that up. They give that one moment up. They don't exercise their franchise and they have become very disillusioned with the system.

Mr. Speaker, we have an opportunity, we have a unique opportunity with this bill, with a government that has some political will to actually do something about the

[Page 2114]

democratic deficit in this province, but it has to be done right. It has to be done right and I can assure you that in my constituency on that day with those young people in the room with whom I spoke, if I went and told them that the democratic deficit has been addressed because we've set a $5,000 limit on campaign financing in the Province of Nova Scotia, they would look at me like I was sort of a lunatic because it's meaningless to the vast majority of people in this province. There are very few people in this province who have that kind of disposable income that they can hand it over to a political Party during an election or between electoral years.

So, Mr. Speaker, we have an opportunity here to really address democratic problems in the province, but we need to do them properly and the way to go about that is to have a process that really is consultative, that goes out and that uses all of the tools that are available to us in terms of having this conversation with the public. I really don't think that 52 men and women have the right - were sent to this place on a Thursday afternoon to have a piece of legislation of this importance be placed in front of us and with the objective of the government that they will have it passed within five or six days and that's the end of the story, how does that contribute to the problem that the Minister of Finance spoke to when he introduced this bill? How will that address the fundamental cynicism that people have with respect to the political process? It won't address the cynicism. Indeed, the only thing it will do is contribute to the cynicism. It will absolutely contribute to the cynicism.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there are a number of other issues that we could be consulting with the public on with respect to this bill. This bill sets limits of $5,000. It allows corporations and trade unions to continue to make contributions to political Parties even though they're not citizens and even though they don't have a right to participate in the one person, one vote democracy on which our democracy is based. This bill would allow children to donate to political Parties. There's nothing in this bill that says you have to be a voter.

I think, given what we have seen with the debacle around one of the federal leadership candidates and the funnelling of money - listen to what Tom Kent, again, says. Tom Kent talks in this article about controls and about how pretty much every system you develop, pretty much a lot of the electoral form systems that have been developed have mechanisms where people will try to get around them. So, he advocates strongly that you need to really pay a lot of attention and tighten up your legislation as much as possible.

Mr. Speaker, if we had six months to do some consultation, we could bring Mr. Kent here to the province to consult with. He is a well-known person. He comes to Nova Scotia quite often. I believe he, for a time, was on the faculty at Dalhousie University, perhaps. He's somebody who has given considerable thought to campaign and corporate fundraising. Certainly, I know he's probably a very busy individual, but surely within a six-month period, he's somebody we could use as a resource to give us advice. Now,

[Page 2115]

certainly, one of the things he reflects on in this piece is that when you have legislation on campaign finance reform, you should limit the people who can make financial contributions to a political Party to the citizens who can participate in the democracy by having the franchise and who get to vote in the election.

I think, perhaps that was the minister's intent in this legislation by saying, if you're from out of the Province of Nova Scotia, you can't make a political contribution in an election. The Premier is nodding, he's saying that's their intent. So if that's the case, if it's about people who have an interest because they're citizens of the province and they get to vote in the elections, then why would we allow eight-year-olds to make contributions to political Parties? Why wouldn't we amend the legislation? This is something I think we need to go out and have a broader consultation around.

Mr. Speaker, I think it requires consultation, particularly since I think the political Parties in the province allow young people who are under voting age to be members of their Parties. So we would really, I think, have to look at what age we would allow people to make contributions, because, after all, the point is to tighten up the financing of political Parties, to tighten up the financing of campaigns, so that we actually have clean politics that are fair, that are open, that are transparent, and that restore people's faith and people's trust in the political process.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of other issues that we need to be thinking of. Certainly one of the things that I have a personal stake in as a member of this Legislature is how public campaign financing impacts constituency associations. I would like to have six months to speak with the members of the Halifax Needham NDP Constituency Association, that extraordinary team of people I work with who are quite amazing in terms of their election abilities. They need to have an opportunity to talk about this.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not joking when I talk about the importance of each and every one of us, thinking about and going back and talking to people at the constituency level. One of the strengths of the political system, historically, has been the constituency association and its grassroots characteristics.

There is some concern being expressed by political scientists and policy analysts that public campaign financing, which goes, after all, to the central bodies of political Parties, in fact may erode the grassroots potential of those democratic constituency organizations that come at the constituency level. From my experience, in a constituency like Halifax Needham, people sometimes see political Parties as being very beholden to big interests.

But, let me tell you how we raise money at the grassroots level in my constituency. When I was first elected to this place, I wasn't here more than four or five months, when Van Morrison came to town. I got up at 4:00 a.m. and I went and sat in line outside Sobeys with probably 14 or 15 16-year-old boys who were all there waiting

[Page 2116]

for the ticket counter to open because they were buying tickets for their parents and I was buying tickets for the NDP caucus and for my constituency association. We bought a pair of Van Morrison tickets and we sold tickets on them, we raffled them off, we made about $1,200 or $1,500. This has been a kind of fundraising effort that goes on . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. And, this relates to the motion, how? Please. The honourable member for Halifax Needham, to the hoist motion before the House.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, absolutely, it's important to know that if we had six months to consult with the grassroots activists in our constituency association and in our communities, one of the things we would be asking people is for their point of view on the public funding of political Parties under Bill No. 117 and how they see that impacting on their local grassroots activism.

That's the point that I was trying to make. Perhaps in quite a roundabout way, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption) Yes, in an absolute good way, Mr. Speaker. The Van Morrison concert was outstanding. I'm sure you'd like to know that, as was the Rolling Stones and a number of other concerts we've sold tickets on.

This is certainly something we need to consult more broadly with the people of Nova Scotia, and the people who work really hard to make the electoral process work. They may not be a large group of people, but they are very important. We owe them all, I think, a debt of gratitude because they haven't given up on the political process and they have some hope that things can change.

This bill doesn't speak to another issue that has come into focus relatively recently and it's an issue we would all share some interest in knowing more from our public around and that's how convention fees - we all have annual conventions. Will they be considered political contributions? If we had an opportunity to consult, then this would be part of the questions that we would ask. How will fundraising dinners be treated? This is something that needs to be discussed and certainly if we had a six-month period we would have an opportunity to go and talk with members of the public. I imagine that there are probably more than a few people in the corporate community and in other communities who would be quite excited about the potential to not have those fundraising dinners anymore, Mr. Speaker, but we will never know. We will never know how people feel if this piece of legislation is rammed through this Legislature without the proper kind of consultation and study and consideration and public debate that such an important piece of legislation warrants. I think that is why we need to send a clear message to the government that we are prepared to work with them to see a much more open and transparent process, but there are certainly many aspects of this legislation that require more discussion and more thought.

[6:45 p.m.]

[Page 2117]

Now, Mr. Speaker, I haven't talked at all yet about the problems that Bill No. 117 represents, not only to myself and to members of our caucus but for the people in the Province of Nova Scotia with respect to political Party trust funds. If there was ever a matter for public consultation and study, I would suggest to you that certainly is it.

Mr. Speaker, once again this is also an issue that Mr. Kent has made reference to. This is an excellent piece, this is clearly an individual who has been closely associated with the Liberal Party, who has really given a great deal of consideration to the problems that are associated. I would very much like an opportunity to talk to Mr. Kent and to have other people hear from him with respect to his views and his expert opinion, if I do say so, on this matter.

Mr. Speaker, these are the kinds of things that Mr. Kent might say to us, to the member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville if he had an opportunity to talk to Mr. Kent. He might say that making it harder to cheat is not enough. Effective policing also requires penalties. Effective policing also requires appropriate penalties when cheating is nevertheless attempted.

I find this quite interesting, given the history of the Liberal trust funds in the Province of Nova Scotia. Mr. Kent says, prison sentences are not to be taken seriously. They are not appropriate and the courts will rarely impose them, but the alternative fines now provided by the legislation are too small to be an effective deterrent to attempts at major evasions. Essentially, what Mr. Kent is saying is, you need to give legislation teeth but you can't be unrealistic about what you're going to expect the courts to impose because the courts will not imprison people. We certainly saw that, didn't we, Mr. Speaker, in the past. The courts are reluctant to go that far.

However, what he is suggesting is that there should be really very, very strong fines. The other thing he recommends, which I think is really very interesting, is the role of the Election Commission in policing or enforcing any changes.

Mr. Speaker, given that this government didn't have the courtesy of even consulting with the Nova Scotia Electoral Reform Commission with respect to Bill No. 117, I think it was not unrealistic whatsoever for members of this Legislature to ask for a period of six months to have a process where the electoral commission has an opportunity to comment on Bill No. 117.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Kent talks about effective enforcement of electoral reform and using the electoral commission to do this. He says that electoral commissions need to have sufficient staff to have independent probes. They need to have sufficient power to impose fines on not only the donor but also on the recipient and he suggests that fines be five times the offending amount. Now, I'm not sure, if you look at the sponsorship scandal and what occurred there, those would be hefty fines, for example, on the federal Party of Canada, wouldn't they?

[Page 2118]

So, Mr. Speaker, there are many elements of electoral campaign reform. Electoral campaign financing reform is not a one-off kind of exercise that you can do easily, you can do without study, without thought, without debate, without public consultation, without consultation of all of the Parties that are on the floor of this Legislature and that are identified in this province. There are Parties in this province that aren't in this Legislature. We have a Green Party in this province and it seems curious to me that the government would put in place a process of electoral campaign reform without consulting with the other political Parties, including the Green Party in this province whom I think would have a very interesting message for the government. As a fresh Party that is not as established or entrenched in some of the old practices, I'm sure they would bring forward some very interesting thoughts on how we might improve electoral campaign reform.

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that if we had a period of six months to reflect on the legislation, to hear from the public, to really think through the implications of this legislation, we would certainly be much better off.

Mr. Speaker, certainly in the constituency I represent and in the Party that I am a member of, my views about corporate financing to political Parties are well known. It's not that I think there's anything wrong with corporations or the corporate sector, quite the contrary. Corporations, businesses, the corporate sector, have a role to play in our province and in our society. But, they have no role to play, in my opinion, in the democratic process and they certainly have no role to play with respect to being given equal stature as a citizen or a voter.

Mr. Speaker, the problem I have with Bill No. 117 is, in fact, it is the corporate sector that continues to have the more advantageous position in this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, it is no longer acceptable to many, many people in our province to continue to allow corporate entities, and, yes, it is not acceptable for other organizations, as well, that are not voters, to have an ability to influence the political process. I think if we took the time, and six months is not an inappropriate period of time, if you consider that today is close to the end of November, and Christmas and New Year's will be in there, if we took time . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much chatter in the Chamber. The honourable member for Halifax Needham has the floor.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. If we took time to reflect more thoughtfully on Bill No. 117, and if we consulted with people like Mr. Kent, for example, who has studied campaign financing for many, many years, is a very senior - not a former politician but pretty close - an elder statesman, and elder in the political process in our country, I think we would benefit greatly from the kinds of advice that we would get.

[Page 2119]

Mr. Speaker, the final issue I would like to turn my attention to is an issue with respect to being a woman in politics. It is not something that I stand in my place and speak about very often because, on some level, I think that we're here, and I'm here among equals. I know that many women are intimidated about the very idea of running for political office and how will they raise the kinds of funds that are required to be competitive. It is not about not being able to raise money for women, it is about not being able to raise money and be competitive when, in fact, you are in a situation where you are very often running against candidates who are men. We know that the vast majority of men have greater earning power than women, they are maybe connected to professions and political groups that have higher earnings, and their networks tend to be a little different.

Mr. Speaker, I hear this over and over again. I'm frequently invited to speak to groups of young women who are in political science at Mount Saint Vincent University, where, in fact, I'll be speaking tomorrow evening. It's a paid announcement. I think we really need to take the time to reflect on this bill in terms of what does it do to level the playing field between men and women, and other groups, as well, who would dearly love to become involved in the political process as candidates and to run and represent their constituents and their province but feel incredibly intimidated by this idea that they're just not going to be able to be competitive in terms of raising money.

[7:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, if we took six months to go out and meet with women's organizations, and other organizations, as well, disability rights groups - I mean, sometimes you look at the composition of our Legislature and it doesn't really reflect the composition of our province all that well. We're under represented when it comes to indigenous, Black, Mi'kmaq, people with disabilities, or women. Money does play a role in who offers for election and how confident people feel they're going to be able to marshal the resources to mount a competitive campaign.

Bill No. 117 doesn't address this, but it could if we took the time to really reflect on meaningful campaign financing reform that would put in place a system that is much more fair and it is a system that eliminates some of the inequity that the current system clearly - all you have to do is look around the composition of the House of Assembly - clearly there is structural inequity in the current system and Bill No. 117 doesn't really address that. But, it could and it could if we provided that sober thought that we would get over a period of six more months to have an opportunity to consider this fairly important point.

There are many things that I've had an opportunity to address here. The other thing I think we need to be very cognizant of is the fact that we do have rather significant campaign election reform occurring on the federal level. The process isn't complete yet, as you know Mr. Speaker, the process began under the leadership of Prime Minister

[Page 2120]

Chrétien. Mr. Kent, in his article, indicates that basically Mr. Chrétien - he calls it a deathbed kind of repentance - that he saw there was a real need for electoral campaign reform at the federal level, partly because of the sponsorship scandal, perhaps. But more importantly, Mr. Kent talks about the fact that Paul Martin had been able to raise $12 million toward his leadership campaign. which pretty much shut out the capacity for anybody else in the Liberal Party who might be thinking about a run at the federal leadership from being competitive.

Again, it's the role that corporate money has played, especially corporate money in the Liberal Party. I think that has been so problematic. Mr. Kent makes a strong argument, a strong case, for why that is. I had to chuckle when I read this piece. He talks about the then president of the federal Liberal Party declaring the idea of limiting corporate and union contributions to the federal Parties as being dumb as a bag of hammers.

I understand that now that Mr. Harper has even tightened further those contributions under the Conservative Accountability Act. Liberal Senators in the Canadian Senate, that great paragon of democracy with all of those appointees who have not had to run and face the electorate, are now fighting to prevent the Accountability Act from actually passing, which would be a great shame.

I think what we really need to do, with all due respect Mr. Speaker, is allow that process at the federal level to play itself out and see what lessons we can learn for our own electoral reform here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would think it will be at least six months, or it will probably be within the six-month period before that process is complete. That would give us an opportunity to really, perhaps, harmonize the legislation here in Nova Scotia with the federal legislation. It certainly would make things a lot easier for members of political Parties and for the public at large, because it can be very confusing for people when you have different sets of rules at different levels of government. I think that it wouldn't be unreasonable to hoist Bill No. 117 for a period of time to allow for the Federal Accountability Act to either pass or perhaps never see the light of day, depending on whether or not there's a Spring election and whether or not the current government survives a Spring budget vote.

Mr. Speaker, I think - and I said this at the outset when I stood up - that many people in our province care deeply about the political process, but many people have turned themselves off completely about the political process. They've turned themselves off around the political process because they think that it is now a process that is dominated by particular interest groups, and they feel they have no hope of having any impact or any influence on the political process, and they don't see it working for them.

[Page 2121]

Mr. Speaker, we have, I think, been given a unique opportunity by the government, when they tabled Bill No. 117. We've been given a signal by the government that they are interested in doing something about the democratic deficit in this province. What they, unfortunately, didn't do is they didn't consult with anybody else in this Legislature in terms of their views or their ideas around what democratic reform might look like.

Mr. Speaker, with all sincerity, the members of this caucus and myself as the member representing Halifax Needham would very much love to participate in a broader discussion around addressing the democratic deficit in the province. Campaign election financing is a small piece of that, well, maybe not even a small piece of it, it's a fairly fundamental piece of that. It's not all there is to do with respect to addressing the democratic deficit, but it's certainly part of it. It's a really important part of it.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know when the last time was that this legislation was changed. I would suggest to you that it has been some years since this legislation was changed. It may be quite a long time in the future before it will be changed again. So, we will have to live with this legislation for a very long time if we don't get it right. The public in our province will have to live with this legislation for a very long time if we don't get it right.

Mr. Speaker, we have an opportunity here to really address the public cynicism around how political Parties are funded and how election campaigns are financed. A period of six months to consult on these matters is not unreasonable.

One of the things that I didn't talk about at all, Mr. Speaker, and I know my hour is about to expire, but Bill No. 117 deals only with raising money. It is absolutely silent on spending money. This is another thing that Mr. Kent talks about. It is something that he says, and we all know, is equally as important. It is what are those parameters, what are the rules, the restrictions, the regulations, the requirements around how that money that gets raised is spent? This bill is silent on that. So we could be embarking on a significant process in the Province of Nova Scotia in the next six months where we go out and we do some serious study, reflection and consultation on election campaign reform that looks not only at how money is raised by political Parties but also how it is spent. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I've got the dubious task, as usual, of following the member here and it is usually fairly difficult but I'll do my best. This six months' hoist is very important. On Bill No. 117, when the minister brought it forward, he threw down the gauntlet, quite earnestly, and said, look, we need this, we need this before December 31st of this year. He did this without consultation with anybody but told

[Page 2122]

us the urgency of why we need this bill. Our reaction obviously then is to stay and debate.

I think most of us around this room are fairly wise consumers and if you walked in to buy a new car tomorrow and the car was there and the salesperson said, this is the price, You wouldn't say, one second, where do I sign? We want to make sure that the car is in good working order, we may want to take it out for a test drive, we may decide we want to look at the tires, we want to look at all those things and it would take a considerable amount of time. It may not take six months, Mr. Speaker, but we would want to do some real looking into this.

The minister, in introducing his bill today, challenged us; he threw down the gauntlet and said we need this bill, without really consulting our House Leader or consulting our caucus in a substantive way. So it leaves us in this position to ask for this six months' hoist so we can stay and debate the merits of this bill, whether this bill is really a go-forward bill as it relates to election financing and electoral reform. These are issues that are fundamental to democracy, that everybody is allowed to participate equally. So if we don't have a good grasp on that, a grasp that is open and transparent, then we have a problem. So the six months' hoist is one that would give us this.

Now you know some would say that six months is a long time. Well, last week in this House the member for Halifax Needham asked the Minister of Environment and Labour why the WCB is taking a year to make a decision on people with chronic pain and the minister had no problem with that, he thought that was perfectly fine. These are people who can't get out to work, who have been waiting more than a year, but he seems to be perfectly satisfied that we're coming now, we're less than 10 days to the year being up on that matter but he's all right with that, but this government doesn't think it is worthwhile enough to have six months to study this bill. It is all right to stay home in pain, with no money, but if we ask for six months to stay home and find out if this is what can fix electoral financing, that seems to be bad. There's a disconnect here. There's a real disconnect to all Nova Scotians.

[7:15 p.m.]

By moving this six months' hoist, we want a debate on this bill. This is the legislative leverage we have, and we have to use it. Now, people may disagree with it, and that's part of the process. But disagree with it or not, this is our right, and this is our duty to our constituents, to stand up here and say this is a bad bill, it's flawed, and we have to fight it. One of the fights in this bill is a six months' hoist. If we could get this hoist going, we could say that we stayed here and we debated it, and we found out the merits of the bill. It just seems to be out of nowhere that the minister started to talk about the all-Party committee on this. Well, that wasn't in the original Bill No. 117. If he's talking now about some kind of tweaking, well, we should then have six months to

[Page 2123]

figure that out, but let's stay here and debate it. To merely say you have until December 31st or you're wrong, then that doesn't work.

We're saying we need a good six months, Mr. Speaker. That will make things much more transparent, much more clear to the people of this province. There are many things in this bill that I think the vast majority agree on, but it's a matter of when someone drops a hammer down and says, okay - the proverbial, I go back to the car sales thing, you buy that by closing time today or the deal is off the table. Well, this is what the Justice Minister and the Government House Leader are saying, you either buy that car off the showroom floor today or the deal is out and we're not going to do anything. Well, that's not the proper way to do these things, especially in a minority House, when we have six months to decide what we're going to do in this minority House, when people will be considered - if the Party with the second amount of seats in this House weren't consulted, how many other Nova Scotians weren't consulted on this bill?

We need a hoist, Mr. Speaker, in the worst way on this bill. Electoral reform has been long overdue, particularly as it relates to financial reform in this province. Many times they will look at our Party and say, well, you get money from big unions and we talk about corporate donations, and my Leader said in his speech today, take it all down to zero. The fact around people who call them 'big unions', well, the big unions are at least covered by a form of democracy, where if they thought they were giving too much money to one Party over another, they can always kick them out. Well, corporations don't have that same leverage. We will, in earnest, say, look, zero. Zero for everybody. That makes it fair. We'll take that step and say, look, it's zero for everybody.

What's the purpose of having someone being able to get out in front of anybody else on this, Mr. Speaker? When we look at campaign contributions from outside of Nova Scotia, which on its face may be a good idea, and I think there's a lot of good to it, but you need six months to study. What happens to the person who has a connection to home, who goes away just months before the election period, has their home back there, and maybe is disenfranchised. See, they're not a resident, they're not a resident. Although they're sending money home to feed their family, then they're doing all these things, but they're out, and the Premier is saying they're a resident. Well, these things need to be explained to people. They're a resident, he says. These are things that have to be explained to the general public, but yet they don't want that six months to do that.

The minister sees an urgency here, an urgency like no other, to get out and get this done with, and have it be done with earlier. So what's the deal about this? Because, this bill, while it's doing reform, it's much like finding a derelict somewhere and splashing shaving lotion on them, and you know what, once the shaving lotion wears off, they still have the same odour. That's the wrong with this bill. Six months.

Mr. Speaker, six months. (Interruptions) No, Mr. Speaker, this bill stinks.

[Page 2124]

MR. SPEAKER: I know the honourable member is trying to speak to the reason for the hoist in a very colourful way, but, please, in a more direct way.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, thank you, and I'll try to keep it more to the point and a whole lot less colourful.

Mr. Speaker, it will be the same bill if we do not avail ourselves of the six months to hoist it. (Interruption)

Only 50 minutes to go. The Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations tells me 50 minutes to go. Let's hope this is not like the last time we filibustered, he and I. We're still friends, though.

Mr. Speaker, I only want 50 minutes tonight, but I really need six months. It's only been six months since the election. It's been less than six months since the election. I know to a lot of us here it feels longer, but it's less than six months. If we can do that between there - yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto on an introduction.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I thank my colleague for allowing his talk to be interrupted just briefly so that I can introduce some visitors who are in the Speaker's Gallery. Mr. Speaker, members of the House, I would like to draw your attention to the presence in the Speaker's Gallery of members of the 36th Halifax Scout Troop. There are nine of them, along with two of their leaders, Mr. Howard Donohoe, well-known to members of this House, and Mr. Stan Fage, who happens to have, as I understand it, a close relative who is a member of this House. Since they're here to observe the democratic process in action, and no doubt they'll get a good deal of that this evening, I wonder if we could offer them the warm welcome of this House. (Applause)

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

MR. CORBETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Welcome to the people in the gallery tonight.

Again, I want to talk about the hoist and, in particular, when the minister talked about the necessity of the December 31st deadline. I go back to the thought this government's been in power for over seven years now in one form or another, and why has the light gone on so quickly now that they have to have this done in just a little over a month? Why is that? Why don't we want this fully debated? We have some problems

[Page 2125]

here with that idea of rushing it through. Six months would give us the ability to get out, and all Nova Scotians the ability to find out. If you're a corporation and you are involved in a democratic process in an earnest and open way, then you would want to know, what are my bounds here, what can I do, what can't I do?

This past weekend, our Party had a fundraiser, an auction. Where does this fall in the game? Maybe we need six months to study that so we can look in an honest way. Yet, the government, in seven years, really did not pay electoral financial reform any attention whatsoever, and then bam, in what someone described as the fading days of this sitting, need the bill, and need it today. Even if they had introduced this bill on day one of this sitting, we'd only maybe be looking for a five months' hoist.

Mr. Speaker, but this is what it's about. This is why we need a hoist. Why would you do this in what some would perceive, quite possibly, the last week of this sitting of the Legislature. Why? I don't think the Minister of Finance answered that question appropriately when he moved the bill today. Why, after seven years - and he's been in Cabinet for all those seven years, I'm sure that came up and around at different times - why this bill, why this day? That's a question that I think we've got to ask Nova Scotians from one end of this province to another, and give us a six-month period in which to do that. I think what we have right now on our plate is, we've got a lot of Nova Scotians getting ready for the holiday season and there are other things, they're trying to look after families and, contrary to some of us in here, they don't pay that much attention to us at this time of year.

If we gave them a full six months to look and absorb this bill and get real genuine feedback from people in Cape Breton, and people down in Yarmouth, and right across this province . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. CORBETT: Even Timberlea-Prospect. We could go out, and I'll talk more on that later as we get into what the all-Party committee would mean because again, I don't understand this - with no contemplation of this in the bill, apparently out of the blue the minister decides a select committee. It's been my understanding and the pro forma - and you've been around longer than I have, Mr. Speaker - what we do here is an all-Party committee. It's usually either the Leader-to-Leader stage, or probably more House Leader-to- House Leader stage, that they would get together and discuss that and say we can either work within that parameter or we can't and then we'll move it out from there. That's how that's usually done. It's usually not laid out on the floor without consultation with the Official Opposition, there's usually some discussion - that's my understanding. I may be wrong, but I've been involved with at least three or four all-Party committees and that's the route they took. It was getting together and deciding.

[Page 2126]

What would grow from that would be - besides having just people from the Legislature involved in an all-Party committee - what you would also have is stakeholders. As did some of my friends in the Third Party and some in the government, one of the first tasks I had to do in 1998 is we were involved with an all-Party committee on WCB. What we did - and it took us roughly about six months - we went across the province, but it's not only where we went, it's who we went with. What we did was, we had a cross- section of people from all across the sectors that sat down - there were labour people involved, there were people with injured workers, there were business people, and these people sat with us. So it wasn't just the political perspective, but it was the business perspective, the labour perspective, and the injured workers' perspective.

So something like that, if we had a six month's hoist and went out and spoke to people in and around Nova Scotia to find out what is really in there - there will be some places where you may need two meetings, some places maybe hardly anybody will show up, but the fact is it's what we have to do when we make a large movement in any direction - get the people involved. Nobody ran last June on the platform of overall electoral reform as it relates to the financing of campaigns. I don't think that was a major platform of any of the three Parties, so I don't think that it's fair to do this in such a large way and do certain things and not include the public - one can say that nobody voted on that.

So I would think a six month period to go out and do an all-Party committee and then come back with a report that will be accepted by this House - at least again debate it in this House and don't put such a short time limit as what the Minister of Finance has put on this bill. This is what's necessary to do, because I think if you went out in six months' time during this hoist and asked Nova Scotians, should there be electoral reform as it relates to financing, they would say yes - most would say yes and give their opinion of what's there.

[7:30 p.m.]

We could find out, is $5,000 the correct amount? Where did we pull that number from? I mean the Minister of Finance - when he does the budgets for this province, he just doesn't go and grab a number and say, oh, here's what I'm going to give this department, here's what I'm going to give that department. It has to be done in a meaningful way and that's why we have debates in this House and the purpose is to find out if that's an appropriate amount.

Well, I would suggest to you one of the purposes of my debate tonight, Mr. Speaker, is that I don't think $5,000 is an appropriate amount and six months could tell us this. On a personal level, I know back in my constituency, about this time last year there was a resolve of the Devco pension issue. Now, what happened with that, that was the distribution of excess funds that it was decided were owned by the contributors who were the workers. Of that, many of the workers are deceased and let their widows collect

[Page 2127]

that money. Now, if you'll just indulge me for a minute, I am going to make a point here about this.

Mr. Speaker, what has happened here - it's a very serious point as it relates to the six months - is that these people collected the money and got it and then when they applied for their Guaranteed Income Supplement this year, many got $4,000 or $5,000 and it just put them over. Now, these are a lot of widows who have been disenfranchised from the GIS. The federal government says, no, no, no, here's the high-water mark. You either meet it and get it and if you go over it, you don't get it. So these were people - had they had six months to consider their economic actions here, they may have said, look, the money isn't worth it to me because I'm going to lose more than I'm going to get in this pension refund. That was something, but not only six months here, these people have been disenfranchised for a full year. People on the lower strata. People making $14,000 and $15,000, and they just lost out because of a one-time lump sum payment that the worker should have been getting anyway. Yet, because of a stroke of a pen, these widows have been disenfranchised for that money. That's what six months would have done for them, and now they're out for a year.

So, Mr. Speaker, I don't think six months to consider the consequences of this bill is a heck of a lot to ask because the minister is saying the only opportunity, this opportunity falls off the table on December 31st. It's like the big apple dropped by Dick Clark in Times Square in New York on New Year's Eve. When that falls, that's it; the year is over, the deal is off the table. I mean you can't do that with something that's going to mean as much as this bill will mean as to how elections are run in the future in this province. To give, basically, what is it, about 51 days for Nova Scotians to decide this is the future of political contributions in this province.

I say we need at least six months, a six months' hoist, Mr. Speaker, because we don't know whether we're ever going to revisit this again. So we need this six months but, you know, the all-Party committee would go a long way and I think that is one of the good things I heard from the Finance Minister today, but I would like to have seen that more in its fullness than just as an aside to this announcement.

Our friends in the Third Party, we know about the trust funds. Mr. Speaker, why are we trying to legitimize them? I don't know. I don't understand it. If the government members would stand up and tell me why they think this is an appropriate use of those funds - you know, it's a group of funds that were collected and we know that there were people taken to the courts of this province. They were charged and found guilty. A third one was let go in the Court of Appeals in Canada on a technicality. What more do we need? You know, we punish people - people who don't put in that they worked a shift on EI get a harder time financially than what happened to those guys, but yet we want to legitimize those funds. That's what we're doing, make no mistake about it, that's what we're doing. We're saying once and for all, although there were two people found guilty for collecting that money, we're saying that money is okay.

[Page 2128]

This is the only part of this bill that talks about how we spend money. They put a restraint on spending it but it doesn't put any more constraints on it at all, Mr. Speaker, and we need six months to study that. We don't even know the exact amount in there. So what we need is to find out the amount.

I would like to find out from government, through this debate, or I would like those in quicker than six months, why would you have attached that rider, if you will, to that bill? Why is it important to speak of that and say, we're going to legitimize that money? That befuddles me, Mr. Speaker, because it doesn't work - in fairness, it just doesn't work. We punish single moms in this province who go out and babysit while they are on community services and if they happen to make a few bucks, they're punished by that. (Interruptions) Oh no, I hear the Minister of Community Services, but I'll tell you that they are, Minister. (Interruption) Well, I'm going to tell you, you should come to some of my appeals then. I'll send you some of the documents and some of the appeals. The fact is that they are, that if they make a few bucks over and they are . . .

Yet we can talk in multi-millions of dollars and that's okay. So that's a real problem, Mr. Speaker. So we've got to come up and say, you know the trust funds just aren't the way to cleanliness in this province if we're going to allow them to be a legitimate source of funding a Party, whether that funding is in the middle of an election or between elections, it's just not right.

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that this is not something that's in the far distant past, that we read about in history books or even people will say, look, something of this happened, and some people maybe have said this happened before I was born. You know, this line of kind of back door, money problems with the Liberal Party is front and centre, as it is with the Gomery, that was just finished, it is something that is on the minds of people. It is people in Ottawa who are saying, look, this is not right.

A former minister in the Chretien Cabinet, Mr. Dingwall, who I have known for years, and Mr. Dingwall who I honestly believe, Mr. Speaker, was working on behalf of his constituents, who was in Ottawa working as hard as he could to bring what he could to his constituency - and it is no easy thing to do - he stood in front of a lot of his constituents and said, I have no bag of money.

Now some would say that was the undoing of a very popular - but do you know what? At that same time that bag of money was being exchanged in restaurants in Quebec. That's what's the problem. That's what brings it home here. Here is a minister who I think was working the best he could. I disagree with a lot of things politically with him but I think he had the best interests of his constituents but was told that no, no, we have no money, but yet there was money being funnelled elsewhere, behind his back.

So, Mr. Speaker, this idea of tainted money around politicians, if you think it is something for the history books, well, it is not. We haven't seen the complete rollout of

[Page 2129]

Gomery; the Accountability Bill is there, it is going forward but where is the Accountability Bill? Where is it being stopped? It is being stopped in the unelected Senate of this country.

The Tory cousins here in Nova Scotia see the dichotomy of what they're doing. The same ones who are preventing reform happening federally, they want to do a favour for you here in Nova Scotia and I don't know what is to be politically gained from that, if there is anything. That is what I would like to have answered and six months may do that, Mr. Speaker. If we had six months to decide what is going on, what is really happening in politics here when it comes to money because you know everybody when they see contributions coming by, most people don't differentiate, don't go to the other side of the ledger down the side or look at the up and down of it. They just see the amount, and say this is too much. That's whether it's the largest bank in this country or the largest union in this country.

I think people have become so distrustful of us, saying (Interruptions) It doesn't matter, you're not there for my interest, you're there for the interest of the one with the big bankroll. My Leader said, no, no, what we're going to do is zero. Zero. Ordinary, everyday Nova Scotians - working women and men - will contribute to election campaigns with the provisions that are put in this bill. That's what we're saying. Six months would allow us to go out and talk to Nova Scotians, because they don't want their politicians beholden to anybody but them. That's the way it should be.

I'm not saying that we are, I'm saying most people - everybody, all 52 members in this House come here with one thing in common and that is to represent the people who put them here. But what we have to do is get rid of the air of cynicism. A six-month hoist, Mr. Speaker, would help a long way in getting rid of some of that cynicism. We could go around this province and find out. Let's hear straight up from them what they think about their politicians, what they think about who gives them what. It's a bit of political hay for a couple of days when all the donations come out and the book comes out and everyone looks through it and finds out who gave what to whom and going off like that. Then it's done away with by the media. A couple of people who are really involved in the process and want to know how it works, they look at it.

By and large, kind of the coffee shop type of talk that comes when that story breaks is, yes, well, one guy says, a big union is throwing too much money in, big banks are throwing in, big corporations. So there's that kind of precept around it that says we have a problem here, and that problem should be zero donations. Then we could clean the slate. We know where it's coming from.

Some people - there is a debate on the other side - ask should there be public funding of elections, and that's a whole other debate that would probably take more than six months. So I'm not going to go down that road today. Mr. Speaker, nonetheless, we need that type of talk, we cannot put a 52-day limit, 51, there are more members here

[Page 2130]

than there are days left in this year to decide on this bill. We need at least six months, and the hoist would work well.

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, that is part of what we're doing here today. As a government runs the agenda, we also have certain tools in our toolbox to fight this bill. This is one of ours. We have to argue the rightness of the bill, which we do, but, conversely, we have to argue what I would call the wrongness of this bill, because it's not transparent enough. We have to make sure that there's not a large chunk, millions of dollars, out there that allows one Party a hand over another, and why $5,000?

It's like starting a100-yard dash and allowing one runner to start from the 20-yard mark - it just doesn't make sense. Everybody should start from the starting line. We shouldn't allow one Party to go further down out of the starting blocks. Again, I just can't say it enough - it's not even a matter of saying that these monies were won in a lottery or someone gave it to them, we all know where they came from. They came from Nova Scotians really, because what it was was the tailgating, and then what they did after that. I'm sure the tailgating - after that, at the end of it, Nova Scotians themselves paid that by the extra price on the shelf.

[7:45 p.m.]

We've all paid for that. We're asking to be fools with our own money, and it's not fair. This stuff has to be straightened out. That money cannot be allowed in that pot for any political purposes, whether it's during election time or between elections. That money has to be cleansed out of Nova Scotia. It has to be gone. Whether we give it to a charity, we put it into paying down our debt, we have to get rid of it. Every right-thinking Nova Scotian thinks that way, Mr. Speaker. We don't want it, and we don't need it. We would have six months to let Nova Scotians decide who are the best ones to tell us this. The transparency, as I said earlier, is not there.

The other side of this bill, and again we're being told of the urgency of this bill yet the Election Reform Commission is not within a hundred miles, so to speak, of this bill. They weren't asked for their input - we all believe in the role of the Election Reform Commission, we understand what they do, all three Parties have people on that commission and I think we all have darn good people on it. These are people that if they had this bill for six months could probably give us some very good insight on this. That would be a welcome addition to this bill, Mr. Speaker, allow them to go out and look at this bill and tell us this is what's good and what's not so good in this bill. Yet this government chose to do an end run on these folks, they went out and said no, you are of no value on this. We're not going to consult with you, we don't need your input, we don't need your valued input.

You know we all got the stuff last week and we got some stuff from the chief returning officer and her position on election reforms and so on, some very valuable

[Page 2131]

issues and issues that should be discussed in this House, and some of them will be no doubt. To say that this august group was just pushed aside, one has to wonder why. Why was that group pushed aside, then this House told that you have until December 31st, 2006 to decide what's in here? So we need this six months, we need this six months so we can vet it through a group like that. They could come back, I'm sure, and tell us the rightness and the wrongness of some positions around this bill, and that's what's needed.

One of the thoughts around - some people said earlier that it's about participation in our democracy and we talk about participation as it pertains to actual voting has declined and what we can do to make it easier for people to vote. I remember not this election but 2003, I remember we had trouble getting one gentleman registered to vote on election day. It became really onerous on the workers, so finally at the end of it they called the Clerk here who basically said, his sage wisdom to them, it's about getting people to vote not to vote. It wasn't about putting up bars, it was about taking them down and it was a wise decision and we got that person to vote that day. That's what that's about, that's what this should be about, it's about inclusion, it's not about excluding people, but yet what we want to do is set this arbitrary $5,000 limit so I don't understand that.

What we do need is that we want to tell those people who probably aren't voting today and reach them - it may take us a six-month hoist to reach them - and saying no, this system is working, that democracy works here and it's transparent.

Just a couple of weeks ago, out in front of this House we had a rally for our women and men overseas and in the services. What was the theme speaker after speaker? It was that so these people especially in Afghanistan can embrace democracy, that's why we stood there. Every member of this House stood out there and supported them - the ability for people to embrace democracy and that's all we're asking for today around Bill No. 117 - a six-month hoist so people in our province can participate in democracy - in the Joe Howe style of democracy. This's what we need. (Interruption) You're a wise speaker. You know this is the type that we need and the ability to go out and speak to Nova Scotians.

Joe Howe would want us to participate, that's what we need here. We need every Nova Scotian. We don't need artificial deadlines with artificial monies announced. We need real participation by real Nova Scotians with real financial goals to meet, not some arbitrary $5,000.

It would be interesting to go through the exercise of the last 10 years and go line by line with the Parties and find out what the amount was and what it would mean to certain Parties if they were to lose that $5,000 line item in non-election years. That, I think, may go toward part of the root of the problem. If we could do that, we would probably be able to be more, kind of finite, and say, this is the reason for this.

[Page 2132]

But I'm afraid, when someone puts this $5,000 ante on the table and says you have 50 days to make up your mind, I get kind of worried. I have to say, what's in it for Nova Scotians? Did you ask the input of the merchants on Plummer Avenue in New Waterford? Did you say, what about this, do you think this is a good idea? I would suggest not, but if we had a six-month hoist, I could go and I could ask them and people that could be seen to be less biased than me could go ask them. We could poke and shine some light in some dark corners maybe in six months, to find out where this rationale of $5,000 comes from.

That would be fine, I think. I don't know how democracy would become unhinged if we waited six months to have this bill passed. How does this affect democracy? Not once did the Minister of Finance, except when he said that he had to have it by December 31st or that was it - he didn't go on to explain that position. Anybody else in the Chamber, if they heard him maybe they'll stand up after me and explain that to me, but I'm quite sure he did not. He just said, look, we have to have this bill and we have to have it now.

As I said earlier, that would scare me. I would not come in and buy something, give you this item to buy, you have to buy it now, you have to buy it as is, there's no negotiation. Well, this is too valuable a piece of legislation to put those kinds of artificial designs on it.

We debated earlier some other legislation, that was the interlock and so on and we talked about pieces of legislation that the government chose for years - I believe it was the Third Party that talked about this quite a bit - that they didn't bother to proclaim. It just sat on the books not proclaimed. But for some reason this has to be done in 51 days. What's the rush? Explain the $5,000. Make it transparent. Let the people in this province know what's going on. If not, if you don't have true transparency, you will have people becoming more and more skeptical and you won't have people getting involved in the process, you'll be getting people taken away from the process.

It has been six months since this government announced a sewage treatment plant for Dominion. That's not completed yet. It's all right for the people in Dominion to wait over six months for a sewage treatment plant, but this government can't allow Nova Scotians to wait six months to see what's going on with their electoral financing reform. Tell me the difference. Tell me. I would say it's more urgent in that time that people would have a clean beach to swim on and proper treatment of sewage. Yet, this government wants us to make a snap decision on this in 51 days, not a six-month hoist like we would ask for. They want it done and ready to go. They want this done. If government had their way, not only would it be proclaimed, but this would all be done by probably - I'm taking a wild guess - Thursday evening of this week. That's what government would want us to do.

[Page 2133]

You know, Mr. Speaker, I don't think our Party is going to sign that cheque for this government. We want this hoist and we're trying to get maybe some people on the government side and some people in the Third Party to see where we're coming from on this. Nova Scotians want this. It is to cleanse the system. We don't need to build up any more cynicism, we're overflowing with that and that's what we need but yet we need this. We have a government that wants to get out of this House this week and at the peril of what it may mean for the future of Nova Scotians. We have to really think this one through, and a six-month hoist would be the perfect opportunity.

You know we've had many - I talked earlier about all-Party committees. We've had all-Party committees on fire safety, we had all-Party committees on various items, on electoral boundaries. The member for Glace Bay wants me to say Sysco so I'll say Sysco but I was never on that one. Anyway, I digress, Mr. Speaker - as much as I love to banter with the member for Glace Bay and as much as I respect his view and his intelligence, I have to get through this. I guess he's going to tell us later.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, we had an all-Party committee on electoral boundaries and then I sat on that and then we moved it off to a non-political body after that but nonetheless, we did it and we went out and found out the voters' input about the boundary lines and so on. But yet this government doesn't see how you finance that, the next step, to be this important, that we could go out to all Nova Scotians and say look, this is a problem, how do you find election financing is good?

Don't get me wrong, Mr. Speaker, it's not something that people when they get their feet on the floor and before they get their first cup of coffee or tea in the morning, the first thing that comes to mind is, I wonder how they're paying for those elections? I realize that, but the fact is that it's something, when it's all said and done, when it's about spending their tax dollars, it's about allowing us to have access to that, that's part of when we come here that we swear, I guess, to uphold a lot of principles and one is that all of us are responsible for spending our tax dollars wisely and that means from the government perspective of doing up the budget and I guess from the Opposition's perspective, to keep them on the straight line on that.

But you know, that's not always the case. The case from time to time is that we disagree vehemently with the direction the government takes, and this six-month hoist is one of the tools that we have available to us to slow down this kind of runaway freight train. We don't think - we agree that financial reform, as it relates to elections, is a good thing. We believe that this should be a go-forward proposition. We do not agree with using tainted money in that system, we do not agree with setting artificial limits of $5,000 that nobody can comprehend of why you come up with that.

I said to you earlier, Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Finance went and put the finances of this province and said, here's a number and nobody was allowed to ask him, that would be a problem. So all we wanted to know is, why $5,000 and Nova Scotians -

[Page 2134]

we may go around to Nova Scotians and say I'm fine with that, that doesn't bother my sensibility.

[8:00 p.m.]

But you know, I have to go back and talk to the widows in New Waterford and Reserve and Dominion and Gardiner Mines and Scotchtown and New Victoria and say, you know, you lost out on a whole year of guaranteed income supplement because of something your spouse's employer held back. Is that right? Could you have given that money to a political Party? They would say heck no, only in stronger language, but they would say that to me because you know what? These are people that that money, you know, was used to put steps on, replace drafty doors and windows, and help put roofs on.

These are Nova Scotians who worked all their lives in one of the dirtiest, ugliest jobs that was ever thought of, and that's coal mining. Yet this is what their federal government and indeed some of the provincial programs did to these people, a few dollars over the limit and they were cut off, indiscriminately I would say. So I don't think they would find too much solace in $5,000.

I've got to ask people when they're applying for housing grants, and there's no sliding scale and they're $1 out and they get disenfranchised from that program, I would like to ask them about giving a political Party $5,000, you know, they would think the holes in my head just got bigger because that's not what it's about, Mr. Speaker. It's about fairness. It's about these same people I know who, you know, you go to their doors and they literally take a $10 bill and fold it up and put it in your hand as a contribution during an election campaign. These are the ones you remember because they're the ones that neutered democracy through this whole province for years to come. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I have misspoken and I apologize on that. I meant to say nurtured and I was picked up for that, but I think you understand the point and the fact of the matter is that these are people (Interruption) Now I made the point, I apologize. If people find that funny, that's to their shame. I made a slip and I apologize. I'm defending the hard-working women and men whom I represent. So if people find that funny, fill your boots, but I don't.

I find this is what this is about, Mr. Speaker, that's maybe the same ones, maybe that's what we should be more worried about of actual deeds instead of a slip of the tongue. That's what we're here for. I'm here, I don't know about the Minister of Energy, what he's doing here, but I know what I'm doing here. I'm here representing, like these widows who were disenfranchised, and because I made a slip of the tongue, if he thinks they're any less than that, I'm not going to apologize for that. (Applause)

[Page 2135]

Mr. Speaker, I know who sent me here and I know when the day comes, the same ones will send me packing too. So that's where it's at and I know who I represent. So this is what this debate is about. This debate is about ordinary Nova Scotians. This is about allowing people to get involved anywhere they can in a reasonable method in the electoral process. It's about these people saying $5,000, when I make $17,000, $12,000 or $14,000 a year, they're talking about $5,000. To some people that's more, it's almost a third of their income, for some it's more, but yet why that amount?

We've got to ask ourselves that, Mr. Speaker. So let's find out where the $5,000 came from. That's all we're asking. (Interruptions) I wouldn't doubt that the Minister of Finance, my good friend, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, says he probably went a lower amount and he probably did. That would be the purpose of the six months, so we could find out, and then he'll just say, look, I give up, you're right, you're absolutely right, when I think this through, $5,000 is silly and, as usual, the Leader of the New Democrat Party is right, it should be zero. That's what he'll say, it should be zero. It should be zero. (Applause)

But that's all we're asking for, Mr. Speaker, is six months to hoist this bill, to make it so that Nova Scotians, they're involved in it. Let's not pass the bill and then have an all-Party committee to look at something that - where are the checks and balances there? If the bill has been passed, then we have no way of stopping that. There's no way that - we're asking today to look at this all-Party selection and we don't know what the fundamental issues are people will have to face, but yet the government wants us to do this. So we ask the minister, I think in a very fair way - all we're asking the minister to do is to consult Nova Scotians. Do a select committee now and they'll report back within six months and we have it. I'm sure that we probably had more real concerns over what was going to happen when it came into the new millennium with clocks going crazy and all that than if we don't pass this by December 31st. The sun will come up on January 1st and Nova Scotians will come home from their New Year's Eve parties on New Year's Day and they will enjoy themselves and we will continue to go forward. So there's no real reason why December 31st has to be the be-all-end-all, there's more, six months from now will be May 20th.

I'm sure the Liberals will have a new leader by then, they can participate in it, I don't think that's fair. Do you think that's fair that we're asking a leaderless Party to accept this? I don't think that's fair to them, Mr. Speaker, I have too much respect for them. They should have a full-time elected leader to go out and six months would give them that. (Interruption) Because I'm a caring guy. (Interruption) That's right, the leadership candidates over there are possible. This is six months out and we could find a lot of things but we're not going to have a huge problem if this bill isn't proclaimed on New Year's Eve of this year. If this bill is not proclaimed, people will still go out to parties, people will still wear those silly hats, they'll blow those silly horns and I'm sure someone will even look at Dick Clark. It will happen, this too shall pass, so why are we

[Page 2136]

so worried about this? That's why we don't understand this date and that's what we want to find out from the minister.

Why is this date so important and why is $5,000 so important? Why is it you want to put an add-on here about this all-Party committee, but yet don't bother soliciting thoughts from any of the House Leaders? Why wouldn't you say, this is what we want to do? These are questions that I think if we ask Nova Scotians, they would want to know. Yet, what we're being asked to do here, everything that this bill purports that it's supposed to stand for, what the legislation that's being asked to do today, is actually against it. We're not talking about transparency, we're not talking about openness. What we're talking about is literally ramming a bill through that was brought in the very last days of this session, brought forward to be considered by people in a rush that was not given to the electoral reform commission, was not given to all three Parties in advance, but nonetheless what it was is, here do this and it's your last kick at it. I can think no more of it than the analogy of trying to make a major purchase and you're putting a deadline on it and there's no reason for you to do it.

Mr. Speaker, six months, six short months would give us and Nova Scotians plenty of time to decide what to do with this bill. I think the government wants to do the right thing and that's why we're willing to give them six months to do so. I don't think anybody over in those benches are bad people and I would think that's the right thing to do. We have two choices here in the next few days and those choices are to have us continue our hoist motion which we're more than willing and prepared to do because we don't take this position lightly, that we're willing to move this forward. The other one could be that the government could take up the challenge that has been put forward by my Leader and look at real reforms, real initiatives to move this bill forward and we can get this signed off on. Unless government decides that it earnestly wants to do those things, then we're going to be here for awhile.

It's our duty as MLAs to take this bill and to expose it to as much scrutiny as possible, because this is not, as it stands, a good bill for the people of Nova Scotia. We have money in here, we have ill-gotten, illegal money in this bill that we're trying to sanitize, and that's wrong. That is very wrong. Nova Scotians don't want to do that. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, the other thing here is we have to go to zero base. Zero for everybody, then everybody is equal. Then, and only then, will this government really know what's going on with this bill. We all have to start with the same set of rules, and Nova Scotians will like that. Nova Scotians will say, look, there, we're starting to get our belief in democracy restored. These Parties all agreed on this, that you start with zero. Until we sit down here and say, get rid of the trust funds, everybody, all three Parties start with zero, that's the only way that we will get back to Nova Scotia's good graces. That's what this government has to do, be smart and do that. (Applause)

[Page 2137]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to have an opportunity to speak. Unlike a former member of this Party, who was a former member of this House - I guess I'm still a present member of the Party - who used to rise and say, I'll give a few brief comments and then go on at length. I won't say I'll give a few brief comments, but I hope to go on at length. My colleagues have all spoken very well on this motion to set this bill aside and to examine it for six months in some fashion, and then bring it back to the House.

I think my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, stated, and others have stated as well, about poor voter turnout, and that in six months we could engage the public as to the reasons for the poor voter turnout, and just determine the level of cynicism in the public. I want to just speak to that for a second. I don't know if you're familiar with the cartoon that shows two deer and one of them has a target on the side, and the caption of the other one is, bummer of a birthmark. In this case, what I see are two deer, each with a target on the side, but one's a Liberal and one's a Progressive Conservative. For them, both these Parties - the Third Party and the government Party - are going to have to wear this bill.

All the more reason, in their best interests, to allow for a six months' hoist of this legislation to go out, to listen to the public. It should be obvious that if, in particular, this issue around allowing the Liberal Party to make use of the trust funds - something that has been spoken about in this House of Assembly before - then for the Progressive Conservative Government to allow this in a piece of legislation, in other words to endorse the actions of the Liberal Party in this regard, certainly shows both Parties have a target placed on them. The public is not going to forget that.

The question about cynicism and whether a six months' hoist could actually address the cynicism of the public, well, I think we would have to maybe go down memory lane - well, the member for Cape Breton South is saying, what cynicism? (Interruptions)

[8:15 p.m.]

Yes, we are, actually. We are concerned about the cynicism of the public. I think all politicians should be concerned about it. Why wouldn't politicians be concerned about the cynicism of the public? I'll take you for a walk down memory lane, Mr. Speaker, and let's just look at how the public has been dealt with by successive governments in this province. Well, certainly the previous Liberal governments wouldn't deal with the trust fund issue and the public has been aware of that. So when in 1991 the John Hamm Government came in some of the first things that that government did was to attack charities and the disabled, paramedics and Bill No. 68, which was regarding the nurses. If the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection was listening to me as I

[Page 2138]

introduced my discussion here, he would know why I am going down this road with regard to the hoist.

So, Mr. Speaker, in 1999 we had a new ProgressiveConservative Government. In 2003 that government came back with a minority, and even lost a couple of ministers - certainly one around the Digby quarry issue, which the government was unwilling to listen to. So we talk about cynicism of the public. The question of whether or not a six months' hoist of this piece of legislation that is supposed to reaffirm or confirm or somehow have the public engaged in a discussion about electoral reform - then we would have to know whether or not they think there is any purpose in that. Now in this piece of legislation they have to have a buy-in.

This government, in its forethought or insight, for whatever reason, didn't believe that sending this to the Election Commission was worth doing. I think this adds to the cynicism of the public because I think the public generally believes that the wheels of government move slowly. I think they believe that in order to get anything done that it takes a long, long time. Yet when the government wants to bring in legislation, when the government wants to pass that legislation, something they want to do, Mr. Speaker, they can do that very quickly. This bill and Bill No. 68 are examples of what the government has tried to do very quickly. It didn't take them any time to draft this, to present it to the House with the hopes of getting it through the House.

So, Mr. Speaker, if we're going to have a buy-in from the public on this bill, then all the more reason to take this to the public and find out what they are thinking in this regard. I think that would be a worthy approach on behalf of this House, not just on behalf of the government, I think on behalf of all members of this House. Would the public have any real reason to be cynical of this government? Before the Public Accounts Committee the other week was the head of Conserve Nova Scotia and all of the questions around that, and I think the public certainly would have questions around the appointment of Heather Foley Melvin and would that make the public cynical?

So for six months, yes, we can go to the public for six months, Mr. Speaker, and see what their thoughts are on this. If they are cynical, then all the more reason to come back to this piece of legislation and have the public input that is needed to redirect this legislation to a way that the public actually has buy-in. I think that is what the government has forgotten.

Actually I am surprised by the Minister of Finance when he talked about a committee to go around the province after the bill passes and I'm not really sure if the minister is putting the cart before the horse in this regard. Maybe at some point he will get up and add his comments to this debate as to why he wouldn't want to do the consultation with the public before he introduced the bill, rather than after he introduces the bill. Because I would say that the chances of the government coming back to this House and making changes to this bill after it has gone through the House are fairly

[Page 2139]

remote. There is the possibility, although a slim one, that we actually could go around the province, get input from the public and change this bill before it gets any further through this House, and then maybe have a better bill for the people of Nova Scotia.

Something that's not in this legislation that I think Canadians have said on more than one occasion - and I know people I've talked to in my campaign in June because we've had a number of elections in a short period of time - I think people would really look forward to an opportunity to speak to the issue of fixed election dates. If we're going to go around and talk about a bill that affects financing of election campaigns, let's broaden that horizon a little bit and talk about the issue of fixed election dates. I think the public would have the stomach for this. I think they're tired of going to the polls, and I think they're tired of going through this process every couple of years. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the members opposite for their help.

So what would the public say about this piece of legislation? What would they say about the timing of this legislation? I think if we were to go to the public, some people might say this piece of legislation is a "stop the NDP" bill. I think some of the public would say that for the first time in this House the New Democrats have 20 seats, and the Liberals and Conservatives . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: We had 20 seats before.

MR. MACDONELL: No, 19. (Interruptions) So it would be interesting to know what the reaction of the public would be to this legislation and, Mr. Speaker, it would be interesting to know what the reaction of the Liberal Party is to this piece of legislation. It seems to impact them in a significant way. They have a leadership race coming up in April; they've set a date, at least, for that. Nobody has thrown their hat into the ring yet, but names are being bandied about and I think, for the House and Nova Scotians, they would be really interested to know what any potential leadership candidates are thinking in terms of trust funds and what this legislation means in basically endorsing the present Liberal trust fund.

Actually, it's not clear to me that this piece of legislation would open the door for that to happen again - I think Nova Scotians wouldn't be too impressed about that. I think they would really like to see some action on the part of the government, especially quick action, the government can move so quickly on this piece of legislation that would actually close the loopholes or shut down this particular trust fund and also see to it that no other one could be created in a similar way.

So sure, electoral reform would be great; financial reform would be better. If Nova Scotians are to believe that there is some ounce of democracy in this House of Assembly, then they probably would want to know that all Parties act on a level playing field. This piece of legislation doesn't do that - all the more reason for a six month's hoist so we can actually go out and discuss this with the people of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2140]

It would be really interesting just to see what the media, even tomorrow, has to say about what has been introduced in this House, and their perception of how that's going to affect elections in the future.

So, is this piece of legislation a good reason to stay in this House? Certainly if it meant getting the legislation out to the people of Nova Scotia to find out what their thoughts are, then that would be reason enough. I think we tend to not think often enough about who put us here and why they put us here, and I think people in the last election indicated their disdain for the political process and for politicians because of the numbers they turned out to vote.

Mr. Speaker, Nelson Mandela spent years in prison so people in his country could vote, and yet people in this country who've had a democracy, they could vote at every election, that's all they've really known. Then how is it that they don't see that as a mechanism to making their lives better? If they don't see the electoral process as a way to at least get new vision or new ideas - actually, I guess this past election might be one of the most recent elections in the history of this province where the government actually took an idea and ran with it, that was one of our ideas. I think the public pretty well made the statement that they would rather see the real New Democrats than the false New Democrats, and put New Democrats in with more seats.

Mr. Speaker, we've come, probably, to a stage or a time in the history of this province where I think there is an appetite on behalf of the public for change. I think the results of the last election would indicate that. I think this piece of legislation - although I think the government will try to sell it as electoral reform, but for anybody who pays any attention to it, I think they're going to question whether it actually changes anything or actually just nails down the problems of the past, or cements them. I think that's how this is going to be read.

We're not to a place, for whatever reason - I guess the old ways die hard in this province. We're looking at the remnants of that thinking from both of the opposite Parties to this Party. It's particularly difficult to try to sell a piece of legislation to the people of Nova Scotia that actually didn't go through a formal process, and it's one of the few that the government has done that hasn't taken a formal process, and all the more reason I think why the people of Nova Scotia should expect it.

I guess the people of Nova Scotia maybe have come to expect nothing different from this government at every turn. When we've seen it, whether it was long-term care or whatever that we've negotiated with the government, what we got in negotiation and what we got in the final product were completely different things. I think, for us, certainly for the New Democrats, it would be important for us to actually, sometime, have some input by the public in this piece of legislation in order to see if it's possible to reform this legislation.

[Page 2141]

Change on the part of this government does not come easily. I think that at just about every turn, Mr. Speaker, we have seen issues that we thought were important to Nova Scotians, and the interpretation of those issues by us, compared to the interpretation by the members on the government side, have been completely different. I know the government is going to try to sell this piece of legislation as an improvement. I think they're going to sell it based on equal terms. I think they might even have half a case when it comes to the limitation of donations in terms of unions and corporations. They might have been able to sell it based on that, but they couldn't sell it based on allowing the Liberal Party to make use of its trust fund. That was a wrinkle that they should have taken care of. I would think that if they were to go to the public, they would find that out.

[8:30 p.m.]

When I started my discussion, Mr. Speaker, and I talked about the two deer with the targets on them, I think that's an analogy that they would be well advised to listen to, because I think that the public is going to view this present piece of legislation the way the government has presented it as one that has been a deal cooked up by the Liberals and the Conservatives and . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It was earlier today that I ruled that word as unparliamentary and I'd ask the honourable member to retract it and again I'd remind the member to please speak to the motion of the hoist.

MR. MACDONELL: I'll retract it, Mr. Speaker, and I'll say that it's a piece of legislation that the Liberals and the Conservatives cooperated on to get the product that was presented to this House. I think that for Nova Scotians who went through yet another election in June of this year and I think as we would hope, they would hope, that it would be an election that would bring about some real change in the province - I think this piece of legislation indicates how little we've changed. I think this piece of legislation indicates how little the government has changed and I think, regrettably for Nova Scotians, it indicates how much the Liberals and the Conservatives are the same. So, in other words, it indicates how little the Liberals have changed. A Party that is in third place that has lost seats and yet even in their dying days, they refuse to change for the benefit of the people of Nova Scotia.

I'm thinking about a six months' hoist, Mr. Speaker, to try to improve this piece of legislation, maybe that would improve the thinking of the Liberal Party, maybe there would be a benefit. My colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, is saying that we'll take this past the Liberal leadership race - maybe a leader with some new ideas, we can only hope. That would certainly be something that people would notice in the Liberal Party if they had a new idea. Could there be a real benefit in going around the province, discussing this piece of legislation with the people of Nova Scotia? Yes, I would say, and certainly if nothing else I would see it as an action that would show, number one, that

[Page 2142]

the government actually might be interested in listening to the people of Nova Scotia, it would force the government to stand around this province, in the communities of this province and explain to people what it sees as the merits of this legislation and to convince the people of Nova Scotia of the merits of this legislation, which I would think they would have a difficult job doing.

I guess I can only conclude from that - if I think that - is that would be the reason that they would be against taking this legislation around the province, to set it aside for six months and to have the people of the province give their views on this piece of legislation. Now that would mean certainly that the members from the Third Party would also have to explain their views on this which they have been unwilling to do to this point, and I guess I should suspect that as this debate moves along, we're going to have a tough time hearing comments from the members of the Third Party. They would be the ones that I think would be wanting to explain to Nova Scotians their use of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I can't think of a better reason with all the possible things that the public might say around electoral reform and certainly financial reform of elections, but I think they certainly would want to either air their views or hear the views of the government and the Liberals on why they would think that we would have to write a piece of legislation - why we actually put into Statute - their ability to use that trust fund. Since the government didn't come to us, which I think is odd, Mr. Speaker, I think that New Democrats - and I thought the members on the government side and maybe the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations will stand when I'm done and he'll answer this question for me, but I was of the view that the work we did in this House prior to the election in June, actually the work we did in this House prior to the new Premier being elected by his Party, that the work we did with Premier Hamm, that Nova Scotians thought was good work and the fact that the Progressive Conservative Party in government tended to consult with the New Democrats on issues. I think Nova Scotians thought that was good work. I think they thought there were some good things that came out of this House.

Now we never got all we wanted and we think the government never got all they wanted but that's the art of compromise. Now, Mr. Speaker, the Progressive Conservatives have to try to explain to Nova Scotians why this alliance with the Liberals is good for Nova Scotians. (Interruptions) They could have six months to try to make that case but you know, it wouldn't take that long and it shouldn't take that long. In other words, it should be obvious from the work in this House that the Parties on this side can work with the Party on that side. That is not going to be particularly clear to Nova Scotians. Actually, I think Nova Scotians are going to wonder about this and all the more reason to take this on the road and to find out what Nova Scotians think.

I can understand why members on the government side and from the Liberal Party would be somewhat opposed to doing that because, Mr. Speaker, they have to defend the indefensible. They are not going to be able to explain this legislation in terms

[Page 2143]

of being beneficial to the people of Nova Scotia. That is what we think legislation that comes through this House of Assembly is supposed to do. It is supposed to work to make the lives of the people of the province better. It is supposed to make the democratic process better and we have no evidence, absolutely none, that this piece of legislation is going to do that.

I am expecting that at some point one of the ministers or one of the members from the Third Party will get up and explain their views on this legislation. They won't leave it entirely to the Minister of Finance; he was the one who introduced it but . . .

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: They won't say a word.

MR. MACDONELL: My Leader is confirming what I'm saying, that they won't say a word. It is a shame, Mr. Speaker, that they are unwilling to show Nova Scotians what they think. They are unwilling to actually have a debate that backs the legislation to show that this is good legislation for the people of Nova Scotia. I guess it's the action of the government on one hand to kind of ignore the wishes of the people and then to ignore them in such a great way on a piece of legislation that affects the democratic process. Especially if you could think of the June 13th election and the Progressive Conservative Government coming back with a large majority - if you can get your mind around that. If that happened, then you could actually see them drafting a piece of legislation that they could get through the House, that they wouldn't need any help from the Opposition and it would kind of show that they believe that they had a mandate from the people to carry out that legislation. But actually, Mr. Speaker, since 2003, when this government has gone to the people, it has come back to the House with fewer seats, which is a message from the people to say they don't like the direction this government has been taking, and for whatever reason, the government side of the House has refused to listen.

Mr. Speaker, I think the public, generally, would say - and they say it in a cynical way - when they refer to the Opposition, they would say, your job is to oppose. They say it in a way that, even if the government does something that's good or right or that we could agree with, we'll oppose it. Our job, actually, is to improve legislation. If we think the government hasn't gone far enough or hasn't done it right, that we think with our advice we can help them out. But in this particular piece of legislation, I guess if we can't do it, then the public could do it. If we take this legislation and set it aside for six months, go to the public, maybe they can do what the Liberals are unwilling to do. The Liberals are unwilling to take their role as Opposition and to actually try to make this legislation better.

Mr. Speaker, you have to say, well, they obviously seem to be getting a benefit from this legislation, so why are they going to do that? They've actually abandoned their role to stand up for the people of Nova Scotia by joining in with the government side on this piece of legislation. The real job of Opposition has fallen, again, to the New

[Page 2144]

Democrats. In the last House, or since 2003, it was the New Democrats who set the agenda and forced the government to move on so many issues, and actually in the 2006 election, the public recognized that. Now, for a Party that has lost seats in the last election - the government side - they have a perfect opportunity to say, we're going to turn that around. We're going to listen to the people, for once. We're going to carry out policy that actually the people have shown an interest in. We're going to direct our bureaucracy to move toward the people. This could be their first step.

Mr. Speaker, you and I both know how this works. The government doesn't have to go out to the people for six months for consultation. The government could actually write a piece of legislation based on our advice, or based on advice from the Liberals. They actually could improve this legislation and bring a bill to the House tomorrow that could be a better bill. I think that they're not going to do that. You have to start to ask yourself, after two consecutive elections where the government side has lost seats, at what point do they actually start to listen to the people? There hasn't been any issue that has been big enough, strong enough, important enough to actually make them change their path, that would show that they listen.

Mr. Speaker, maybe this is the issue. I don't think they're there, simply because of their reluctance to address this piece of legislation here today. No members from the government side or from the Liberals have been willing to engage in this debate, which I think seems to be an odd thing, certainly an odd thing from an Opposition Party, not to engage in this debate. I think we're used to the process enough that members from the government side don't debate us when it comes to legislation in the House. I think the public actually believes that they do. I think the public believes that when a minister stands up and introduces a bill, makes his comments on the bill that a member of the Opposition will get up and he'll debate those comments, or she, and then a member from the government side, or the other Opposition Party can get up and give their comments, and we have this back and forth.

Any of the public, if they come to this gallery, they will see that's not the case, Mr. Speaker. The government side doesn't debate the legislation. As a matter of fact, I think, to a point, we all might understand that in terms of a majority government, when the government side has the majority of the seats, we can expect that they may not engage us. But this is a government that doesn't have the majority of the seats, this is a government that has lost seats in two consecutive elections, and yet it's one that refuses to stand and debate a piece of legislation.

So, I think this kind of goes, and if there are things about electoral reform we want to change, Mr. Speaker, and it takes six months to discuss those, then maybe we want to include in that debate legislative reform. Maybe we want to include in that debate legislative reform, maybe we want it to include the Rules of the House around how we move legislation through the House.

[Page 2145]

[8:45 p.m.]

I'm assuming that the members opposite would be wanting to speed up this process, and I think that takes some compromise, Mr. Speaker, on the part of the government in comparison to the members, certainly to the members on the Official Opposition. It doesn't seem to be any great desire for debate on the. . .

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member for Hants East allow an introduction?

MR. MACDONELL: Certainly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and to the member for giving up a moment of his time. I would like to draw the attention of the House to the Speaker's Gallery and welcome to the House of Assembly the Member of Parliament for South Shore-St. Margaret's, obviously a friend to all, a special friend perhaps to one particular person. I would like ask Gerald Keddy to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House of Assembly. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, welcome, to the Member of Parliament, Mr. Keddy.

The honourable member for Hants East has the floor.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to welcome the Member of Parliament to the House of Assembly, myself. (Interruption)

He might want six months, yes. I'm not sure if the member for Chester-St. Margaret's may hear better from that vantage point but, if so, that's a good thing.

So, Mr. Speaker, what will come of this legislation? Well, I think we pretty much know from the reaction from the government side that they're certainly going to go through the process. From what I can tell, they're going let this Party certainly speak to this piece of legislation. I think that if they had a plan for when they wanted to be out of this House, then they probably recognize that may have gone down the drain.

Now, with that said, Mr. Speaker, they could probably hit their targets if they were to hoist this legislation, set it aside for six months, allow for a debate with the people of Nova Scotia, and then bring it back in the Spring and, hopefully, as a result of that, bring it back as a changed piece of legislation. If it's the government's view that this can't be changed, or they're not willing to change it, then I would say, yes, probably that's the way it would come back, the same as it is. I think that they'll use whatever

[Page 2146]

powers they have, and the process, to ensure that the bill gets through the House in its present form.

I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that I think for Nova Scotians, when they start to read about this piece of legislation tomorrow, or the following days, as this debate goes on, I think they're going to have real problems with it. I think that the limit, up to $5,000 for unions and corporations, I think they'll see that as perhaps a move in the right direction, but not a move far enough. I think when the member for Cole Harbour, the Leader for our Party, rose and spoke to this piece of legislation, initially, and moved the motion, I think what he said would be the best way to go, and that would be to ban donations by unions and corporations. I have to say, I'm curious as to why the government actually appears to be unwilling to go down that road, Mr. Speaker, since their federal counterparts are more willing.

So it's a bit interesting that a Conservative Member of Parliament would be here for this debate when the federal Conservative Government is actually moving further than this provincial government on this piece of legislation. We can only assume that that member supports the federal legislation, and so maybe he can impress upon his provincial colleagues the necessity of moving this legislation a bit further. I would really like to know his reaction to that so maybe we'll get to find that out yet.

Mr. Speaker, I know people would - and I guess probably all the members of this House probably believe that a week in politics is a long time. But six months in politics need not seem so long and especially if they think that good work is being done, if they were to leave this Chamber and go find out what it is that Nova Scotians think about this legislation. Now we could say that perhaps the government is somewhat leery of doing that, perhaps the government is worried about getting an earful, maybe the government is worried that they won't be able to control that process from start to finish. When that legislation comes back to this House, they are the ones who are going to wear whatever it is the public has to say about this. I think better to wear it then and change it than to not change it and wear it for six months, and I think that's the risk that this government is taking.

Mr. Speaker, sometimes I look at the things the government does and I would say, well, they won't do something like that again because it had no positive benefit for them. Yet just about the time you think you've seen it all, you see something like this piece of legislation. We had questions in Question Period the other day and it was around the lack of a contract, a payroll contract, that had gone out that had no tendering done and its cost has increased over $20 million. We have farmers in the province who are looking for money from the government, not looking for $20 million at all, so you say to yourself, wouldn't these be simple things for a government to deal with? Yet they won't; they don't deal with them. They seem to drive their allies away and embrace people who are not their friends and have yet to do them absolutely any good, politically.

[Page 2147]

The people of Nova Scotia are not embracing this Progressive Conservative government, so at some point you would start to think they are going to do something or bring in legislation, that the people are going to stand up and say that was a really smart thing for this government to do. But you know, Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 117 is not that legislation. It's not that smart thing, so you have to wonder why that would happen. I guess I can't really go down that road because(Interruptions) If the minister is going to give me an opening to go down that road and not say I'm imputing motive then maybe I can, but I wouldn't count on it that's for sure.

Mr. Speaker, I think if we were the members on the opposite side, if the New Democrats were in government then we would want to bring in legislation that had a positive outcome; at least we would think it would have a positive outcome for the people of Nova Scotia, but we'd like to think it would have a positive outcome for our Party politically. I don't see that for the Progressive Conservative Government in this case; actually I don't see it for the Liberal opposition - I don't see an upside to this legislation. So maybe the Premier or someone from the Liberal Party - maybe someone who's aspiring to be Leader of the Liberal Party - they could maybe stand up and address this piece of legislation in some way that would actually show some direction that would show a benefit to the people of Nova Scotia. If they're not willing to do that in this House, maybe they would be willing to travel around the province and voice their ideas to the people of Nova Scotia.

If we strike this committee the same way we strike the rest of the committees of this House, then certainly it would have equal representation by all Parties and that would give all three Parties ample opportunity not only to speak to it, but it would certainly give them opportunity to listen. That's the part that seems to be missing, certainly from the government's side because we know right off the start that they didn't listen. If they were going to listen they would have sent this to the Election Commission and they didn't do that. They completely bypassed it and the Minister of Finance - I see him shaking his head at my comments, so perhaps he would be willing to address why they short-tracked this to get it to the House. Actually maybe someone can explain why, at this late date, they brought this to the House? If there was a piece of legislation they wanted for some clear debate, I guess that debate is going to come from only one Party. Why not introduce it in the first week when we came back to the House? Why introduce this in the dying days of this session and I guess prevent input.

So the government obviously sees this as a hill they're willing to die on, I guess, so you have to ask yourself, Mr. Speaker, why would that be? What is the upside of this piece of legislation for the government? What is the upside for the people of Nova Scotia? It is not clear from the bill, I think the advice by our Leader would be appreciated by the people of Nova Scotia, for sure and I think if the Minister of Finance introduces this to make a level playing field, then to ban completely donations by unions and corporations would be a much more appropriate way to go. I think it would send a clearer message to the people of Nova Scotia and it would probably be a way to start a

[Page 2148]

dialogue that would get some compromise from the members of the New Democratic Party to see this piece of legislation get through the House.

Now it is obvious that to compromise and dialogue, these are not things that the government side is interested in doing. They are willing to sit, they are willing, I think, to listen, a few are, but I don't think they're willing to change this very much, Mr. Speaker, and I think all the more reason to engage in this six months' hoist .See what the people of Nova Scotia have to say about this since the members opposite don't seem to have much to say but they might get a message from their constituents that would speak more clearly to them.

We live in the world of politics, we tend to worry a little bit about how happy or not our constituents are. If our constituents are giving us a strong enough message that they would like to see change, then that is usually enough for politicians to tend to move in the direction of what their thinking is . We know that to ignore that, you do that at your peril, Mr. Speaker. I think that is what this government has done in the past, that is what this government has done in two elections. They tried to run roughshod over the people of Nova Scotia and they didn't let them forget it. I mean the government came back as the Party in power but it had lost members. That is a very good reason for them to think about what legislation they bring before this House and what the reaction of the people of Nova Scotia is going to be to that because if they haven't learned anything, they should have learned that much by now.

So, Mr. Speaker, again I say, all the more reason for a six months' hoist on this piece of legislation. So if they are going to listen to the people of Nova Scotia, that is the opportunity. We would have thought that last June would have been the perfect opportunity and they didn't deliver a clear message. This piece of legislation is not going to do that.

I would have to say that if reform is what this government is interested in, then they should be interested in making some real change. There is no evidence in this piece of legislation. I think the thing that maybe New Democrats find most galling about this legislation is the fact that we are being asked, in the House of Assembly in Nova Scotia, to endorse the Liberal Party making use of their trust funds, in legislation. We are asked to endorse their taking public money to use in whatever way they deem fit. Those dollars were actually taxpayers' dollars or consumers of Nova Scotia and they deserve a benefit from that and they have never received it. That Party should return those dollars to the people of Nova Scotia so that they clean the slate. For the government, in a minority situation, to ask us to agree to that, it only makes me wonder what the government is thinking.

[9:00 p.m.]

[Page 2149]

How can the government go through two elections, lose seats in both those elections and then bring a piece of legislation to this House that addresses an issue that for years they have railed against. In other words, the government side has railed against those trust funds by the Liberals and now they bring a piece of legislation that says it's okay for you guys to keep them. They think there's going to be a benefit from the people of Nova Scotia, from the electorate, for that kind of thinking?

AN HON. MEMBER: Hard to understand.

MR. MACDONELL: It is hard to understand. There has to be a payoff. What is it? What's the reason that people would expect, that Nova Scotians would expect, that this legislation would be good for them? How can it be good for the Progressive Conservatives or for the Liberals? I come back to my original comments about both Parties with a target on them. You're asking your constituents to agree that those dollars would be referred to as ill-gotten gains by the Liberals, is okay.

But after all these years of politicians standing in this House and commenting against that type of action, that you expect us to give up our responsibility to our constituents and accept that and you're willing to give up your responsibility to your constituents and accept it.

I don't get any clear indication from the government side as to why they expect us on this side of the House, the Official Opposition, to agree to that. I don't hear anything coming from them trying to convince me, this is a good reason because. Because there can't be a good reason for that. I think Nova Scotians have spoken on that before and they've made it clear they don't like this.

I come back to my original comments about cynicism. Why is it we had such low voter turnout? Is it because the people believe, and actually, one of the hurdles New Democrats face at election time is that we get painted with the same brush as the other Parties? People say, you're all alike, even though New Democrats have never governed the province.

Why would they expect us to stand in our place and say that this legislation is a good thing, because it's not a good thing. It represents what we fight against every day in this House. I don't understand why the government side is not fighting against it.

Maybe, Mr. Speaker, you may disagree with me. Maybe in six months we would get a clear indication of why the government sees this to be an appropriate piece of legislation. But, I find that hard to believe. I find it hard to believe that this government can make a case to the people of Nova Scotia, because they certainly haven't been able to make a case to the members on this side, why this piece of legislation would be good legislation for Nova Scotians. I don't see it.

[Page 2150]

I'm willing to listen, but I don't even hear the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations anymore. He was quite engaged in my presentation earlier and I don't know whether I've lost him in my discussion, but I'm hoping when I'm done, that minister will get up and he'll engage the House for an hour. I would really look forward to that. As a matter of fact, I would expect there will be a flurry of activity on the government side with members trying to get to their feet to address this piece of legislation. We would look forward to anything they have to say, but to this point they're silent and I have to say that I'll be interested to see tomorrow what the reaction to this legislation is.

I think there's going to be a reaction. There's going to be a reaction from the public and I would say it's not (Interruptions) I obviously have got a reaction from the interim Leader of the Liberal Party and that might mean he's actually going to stand in his place and speak to this. That would be a good thing, I'd look forward to hearing that.

Mr. Speaker, if in the interim he doesn't do that and I actually would not be surprised if he doesn't stand in his place and speak to this because so far that hasn't happened and there have been lots of opportunity, then maybe if we were to take a committee around the province he would have his opportunity, maybe he'd volunteer to go on it, that he would be one of the first people out of the gate to hear what it is that people have to say in terms of this legislation. I have to say I'm not going to hold my breath on that but certainly it would be an opportunity for some members of the Third Party to go around the province and find out what it is that Nova Scotians exactly think about Liberal trust funds and what this piece of legislation does to try to legitimize the use of them. I hope there is a cry from one side of this province to the other that tells them that they don't like it, that this is something that was wrong from the start.

Mr. Speaker, it speaks so much to what people come to believe in terms of politicians and I think that we have an opportunity to really show some leadership in this province and make it clear to people that this type of action isn't going to be tolerated. I have to say, I regret that the government brought this legislation forward because to be in this House of Assembly and to not take your role here more seriously than that is sad. I would say that I think that Nova Scotians looked at the new Premier in the wintertime and thought maybe there will be a change in how we do government here. I think from June we certainly got a message that it isn't, there is no change, we're back to the good old days. If you look at the number of members opposite and look at the number of members who are in Cabinet, that's something that the previous administration would never have gone for.

You have to ask yourself is there a benefit to the people of Nova Scotia from such a large Cabinet. I would say we don't see any indication that the government runs any better, we don't see any indication that that many more people around the Cabinet Table actually show that their brainstorming sessions produce any better ideas. It's worrisome and I think for the people of Nova Scotia they would have to be wondering.

[Page 2151]

We have one of the largest Cabinets that we've had in the history of the province, we don't seem to be getting anything done in a faster, better, stronger way.

Mr. Speaker, I think about the campaign in June and that Come to Life advertising the province that the government engaged in. I see those commercials on now. Mr. Speaker, you try to express a feeling of optimism for the future and a feeling of optimism about what a great place we live in but yet this legislation doesn't do that, this legislation just hangs a cloud over the work that members of this House do so that we'll have to go to our constituencies and try to explain a piece of legislation coming through the House of Assembly that would legitimize a trust fund that the people have already indicated they don't care for.

Mr. Speaker, we haven't come forward in this process, we haven't come forward in these last days since the last election - this newly-minted government - we haven't changed anything, as a matter of fact I think we've taken a step backwards and I don't know which generation we've gone back to, but we certainly haven't taken a view to the future.

I think for the people of Nova Scotia, when they start to realize that, the government is going to have to stand and explain what it is they're doing or move away from it. I think it's regrettable that the members on this side of the House will stand in their place to try to change the thinking on such an important piece of legislation. When I think about the legislation that has come through the House in this session, and you look at the impact, there were some goodwill bills, the brook trout and so on, but even the legislation on midwifery, which I thought was a smart move on the part of the government, long overdue, you kind of think, gee, they're starting to get somewhere, and then what do they throw into the mix? Some legislation that people would think was long overdue, or goodwill legislation? They throw in kind of mean-spirited (Interruptions) they throw in a piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, that's kind of a mean-spirited piece of legislation, I would say.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No, no.

MR. MACDONELL: It is, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member's time has expired.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to, with the concurrence of the House, revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

[Page 2152]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 70 - Provincial Fish Act.

Bill No. 78 - Order of Nova Scotia Act.

Bill No. 86 - Motor Vehicle Act.

Bill No. 87 - Consumer Protection Act.

Bill No. 113 - Environment Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. (Interruptions) All I said was thank you, Mr. Speaker.(Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I'm very much reminded of the time when I first entered this House back in 2001 - in fact, you and I entered this House on the very same day - which reminds me of a very funny story involving John Leefe, but I'm not going to tell it now, I'm going to save it for another time, because I have to say that story is not about the principle of the bill.

It's strange, I've been here now for over five and a half years, and after only five and a half years I counted it up one day after the most recent election, and do you know that you and I are in the exact middle of experience in this House - 25 of the members in this House have been here longer than you and I and 25 members have been here for less time. There's tremendous turnover in this House. This must be the first time in a

[Page 2153]

long time that the most senior member of the House has been here for only 13 years - and I say "only", I mean let's be frank, the member for Cape Breton South and the member for Clare have been elected five times in 13 years, which is quite an accomplishment. (Applause)

I would think that it's relatively rare in this House that the most senior members have been here for as little as 13 years, because for the previous generation we've had people like the former member for Cape Breton Nova, Paul MacEwan, who I can name now that he's not in the House, or the member for Hants West, Ron Russell. (Applause)

[9:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, every time you call on the member for Hants West, I still expect Ron Russell to stand up. Of course, we welcome the new member for Hants West. My point being only that when you see a member in the House for so long and have such a distinguished career that it becomes as a bit of a surprise when you call their constituency name and they're no longer here. This was all leading me to the fact that within a few months of my entry into this House, we were launched into the debate on the famous Bill No. 68, where the government tried to take away the right to strike of a very large number of health care workers and we, the Opposition, tried to prevent them.

What happened then, Mr. Speaker, in 2001, was that we had a majority government at the time, and so we knew that if the government was determined to pass that bill, that they could, but we were not going to make it easy for them, because it was the wrong thing to do. Today, despite the fact that nominally we have a minority government, we find ourselves, here in the NDP, in exactly the same position. We find ourselves with the government members allied with the Liberal members so that, in effect on this bill, we have a majority government. So we are going to do what we have to do to draw the attention of the people of Nova Scotia to how wrong this bill is in principle.

Mr. Speaker, what I wanted to draw to the attention of the public and of Hansard, for the record, is the fact that after every single NDP member speaks, the members of the Liberal Party have an opportunity to stand up and speak, an opportunity which they so far have not taken. Members of the government have the opportunity to stand up and speak, an opportunity which they so far have not taken. This is what debate amounts to in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, is when the government makes up its mind what it's going to do, this time with the Third Party, they fold their arms and wait for the clock to tick by and wait for time to run out.

I guess we're going to find, Mr. Speaker, how determined this government is, how resolute they are, how far is this government willing to go to defend Liberal trust funds? That's what we're going to find out. As was so eloquently pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition, we should mince no words about this; those trust funds are the

[Page 2154]

proceeds of crime. Let us not call them anything else. People were criminally convicted and sentenced over those funds. They are the proceeds of crime. How far is this government willing to go to give the Liberal Party the opportunity to legitimize the use of those funds and to try to pretend that somehow they're clean, somehow they did not originate in a crime against the people of Nova Scotia, because it is the people of Nova Scotia who had to pay higher liquor prices for decades. It is the people of Nova Scotia, whose government had to pay inflated contracts because 3 per cent to 5 per cent was expected to go back to the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, we're going to find out today, tomorrow, this week, next week, the week after that how far is this government prepared to go to defend that and to say that is the right thing to do for the people of Nova Scotia. This could have been the most important electoral reform in a generation in Nova Scotia. This could have been the most important electoral forum in a generation. This is the first time in a long time that any serious attempt has been made to address the issues of campaign finance in Nova Scotia, and what we decide today, tomorrow, this week, next week, the week after that is going to affect Nova Scotia politics for the next generation. That is how important this is. Everybody in this House believes deeply in their principles and their ideas about what they stand for and what their Party stands for. This bill that is before us will go a long way to determining whether we are able to act on those principles and those ideals and what we all want to accomplish for the people who sent us here.

It could have been the most important electoral forum in a generation, a tremendous opportunity to clean up politics in Nova Scotia, which I have to say is not held in high regard across the rest of Canada. If you want to have proof of that just ask other people across Canada what their view is about politics in Nova Scotia. For too long our politicians have been known for things like patronage, things like trust funds raised from kickbacks. For too long that's what Nova Scotia politicians have been known for. This was our chance, now that the issue of campaign finance reform is on the government's radar, to clean it up, to clean it up properly, to do it right but they didn't.

This bill falls so far short of what was possible it is simply impossible for me and my Party to support it. It could be so much better. The Leader of the Opposition in his very eloquent address this afternoon has said there are two reforms that we ask for, this bill needs to be changed in two ways and then we will accept it. What we need to do is reduce corporate and union contributions to the political process to zero - that is the most important thing. We need to reduce union and corporate donations to zero, that is our challenge to the Liberal Party, that is our challenge to the Conservative Party.

Just a quick statistic here, Mr. Speaker, the other Parties love to play to the stereotype, of course, that the NDP is getting large donations from the trade union movement, something of which I'm quite proud, I very much believe in the value and necessity of trade unions in Nova Scotia. Let me tell you something, Mr. Speaker, a statistic that you may not be aware of, in 2005 - I love asking skill-testing questions

[Page 2155]

because typically I find the members don't know the real facts - what percentage of the NDP funds were gained from unions? The correct answer to the question is 13 per cent. The next question is what percentage of Progressive Conservative donations in 2005 came from corporations? Anybody over there know the answer? I didn't think so. Mr. Speaker, do you know what it was? It was 51 per cent, 51 per cent of their donations came from corporations who can't vote, 51 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, as for them, the Third Party, what percentage of their income do you think came from corporate donations? Was it 13 per cent? No. Was it 51 per cent? No. It was 59 per cent. So they accuse us of getting large donations from trade unions which amount to 13 per cent of our income and they get 59 per cent of their donations from corporations. Why don't we hear them talk about that? Why don't we hear the government talk about the fact that 51 per cent of their donations come from corporations?

I am very proud of the fact that the vast majority of donations to the New Democratic Party of Nova Scotia come from individuals, they come from me, they come from the member for Hants East, they come from the Leader of the Opposition, and they come from many, many people in my constituency and other constituencies across the province.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I'll tell you another fact that you may not know but this is something that the government can congratulate themselves for. Although I am very proud of the number of individuals who donate to the Nova Scotia NDP, currently the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia has more individual donors than we do. I say to the government, good for you, good for the Progressive Conservative Party, you get more donations from more individuals than the NDP.

So, Mr. Speaker, now, of course, I also have to add that that is always the case for the governing Party. For some reason, which I can't quite imagine, once the Party falls out of favour and out of government . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party on a point of order.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just thought it was important that we're giving out facts this evening and I note that the member for Halifax Fairview has chosen not to give out a certain fact. but just so that Nova Scotians watching would know, in 2003 the total union contributions to the NDP was $280,000, which amounts to 49 per cent of the total contributions they received in 2003. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order please. It is not a point of order but it is a point.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 2156]

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I love to provoke debate and clearly that wasn't a point of order. If that member has something he wants to say, let him stand up when it is his turn and let him say it. I want to know . . .

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: On a point of order for the honourable member. I would like him to consider adjourning debate on this bill. I don't want to interrupt his thoughts, by any chance, but if in a few minutes he could do that, we could then deal with the rest of our business.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I am only just getting going.

MR. SPEAKER: You've only just begun, I know.

MR. STEELE: I have hours and hours of material here, Mr. Speaker. I haven't even started on the Progressive Conservative donation list. However, it is my understanding that perhaps the House would prefer to hear the continuation of my speech when they are better rested. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I would move that debate on the bill be adjourned.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I won't say our business has been concluded for today but the business that we intended to deal with this evening. I would move that the House do now rise to meet at the morrow at 9:00 a.m. and the House would sit until 11:59 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for the House to now rise to meet tomorrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried. We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 9:29 p.m.]

[Page 2157]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1050

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas many teams from across the province pedalled their way to help make stroke history on the "Big Bike for Stroke" fundraiser; and

Whereas these teams collectively raised more than $200,000; and

Whereas the "Big Bike for Stroke" event involves a lot of community spirit, a tremendous commitment from the bicyclists, and a large amount of fundraising;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the members of the Curves team in Liverpool for their hard work and dedication in raising money and awareness for the Heart and Stroke Foundation in their community.

RESOLUTION NO. 1051

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Queens County Fair was held in Caledonia, Queens County, from September 14 to 23, 2006; and

Whereas the Queens County Fair has been a mainstay of the community of Queens and the South Shore for many years; and

Whereas these fairgrounds have now been expanded to allow for greater year-round use;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize President Richard Wamboldt, 1st Vice-President Bruce Peach, 2nd Vice-President Max Holdright, Treasurer Tammy Wamboldt, Manager Renee Sutherland, Assistant Manager Lawrence Henley, Secretary Shelley Lewis, and all of the honorary directors and directors of the Queens County Fair for their continued efforts in promoting the Queens County Fair.

RESOLUTION NO. 1052

[Page 2158]

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Queens County Sea Fest 2006 was a fabulous success, which included the annual shark derby, Mi'kmaq cultural demonstrations, Row for Charity, entertainment and other activities; and

Whereas an estimated 20,000 people from across Canada and the United States attended the three-day event, up 25 per cent from 2005; and

Whereas the venue gave many Queens County community groups an opportunity to raise funds through food and ticket sales;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize and congratulate Jean Robinson-Dexter of Brooklyn, Nova Scotia, and the team of over 100 volunteers for all their hard work and commitment in promoting and hosting a very successful Sea Fest 2006.

RESOLUTION NO. 1053

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the second International Ukulele Ceilidh will be held in Liverpool in October 2007; and

Whereas the ceilidh is planning to host many workshops put on by visiting musicians and clinicians, along with three concerts at The Astor Theatre; and

Whereas musicians, teachers, and just plain lovers of the instrument will attract hundreds of visitors from all over the world to Queens County;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the many hours of work the volunteers are contributing to bring the 2007 International Ukulele Ceilidh to Liverpool, Queens County, Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 1054

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

[Page 2159]

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the September 14, 2006, fire destroyed the North Queens Elementary School; and

Whereas parents, students, teachers, and members of the community were left devastated by the fire; and

Whereas the community has been overwhelmed by the generosity of a number of groups;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the efforts of the volunteer firefighters from the many communities along the South Shore - Jim Gunn, Interim Superintendent of Schools, Elliott Payzant, School Board Member, District 2, and the many individuals who donated items to the students and teachers.

RESOLUTION NO. 1055

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the South Shore Big Brothers Big Sisters held a wine tasting fundraiser at the Petite Riviere Vineyards on October 19, 2006; and

Whereas the South Shore Big Brothers Big Sisters have been an integral part of the community for over twenty years, matching a Big Brother or Big Sister with a Little Brother or Little Sister, taking care to ensure they have similar interests; and

Whereas the South Shore Big Brothers Big Sisters took the opportunity at their wine tasting fundraising event to recognize two members of the community for their contribution to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program by presenting them with awards;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Duanne Richards of Acadia Equipment Rentals, and Dave Crouse of Aliant, on being the recipients of this award, and commend the South Shore Big Brothers Big Sisters staff, Margo Dauphinee, Executive Director, Nara Comstock, caseworker, and Jane Fox, office administrator ,on a job well done.

RESOLUTION NO. 1056

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

[Page 2160]

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the documentary, Wabanaki, People of the Dawn, Part One, based on Mi'kmaq history and culture had its debut in Liverpool's The Astor Theatre on October 5, 2006; and

Whereas the film was developed as a result of the archeological project along the Mersey River in 2004; and

Whereas the Office of Aboriginal Affairs, in conjunction with Acadia First Nation, were involved with this project from its commencement;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Lisa Francis, project manager from Milton, Todd Labrador from Wild Cat, Danny Francis from Ponhook, Don Julian, Mi'kmaq historian, and the Acadia First Nation on their cumulative efforts in producing the documentary, Wabanaki, People of the Dawn, Part One.

RESOLUTION NO. 1057

By: Mr. Graham Steele (Halifax Fairview)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Halifax-Cornwallis Chapter of the Canadian Progress Club recently announced the 18 recipients of the 2006 Women of Excellence Awards; and

Whereas recipients of a Women of Excellence Award are recognized for their outstanding contributions in the fields of arts and culture, communications and public affairs, education and research, entrepreneurship and innovation, health, sport and wellness, management and the professions; and

Whereas Barbara Butler, founder and artistic director of the St. Cecilia Concert Series, artistic and administrative director of Musique Royale, and organist and artistic director of the St. John's Anglican Church Chamber Series received a Women of Excellence Award in the field of art and culture;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly applaud Ms. Butler for her invaluable contributions to the field of art and culture and to the communities she serves, and extend congratulations on being the recipient of a Women of Excellence Award.

RESOLUTION NO. 1058

[Page 2161]

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas high school sports help develop school spirit and improve skills; and

Whereas individual and team skills, along with dedicated coaches, can produce winning teams; and

Whereas the Liverpool Regional High School boys soccer team won the silver medal in the provincial Division 2 finals on November 4, 2006; and

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the members of the Liverpool Regional High School boys soccer team and their coach, Mike Milosevich, for their very successful soccer season culminating in a silver medal in the provincial finals.

RESOLUTION NO. 1059

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 Pictou County United Way recently announced the launch of its new friendship program, United in Friendship; and

Whereas the new program was developed in partnership with the Highland Community Residential Services, and its goal is to develop models of individual, sustainable social programs that will support the children in Pictou County registered with the Northern Region Respite Services (NRRS); and

Whereas the NRRS helps families plan for relief care for children and youth with special needs - some of the proposed projects include Grandparent Club, family outings, a bowling league and a social skills program, and the United Way is pleased to be working with the larger community as it develops projects;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join in support of this valuable new initiative - the United Way is an organization that we are all familiar with, and it is in the better interest of government to support such programs and their administrators, and may we wish the program directors the best for the future as they embark on more good work for their community.

[Page 2162]

RESOLUTION NO. 1060

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 Pictou County Chamber of Commerce recently handed out its 2006 Achievement Awards that included a keynote address from Sobey's CEO, Bill McEwan; and

Whereas many of Pictou County's businesses were represented on the evening, in addition to some of its business leaders, such as Ernest Mingo, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award, and Mel MacConnell of Scotsburn Dairy, named Business Person of the Year; and

Whereas Bob Durdan, Vice-President of Maritime Steel and Foundries Limited, accepted the Export Achievement Award, and Mr Durdan used the opportunity to highlight the company's plans to spend $1 million in the coming year to reduce emissions, part of its commitment to corporate responsibility;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce on another successful awards show, and may we also send congratulations to all of the winners and nominees and the contribution they bring to not only the Pictou County business community, but to the Nova Scotian business community, as well.

RESOLUTION NO. 1061

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 second annual Pictou County Coats for Kids campaign was held last month with donations received from area residents; and

Whereas hundreds of coats, snowsuits, boots, hats and mittens were donated to go towards families facing financial difficulties as they head into this winter season; and

[Page 2163]

Whereas the donated items were distributed through the Pictou County Children's Aid Society, and the campaign would not have been possible without the help and support from Coats for Kids chairperson, Erin MacLeod, the Children's Aid Society, Sunshine Cleaners, and Sobeys head office, which donated its lobby as the main drop-off centre;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their sincere thanks to those who helped make this year's Coats for Kids campaign a success, and without such commitment to our communities, there would be more kids and families feeling less warmth this winter.

RESOLUTION NO. 1062

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 owner of the Ashlei Ballet School, Janet Bradbury, has recently built upon her success as the operator of Pictou County's busiest dance studio; and

Whereas the school has moved to Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall in Stellarton, where it can better accommodate the over 200 enrolled dancers at the school, and in addition to new space, the school is now offering new programs such as adult beginner ballet, social dance, and mommy and me classes for toddlers; and

Whereas Janet Bradbury has worked tirelessly at providing her community with a recreational outlet for over 10 years, and this move marks the second expansion since she opened the studio in 1995;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Janet Bradbury and everybody at the Ashlei Ballet School on their new, expanded premises - it is encouraging to see a business such as this one grow and provide an opportunity for the wider community to develop new skills, such success is indicative of the high quality of life rural Nova Scotia offers.

RESOLUTION NO. 1063

By: Mr. Patrick Dunn (Pictou Centre)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 2164]

Whereas 9-year-old New Glasgow resident, Jamie McCarron, recently cut her waist-length hair in support of the Locks for Love charity; and

Whereas Ms. McCarron decided to cut her beautiful brown hair after hearing about the unique charity at her mother's school, and Jamie decided the initiative was cool and decided that she could put her hair to good use; and

Whereas even though she thinks the program is cool, Jamie has no plans to regrow her hair, saying it had too many tangles, and she's just happy that somebody else close to her age may find some happiness in combing out the odd tangle;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Jamie for her caring and kindness towards kids who are dealing with the side effects of serious illness, and may Jamie be held up as an example of all the good that the purity of youth holds - with such dedicated kids, we can hopefully look forward to a day with even more dedicated adults.

RESOLUTION NO. 1064

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Wentworth Volunteer Fire Department will gather with friends and family on November 25, 2006, to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas the ladies auxiliary contributes many hours of service through fund raising, meal preparations and all- round support; and

Whereas since these ladies continue to support their local community and fire department, these individuals deserve our continued support;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Ladies Auxiliary of the Wentworth Fire Department and wish them all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1065

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 2165]

Whereas the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department will gather with friends and family on November 25, 2006, to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas the ladies auxiliary contributes many hours of service through fundraising, meal preparations an all- round support; and

Whereas since these ladies continue to support their local community and fire department, these individuals deserve our continued support;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Ladies Auxiliary of the Westchester Fire Department and wish them all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1066

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Polly Ferdinand will be honoured on November 25th at the Westchester Fire Hall when friends, family, the ladies auxiliary, and firefighters will join together for a banquet to honour those who have given years of service; and

Whereas Polly Ferdinand has given 25 years of service to the ladies auxiliary and is one of five ladies who will be honoured for this service that evening; and

Whereas the main purpose of the fire department's ladies auxiliary is to support their fire department, and all of the auxiliary's funds go to the Westchester Fire Department to help purchase much- needed protective equipment and gear;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Polly Ferdinand on her 25 years of service to the Westchester Ladies Auxiliary and we wish her continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1067

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 2166]

Whereas Darlene Montrose will be honoured on November 25th at the Westchester Fire Hall when friends, family, the ladies auxiliary, and firefighters will join together for a banquet to honour those who have given years of service; and

Whereas Darlene Montrose has given 25 years of service to the ladies auxiliary and is one of five ladies who will be honoured for this service that evening; and

Whereas the main purpose of the fire department's ladies auxiliary is to support their fire department, and all of the auxiliary's funds go to the Westchester Fire Department to help purchase much- needed protective equipment and gear;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Darlene Montrose on her 25 years of service to the Westchester Ladies Auxiliary and we wish her continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1068

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Judy Moore will be honoured on November 25th at the Westchester Fire Hall when friends, family, the ladies auxiliary, and firefighters will join together for a banquet to honour those who have given years of service; and

Whereas Judy Moore has given 25 years of service to the ladies auxiliary and is one of five ladies who will be honoured for this service that evening; and

Whereas the main purpose of the Fire Department's ladies auxiliary is to support their fire department, and all of the auxiliary's funds go to the Westchester Fire Department to help purchase much- needed protective equipment and gear;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Judy Moore on her 25 years of service to the Westchester Ladies Auxiliary and we wish her continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1069

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 2167]

Whereas Jean Bentley will be honoured on November 25th at the Westchester Fire Hall when friends, family, the ladies auxiliary, and firefighters will join together for a banquet to honour those who have given years of service; and

Whereas Jean Bentley has given 25 years of service to the ladies auxiliary and is one of five ladies who will be honoured for this service that evening; and

Whereas the main purpose of the fire department's ladies auxiliary is to support their fire department, and all of the auxiliary's funds go to the Westchester Fire Department to help purchase much- needed protective equipment and gear;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jean Bentley on her 25 years of service to the Westchester Ladies Auxiliary and we wish her continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1070

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Elaine Dobson will be honoured on November 25th at the Westchester Fire Hall when friends, family, the ladies auxiliary, and firefighters will join together for a banquet to honour those who have given years of service; and

Whereas Elaine Dobson has given 25 years of service to the ladies auxiliary and is one of five ladies who will be honoured for this service that evening; and

Whereas the main purpose of the Fire Department's ladies auxiliary is to support their fire department, and all of the auxiliary's funds go to the Westchester Fire Department to help purchase much- needed protective equipment and gear;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Elaine Dobson on her 25 years of service to the Westchester Ladies Auxiliary and we wish her continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1071

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (The Premier)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 2168]

Whereas President and CEO of Credit Union Atlantic, Jamie Baillie, was recently named as a member for the board of the Halifax International Airport Authority; and

Whereas Mr. Baillie brings many talents to this auspicious board, not the least of which is his experience as a former Chief of Staff for the Office of the Premier, as well as his work as partner with Robertson Surrette, and his current role with the credit union; and

Whereas the Halifax International Airport has been growing exponentially over the past few years, raising its stature as an international entry point to our province, including opening this Fall the welcomed U.S. Preclearance facility;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. Baillie on his appointment to the board, and commend the Authority for its recent work, including the addition of the Preclearance facility which will add a great deal to the flow of passengers through our airport.

RESOLUTION NO. 1072

By: Mr. Darrell Dexter (Leader of the Opposition)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Marilyn More, MLA for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley, welcomed her second grandchild, a baby girl, born October 18, 2006; and

Whereas Laura Joyce Ward Worth is the daughter of Amy Ward and Jeff Worth of Timberlea, joining big brother Garrett; and

Whereas Marilyn More's fellow NDP colleagues recognize her delight and joy over this recent addition to her family;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Amy Ward, Jeff Worth, Garrett Ward Worth and Marilyn More, and welcome Baby Laura as one of its newest citizens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1073

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 2169]

Whereas on Saturday, June 3rd, Scotia Ironworks, Rose Bank Antiques, Higbee's Berry Farm, Organics for Your Table, and Ross Farm Museum, 5 energetic companies from the New Ross area, opened the New Ross Country market; and

Whereas there were approximately 100 people throughout the day to join in their celebration; and

Whereas all indications are pointing that this new market will be just as popular as the other markets across Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the original businesses on a job well done.

RESOLUTION NO. 1074

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 on Saturday, June 3rd, the New Ross Country Market opened with five different vendors; and

Whereas there were approximately 100 people throughout the day to join in their celebration; and

Whereas thanks to three original organizers, all indications are pointing that this new market will be just as popular as the other markets across Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Rubia Hutt, Lisa Wolf, and Tina Connors, on a job well done and wish them much success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 1075

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 small businesses are the heart of our province here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas The Java Factory is one such small business that has proven to be a success; and

[Page 2170]

Whereas it is located at 5209 St. Margarets Bay Road, I would encourage all members of this House to pull off Highway No.103 for a great cup of coffee and a picturesque drive of Chester-St. Margaret's;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Louis Zwicker and Janie Felix on their excellent business and wish them much success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 1076

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 students, staff, and elected officials were on hand for the official opening of Sir John A. Macdonald High School on October 20; and

Whereas the new $17 million school is designed to accommodate up to 1,100 students and replaces an earlier school by the same name in Hubley, which is now called Five Bridges Junior High School; and

Whereas the new school is a school with an unimpeded view of St. Margaret's Bay and, more importantly, a view to the future;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Principal Terry Wadden and the staff and students of Sir John A., and wish them much success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 1077

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 the South Shore Health launched a bursary program to help address the anticipated human resources shortage; and

Whereas under the program successful applicants are awarded bursaries of up to $5,000 for tuition and books; and

[Page 2171]

Whereas Amanda Chisholm of Chester, who is entering her second year at Dalhousie University School of Nursing, is one of the recipients of the bursary;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Amanda Chisholm and wish her much success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 1078

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 the South Shore Health launched a bursary program to help address the anticipated human resources shortage; and

Whereas under the program successful applicants are awarded bursaries of up to $5,000 for tuition and books; and

Whereas Amanda Hasler of Chester Basin is enrolled in a practical nursing program and was one of the recipients of the bursary;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Amanda Hasler and wish her much success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 1079

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 Cody Fryday skated in the BMO Financial Group Skate Canada Sectionals; and

Whereas after skating a terrific program Cody finished in the top two of the Men's Division; and

[Page 2172]

Whereas thanks to this fantastic finish Cody has qualified for the Canada Games in the Yukon;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Cody Fryday and wish him much success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 1080

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 Emily Dyer is a young ringette player from Upper Tantallon; and

Whereas she completed a year-long team selection process for Team Canada; and

Whereas her dedication was rewarded, when her skills led her to being selected to represent Team Canada at the Canada Games in Whitehorse;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Emily Dyer and wish her much success in the days to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 1081

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 HABA, Hubbards and Area Business Association, is running a shop local campaign from December 2-16; and

Whereas by supporting local businesses, consumers will help to keep the economy vibrant in the Hubbards area; and

Whereas the small organizing committee, headed by Jayne Keuhm, has put together many events to promote local businesses;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their best wishes to Jayne Keuhm and all the organizing committee for another successful event, and remember, shop local.

RESOLUTION NO. 1082

[Page 2173]

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 Keifer and Morgan Latremouille of Tantallon participated in the Tower Squash Tournament on the weekend of October 28, 2006; and

Whereas Keifer won the men's B event, and Morgan won the consolation in the men's C event; and

Whereas Keifer qualified for the Canada Games in the under-19 division, and Morgan qualified in the under-17 division;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Keifer and Morgan and wish them much success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 1083

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 the Michelin Bursary Award is available to children of employees who have retired under the Michelin Pension Plan, or employees who are on long-term disability; and

Whereas the value of the award ranges between $1,500 and $2,500, and qualifying students must meet the specific criteria; and

Whereas Kyle Turner of New Ross was one of the lucky recipients of the bursary this year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Kyle Turner on receiving this bursary and wish him much success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 1084

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 2174]

Whereas every year, the third Friday and Saturday of August, people from across Nova Scotia merge on New Ross for the New Ross Community Fair; and

Whereas the New Ross Community Fair provides old-fashioned country fun for all ages; and

Whereas thanks to the leadership of Debbie Reeves, the 2006 edition of the New Ross Community Fair was a tremendous success;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Debbie Reeves and all the organizers of the New Ross Community Fair on another successful season and wish them all the best in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 1085

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 the New Ross Fire Department has been helping to keep residents in New Ross safe since 1946; and

Whereas the entire force of firefighters are a voluntary group of men and women who offer their services to the New Ross area; and

Whereas this year, they are celebrating the 60th Anniversary of fire protection for the New Ross area;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the importance that the New Ross Volunteer Fire Department plays to the local community and wish them all the best in the years to come.