The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

HANSARD 07-31

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, JANUARY 8, 2007

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TPW: Oak Park: Hwy. No. 103 Access Rd. - Oppose,
Mr. S. Belliveau 2687
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Scott 2688
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1397, Jr. Team Can./Marchand, Brad: Gold Medal -
Congrats., The Premier 2688
Vote - Affirmative 2689^
Res. 1398, Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence: N.S.
Recipients - Congrats., Hon. K. Casey 2689
Vote - Affirmative 2690
Res. 1399, EMO - Assoc. Of Mun. Administrators (N.S.): Role -
Acknowlege, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2690
Vote - Affirmative 2690
Res. 1400, Mason, Dutch: Death of - Tribute, Hon. L. Goucher 2691
Vote - Affirmative 2691
Res. 1401, Sexual Assault Services Planning Group: Partners -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2691
Vote - Affirmative 2692
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 128, Motor Vehicle Act, Mr. K. Deveaux 2692
No. 129, Small Options Homes Moratorium Termination Act,
Mr. T. Zinck 2692
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1402, Paul, Chief Terrance: St. FX. Hall of Honour -
Induction, Mr. D. Dexter 2693
Vote - Affirmative 2694
Res. 1403, Milburn, Dr. Douglas/Drinnan, Ms. Faith - EDGE Award,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2694
Vote - Affirmative 2694
Res. 1404, Can. Jr. Hockey Team: Gold Medal - Congrats.,
Mr. William Estabrooks 2695
Vote - Affirmative 2695
Res. 1405, Akerley Commun. Coll./BLAC Recommendations:
African Cdn. Transition Prog. Creation - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Colwell 2695
Vote - Affirmative 2696
Res. 1406, Abenheimer, Hannah: Soccer Achievements - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Gosse 2696
Vote - Affirmative 2697
Res. 1407, Freedom of Information Office: Improvements - Recommend,
Ms. D. Whalen 2697
Res. 1408, Queens County Fest. of Trees: Supporters - Thank,
Ms. V. Conrad 2698
Vote - Affirmative 2698
Res. 1409, Environ. & Lbr.: Tire Burning Fuel Proposal - Condemn,
Ms. M. Raymond 2698
Res. 1410, Brooks, Prof. Mary/Goldbloom Ms. Ruth: Canada's Most Powerful
Women - Congrats., Ms. D. Whalen 2699
Vote - Affirmative 2700
Res. 1411, Health - West. Shelburne Co. Long-Term Care Facility:
Const. Start - Announce, Mr. S. Belliveau 2700
Res. 1412, PEI Half Marathon: Stillwater Lake Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. William Estabrooks 2701
Vote - Affirmative 2702
MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT RULE 43:
Agric.: Pork Ind. - Crisis, Mr. J. MacDonell ~
ORDERS OF THE DAY
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 122. St. Paul's United Church Lands Act.
Vote - Affirmative 2703
No. 124. St. John's Anglican Church Lands Act.
Vote - Affirmative 2704
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 43
Agric.: Pork Ind. - Crisis
Mr. J. MacDonell 2704
Hon. B. Taylor 2709
Mr. S. McNeil 2714
Mr. C. Parker 2718
Hon. C. d'Entremont 2723
Mr. L. Glavine 2727
Mr. C. MacKinnon 2731
Hon. R. Chisholm 2734
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue. Jan. 9th at 8:00 a.m. 2736
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1413, Payne, Fred J. : Wildlife Contribution - Congrats.,
Hon. D. Morse 2737
Res. 1414, Lycett, Michele - Honolulu Marathon: Participation -
Commend, The Premier 2737
Res. 1415, Goucher, Bill/Annapolis Royal Food Bank: Serv. - Congrats.,
The Premier 2738
Res. 1416, Bond, Anna: Nat'l Youth Orchestra (Can.) - Appt.,
Mr. P. Dunn 2738
Res. 1417, Dee, Bill/ Pictou Co. Sports Heritage Hall of Fame:
Founding Members - Congrats., Mr. P. Dunn 2739
Res. 1418, MacIntyre, Jessica: A Child's Voice Fdn. For Angel Hair -
Donation, Mr. A. MacLeod 2739
Res. 1419, Campbell Family: Family Traditions - Congrats.,
Mr. A. MacLeod 2740
Res. 1420, MacLellan Attackers Girls Volleyball Team: Championship -
Congrats., Mr. A. MacLeod 2740
Res. 1421, Avonview HS Hockey Avalanche: Hockey Season -
Congrats., Mr. C. Porter 2741
Congrats., Mr. C. Porter
Res. 1422, CBU: Shannon Sch. of Business - Congrats.,
The Speaker 2741
Res. 1423, Balah, Lloyd: Book Publication - Congrats.,
The Speaker 2742
Res. 1424, AIDS Awareness Mo.: Gov't. Can. - Designate,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 2742
Res. 1425, Darnell, Peter/Indian Point Marine Farm - Anniv. (25th),
Hon. M. Baker 2743
Res. 1426, Ballard, Tammy - Mt. Royal College Award,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2743
Res. 1427, Rhodenizer, Amanda: Invitational Student Art Comp. -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2744
Res. 1428, Fraser, Garrett: Environ. Actions - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2744
Res. 1429, Tanner, Brynlie/Blair, Ben - Encounters With Can. Prog.:
Participation - Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2745
Res. 1430, Bridgewater FD Band/Vols.:Bandstand Const. - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2745
Res. 1431, Warner, Randy: Pet Invention Content - Congrats.,
Hon. D. Morse 2746
Res. 1432, Van Gurp, Hetty - Reader's Digest Heroes Award,
The Premier 2746

[Page 2687]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, JANUARY 8, 2007

Sixtieth General Assembly

First Session

6:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Cecil Clarke

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to table a petition on behalf of the residents, employees, and businesses in Oak Park, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia, who are opposed to the closure of the current access road to the new Highway No. 103.

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

2687

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

[Page 2688]

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 bill:

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

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

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

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 1397

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

Whereas all Canadians were thrilled to watch the young talent of Junior Team Canada skate to gold over the Russian team on Friday afternoon - the first time the team has won the trophy in Europe since 1997; and

Whereas probably even more proud were the parents of Hammonds Plains native, Brad Marchand, Kevin and Lynn Marchand, along with their family and friends, especially when Mr. Marchand scored one of four goals in the game, helping to secure the team's gold medal victory in the World Junior Hockey Championship in Sweden; and

Whereas Nova Scotians have proudly watched as many of our young hockey players work their way to the highest levels in this beloved Canadian sport through sheer hard work and determination;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Junior Team Canada, especially Brad Marchand of Nova Scotia, who once again showed the world who dominates the sport of hockey. (Applause)

[Page 2689]

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 Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1398

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

Whereas the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence recognizes the achievements of outstanding and innovative elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines, and provides cash awards to schools; and

Whereas Nova Scotia educators Sandra Haley, Kent Balish, David Drapak, Dianne Kehoe, and Lavonah Madden received these awards for excellence in December 2006; and

Whereas an educator's commitment to excellence is an inspiration for his or her students to be on the path for lifelong learning;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and recognize these five outstanding educators for their commitment to helping shape the leaders of tomorrow.

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 2690]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Emergency Management.

RESOLUTION NO. 1399

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 the Association of Municipal Administrators of Nova Scotia has formed an emergency management advisory group to identify issues that impact municipalities collectively; and

Whereas this group meets regularly with CEO Craig MacLaughlan, of the Emergency Management Office, and staff; and

Whereas this group ensures that municipal and provincial coordinators continue to work together effectively in emergency planning and response;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the essential role played by the Association of Municipal Administrators of Nova Scotia in maintaining positive relationships with the provincial Emergency Management Office.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1400

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

[Page 2691]

Whereas Norman Byron Mason, or Dutch, as he was affectionately known, was a talented Nova Scotia blues musician, a prominent figure in the Canadian music scene for more than 50 years; and

Whereas Dutch Mason received numerous awards recognizing his talent and his contributions to the music industry during his long and productive career, including a Juno Award and the Royal Order of Canada; and

Whereas Nova Scotia sadly lost one of its beloved citizens on December 23, 2006, when Dutch Mason passed away at the age of 68;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in extending condolences to Dutch Mason's family, and in keeping the music and memories of the "Prime Minister of the Blues" in our hearts and minds.

[6:15 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.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1401

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

Whereas sexual assault is devastating and leaves women untrusting and afraid long after any physical injuries have healed; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has specialized services in parts of the province, supporting the survivor's recovery and experience with the justice system; and

[Page 2692]

Whereas the Advisory Council on the Status of Women has recently contributed funding for a pilot project to assess sexual assault services in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the partners of the Sexual Assault Services Planning Group on their commitment to this important issue.

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

Bill No. 128 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Mr. Kevin Deveaux)

Bill No. 129 - Entitled an Act Respecting a Moratorium on Approvals of Small Options Homes. (Mr. Trevor Zinck)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if before, unrelated to the notice of motion, I might be a allowed to make an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MR. DEXTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the west gallery today, we have members of the Right to Know Coalition, some of whom are well-known to you: Darce Fardy, the President of the Right to Know Coalition; Ian Johnson, who is a board member; and Yohana Porter, who is a volunteer with the Right to Know Coalition. So I'd like to ask the House to welcome our visitors to the gallery and I understand they're

[Page 2693]

going to be looking to speak with members of the Legislature at some point in time during the evening. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, welcome.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1402

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

Whereas on Thursday, November 2, 2006, St. Francis Xavier University was ranked the number one primarily undergraduate university in Canada for the fifth straight year, by Maclean's Magazine; and

Where St. Francis Xavier University held its annual induction to the University Hall of Honour on Saturday, September 30, 2006; and

Whereas one of the distinguished honourees inducted into the St. Francis Xavier Hall of Honour in 2006 is the noted visionary and leader, Terrance Paul, Chief of the Membertou First Nation Community for more than 25 years;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend Chief Terrance Paul of the Membertou First Nation for his commitment to social justice and for his contributions to fostering the economic success and prosperous development within his community, and congratulate Chief Paul on being inducted into the Hall of Honour at St. Francis Xavier University.

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 Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1403

[Page 2694]

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

Whereas Dr. Douglas Milburn and Ms. Faith Drinnan have been selected as the 2006 winners of Nova Scotia Business Inc.'s Executive Development Global Entrepreneurship (EDGE) program; and

Whereas Mr. Milburn is the president of Sydney-based Advanced Glazing Ltd., a developer, manufacturer and marketer of leading technologies that promotes daylight energy efficiency, and Ms. Drinnan is the president and CEO of Dartmouth-based The Oyster Group, a provider of circulation consulting and special-interest magazine publishers; and

Whereas the EDGE program was created to enhance successful business development in the Province of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize the accomplishments made by both Dr. Douglas Milburn and Ms. Faith Drinnan as the winners of the 2006 EDGE 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 member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1404

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

Whereas Canada's Junior Hockey Team captured gold in Sweden; and

[Page 2695]

Whereas Boston Bruins' draft choice Brad Marchand of Hammonds Plains played an important role in Canada's success; and

Whereas all Nova Scotians are proud of Brad Marchand, the future Bruin, and all Team Canada members;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Canada's Junior Hockey Team on its gold medal.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 1405

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 Akerley Community College announced the creation of its African Canadian Transition Program on December 12, 2006; and

Whereas the program began as a result of the Black Learners Advisory Committee Report, a report released over 12 years ago with the goal of empowering African-Canadian learners in creating a curriculum to reflect more African-Nova Scotian history and culture; and

Whereas the college delivers a transition program in collaboration with the African Canadian Services Division of the Department of Education and helps African-Canadian students complete the Nova Scotia High School Diploma for Adults;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Akerley College and the recommendations of the Black Learners Advisory Committee for the creation of the African Canadian Transition Program.

[Page 2696]

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 Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1406

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

Whereas on Wednesday, November 1, 2006, Atlantic University Sport announced its 2006 first and second team soccer all-stars; and

Whereas Cape Breton University's Hannah Abenheimer was one of those all-stars to be so honoured; and

Whereas the second-year student, Hannah Abenheimer, was selected to the first all-star team for the second straight season;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Hannah Abenheimer on her noteworthy athletic achievement on being selected to the first all-star team for a second straight season and wish her continued success in all her soccer 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.

[Page 2697]

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 1407

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 the highest freedom of information user fees in Canada; and

Whereas the Provincial Freedom of Information Review Officer position has been vacant for almost one year and has been filled on a temporary basis by the Ombudsman of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in the face of these challenges and to encourage a broader use of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia was formed in June 2006;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the need to lower freedom of information fees, immediately appoint a new full-time review officer, and have the FOI office report directly to the Legislature to signal the importance of this office to an open and accessible government.

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1408

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

Whereas organizers of the Queens County 2006 Festival of Trees raised $4,000 to benefit Kids on the Move; and

[Page 2698]

Whereas Kids on the Move is a local program which grants funding to children in need in the Queens County area for recreational, cultural and sports activities; and

Whereas there were many events held, including tree sponsors, silent auction item sponsors, volunteers and many community members who attended and supported the event through their bids and donations;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the View's Choice Award recipient - The Woodpile Café, Runner up - A Twist of Lime, sponsored by the South Shore Opportunities, Home Hardware, Cole Ford Sales, Rhonda Norman, Ann Langille, VON Queens Branch, the Key Club, Bruce Inglis, Mersey Brass Band, the Geritones and Via Rail for their continued support of the Festival of Trees.

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. 1409

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

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board is in the business of collecting old tires and levies a $3 fee on all the new ones that are sold in this province; and

Whereas that money is intended to fund recycling of tires and advances in recycling technology; and

Whereas every business that sells tires is also obligated to receive them and many dealers are left with massive piles of tires they cannot get taken away; and

Whereas there is a highly controversial proposal to burn tires as fuel in a concrete plant in the Truro area;

[Page 2699]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly condemn the proposal to burn tires as fuel . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The Chair is having a very difficult time hearing the honourable member. Can you do the Therefore be it resolved again, please.

MS. RAYMOND: Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly condemn the proposal to burn tires as fuel in any concrete plant and call for an immediate recycling program to be put in place ensuring tires are actually recycled in Nova Scotia.

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 Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 1410

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

Whereas Professor Mary Brooks and Ms. Ruth Goldbloom have been named to the Women's Executive Network's 2006 list of Canada's Most Powerful Women; and

Whereas Professor Brooks is the William A. Black Chair in Commerce and teaches at the School of Business Administration at Dalhousie University and Ms. Goldbloom has a lifetime career in philanthropic work and spearheaded the development of the Pier 21 interpretive pavilion and historic site; and

Whereas the Women's Executive Network is Canada's leading organization dedicated to the advancement and recognition of executive-minded women in the workplace;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize the accomplishments made by both Professor Mary Brooks and Ms. Ruth Goldbloom as they

[Page 2700]

are being named to the Women's Executive Network's 2006 list of Canada's most powerful women.

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 Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 1411

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

Whereas the residents of western Shelburne County have been waiting 30 years - I repeat, 30 years - for a new long-term care facility; and

Whereas the current Minister of Health promised the construction of a new long-term care facility in western Shelburne County to be started by 2009; and

Whereas the residents of western Shelburne County want an announcement of a start date to ensure the facility will be built as promised;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly encourage the Minister of Health to announce the start date of construction for a long-term care facility for western Shelburne County.

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.

[Page 2701]

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1412

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

Whereas an active group of mothers from the Stillwater Lake area participated in the Prince Edward Island Half Marathon event in October 2006; and

Whereas these women include Allison Rankin, Carolyn Discher, Shawna Stanhope, Kenda MacKenzie, Angie Durnford and Lisa Ramsay; and

Whereas this group of mothers' commitment and dedication are exemplary;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Allison Rankin, Carolyn Discher, Shawna Stanhope, Kenda MacKenzie, Angie Durnford and Lisa Ramsay on participating and completing the Prince Edward Island Half Marathon and extend best wishes in their 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.

[6:30 p.m.]

There being no more notices of motion, before we move to Orders of the Day, Government Business, I have received a request under Rule 43 of the House Rules and Forms of Procedure - I have actually received two requests of a similar nature. One request received was made by the honourable member for Hants East and a second request received was made by the honourable member for Annapolis. Given that they were both the same subject matter, I went on the first received at the office, and that was received from the honourable member for Hants East. Under Rule 43 it was moved that the business of the House be set aside for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent

[Page 2702]

public importance, the imminent loss of many more hog farms and the consequent loss of existing processing infrastructure in the pork industry, and it goes on to elaborate.

As a result of that, I have seen it as proper to be discussed and I would recognize the honourable member for Hants East with the motion for the House. (Applause)

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Under the provisions of Rule 43, I do move that the business of the House be set aside for the purpose of discussing this most urgent matter, and I also thank the Speaker for recognizing my colleague, the member for Annapolis.

The pork industry in Nova Scotia is made up of many family businesses that play an integral role in the employment and economic development of the province. Nova Scotia produces hogs that have the highest lean meat index anywhere in Canada, and our province is also known for its high-quality breeding stock. The Nova Scotia pork industry is worth over $30 million at the farm gate and over $100 million to the province's economy; 1,500 direct and indirect jobs are created as a result of Nova Scotia's pork production, yet hog production has dropped from 215,000 hogs in 2000 to 188,500 hogs in 2005.

More than 30 farms and close to 20 per cent of production has been lost in the past four years, Mr. Speaker. Without intervention this trend will continue, and soon pork production may be reduced to the point where it cannot support significant industries like the Larsen's plant in Berwick.

The pork industry has proposed short-term stabilization along with a long-term plan to deal with the risks of price fluctuation and to modernize and add value to reduce costs and to increase production. Since the House was last in session, pork producers report that the negative response to their proposal has created a sense of urgency and crisis within the pork industry in the Valley, where the industry is centred, and the wider farm community. So I respectfully suggest that the urgency of this situation now faced by the pork industry merits urgent debate in this House in accordance with our rules and practices. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Having deemed the request to be proper to be discussed, as well as the rationale as presented by the member for Hants East, does the member have the leave of the House to proceed with debate later in the session?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

MR. SPEAKER: Then the debate shall be held at either the conclusion of business, if there is time within the time allotted, or at the moment of adjournment within a two-hour period, of which each member will be entitled to 15 minutes each in a rotation basis.

[Page 2703]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 122.

Bill No. 122 - St. Paul's United Church Lands Act.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I move second reading, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 122. 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 Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 124, and again I move second reading of that bill.

Bill No. 124 - St. John's Anglican Church Lands Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 124. 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 Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, this concludes the government's business, obviously other than the emergency debate, for today. I would move that the

[Page 2704]

House, following the emergency debate, rise and meet tomorrow at 8:00 a.m., and that the hours of the House would be from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight. The order of government business will be Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for the House to proceed into the emergency debate, and that the House meet at the hour of 8:00 a.m. tomorrow to sit until midnight tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We will now proceed with the debate.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 43

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC.: PORK IND. - CRISIS

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm very eager to hear what the members from the government side have to say on this debate tonight. I have to say that it's with a fair bit of regret, a fair bit of sadness that I stand in my place today to speak on the crisis in the hog industry because, since 1998, this will be the third time I have risen in this House to speak on the hog industry.

I know the minister - if the minister is going to be the member who will speak for the government side, or one of them - is probably going to talk to how much the government is doing. He'll probably identify dollars that have been spent by this Progressive Conservative Government to try to shore up the hog industry. I think it's evident that whatever dollars have been spent, have been spent without a plan. As a matter of fact, it was this government that actually asked the hog producers to provide a plan, a long-term plan to government, something that government could buy into and help the industry.

Now, I want to read a statement, actually out of Hansard, back in the debate that was held on December 1, 1998. At that time, the Progressive Conservative caucus was on the Opposition side, the same as my colleagues in the New Democratic Party. This quote is, "The Progressive Conservative caucus pledges its support to the government . . .", which at that time was the Russell MacLellan Government, ". . . in their efforts to assist the pork producers in the Province of Nova Scotia. My only request is that you act post-haste. I thank you very much for the opportunity."

[Page 2705]

Mr. Speaker, that's a quote from the present Minister of Agriculture. That was from the member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, at that time in 1998. I heard the minister on the radio the other day - actually yesterday, I believe - and his comment was, government can no longer support a model that does not work; government can no longer support a model that does not work. Well, I have to say, the hog producers are worried about a model that does not work. They've been trying to make that case to government for some time, and actually they provided a plan when the honourable member for Argyle was Minister of Agriculture, I think it was in September 2005, he had a plan on his desk from the hog industry for restructuring that industry. Here we are in January 2007 with no indication that the government ever intended to act on that plan.

I want to just talk a little bit. I know I mentioned in my statement to the Speaker in moving this motion the impact of the hog industry and the economy of Nova Scotia, certainly $30 million at the farm gate, over $100 million to the province's economy, 1,500 direct and indirect jobs. I want to ask the members on the government side if they had to wake up tomorrow morning and invest some dollars in an industry that could produce $30 million direct money from that industry, plus the $100 million in the economy to create 1,500 jobs in Nova Scotia. And they could do that for $6 million, maybe? Would they do it? I think the members on the government side would be saying, all right, what's the industry and how do we get involved in this?

But yet, here's an industry that these people are not fly-by-nighters. These are people who are committed to the province, committed to their families, their land. Quite often you're looking at anywhere from 30 to 70 years of commitment, where we have more than one generation operating the farm, and farms hand down from generation to generation. These are not going to be the same as we have in terms of call centres, where everybody is trying to attract them. Actually, Asia is turning out to be the call centre capital of the globe and we run a big risk when we try to attract businesses that are similar in the event that they may be attracted to somewhere else by some other greater incentive.

Mr. Speaker, hog producers are not going to leave Nova Scotia to go to another jurisdiction. If anything happens to them, the most negative result is that they'll be going out of business. They are not going to move to the United States and set up their operation, they're not going to move to British Columbia, their commitment here is in the infrastructure that they have in their homes, in their land, in their buildings, and in the blood and sweat that their ancestors put into these operations. These are not things that people easily give up.

Now, this is an industry that has had a rough road, Mr. Speaker. I think probably members opposite, if they pay attention to what has happened with the pork industry, certainly it would be a very cyclical growth pattern, if you want to call it that. If they had good prices, a number of people would go into the industry, then you'd have

[Page 2706]

overproduction, then you'd have a reduction in price; people would get out and so on. This industry has never enjoyed the stability, say, of the supply-managed sector which would include the dairy sector, the egg sector, chickens and turkeys.

This is a sector that I think originally when the quota system came into being in the 1960s, they chose to be exporters, the same as the beef industry did, and this has been to their peril because negotiating across boarders becomes very difficult. They're caught in a commodity model, whereby their price is set somewhere else. It's set outside the country. It's based on cheap grain production in the U.S. mid-west, and it's not based on the variables that the Nova Scotia hog producers have to face day to day, in their industry. Presently, one of the greatest obstacles has been doubling of feed costs, since the early Fall.

There have been, in recent history, a few nails put into the coffin of the hog industry. Probably one of the most significant ones was in the mid-1990s, I think, the extinguishing of feed freight assistance by the federal Liberal Government. I guess most members would know that this actually was part of the agreement that brought the east into confederation; it was a subsidization of the hauling of grain to the east.

So in the 1990s, we saw that disappear. I have to say, that was not a significant cost. I know someone told me how many - I think it was slightly over $1 million, actually, that feed freight assistance amounted to. And for $1 million, the federal government - if you think about the size of the federal budget, that wasn't deemed to be seen as proactive in helping generate wealth and secure our food supply in this country and I hope we have time to speak about security of food, because it's not something we hear much about.

We had the pork risk management program, which had contributions from the producer, the processor and the government, which this present government, or I say the Progressive Conservative Government under John Hamm in 1999, that they removed. That had a significant impact on the ability of the industry to cope with changes and costs, in particular.

[6:45 pm.]

That was a program whereby you could pay into an account and draw back out of that account when prices were bad. Probably the federal NISA program was also helpful, I think, and we know what's happened with that. It's gone by the wayside, replaced by the CAIS program, which seems to not work for the Atlantic Region, in particular.

Roll all that up with the present high Canadian dollar for a commodity that's exported and this has caused significant problems for the industry. Probably one of the

[Page 2707]

more difficult things this industry's been trying to deal with has been post-weaning multi-systemic wasting disease.

Here we have about four significant impacts on that industry, plus their inability to get the price they need. Presently, hog producers are getting about a $40 loss on their hogs. So every hog they sell, they lose $40. No one can continue to do that and the minister might talk about another model, then he should talk about a model that actually allows them to get the costs they need out of the display case. That's where the minister should be going. He cannot allow the retailers in the province to totally hold all the cards.

I think the consumer would recognize that in the display case, there's enough money being spent by the consumer that the producer should be able to get his share and make a living. A hog producer gets about $120 for a hog; that retails at Sobeys for about $400. Somewhere between $400 and $120, there has to be a few more cents per kilogram that the hog producer should be able to receive in order to make his operation profitable.

Pork Nova Scotia presently is a marketing board. It's formed under legislation and actually in that legislation, it's allowed to set price. But, if it goes to Larsen's and says here's what we need per kilogram of pork, they're going to say thank you very much, we appreciate that, but I think we'll get our hogs from Manitoba or somewhere else, but we're not going to pay your price. So, hog producers have absolutely no levers. They have to pay all the input costs that come into their operations, but yet they cannot negotiate price to get the price they need.

But milk producers can do that. They go to the Natural Product Marketing Council, they make a case to the council, we need half a cent per litre, and the council can agree or disagree. They have a mechanism to get the price they need and that comes right out of the display case.

I want to hear from other members and I want to hear from the government side. The hog industry cannot exist on an ad hoc program. I think the minister and the former ministers would agree with that. That makes perfect sense. They believe it and they've identified it, but they want to establish a long-term plan that will stabilize their industry. They have cut the efficiencies down to the bare bone.

The minister will talk about other models - I'm not sure what other models, but I think it's purely a question of how much equity do you have and when will you use it up? Those will be the people who will still be around the longest. Otherwise, for anyone trying to expand and invest it recently, they are probably the people who are going to feel the crunch the worst and the soonest.

The Minister of Education is going to be reviewing a report on a moratorium on school closures and this government does not relate economic development or keeping

[Page 2708]

young families in rural Nova Scotia to the fact that schools are closing. If you had an economic development plan that looked at keeping young people in rural communities and having young families, you wouldn't be worried about closing schools - you'd have children in those schools.

Agriculture is a perfect vehicle for that. We produce 65 per cent of our need in pork, we should be able to grow that by almost another 40 per cent, but yet producers are going broke. Agriculture is renewable and sustainable, we have to have food. We should look at food security, we should be thinking about the impacts of dealing across borders and what that means and how little input we can have into what other people do to the food that we bring into this province. So I have to say that I implore the government to think about what the impact of losing 20 per cent of this industry is going to mean, and actually it could be bigger. This is an industry we should be growing, not losing, because Nova Scotians will be eating pork and it will be somebody else's and it should be money that is invested in this province, Mr. Speaker.

They should also think about the fact and relate this to the cattle industry; we produce only about one-eighth of our consumption here, about $200 million consumer dollars go to Alberta for their industry, which should be spent here. So with those comments, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place and I look forward to hearing the comments from members of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise and talk about an industry that is very near and dear to my heart, that is the agriculture industry. Over the last number of years the government has responded with funding programs, additional services, to try to alleviate some of the stresses that farmers and their families are facing here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Government has listened and provided programming totalling more than $70 million since 2003. Income support for the hog and ruminant livestock sectors totals $22 million with the business risk management, or BRM Program, totalling $19 million. While the APF - the Atlantic Policy Framework Initiatives under the Environment Renewal Food Safety Science Innovative Chapters, including the Farm Investment Fund, the Dead Stock Removal, totalled over $30 million.

I know these programs may not be perfect for farmers across Canada, and they pointed that out in the recent meetings in Calgary where the federal, provincial and territorial ministers met, but we will make it better. Federal and provincial ministers are committed to making it better and doing changes to the federal CAIS program. We are and should always be working to improve these programs. In fact, my department is reviewing our programs, to be sure that they are working the best they can.

[Page 2709]

We know the marketplace is demanding and huge in scope. It is time to continue the tradition to a model of prosperity, self-sufficiency and hope. For many agriculture commodity sectors, major and fundamental changes need to occur if they are to be sustainable, competitive and to play an important role in the agricultural and the provincial economy.

We continue to assist sectors to develop strategies to increase their competitiveness and build profitability into the system. Currently we are involved with Pork Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association, the Winery Association of Nova Scotia, the organic sector, the Nova Scotia Cattle Producers, Taste of Nova Scotia and there are other strategy development.

The Department of Agriculture and this government have been very busy. We support business training, business planning, feasibility studies, market research and information, new product development, quality enhancement and innovation through various department programs and services. These initiatives encourage empowering businesses with ideas, information and tactics for diversification and enhancing competitiveness.

We will follow through on our commitment to add additional support workers. The Premier during the last election pledged - it was in our election platform and I might add, Mr. Speaker, as you would know, we were the only Party in Nova Scotia to do so, to promise 10 additional support workers for the agriculture in this Province of Nova Scotia.

There are a number of key industry issues that we continue to work on. They include, SRM disposal, traceability and the issue of imported milk protein. Mr. Speaker, several commodities, not just the hog producers in this province, do have challenges, but we believe that with government support they will rise to the challenge.

Through the Farm Loan Board the department provides lending and business counselling to enable farmers and farm businesses to move forward in new directions, with new opportunities, or help current businesses to further develop.

The NSAC, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, is embracing agri-innovation and life science research and commercialization through the set-up of the Atlantic BioVenture Centre at AgriTECH Park in Bible Hill in the riding of the honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. This centre brings together people in land-based resource sectors with investors, researchers, and eventually companies that will market new products including high-value additives for animal feeds, supplements, nutriceuticals, functional foods, and cosmetics.

We will continue to work to address farm income challenges. Differentiation, diversification and development - the three "Ds" are key to this focus. We are helping

[Page 2710]

groups develop sector strategies aimed at increasing competitiveness and profitability. Whatever we do, it must transition our industry to a more competitive sustainable reality.

Over the past two years a concept has grown within industry of a program that would use money captured from the value chain to reinvest in the agriculture industry. This concept is embodied in the primary value chain recovery project, Phase I and Phase II, commonly referred to as the Kelco report because it was prepared by Kelco Consulting. Late in the summer, Mr. Speaker, shortly after being sworn in as minister, one of the first exercises that I engaged in was to approve the formation of the competitive transition project working group to start looking at options related to this concept. So, yes, the government has supported and continues to support agriculture here in Nova Scotia.

I would like to talk for a moment specifically about the hog sector. There have been things said and there have been things written over the past month suggesting that the hog industry in Nova Scotia is in trouble and that government is not helping them - in fact the word "abandoned" was used. I'm here tonight to share a few facts with you so that you will know that this government does support the hog industry in the province and, Mr. Speaker, continues and will continue to support the hog sector.

As many of you may know, the hog sector has been experiencing the negative impact of low prices, animal health concerns, excess North American supply, the high Canadian dollar, and rising production costs associated mostly with feed costs. Last month this government, on December 1st, announced $9.7 million in support for our agriculture community. The hog sector will certainly benefit from this funding - of the $6.2 million announced to eliminate farm debt, approximately $3.5 million will go to the hog sector. That's right, Mr. Speaker, of the $6.2 million announced to eliminate farm debt, approximately $3.5 million will go to retire that loan that is with Pork Nova Scotia and individual farmers - $3.5 million is going out, reaching out to the farmers. (Applause)

We've heard from the farmers and we've heard from their families - our debt load is incredible, please help us, please provide us with some relief. Well, this government did listen and on April 1st we're retiring that $3.5 million debt. As well, as part of that December announcement, Mr. Speaker, as well as that part of the December announcement, $2 million for income relief for the agriculture industry will see the hog sector receive approximately $500,000 - and I've been told by the department, as recently as this afternoon, that we expect to be cutting the cheques next week. It's going out to the hog farmers and their families - that's what this government is doing, and we have done many other things to support this industry.

In fact, not including December's funding announcement, the provincial government provided about $16 million to the hog industry between 2002 and 2006. The assistance included loan write-offs, it included interest deferral, direct income support

[Page 2711]

and grants. In fact, this province, Mr. Speaker, has done more than all the other Atlantic Provinces combined, and I would challenge any member opposite to stand and say that isn't correct. This province and the Government of Nova Scotia, Premier Rodney MacDonald and this government have done more than the other Atlantic Provinces combined for the hog industry. It has done more and they can't refute it - they can't stand on their pins and refute that.

In addition, the province has entered into many agreements with the federal government to continue providing some type of income support such as the CAIS Program - and we realize there are challenges with the CAIS Program, but the federal minister, the Honourable Chuck Strahl, has agreed, as have the other Agriculture Ministers across Canada, to try to put forward some different elements and different changes to the program to make it more user-friendly to the farmer.

The fact is the Nova Scotia hog production sector has required substantial levels of public support over the past 10 to 15 years and it's time to make more strategic decisions. The government simply will not continue to provide annual income support to maintain the status quo. The sector must find ways to conquer its challenges and continue to move towards prosperity and new business opportunities. Together with Pork Nova Scotia, we have worked on a number of things to address price competitiveness and business and planning. This is an industry that has been planning for its future, and many producers are now exploring new options and implementing new plans.

[7:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we will continue to work with the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture on proposals to help the hog industry, to help them transition to a more competitive model. Something clearly isn't working. Some of our farmers are trying to compete in the commodity model. They're working against the North American - you might as well say they're not working with the North American market price. In some cases, they're working against it. Their competitiveness is brought into question.

We had an opportunity to speak to some of the other Atlantic Provinces and the State of Maine just in the last few short days and, please, believe you me, this problem isn't unique to Nova Scotia. Many of the farmers - what do you say to the pork farmers out there who have been innovative, who have been creative and moved to other business models that are successful, Mr. Speaker? What do you say to the farmers who have moved to those other models? I say, congratulations, keep up the good work. We're encouraging others. That's why we're providing $500,000, and the cheques are going to be cut starting next week. That's why we are writing off the loan. That's why we are providing an infrastructure program starting the first of April.

Mr. Speaker, we are very concerned, but the fact of the matter is that there's no new money, no more money, that's the message, and we've been trying to work with

[Page 2712]

Pork Nova Scotia to tell them that that's the case. What do you say to the farmer who is working with Tony's in Antigonish with specialty products? What do you say to the farmer who is using the Metz model in shipping the weaners out to other jurisdictions and letting them be finished but is making a profit?

Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is we all have to work together, and this government will work with the hog producers in this province. Despite the strong management performance, there's no doubt about it, this government pledges to support and pledges to continue to work with the hog industry in the Province of Nova Scotia, but we can't continue supporting models that clearly do not work.

Mr. Speaker, the bottom line is we have to move to more efficient models; we have to look at other types of value-added and differentiated products. In fact, the killing plant on Prince Edward Island that is managed by the P.E.I. Hog Commodity Marketing Board, the farmers in Prince Edward Island have moved now to organic products, they've moved to value added, they've moved to natural, they're looking at Omega-3 additives for the hog sector, and they're taking up the cause, they're taking up the challenge.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would like the minister to explain what programs he has in place to allow this industry to shift to organic or any other model, and could he name three models that are going on in Nova Scotia, because I bet he can't.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order, and this is not Question Period.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the NDP, clearly, and that member, I guess he's speaking for the NDP, got up and said that he supports taxes to the consumer in Nova Scotia to raise the price of food on the shelf. We're not saying that that may not be an option, we're saying let's move to models that are successful. There are opportunities out there, and this government is working with the farmers to get away from the commodity-based model. If the NDP wants to stand up and make a commitment to raise taxes, go ahead, go ahead and make that commitment, because that's your only solution. We're working with them to provide for value-added, organic, natural, Omega additives and things of that nature.

It's time now, it's time for that member over there to try to be creative himself, instead of just raising taxes. That, we don't believe is the answer. We have to work. In the value chain, Mr. Speaker, we believe that there's lots of money to go around. The farmer invests the most, the farmer takes the biggest risk, but they get the littlest of return. What is wrong with that picture? What we have to do is work and find ways and solutions so that the farmer can get more, the farmer has to get more. The consumer, we

[Page 2713]

believe, is already paying enough, so we're not going to jump in bed and support that suggestion that the NDP is making that we raise taxes to make up the difference. It's not fair to the consumer out there.

Mr. Speaker, we believe there are models out there that can be more productive, we believe there are models out there that are much more efficient, and we will continue to work with the farmer. Income support, infrastructure programs and retiring the debt. The member seems to have the audacity to stand in his place and accuse us of abandoning the farmer out there, that's not the case. (Interruptions) Well, the member doesn't want the facts to confuse with his fiction, I can understand that, but the fact is we're going to start cutting cheques next week. The announcement was made on December 1st up in Truro to the farmers and with the limited resources that we have, we are going to be fair to all the commodities - the cattle industry has challenges, but the pork industry certainly has challenges as well and we are committed and this government and this Premier is committed to work with the agriculture industry and we will continue to do so.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your indulgence. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to join the debate on the hog industry, but I think more importantly, on the agricultural industry. I want to also thank the member for Hants East for bringing this forward. He's had the good fortune of being here longer than me. In the little over three years I've been here, I've been fighting these issues - this is at least the second time that I've stood to speak on the hog industry in an emergency debate. I'm sure the member for Kings West has done the same.

It's interesting, the remarks the minister was saying, he used the word, hope. I couldn't agree with him more. Unfortunately, the people on the farm are losing hope. The minister talked about the 10 additional support workers that his government put in place, or suggested they were going to do in their platform. No one in the agricultural community, to my knowledge, supports that. But, yet, this government knows best, so they're going to do it.

The hog industry put in front of this government, over a year ago, a plan to revitalize their industry, to reshape it, to bring it to what they would consider a way to survive. What they've asked for is time to let that happen. What the government has come back to them and said, this is bigger than just the hog industry. The government has said this goes across cross sectors and I couldn't agree with you more. I think we need to look at cross sectors.

[Page 2714]

But, what they've said to the hog industry, we like your plan but let us look at a cross-commodity plan and the Kelco report. Let's see what we can do for a vision for the non-supply-managed commodities in this province. Do you know what? The pork industry bought into that. They gave this government breathing room. What they wanted in return was bridge funding to allow them to get to the point when the Kelco report would be released.

What did they get? Quite frankly, the knees cut out from under them on December 1st and December 2nd, at the annual Federation of Agriculture's meeting. I'll say this again, they weren't asking for long-term debt forgiveness. They were asking for interest relief on that debt and for short-term bridge funding to keep them alive.

Quite frankly, many of the hog producers in this province cannot afford their feed bills. Some of whom now are on cash on demand. When the feed arrives, they need cash in hand and they don't have it. They don't have it. They've gone to the well one too many times and they've gone to the well more recently on the belief that there would be support from this government in the long term.

They know they can't continue, they know we, as a province, can't continue to give them money year after year after year. What they need, though, is an opportunity to get to the point where we can put in a long-term strategy - not just for the hog industry, but for agriculture across this province.

Since I've been here, there's been ideas and suggestions from one commodity to another about how we could sustain their industries and none of them - I want to say this again - none of them have been acted upon. That is the shame of this House and I will take some responsibility, as a member of this House perhaps, but it ultimately falls at the feet of government. They're the ones that will make that decision.

That's where we're at. We talk about the number of jobs that are connected and being out-migrated from rural Nova Scotia and the very industries that have seen us through some of the toughest times in our history, we are abandoning now. We're saying to them, that our Nova Scotia, the vision that you have for Nova Scotia, they don't exist.

What I would like you to say and I would like the government to stand up - the Premier, the minister - to stand up and say to the hog farmers, we don't believe in you. We don't believe there will be a future for you because that's what they've taken from that announcement that was made in December. They're saying you're allowing us to die by 1,000 cuts. They want the truth. If you don't believe there's a future for them, then all they're asking is for you to give them a hand to get out of this industry with the shirt on their back and the dignity that they entered the industry with.

This is going across, Mr. Speaker, this is not affecting just - this is landing right at the tables of many of the people in rural Nova Scotia. When you go to meetings that

[Page 2715]

I know the member for Hants East was at, the member for Kings West was at, in Wolfville, and you listen to farmers stand up and tell you of their plight, the heartache that's happening on their farms, at their kitchen tables with their families.

Mr. Speaker, none of us enjoy those tough times that we all face at times with our families, and the financial stress that's put on the agricultural community now has been ignored for far too long. The announcement that was made in December, in my view, was to say to the hog industry that there's no future for you; we don't believe you exist. You entered in good faith to us, you said that you would wait until the Kelko report came out but we have said, as a government, we are not prepared to support you beyond now.

The minister spoke of no new money - the cupboard is bare. Well, Mr. Speaker, it doesn't take new money. It takes the announcement of long-term debt relief that he spoke about that the hog industry wasn't asking for. They were asking for interest relief on that debt and they were asking for some bridge funding to get them to that point where this government spoke about a vision. We're still waiting and they are waiting but, by the time they find a vision, there will be no industry and there will be no rural Nova Scotia. This is just one card being pulled out from the entire agriculture industry, quite frankly, from feed plants to fertilizer plants.

It's not going to stop at the hog industry, let's not kid ourselves. He spoke about the cattle producers, they're next. If anyone here believes that supply management is safe, they are kidding themselves. As we continue to allow one industry after another to go, the infrastructure will go with it and along with it, so will the supply-managed commodities be gone because they will be sold and they won't be bought in this province, quite frankly, Mr. Speaker. They will be sold and bought by somebody else and there will be no agriculture industry left, unless we now put together a long-term plan.

The minister talked about a tax on food. I don't believe it takes a tax on food. Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are paying enough for food. What we have to figure out is how to distribute that money. When you consider that, during the BSE crisis, none of you paid less for your beef at the store, none of you, not one Nova Scotian did, but I can tell you that those producers were starving. There is not one correlation between what the producer is getting and the retail price. Where else in a free market does that happen? Where else? Nowhere! Nowhere does the person producing the product have no effect on what it is being sold for. That's happening in the agriculture industry.

We need to reach out and say to the Sobeys, to the Atlantic Superstores, we want you at the table now. I would be curious to hear from this government how many times they have sat down, not to talk to them about how many jobs they're going to move from Middleton to New Glasgow, how many jobs they're going to move from one community to another. What we want to know is, what are you going to do to ensure that the

[Page 2716]

agricultural community in Nova Scotia is getting a fair share for the product they are producing?

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you that product is second to none, and particularly in the hog industry. Many Nova Scotians, when you tell them that we produce only 65 per cent of the pork we consume, they say, how can that be? Our farmers are going broke, how can that be? That's a question that needs to be answered.

[7:15 p.m.]

I believe there are solutions and, quite frankly, the solutions lie not in here. They don't lie in here - they lie at the farm gate, they are at the farm tables. Those men and women know their industry. Quite frankly, those farmers who are alive today in the industry - who are still surviving, I should say, in the industry - in a non-supply-managed product are actually some of the brightest and finest business people in this province and in the country because, Mr. Speaker, if you can stay in business losing $40 a hog, you must be doing something, you must have trimmed every expense you can think of.

The minister spoke today about a company that's sending their weaner pigs out of this province. Well, I want to tell you that there are farmers in this province now who are looking to convert to sow operations to send weaner pigs to the United States than go on contract to feed them, contract to go to slaughterhouses. They're doing that because that's the only option they have. They're doing it because it's the only way they can survive and what are we saying? We're saying collectively, as a group, that's okay. Ship the business out of here. It doesn't matter. Out of a $30 million revenue that comes out of this industry, when you think about it, 94 per cent of that is spent right here in Nova Scotia. What other industry in this province can boast of that? What other industry can boast of that? Much of that is spent within a 40-kilometre radius of that farm. This is hitting right at the heart of rural Nova Scotia.

We have challenges, and I know the government has challenges when it comes to the financial state of this province. I recognize that. The industry recognizes that. That's why they went in good faith and said to them, we will step back from our vision, from the way we believe we can revitalize the pork industry, to work with you, to work with the consultant, to bring out a long-term vision for all non-supply-managed commodities. With the announcement in December, they won't be here.

We've had a 20 per cent loss in the hog industry over the last four years and if we wait until April, that will escalate to an unbelievable amount. There are farmers now, by the end of this month, who will be winding down their operation.

What is lost on everyone here, this isn't like pulling the light switch off, locking the door and saying I'm out of business. They have product that they're going to have to deal with over the next months and months. To begin now for some of these people,

[Page 2717]

they will not end up winding down their operation until September, all along losing more and more money and hitting at the heart, I believe, of the rural economy of this province.

What they're asking for is for this government to step up, to keep their word, to go to the commitment that they made to this industry when they asked them to back away from their own plan and enter into good faith with the government on the Kelco report so that we could bring about a long-term vision.

I ask the minister and I ask the other members of his Cabinet, who sit around the table, who also have a responsibility to support the Minister of Agriculture and support the agricultural community, to help with the bridge funding that we need, to ensure that this industry is not only here, but that it can continue to grow.

When I look in Berwick at the Larsen's plant and the thought that plant may close, the silence in this room will be heard in Kings County because that's exactly what it will be like in Kings County. The residents of Berwick can expect an escalating municipal tax rate. There is absolutely no question about it, when you look at that.

There are no easy answers, but the good faith is there with the industry. The good faith is there not just with the hog industry, it's there with all non-supply-managed commodities and supply-managed commodities, to make this a reality, to put together a long-term vision for agriculture. Because, quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, if we don't have one, then we need to come to the realization there won't be an industry and we need to do the right thing. We need to say to the men and women in the industry, you don't have a future and our job here today will be to wind you down. That's not my vision. That's not the vision that I have or that we as a Party have. That's the vision and that's the interpretation that the industry is taking out of the announcement in December.

I want the minister to have an opportunity tomorrow when the Federation of Agriculture arrives here, and I hope not just with the hog industry, I hope with the cross sector of the industry, to send a collective voice, to send a message to this government that they believe they have a future, they need their support and they want them to hold that commitment.

I want to say to Nova Scotians, they have a collective responsibility to join into this solution. We need to reach out to Nova Scotians. We need to reach out to tell them how vital this is. We need to educate them, quite frankly, on the products that are being produced in this province, on the quality of the products in this province, and we need to remind them to ask at every grocery store they go to, where did that product come from? Was that product grown in Nova Scotia? Was that product produced in Nova Scotia? We need to remind them how vital it is, how vital it is to our collective long-term futures.

[Page 2718]

Mr. Speaker, it is the way that we, as all members in this House, I think, can unite behind this. What we need is that time so that we can help these farmers, we can help this commodity bridge the loss that it has, bridge the opportunity to get to what I believe will be a brighter future. With those few words, I look forward to hearing the rest of the comments as we go forward. I would ask all members of this House to think tonight, whenever they eat, or tomorrow, where the product is coming from that they're eating, and who produced it, and keep in mind how much they receive from it in comparison to what you paid for it. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to have a few minutes to participate in this debate here tonight. It's certainly a very important debate, to talk about the future of the hog industry and, truly, really, to talk about the future of the agriculture industry here in this province. I can think of nothing more pertinent or more important that we do have an emergency debate on, here this evening. The agricultural industry is a $2.3 billion industry in Nova Scotia, and the spinoff from that is tremendous. It's a vital, important industry, especially in rural Nova Scotia. It has often been called the backbone of Nova Scotia, the farming industry in the rural parts of this province.

I guess I can relate to the hog industry and to farming in general, having grown up, as many members in this House have, on a family farm, in my case in Pictou County. We had a mixed farm there, hogs for sure, but also beef and vegetables and strawberries and chickens - a good mix. I can certainly remember a good number of pigs that we had to raise and then usually sold in the local market. My grandparents before were also farming folks. So I guess it runs in my blood.

It's disheartening when I hear about the plight of our farmers at this time, especially the hog farmers. I've received a large number of e-mails and faxes and telephone calls, actually, over the last number of days and weeks from these farmers who are really in dire straits. They're not calling me or faxing or e-mailing to myself and other MLAs because they want to, but it's because they are in a very tough position. They're really asking for some short-term help here to get them over the hump and get them on a better path so that they can survive, can support their families, can continue to be the backbone of rural Nova Scotia.

I just want to take a minute, Mr. Speaker, if I could, just to quote from a letter or two that I received, and I'm sure most MLAs received them as well. Here's one producer from Digby County. He says: We're in our 40th year now in pig production. We went to the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, and financing was made easy through a loan from the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board. But now we're almost $2 million in debt that we owe to the board. We can't afford to pay that. We're hoping there's going to be write-off of that loan.

[Page 2719]

They haven't got enough money to buy feed for their animals, let alone pay their long-term debt of almost $2 million. They're receiving $40 less per animal than it cost to produce it. That's about $9,000 a week that they're losing. There's no wonder they no longer have credit at the bank or with the feed company when they're losing that kind of money week after week. They're afraid they're going to lose their house because they had to sign a personal guarantee, everything is on the line. It's a tough situation.

Here's another letter, Mr. Speaker, from Colchester County. They've been farming as a family unit for more than 45 years. They know the old-fashioned value of work and have always had everybody involved in the family farm, the third generation on the farm now, and they're saying that the amount they're receiving at the farm gate is nothing compared to what the store price is and it's a real problem. They're not getting their fair share of the farm dollar and they're asking that the government have the political will to stand up to help them find a solution that is going to work. If not, we're going to end up importing all our fresh food and it's not just the industry, it's the whole rural economy that's in trouble.

So that's just a couple of examples. I guess there's one other here I'll read, Mr. Speaker. This one comes from Kings County and they say that they're under financial strain because of things well beyond their control - things like BSE, the countervail, the Canadian currency exchanges, wasting disease and so on. So they're under tremendous financial pressure right now, in January 2007, and they're asking for some short-term help to get them over the hump until a long-term plan by government to bring the industry onto a more stable base.

So what are the causes here, Mr. Speaker? Why is it that our hog farmers, and really many of our agriculture producers, are in such trouble at this time? Some of these have already been mentioned but one is the cancelling of the Feed Freight Assistance Program - the federal government cancelled that in the 1990s. The end of the risk management program - that was sort of a tripartite system between government, the industry and the processors and everybody paid a portion into it when times were good and when times were bad, they're able to draw some of that money back out, really an insurance program that worked but, again, that was cancelled by a previous minister of the Conservative Government, I believe in 1999.

I guess the real nail in the coffin for hog farmers has been the continuous downward cycle of prices and, as was mentioned, they're losing about $40 an animal. If they were selling the animal right now for $120, it's costing about $160 to produce it. So it doesn't take long to figure out that the mathematics are going in the wrong direction.

So when the Minister of Agriculture announced in Truro on December 1st that there was going to be some help for farmers, that initially seemed like good news. I think it was a $9.6 million or $9.7 million announcement. Now, that announcement I

[Page 2720]

understand is spread over four years. So in actual fact, there's only about $2.4 million per year roughly, in that range, but I understand it is a four year program. Some of it was for debt relief and some of it was for a small top-up on the CAIS Program. In reality, it's not going to help the pork farmer in many ways over the next two, three to four months to get through this tough period until some long-term plan can kick in to stabilize the industry.

You know, when the farmer gets up in the morning and puts his rubber boots on and heads out to the barn, I don't think that announcement back in December is really going to make a big deal of difference in helping him to find the money to feed his animals on this particular day. It's a little bit of help but it's not near what it takes to get his animals fed this week and next and right through to Spring.

So Pork Nova Scotia has gone to the government, it has gone to the minister, and has asked for help. The government, in turn, came back and said, well, we need a long-term plan from you; we need something to prove that you're going to be viable. That seems fair, you know, if you're asking for money, you need to prove that you can be sustainable in the long run. They came up with that plan and they brought it to the previous Minister of Agriculture. I understand that it has been there on his desk for many, many months and was not acted upon. So collecting dust is not going to help our hog farmers at this time.

[7:30 p.m.]

So then I guess the minister came forward with a plan that says we need a long-term vision, we need something here that's going to help our farmers, not just hog farmers but all farmers in the long run. So he came forward with a competitive transition model plan, I guess it's called the Kelco report, and my understanding is that is due for release on April 1, 2007, and it's looking at a system whereby farmers will get their fair share of the agricultural dollar as it comes out of the supermarket chain.

I know it's been tried in other jurisdictions. I think in New Brunswick they have a model where apple farmers get a small percentage back on their food that's produced there and that's a help to those producers. I believe it's been tried in New Zealand on some other foods, so there is a model there that works and hopefully the Kelco report will recommend something that's going to be sustainable for our agricultural industry in this province.

In reality, none of those initiatives I've talked about in the last few minutes are going to help the hog farmer in January, February or March of this year. Down the road, they may be of some help, but they need help now. This is the time they're in their hour of their greatest need; they need some short-term assistance right now.

[Page 2721]

If they don't, it will really have a domino effect on our rural communities throughout this province. Not only will farmers no longer be in business, including hog farmers and beef farmers, horticultural producers, but it will affect schools, churches, right down to the grocery store, the hardware store, the service station, gift stores and we will end up with more people leaving Nova Scotia, more out-migration. That's not the model we want to see in Nova Scotia.

I noticed in the Herald a few days ago, there was a report in the Nova Scotia Business Journal - I can table this if you wish - from Dale Kelly, CEO of AgraPoint. One point he made was, he indicates every $1.00 spent in primary agriculture produces $3 in further processing activity and $5 in total economic input for the community. So there is a total spin-off in our agricultural community and into our rural communities that's very beneficial.

While that article was good and pointed that out, again, overall, it was very optimistic about the farming industry, I'm not sure if that's really true here in Nova Scotia as we're talking about here tonight. I would say it's certainly full of rosy optimism, but it's not the true or complete fixture of the situation faced by the farming community in the province here at this time.

The Minister of Agriculture has often been quoted as saying that farmers feed us all. That's a true statement. Farmers do produce all the food that we consume here in the province and that's wonderful. But I'm asking, where are those farmers going to be in the future if we don't stand up and support our farming community at this time? Will all our milk be coming from the Province of Quebec? Will our pork be produced in Manitoba? Will our beef be coming from Alberta? Will our fruits and vegetables be coming from California?

We need Nova Scotia farmers to be producing these products, not from other Canadian provinces or other American jurisdictions or wherever. We need to support our own farmers so I guess I'm imploring, I'm asking as strongly as possible to ask this government to support our pork producers here and now in their hour of greatest need in these next few months; support our beef farmers and our horticultural producers - all farming communities - support our rural communities from one end of this province to the other. I think overall, we need a strong vision for agriculture and we need it here and now.

I know I only have a couple of minutes left, but I just want to ask, not just the minister, but really the Premier and all 17 ministers in the Cabinet now, to get behind our farmers and support them here in their hour of greatest need. There's an old Chinese proverb that some of you might be familiar with and it may be appropriate - this is the year of the pig on the Chinese calendar, so maybe that's appropriate - and it goes like this, "When the sun rises, I go to work. When the sun goes down, I take my rest . . . I farm the soil that yields my food. I share creation, Kings can do no more."

[Page 2722]

That's the philosophy of the farmer that has been around for thousands of years and I think it shows the humble tradition of the farming community. They're willing to work, they're willing to work long hours and produce our food but sometimes we need to stand up and support them. This is one of those times to answer the call and support our farming community before it is too late.

I guess the answer to the problem here is really with the Executive Council of government. They have to, in their hearts and minds, decide that this is worth fighting for, it is worth supporting our agricultural community, it is worth supporting our rural communities and I would urge you in the strongest terms, Cabinet Ministers, to do the right thing, to support our farm families, support our rural communities and certainly where there is a will there is a way.

With those few remarks, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity and I look forward to what others might have to say.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much. It is going to be that maybe the expectation here may be a little too high for what I am going to present tonight, but ultimately I do want to speak for maybe a few moments on the pork industry, not necessarily as - you know, this is as the member for Argyle, Mr. Speaker, we don't have the pork industry in our riding. As a matter of fact, we have very little agriculture in our riding but I was lucky enough to be appointed Minister of Agriculture some three years ago and thoroughly enjoyed my time as Minister of Agriculture, meeting the various individuals and the very hard-working, industrious entrepreneurs who are in our agriculture industry here in Nova Scotia.

Now it didn't take very long, after meeting with the federation, meeting with individual farmers, whether they be pork producers or dairy farmers, that not only are we talking about business but we're talking about a way of life. That is a very difficult thing to quantify, as government is trying to formulate programs that are going to work on helping ways of life. I think that is what took three years to continue to develop and try to come up with programs that are going to work for an industry that is not only based on, as you said, economics but on that way of life.

I wish the minister, actually the member for Annapolis brought up the issue, when did you have the opportunity to sit and talk to retailers? I can say that during my tenure as Minister of Agriculture, on a number of occasions I had the opportunity to sit and chat with Superstores and Sobeys and co-ops in the presence of Pork Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, I can say that there were some very good conversations, maybe some understanding of where farmers were in reference to the retailers, in trying to figure out where that dollar is being lost on behalf of the farmer. The farmer looks at what they're

[Page 2723]

paying at the end of the day at the store and trying to understand why they're not getting that number at the farm gate.

Mr. Speaker, let's look at what is really impacting pork farmers in Nova Scotia. I know the minster did bring them forward but I will bring them forward again. A lot of these issues are not issues that we, as the Government of Nova Scotia or an Opposition or a regular Nova Scotian, can really address on behalf of the pork industry. These are world issues, these are Canadian national issues. They include high feed costs. High feed costs from a province that does not produce feed for pork is one that we cannot address. This was addressed years ago and there was a feed freight subsidy that basically created the pork industry in Nova Scotia, that because of that distribution of costs or feed costs that all points in Canada could produce pork for the same price. That feed freight subsidy - the Crow rate - is no longer available.

Alright, that's not something that I can bring back, as a member of this House; that's not something that the member for Clare can bring back, as a member of this House, but it is something that we can lobby to our federal government to see if there is something that can be done. I know the Minister of Agriculture is doing that. Distance from the feed - again I said that we don't produce that feed here in Nova Scotia. We do in some cases, but not to the quantities required to keep up the production of about 170,000 hogs in this province, or somewhere close to near 200,000, where we would like to be.

North America has an over-supply of pork. There are other jurisdictions in this North American context that are, of course, pork producers that are close to feed, that probably have lower energy costs that are producing pork. That is available to our consumers, to consumers across Canada. So that influences the price, on that global price, because of the commodity-based system that pricing is set upon. There's disease. There has been a bit of a disease going through even our farms in the last number of months that has been impacting our weaners. We can continue to work with the industry to help mitigate that piece, but it does have a direct cost upon our farmers.

One of the biggest pieces that's affecting our pork producers when it comes to price is, of course, our high Canadian dollar. I wish I could figure out ways to do that, because that is impacting businesses across Nova Scotia, not just pork producers (Interruptions) As well, fish plants. I would like to see the member opposite go speak to a fish plant and see if they're getting their fair dollar for their fish; they aren't. A high Canadian dollar is impacting all industries in Nova Scotia. How can we, as a government, address some of these issues? It's very difficult to do.

Mr. Speaker, I think what the Minister of Agriculture has really talked about is that we need to get away - and I've said this during my tenure, I know the previous minister, the minister from Guysborough-Sheet Harbour has said, and now this current member - we have to get away from quick fixes. We have to get away from our

[Page 2724]

investments, year over year, of a few million dollars. If we look at what the support of the pork industry has been over the last, let's say, 10 years, government has supported with ad hoc programs of $2 million a year, on average. This year alone, though - I know the previous minister during his tenure - I was able to provide about $2.8 million directly to the pork industry. It happened in March.

I know this minister has helped provide somewhere close to $2 million out of that $3.5 million of debt retirement. There have been investments. And I could go along the long rift of different programs that are available to pork and that are available to agriculture as a whole in this province, but we need to get away from the quick fix.

So let's go back to during my time as a Minister of Agriculture. Let's talk about what we asked for, from my meetings with Pork Nova Scotia, with very honourable gentlemen, trying to figure out a way to get away from quick fixes, to try to get away from that yearly subsidization of this industry. The things that we tried to ask for, tried to encompass within a long-term plan, were to look at the products and the business model. There are some that have been able to find different business models, which include some of the things the minister has talked about, which included selling the weaners, trying to find different organic products, to try to find better ways to market that pork to the consumers in Nova Scotia without having to go through the bigger retailers, to try to get a better piece of that pie.

You know what? One of the plans which I think is a program through Maple Leaf, which was a signature pork program, Pork Nova Scotia decided not to participate with it. So there have been some decisions that haven't just been government's but have also been the industry's - things they have not wanted to try.

The other things we tried to get in there, we asked for a long-term plan, succession planning, how do we go from one generation to another, and, Mr. Speaker, there's also the idea of an exit plan. We have approximately 70 producers here in Nova Scotia, producing somewhere close to 170,000, 175,000 hogs.

It is my belief - and this is just me as the member for Argyle, a young guy from Pubnico, who really has no ties to agriculture whatsoever outside of my tenure as minister - I think that a smaller number of producers can produce the same number of hogs, if not more, more efficiently. We do have very efficient hog farmers in Nova Scotia. We have some of the most efficient ones, of course, in the riding of the member for Clare, which I do, by the way, see quite often, and I do get cornered by them and I really thank them for their input and their ideas on where to go from where we are today.

[7:45 p.m.]

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to talk a little bit about Buy Nova Scotia. Let's talk about we as Nova Scotians - from the plan that the NDP has been basically speaking of,

[Page 2725]

which is added taxation or a levy on pork (Interruption) they haven't passed - basically to say that as we get there, it has not been my mandate as a member of this caucus or as a member of this House to increase taxes, which is really what it is. We have one taxpayer in Nova Scotia, they are a consumer; regardless of where that money is coming from we're asking Nova Scotians to pay more for a product. I am not too well sold on that idea, that's me, as the member for Argyle, and the things that I hear from my folks.

Let's talk about Buy Nova Scotia for a second. I know the minister has talked about it a lot, to buy Nova Scotia product, to try your best to buy Nova Scotia product. If you have to pay a little bit more, do it. I've done that, Mr. Speaker. I can say that every decision I make when I go to the grocery store and every decision I make when I buy food for my family that I try my best to buy Nova Scotia.

Here's a good example, this came from a meeting we had with the retailers. As I said, Sobeys was there, Co-op was there, Superstore was there. Actually the story comes from Co-op. He was saying that there was one day that they had a sale, they had a sale in the store on pork picnics, apparently it was a really good price. Anyway, a gentleman comes along and picks up a pork picnic and brings it home and realizes that it was not a Nova Scotia product, even to the point that that gentleman apparently was a pork producer. He runs back, complains to the manager, why do you have this sale of out-of-town pork? Wherever the pork was from, it could have been from Manitoba, it could have been from Ontario. The question was, why did you buy it? Well, because it was the best price.

So, Mr. Speaker, as we talk about trying to buy Nova Scotia product, the decision is always on the consumer, and we cannot believe that they are going to be buying a product that is more expensive when there is something else there, or regardless of what it is, they are going to be paying that premium for it. So there are some very difficult decisions and discussions that need to happen around that issue.

Now, Mr. Speaker, again we need to talk about all commodities. I know the member for Annapolis did talk about agriculture in general, not just our pork producers. Yes, our agricultural producers in Nova Scotia have had hard times. We have continually come up with programs, whether in partnership with our federal government, whether out of the coffers of the Nova Scotia Government, to help try to sustain, whether they be correct programs, whether they be direct inputs, whether they be debt retirements or what have you.

I know that over the last three or four years or five years that we have put in tens of millions of dollars into the industry. I can say that we can look at these non-supply-managed commodities and think, you know, I wish everybody could be like that, but you know, Mr. Speaker, if we fall and depend on just those commodities as well, we can't trust that either because with the WTO, with the world stage that we sit upon, that we participate in, is impacting everyday decisions, even with dairy, even with poultry, with

[Page 2726]

eggs and all the other supply-managed commodities. So we have to be very vigilant that we're making sure that the programs that we have are reactive to that world stage, as well.

So we need to make a decision, I think, whether we want to put the blinders on and try to support uncategorically our industry, or do we want to help our industry participate in a world-class, in a worldwide industry? I think that is where I want to be; I want to make sure that our pork industry is producing the best possible pork that it can - and I know it is doing it now and I know that it is doing it at a loss, and it cannot continue to happen. So as we go down the road of a plan, and a true plan which includes product, which includes marketing, which includes how we're going to participate regardless of some of those issues that I brought forward earlier, you know, how are we going to do that. It's more than just quick fixes. It's more than just dollars here and there every year.

Mr. Speaker, I know the minister has done his best and will continue to do his best to make sure that agriculture is a sustainable vibrant industry, as it should be, but we need to get beyond trying to save it as it is today because it can be so much more tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'm certainly pleased to rise tonight to speak on this timely and, of course, by its very nature an emergency situation that is facing the hog industry. I would say it's really the tip of the iceberg. There are other sectors in agriculture that we know are also experiencing some very, very major difficulties. In fact, when I was elected in 2003, my very first meeting was with hog producers. I held it in the town hall in Kingston and they came from Meteghan to Stewiacke and through the Valley. By this time, this government had now been there for four years and certainly one comment that was made was that they weren't really listening to the hog producers and some of their hopes and plans.

It was interesting, again about three and a half years later, just this morning in the council chambers in Kentville, there were 80 to 100 people. This was presented by the Kings County warden and also by the Mayor of Berwick and they invited people from the industry to speak. Certainly one of the very compelling speakers was a farmer by the name of Jim Lamb who is able to get some of his hogs into the food chain in a creative way. He runs a barbeque business that has been unbelievably successful. He also raises hogs for Larsens and he has been a strong voice for the industry and once again he said, since 1999, government has not had a comprehensive agriculture policy. They are the first industry that probably will go down but there will be others in line behind them because there are about 24 sectors in the province and there is some integration with these and the hog industry and as a result it will have this ripple effect. The Mayor of

[Page 2727]

Berwick, John Prall, spoke this morning, he certainly has felt left out and let down by this government where the hog industry is going to be let go essentially.

In our area, and especially to a town like Berwick, Larsens directly supports 20 per cent of the tax base and another 5 per cent through other industries that are supported by the town. This will have a tremendous affect. So the 70 producers are often pointed out, and I've heard the former Minister of Agriculture the member for Argyle who did speak, you know, had some strong sentiments for the industry tonight but often talks just about the 70 producers. Well, there are so many more people than the 70 producers. Half of those farms actually provide a living for three and four families. That's the reality.

This morning when I looked around the chambers in Kentville, who did I see? I saw representatives of a welding company, a veterinarian, and all the way down the line, probably 10 or 15 other jobs that are a spring off from the hog industry were there today.

As the industry starts to collapse - and yes, we, the 52 MLAs who are here now, will see the first stages of this in January if help doesn't come - one of the farmers who will be here tomorrow, from southwestern Nova Scotia, I think from the Deputy Speaker's riding, he hasn't inseminated any of his sows for three weeks, which means that he's starting to get out and he will conclude his business at about September.

This brings me to the point here - and a very critical point - that you just can't quietly announce there will be no more help, which is what the minister did. He didn't hold a press conference, he didn't stand and speak directly to the industry, but rather a few phone calls that there will be no more help coming. So these people, if they had known in the industry that you have a year now, you have one year to make your plans, that would have certainly been helpful at the very least.

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I do apologize, but on a point of order - on December 1st, at the Glengarry in Truro, at the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture meeting, we did announce the farm aid package of $9.7 million to the industry. We stood and addressed the entire farm community that was in attendance that day. So it's misleading the House to say that we didn't tell the industry, and I would ask the honourable member to withdraw that comment.

MR. SPEAKER: On the point of order, I rule the point of order is not in order. It's, rather, information that the minister is bringing to the floor of the House.

MR. GLAVINE: Obviously what I was referring to, Mr. Speaker, was to the fact that when they were asked - not about the long-term plan, but about short-term help - they were quietly informed that there wouldn't be additional help. As a result, on December 20th, just a few days before Christmas, and once again from across the province, they met at the "Old O" - again from County Clare, as far as Stewiacke and

[Page 2728]

beyond, the farmers came there to try to map out a strategy to deal with government. They thought they would still at least get some help until this Kelco report, followed by legislation that would provide some help with a sustainable check-off system at the retail level - and, without that, they can't get there.

In fact, probably one of the best letters that I had - and it's interesting that on this file, I've heard from people in 10 counties, not quite the 15 I heard on the ATV issue, but I've heard from people from 10 counties, and this is not an issue just for my riding, although there is a considerable relationship to the hog industry there, and also to the member for Kings North and perhaps lesser to Kings South - this is from Susan Porskamp, and she says:

I live on a pork farm in the Annapolis Valley that my husband and I run and his father before him. Over the past number of years our business has suffered many financial stresses because of circumstances beyond our control, BSE" - many of them outlined here tonight -"countervailing duties, the elimination of feed freight assistance, Canadian currency changes, and a wasting disease have all caused severe hardships for our farm and our family.

[8:00 p.m.]

We have asked the Province of Nova Scotia to help us through these difficult times and they in turn asked Pork Nova Scotia to go through a planning process which was completed and now we are working on the reports (sic) recommendations.

The minister of Agriculture also established a committee to look at a competitive transition model for all of agriculture; This report is due at the beginning of April.

Neither of these initiatives will do our farm any good if we can't survive until they are in place. We have asked the government to support us as we make these changes but now it seems the government has changed its mind.

The latest announcement by the Hon. Brooke Taylor will not feed our family or our livestock this winter. We have done everything the department of agriculture has asked us to do and now they are abandoning us.

And that's really the essential message that we got in the Chamber today, in Kentville, the ones that we've been getting through our e-mail. They were asked to put a plan in place, Pork Nova Scotia delivered. In August, 2005, they gave the report to the

[Page 2729]

previous minister. They gave the report, once again, to the current minister to work on its implementation.

They have some pieces there which can change the course of the industry, which can change the end product and work towards viability. But, a number of farmers now will not get that opportunity without the bridge financing, without the help.

We must remember they're asking for loan relief, they're not asking for a handout. Invest in the industry in the short term. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Pork Nova Scotia would sign off on any further "asks" if they could get help for the next 12 to 18 months while their plan from Pork Nova Scotia and the Kelco Consulting plan are dovetailed and start to get to work for this industry. That's what farmers are saying.

One of the other e-mails - this is from a person I happen to know, but has very little knowledge of the industry.

I'm writing in support of all farmers, but particularly the hog farmers. I have many friends who are involved in agriculture of various types. Their livelihood depends on so many different factors that are out of their control - BSE, markets, weather, to name a few. To me, government support should be a stabilizing factor in this prominent industry. I do not understand why it is not.

I have read some background about Pork Nova Scotia and the initiative, Farm to Fork. It seems reasonable and doable. I'm also concerned about the spin-off jobs which would be affected if hog farmers must leave the industry, especially in the Annapolis Valley. I believe the government is involved in a program to bring people back from the West. A bit ironic, is it not?

Because, we'll have some who will be leaving the hog industry and possibly heading to the West.

I'll continue to support farmers wherever I can from buying locally, to becoming more aware of what is happening to our food source. I'm also becoming aware of what I can do to leave this world a better place. My support for the hog farmers is one thing I can do. Please reconsider your position.

That's typical of the kinds of letters that I have been receiving over the last while. As a number - certainly my colleague and the members in Opposition have pointed out tonight - if the hog farmers can be given that opportunity to get a little further down the road - as Fraser Hunter said today in his presentation at the Kings County chamber, when he starts out for Antigonish, he needs enough gas in his car to get there. Well, in 12 to

[Page 2730]

18 months, hog farmers could be looking at some positive things developing in their industry, but a number will not get there without the short-term support that they now need.

It is interesting that on January 29th, Sobeys will have a representative at the Horticulture NS AGM that will be held at the Old Orchard Inn. Their representative will be talking about a sustainable value chain and the company's perspective on local purchasing. I think the reality is hitting Sobeys and Loblaws that Nova Scotians - indeed, all provinces across Canada - are going to be demanding real food security, real food safety and that is as much as possible, growing and producing what you can in your own province.

Ontario, which has the economy, possibly next best to Alberta, is looking at this value-chain legislation. They realize that in order to sustain some of their non-managed sectors, they have to get more money into the hand of the producer.

I just have a short few moments left and I did want to reference one other letter. This was from a student at Nova Scotia Agricultural College. I know this young man placed second in his graduating class of 150 students. He grew up on a hog farm and he said

Throughout my childhood, growing up on the farm and living in Rural Nova Scotia, I acquired many life skills and it is this experience that has paved the road that I have been traveling on today. It is because of this experience that I chose the Nova Scotia Agricultural College as it has been a dream of mine to someday take over the family farm and continue to grow the operation, just as my father has done.

This dream and vision that I have spent 20 years developing and working towards is quickly coming to an end. As you are aware, late last year the provincial government rejected a request from Pork Nova Scotia for some assistance to the Pork Producers of this province. This has had a direct impact on our family's operation. Over the past three years we, as a producer and an industry, have been battling low commodity prices. . ." He goes on to finish off, "I personally invite any member of government to visit our family farm and tour around Rural Nova Scotia to see the major impact that agriculture has on Rural Nova Scotia and the positive aspects that it brings to the province.

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

The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 2731]

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I realize that this is a Valley-centred industry, but as the member for Pictou East, I feel I would be remiss if I didn't get up and make a few comments in relationship to the hog industry in Nova Scotia. This is a vital industry to the economy of Nova Scotia. We all know that. The beef farmers in Pictou East, and the dairy farmers and so on, they have solidarity, they have solidarity with the plight of the hog industry at this time. I think there should be solidarity within this House. I think all 52 members of this House should have total solidarity in addressing the problems that are before us at this time.

There are a number of letters out there, Mr. Speaker, that are being circulated to MLAs from hog producers, from the families of hog producers, from others who are dependent upon the industry, and they are very touching. Some of them would actually bring a sensitive person to tears. They outline the loss of the $40 per animal mentioned already by a number of speakers, but the personal situations that exist out there are of the gravest nature, they are of extreme hardship and we have to look at doing something of a serious nature.

The minister talks about taking advantage of opportunities. He talks about omega additives. How can farmers who have difficulty in getting money for basic feed for their animals diversify? I ask the minister how can you have diversification when you are struggling to feed the animals that you do have?

I have one letter here, I won't get into the plight itself, but it says: We come to the government looking for help, not a quick fix but a long-term plan. There have been at least three studies done by the pork industry that have been gathering dust on the minister's shelves. They talk about maintaining an industry and a rural way of life, but they're asking that we have a vision and the political will to put a long-term solution in place. The actions of the present government lead us to believe that the will is not there.

Those are the types of things that we are hearing, Mr. Minister. It's one thing to talk about the way of life. You know the Minister of Health, the former minister responsible for agriculture, talked about the way of life. We're looking at an industry, Mr. Speaker, that if it doesn't get help, the life is going to be bled out of it. The life is going to be bled out of this industry.

We're looking at a need for short-term support and a long-term plan. We've already heard about the $30 million in farm gate revenue that's generated; the 1,500 jobs, the $100 million that's involved with the industry. This is an industry that warrants great support at this time. It doesn't just need support from government, we need more dollars from the display case. As a resource committee, we're asking that the chain store representatives come forward to the committee and we're trying to see if there are a few more cents per pound that can come out of the display case for these hard-pressed farmers.

[Page 2732]

I think it's imperative for this government to encourage all Nova Scotians to support our farmers. I know any time in recent times in particular with the awareness of what's happening in the hog industry - nothing is coming into our house that isn't Larsen's produced in the form of bacon. If, in fact, we lose the Larsen's plant in Berwick, the repercussions are going to be very severe. So we have to support our farmers, we have to support what is produced here.

Out-migration. You know the government is talking about inviting Nova Scotians to come home to jobs that exist here. Well, at nine o'clock this morning I had a couple in my office who were specifically there to talk about out-migration and what we're inviting our people back for. What is awaiting them here? What are they coming back for? Basically I had some difficulty, other than our wonderful way of life and reasonable housing costs and so many things, but they were saying we need more than that, these are just - you're telling us about situations that we know exist.

We're not just producing young people for the economies of the west, we're supporting - I think I have said in the House before - when we look at us, as consumers in Nova Scotia buying 8 per cent of the beef that we consume, 8 per cent is actually from Nova Scotia.

[8:15 p.m.]

We're sending mega dollars to western Canada, not just our youth but mega dollars. I believe that we have two things that are not government-related that we have to look at. One is getting that extra little bit of money out of the display case; the other is to encourage all Nova Scotians - I mean we're almost 1 million people, feed 930,000 people, we can consume a lot.

I know that 65 per cent or so of what we consume in relationship to pork actually does come from our producers. That's a good thing. But I think, as has been stated, we have to work on that and try to get that up from the 65 per cent to 75 per cent to 85 per cent, but we also need the government's short-term support and a long-term vision for this industry.

You know, ministers and members, it's a time for remedies. It's not a time for excuses, it's a time for action, not a time for inaction. It's a time to help the hog farmers, not to bury them. The former minister talked about the world stage - the world stage, this is part of the world stage, he was saying. Well, it's the Nova Scotia stage that we have to be concerned about. We live in a global economy, we all recognize that, but it's the Nova Scotia stage that we have to be concerned about. It's Nova Scotians that we have to help. It's Nova Scotians who have elected us, they have elected all 52 of us here to address the issues. And address them we must. It's almost a form of back turning to say, world stage, the world stage, the world stage. It's the Nova Scotia stage that we have to be concerned about.

[Page 2733]

The hog producers need us now. The hog producers need us now and we need the hog producers. That's the point that we have to make. We can't see these farms go down the tube. We can't say, there's the possibility of getting into different aspects of industry and to develop the omega base and so on. How can someone who is struggling every day, when you have to find the cash because you have no credit anymore, you have to find the cash out of the back pocket to pay for the food that's being fed to your hogs.

We had some of the hog producers come before us to the Resources Committee. They told us of their plight and it's staggering, it's really, really staggering. To say that some of them out there are doing well, they're diversifying - well, there aren't that many. They're hurting and they're hurting badly. We have to do something about it.

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, we have to have total support from all sides of the House on this issue - all three Parties have to say the hog producers are there, we're going to need them in the future, we need them now, we need them 10 years from now. We need that vision, that long-term plan that has not been presented. They haven't gotten a long-term vision and I don't know where that vision is. I'm asking the minister to look to this thing in the long term, to look at it in a 10-year time frame that there will be hog producers here in Nova Scotia.

As I said a few moments ago - I see that I'm getting a signal my time has just about run out, but I want to repeat that we need the hog producers, but the hog producers at this time need us.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak. There is support from a number of farm entities that are in my constituency for the hog industry at this time. All of us realize that the whole agriculture industry is in need of a fix. So, Mr. Speaker, let's support the people who feed us. We need the people who feed us and we'll need them down the road. We can't get everything from China and other markets. I think we have to look at the Nova Scotia stage and realize that that's what we're elected to deal with. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

HON. RONALD CHISHOLM: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is indeed a great pleasure to stand here this evening to talk a little bit about the hog industry in the Province of Nova Scotia, as well as the agriculture industry.

Mr. Speaker, I was very proud to represent the Agriculture portfolio as the minister. I met many wonderful people, hard-working people. I also learned a great deal about the industry that I was not aware of coming into the portfolio. I learned about technology, the marketplace, the success stories and the challenges in the industry as

[Page 2734]

well. I know, as we all do, that the industry faces challenges on various levels and needs to work towards sustainability.

Mr. Speaker, on December 1st I was very pleased to attend the annual general meeting of the Federation of Agriculture for the Province of Nova Scotia, along with my colleague the Minister of Agriculture. The Minister of Justice was there, I believe the Minister of Environment and Labour was there - the Premier was there, I believe, on that Saturday. So our government was well represented at that meeting. I had the very distinct pleasure of sitting at a table for dinner that night with maybe a colleague of yours, the honourable Ed Lorraine who attended that meeting, as well as a former member from this House, Mr. Roger Bacon was there. (Interruption) A former Premier, that's right.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, we had tremendous representation at that meeting and I think it was well received by the Federation of Agriculture. I was very pleased to be with the minister that night when he announced a funding package for agriculture worth $9.7 million. I would have to say that was a great investment in agriculture. I believe, if you go back in time it is probably one of the largest, if not the largest, investment in agriculture that was announced at any agricultural AGM in the history of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I know there have been many other investments made as well in agriculture. In fact, I understand that between the provincial and the federal governments more than $70 million have been invested in the Nova Scotia agriculture industry since 2003. There is no question that this government is committed to helping farmers and moving the industry forward, however, we have to be smart about the way we invest money and where it is invested. Funding should go to solid, sustainable areas with a strong business plan. We have to be accountable to the taxpayers for the money they give us.

The funding program announced in December has three elements that support this accountability. The first element is the Strategic Infrastructure Investment Fund. As you know, Mr. Speaker, beginning in April 2007, $1.5 million will be available for four years for projects supported by a strong business case. Each business case must be industry-driven, employ a value-chain approach and have a good probability of generating a positive result. I understand that priority will be given to projects that leverage investments from or enhance access to other industry development funds. This is a strategic approach that I think will add accountability to the process.

The second element, Mr. Speaker, is targeted debt relief. This is a grant of $6.2 million to go towards retiring the debt of individual farmers for debts incurred under the ruminant loan program and Pork Nova Scotia loan program. Eligibility will be conditional upon a business assessment and a shared understanding of the individual business situation with a view of a long-term viability, transition to a new model or product, farm debt mediation, a viable succession plan, or an exit strategy.

[Page 2735]

The third element is the income relief. Mr. Speaker, up to $2 million will be paid out providing income support through margin enhancement. Payments will be based on a 10 per cent increase of the reference margin used to calculate the 2003 Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization Program payments. Eligibility is restricted to non-supply-managed sectors. As you can tell by these three elements announced by the government, the government fully supports a sustainable agricultural industry and recognizes that some of the hurt needs to be alleviated.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, together the provincial and the federal governments have invested significantly in the industry in recent years. Many of Nova Scotia's agricultural sectors are experiencing an income crisis situation. The net farm income in Nova Scotia has fallen significantly since 2000. The average farm debt levels rose almost 40 per cent between 2000 and 2004, compounding the income crisis situation. We know that some of the factors affecting profitability in the industry include high production costs, particularly related to grain, energy and transportation, high debt levels, global competition, food safety, traceability and environmental regulations, and changes in consumption trends. The income crisis is particularly acute for smaller family farms that do not have the production capacity or the financial capacity to pursue traditional retail or food service markets.

Mr. Speaker, government-assisted programs are not the fix for all that ails the industry. However, the government continues to be a partner, and supports the industry as it can. Our Minister of Agriculture has said, our Premier has said, and our government has said that we support the agriculture sectors in the Province of Nova Scotia and we will continue to do so for the long term. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Any further speakers? The time for the debate this evening has expired. The House will sit tomorrow between 8:00 a.m. and midnight.

The House stands adjourned until 8:00 a.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 8:28 p.m.]

[Page 2736]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1413

By: Hon. David Morse (Natural Resources)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the management of Nova Scotia's wildlife and other natural resources depend upon the exemplary and dedicated service of individuals throughout their careers; and

Whereas Fred J. Payne retired from the Civil Service following a distinguished career with the Department of Natural Resources; and

Whereas Fred J. Payne spearheaded, amongst other things, the initiative to have Ducks Unlimited Canada establish a presence in the Maritimes with its regional office in Amherst, and Ducks Unlimited Canada recently recognized Fred J. Payne with the dedication of the Missaquash Marsh project in his name;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Fred J. Payne's significant contribution to the people of Nova Scotia in the fields of waterfowl management and wetlands protection, and the wider arena of natural resource conservation.

RESOLUTION NO. 1414

By: The Premier

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Bridgetown, Annapolis County pharmacist Michele Lycett participated in the Honolulu Marathon in Hawaii on December 10th to raise money for diabetes research; and

Whereas Michele was one of 383 entries from across Canada and one of 28,635 runners from across the world to compete in the 26-mile road race, which she completed in less than six hours; and

Whereas Michele Lycett and her sister Tammy raised more than $13,000, more than half of which will go toward diabetes research;

[Page 2737]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Bridgetown pharmacist Michele Lycett for her exceptional hard work in running the Honolulu Marathon while assisting the Canadian Diabetes Association with critical fundraising dollars.

RESOLUTION NO. 1415

By: The Premier

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Round Hill, Annapolis County resident Bill Goucher serves as president of the Annapolis Royal Food Bank; and

Whereas Mr. Goucher, a 79-year-old retired school principal and teacher has lived his entire life believing in the need to assist others when they are in need; and

Whereas the Annapolis Royal Food Bank serves approximately 50 people in the local area while also providing bread for the Champlain Elementary School Breakfast Program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members fo this House applaud Bill Goucher and the 12 members of the Annapolis Royal Food Bank for providing a critical service to those most in need.

RESOLUTION NO. 1416

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 15-year-old Pictou County musician Anna Bond has been selected to join the National Youth Orchestra; and

Whereas Ms. Bond was chosen from hundreds of applicants after sending in her Tuba audition CD to the NYO organizers; and

Whereas the accomplished player from North Nova Education Centre will join her fellow orchestral players this Spring in Halifax, and intends to further her music studies after graduation from high school;

[Page 2738]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations and best wishes to Anna Bond on her recent appointment as tuba player for the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, the talent that exists within so many young Nova Scotians deserves our attention and support to ensure a brighter future for our province.

RESOLUTION NO. 1417

By: Mr. Patrick Dunn (Pictou Centre)

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

Whereas the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame was created in 1989; and

Whereas Chairman William (Bill) Dee and several founders finally fulfilled a dream; and

Whereas the facility includes all sports and the names of many athletes that will live on because of their induction into the Hall of Fame;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Chairman Bill Dee and all founding members for creating the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame, a place which will recognize the contributions in sport of Pictou County athletes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1418

By: Mr. Alfred MacLeod (Cape Breton West)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on Thursday, January 5, 2007, Jessica MacIntyre, age 9, of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, had 10 inches of her pony tail cut off for a worthy cause by Cathy Harris, a hair stylist with Croppers Hair Design, Union Street, Glace Bay; and

Whereas Jessica's hair will be donated to "A Child's Voice Foundation for Angel Hair" in Mississauga, Ontario, which makes wigs for children who have lost their hair as a result of cancer treatment; and

Whereas Jessica has had her hair trimmed before but this was her first major cut;

[Page 2739]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Jessica on her generous donation of some of her hair to this most worthy cause of helping, in her own way, fellow young children as they struggle to get through some very difficult times in their lives, and, in so doing, Jessica is a shining example of how young people are caring and sharing to help improve the lives of other young people who may be less fortunate, and regardless of whether or not they may even know one another. Congratulations Jessica, you are indeed a true Angel!

RESOLUTION NO. 1419

By: Mr. Alfred MacLeod (Cape Breton West)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas five generations of the Campbell family of Main-à-Dieu, Nova Scotia, gathered together recently for a family photo; and

Whereas the five generations of the Campbells were represented by Mrs. Nora Campbell, Main-à-Dieu; son, Earl Campbell, Glace Bay; grandson, Robert Campbell, Sydney; great granddaughter Jennifer, and four year old great-great grandson Derrick Ayer, both of Toronto; and

Whereas the Campbell family very much enjoyed getting together on this occasion to have a family photo taken;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me today in sending congratulations and sincere best wishes to the Campbell family for many more years of celebrating their family traditions and the enjoyment of each other's company.

RESOLUTION NO. 1420

By: Mr. Alfred MacLeod (Cape Breton West)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on December 9, 2006, the MacLellan Attackers of Westmount, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, won the Cape Breton Regional Girls "B" volleyball championship at Etoile de l'Acadie in Sydney; and

Whereas the MacLellan Attackers won in two sets over Thompson Junior High of North Sydney by a score of 25 to 19, and 28 to 26; and

[Page 2740]

Whereas the MacLellan Attackers volleyball team is comprised of manager Shannon MacQueen, coach Wilma MacQueen and Penny MacLean and captains Patricia MacCann, Sarah Morean and Stephanie Doucet-Cox, along with team members Natasha Lewis, Melanie Peters, Jessica Latimer, Jilliam MacKenzie, Alex Lewis, Laura MacNeil and Becky Pilon;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending congratulations to manager Shannon MacQueen and all members of the MacLellan Attackers Girls Volleyball Team in achieving their victory in the Cape Breton Regional Girls "B" volleyball championship games.

RESOLUTION NO. 1421

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Avonview Avalanche High School Boys Hockey Team, under the capable leadership and direction of head coach Mark Tye, coach Blair Burgess, assistant coach Fraser Hood and manager Steve Miller participated in the 48-team Main Class A High School Hockey Invitational in Portland, Maine, December 28th to 30th, winning four consecutive games; and

Whereas one of the victories by the Avalanche was a 4 to 1 win over Wharton, Florida, last season's Florida State High School championship team; and

Whereas the Avalanche are presently involved in a battle for first place in the Valley High School Hockey League with a record of seven wins, two losses and two ties, and will return to league play Saturday evening in Windsor against Northeast Kings Collegiate;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly applaud the leadership and supervision of Mark Tye, Steve Miller and former Windsor High School Hockey greats Blair Burgess and Fraser Hood as they lead the Avonview High School Hockey Avalanche through an exciting 2006-2007 hockey season.

RESOLUTION NO. 1422

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Speaker)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 2741]

Whereas Cape Breton University has named its School of Business after well-known Cape Breton businessman Joe Shannon; and

Whereas Mr. Shannon, who grew up in the Sydney River area, has had a remarkable career and is noted for his insight, economic savvy and commitment to our Island's growth; and

Whereas Mr. Shannon continues to give back to his native Cape Breton community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Cape Breton University for naming the School of Business the Shannon School of Business.

RESOLUTION NO. 1423

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Speaker)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas lifelong North Sydney resident Lloyd Balah has realized a lifelong dream by publishing Stories of a River; and

Whereas Mr. Balah's book features some of the history of Atlantic salmon and the Margaree River; and

Whereas Mr. Balah invites readers to enjoy the journey and meet the people who were brought together while fishing on the Margaree;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Lloyd Balah on achieving his goal of having his book published and encourage enthusiasts to enjoy this good read.

RESOLUTION NO. 1424

By: Hon. Angus MacIsaac (Transportation and Public Works)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas roughly 2,500 Canadians are infected by AIDS for which there is no known cure; and

[Page 2742]

Whereas despite much progress in research, care and education, we still must increase the awareness of this serious health issue as there are still misconceptions and misunderstandings about the virus; and

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia, along with our federal colleagues, is keen to work towards improving the awareness of AIDS;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage the federal government to designate a month as AIDS Awareness Month to increase Canadians' understanding of the prevention of the AIDS virus.

RESOLUTION NO. 1425

By: Hon. Michael Baker (Finance)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Peter Darnell, owner of Indian Point Marine Farm, located in Indian Point, Lunenburg County, moved to the South Shore in the 1970s and began farming mussels; and

Whereas the Indian Point Marine Farm has been producing mussels for 26 years; and

Whereas the Indian Point Marine Farm now produces 300,000 pounds of mussels annually, the majority of which are consumed by 40 local restaurants and stores;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Peter Darnell and the Indian Point Marine Farm on operating successfully for 25 years.

RESOLUTION NO. 1426

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Seniors)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the number of senior citizens is increasing in our province; and

Whereas it is crucial that we have well-trained and dedicated health care providers to deliver the services required by seniors; and

[Page 2743]

Whereas Tammy Ballard, a Generic Clinic Coordinator at South Shore Health was cited for her involvement with seniors;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Tammy Ballard of South Shore Health for receiving an award from Mount Royal College for a student who demonstrates a personal and professional commitment to promote the well- being of older adults, shows leadership ability, and obtains a high academic standing.

RESOLUTION NO. 1427

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 young and emerging artists struggle with getting into the public eye early in their careers; and

Whereas the Bank of Montreal Financial Group held its 4th Annual Invitational Students' Art Competition; and

Whereas Bridgewater native Amanda Rhodenizer was selected as one of the regional winners for her piece, "Hits";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate artist Amanda Rhodenizer for her success in the Invitational Student Art Competition and wish her well as she continues her education in graduate school.

RESOLUTION NO. 1428

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 the safety of the general public depends heavily upon the actions of all citizens; and

Whereas fuel leaks from vehicles can be a potential hazard to the health and safety of citizens; and

Whereas Garret Fraser of Bridgewater identified a potentially dangerous fuel leak in a vehicle and took necessary action to help resolve the problem;

[Page 2744]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank Garret Fraser for his thoughtful action which helped protect fellow citizens from a potentially harmful situation.

RESOLUTION NO. 1429

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 providing students with the opportunity to meet fellow students in other parts of Canada creates an excellent educational and personal experience; and

Whereas the Encounters with Canada Program gives more than 3,000 young Canadians between the ages of 14 and 17 a chance to gain a better understanding of their country; and

Whereas Brynlie Tanner and Ben Blair of Bridgewater High School were successful in being selected the participants in the program in Ottawa;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Brynlie Tanner and Ben Blair for their participation in the Encounters with Canada Program and wish them well as a result of this very valuable experience.

RESOLUTION NO. 1430

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 community volunteer groups, such as volunteer firefighters, contribute in many different ways to their communities; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Fire Department band has received excellent support from the Volunteer Fire Department, the Town of Bridgewater, and Bridgewater citizens; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Fire Department band recently constructed a new 30- foot, gazebo-style bandstand in Bridgewater;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the members of the Bridgewater Fire Department band and the volunteers of the Bridgewater Fire

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Department for their leadership in having the bandstand erected for the enjoyment of the citizens of the Town of Bridgewater and adjoining areas.

RESOLUTION NO. 1431

By: Hon. David Morse (Natural Resources)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Randy Warner of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, won 2nd place in a national pet invention contest, among 2,500 submissions from across Canada; and

Whereas his idea to illuminate a pet's nail while trying to trim it means the pet owner can see the quick, which contains a blood vessel and lies behind the tip of the nail, and cutting into the quick can be very painful for the animal and cause bleeding; and

Whereas Mr. Warner spent two days at the pet product manufacturer in Knoxville, Tennessee, discussing his designs for the illuminated pet nail clippers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the invention of Randy Warner and wish this inventor continued success on the path to becoming another great Nova Scotian inventor.

RESOLUTION NO. 1432

By: The Premier

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas there is no more important goal to have in our school communities than to foster in our students the very valuable lesson of "how to live well together"; and

Whereas Hetty van Gurp of Granville Ferry raised the bar for students when she co-founded the League of Peaceful Schools in the province nine years ago to do just that; and

Whereas her work, born of the pain of the loss of her son to the senseless actions of a bully, not only helps build the character of our youth in Nova Scotia, but also in the youth of the 200 member schools in 10 countries also working within the initiative;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House salute Ms. van Gurp for making a difference in our schools and congratulate her on her latest honour for her work - being named one of Canada's Heroes of 2006 by Reader's Digest.