The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

HANSARD 07-33

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

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2007

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TPW: Hwy. No.444 - Upgrade, Mr. C. MacKinnon 2859
Environ. & Lbr. -Tires: Incineration - Prevent, Mr. K. Colwell 2860
Environ. & Lbr. - Tires: Incineration - Prevent, Ms. M. Raymond 2861
Agric.: Ind. - Maintain, Mr. S. McNeill 2861
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Report of Auditor General, Hon. M. Baker 2862
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Private and Local Bills Committee, Mr. C. Parker 2862
Private and Local Bills Committee, Mr. C. Parker 2862
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Justice - Response to Nunn Commission of Inquiry, Hon. M. Scott 2863
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1562, Educ. - Cert. of Qualification: Recipients - Congrats.,
Hon. K. Casey 2868
Vote - Affirmative 2868
Res. 1563, TCH - Tourism Summit: TIANS - Congrats.,
Hon. L. Goucher 2868
Vote - Affirmative 2869
Res. 1564, Palmater, Candy: Educ. Efforts - Recognize, Hon. K. Casey 2869
Vote - Affirmative 2870
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 1565, TCH - Crystal Tourism Award of Excellence: Recipients -
Congrats., Hon. L. Goucher 2870
Vote - Affirmative 2870
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 131, Treasure Trove Act, Mr. H. Epstein 2871
No. 132, Heritage Property Act, Mr. H. Epstein 2871
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1566, Agric. - Fed. of Agric.: All-Party Comm. Formation -
Request Endorse, Mr. D. Dexter 2871
Res. 1567, Agric. - All-Party Comm.: Min. - Strike,
Mr. S. McNeil 2872
Res. 1568, Rankin Sch. of the Narrows - Opening, Mr. K. Bain 2872
Vote - Affirmative 2873
Res. 1569, Pictou Legion Br. 16: Vols. - Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 2873
Vote - Affirmative 2874
Res. 1570, Atl. Agricultural Leadership Prog.: Sponsorship - Seek,
Mr. L. Glavine 2874
Vote - Affirmative 2876
Res. 1571, Scott, Sgt. Kevin: Recognition - Congrats., Mr. P. Dunn 2875
Vote - Affirmative 2875
Res. 1572, King, Dr. Martin Luther, Jr.: Birthday - Recognize,
Mr. P. Paris 2876
Vote - Affirmative 2877
Res. 1573, Family Literacy Day (01/27/07) - Acknowledge,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2877
Res. 1574, Pictou Women's Ctr.: Efforts - Recognize,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 2878
Vote - Affirmative 2878
Res. 1575, Gov't. (N.S.): Agriculture - Prioritize, Mr. L. Glavine 2879
Vote - Affirmative 2879
Res. 1576, TPW - Rural Transportation: Proactive Approach -
Commend, Mr. K. Bain 2880
Vote - Affirmative 2880
Res. 1577, Mailman, Shane - N.S. Sports Hall of Fame: Relocation -
Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 2880
Vote - Affirmative 2881
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 1578, Bowman, Keith & Kay: Holiday Decorating - Commend,
Mr. P. Dunn 2881
Vote - Affirmative 2882
Res. 1579, Brown, Matthew: Can. Games Under-17 Hockey Team -
Selection, Hon. K. Casey 2882
Vote - Affirmative 2883
Res. 1580, Kings Co. Falls Prevention Prog.: Serv. - Recognize,
Hon. M. Parent 2883
Vote - Affirmative 2884
Res. 1581, Nicholson, Robyn: N. Colchester HS - Female Student of
Month, Hon. K. Casey 2884
Vote - Affirmative 2884
Res. 1582, MacPherson, Matt - World Univ. Games: Linesman -
Selection, Hon. A. MacIsaac (by Hon. D. Morse) 2885
Vote - Affirmative 2885
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBER:
No. 319, Prem. - Auto Accident (MLA Cumb. North): Knowledge -
Info., Mr. D. Dexter 2885
No. 320, Prem. - Auto Accident (MLA Cumb. North): Chief of Staff -
Knowledge, Mr. M. Samson 2887
No. 321, Prem.: Auto Accident (MLA Cumb. North) - Staff Behaviour,
Mr. D. Dexter 2888
No. 322, Prem. - Auto Accident (Cumb. North MLA) - Mistakes
Correct, Mr. D. Dexter 2890
No. 323, Prem. - Auto Accident (Cumb. North MLA): Info. -
Discrepancies, Mr. M. Samson 2891
No. 324, Fin.- Commonwealth Games Bid: Gov't. Support - Details,
Mr. D. Dexter 2893
No. 325, Environ. & Lbr.- RRFB: Tires - Disposition,
Ms. M. Raymond 2894
No. 326, Agric. - Pork Nova Scotia: Recovery Plan - Action,
Mr. L. Glavine 2896
No. 327, Agric. - All-Party Comm. - Request Rejection - Explain,
Mr. D. Dexter 2897
No. 328, Agric.: Industry Stability - Action Plan, Mr. S. McNeil 2899
No. 329, Conserve N.S.: CAO Appt. - Hiring Policy,
Mr. G. Gosse 2901
Mr. G. Gosse
No. 330, Health: Cancer Treatment - Wait Times,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 2902
No. 331, Fin. - Dept. Info.: AG's Office - Access,
Ms. D. Whalen 2903
No. 332, CNS: Staff Increase - Explain, Ms. J. Massey 2905
No. 333, Immigration - Cornwallis Financial: Contract - Regret,
Mr. L. Preyra 2906
No. 334, AG's Rept.: Concerns - Address, Ms. D. Whalen 2907
No. 335, Environ. & Lbr.: Pension Funding - Action,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2909
No. 336, TCH.: Clam Hbr. Fest. - Support, Ms. J. Massey 2911
No. 337, Fin.- Second Quarter Results: Announcement - Explain,
Ms. D. Whalen 2912
No. 338, Econ. Dev.: Broadband Services - Time Frame,
Mr. S. Belliveau 2913
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 1411, Health - West. Shelburne Co. Long-Term Care Facility:
Const. Start - Announce - notice given Jan. 8, 2007 2915
Mr. S. Belliveau 2915
Hon. C. d'Entremont 2918
Mr. L. Glavine 2921
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 2923
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 2924
Res. 1409, Environ. & Lbr.: Tire Burning Fuel Proposal - Condemn -
Notice given Jan. 8, 2007 2927
Ms. M. Raymond 2927
Hon. M. Parent 2929
Mr. K. Colwell 2932
Ms. V. Conrad 2935
Hon. D. Morse 2937
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 4:57 P.M. 2938
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 11:27 P.M. 2938
CWH REPORTS 2938
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again Thu. Jan. 11th, at 8:00 A.M. 2939
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1583, Terry Fox Run: Port Williams Elem. Sch./Teacher/Organizers -
Congrats., Hon. M. Parent 2940
Congrats., Hon. M. Parent
Res. 1584, Can. World Junior Hockey Team: Gold Medal - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 2940
Res. 1585, New Glasgow: Communities in Bloom Award -
Congrats., Mr. P. Dunn 2941
Res. 1586, Michelin Tire - Anniv. (35th), Mr. P. Dunn 2941
Res. 1587, MacIntosh, Megan: Up With People Tour - Selection,
Mr. P. Dunn 2942
Res. 1588, TCH: East of Ordinary Promotion - Support, Mr. K. Bain 2942
Res. 1589, Nowe, Coach Derek - Bridgewater Vikings Jr. Volleyball
Team: Time/Dedication - Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2943
Res. 1590, Smith, Coach Ashley - Bridgewater Vikings Jr. Volleyball
Team: Time/Dedication - Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2943
Res. 1591, Baker, Stephanie: Bridgewater Vikings Jr. Volleyball Jr.
Team - Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2944
Res. 1592, Smith, Nataya: Bridgewater Vikings Jr. Volleyball Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2944
Res. 1593, Brown, Niki: Bridgewater Vikings Jr. Volleyball Team -
Congrats., 2945
Res. 1594, Rogers, Emily: Bridgewater Vikings Jr. Volleyball Team,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2945
Res. 1595, Bressmer, Janine: Bridgewater Vikings Jr. Volleyball Team,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2946
Res. 1596, Little, Alyssa: Bridgewater Vikings Jr. Volleyball Team,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2946
Res. 1597, Rankin, Kelsey: Bridgewater Vikings Jr. Volleyball Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2947
Res. 1598, Ko, Tia: Bridgewater Vikings Jr. Volleyball Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2947
Res. 1599, Pitman, Olivia: Bridgewater Vikings Jr. Volleyball Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2948
Res. 1600, Pitman, Jennifer: Bridgewater Vikings Jr. Volleyball Team,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2948

[Page 2859]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2007

Sixtieth General Assembly

First Session

1:18 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Cecil Clarke

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition from the residents of the Barney's River area of Pictou East. The petition is "To Repair, Upgrade and Re-pave 11.25 kms of Highway 444 from the Trans Canada Highway #104 at Barney's River Station to Lower Barney's River on Highway 245." There are eight whereas clauses, but the operative clause is:

"Therefore be it Resolved, that we the undersigned, demand that this highway be the number one priority for re-paving in Pictou East in the year 2007."

It is signed by 152 residents, 23 businesses, and I, too, have affixed my name to the petition. Thank you.

2859

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 2860]

The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, with the indulgence of the House, I would like to make an introduction before I present a petition.

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MR. COLWELL: I will apologize in advance to the people whose names I'm going to pronounce, I probably won't get them right. In the Speaker's Gallery, we have Lydia Sorflaten, Donald Murray and Fred Blois, residents of the Truro area and members of the Citizens Against Burning of Tires. Please rise and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition. It's headed up as follows:

"In view of the fact that Lafarge's Brookfield Cement Plant has applied to The Resource Recovery Fund Board to collect and burn . . . tires, we the undersigned respectfully request that The Nova Scotia Government and/or The Resource Recovery Fund Board take all necessary measures to ensure that tires are not incinerated in the province of Nova Scotia.

Synthetic rubber tires contain sufficient concentrations of toxic and hazardous chemicals. Incineration of tires has the clear potential to produce toxic emissions of numerous carcinogenic . . .", and other chemicals, and adds to global warming.

"The fact that the synthetic rubber industry utilizes large volumes of so many toxic chemicals in their processes is testimony to the issue that burning tires even in relatively well-controlled combustion devices may result in harmful emissions and cause undesirable impacts in neighbouring communities.

Cement kilns are not designed, constructed, operated, or intended to be used as scrap tire incineration. The Sierra Legal Defence Fund . . .".

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Will the honourable member just go to the operative clause for that, please.

MR. COLWELL: It's right here, I'm partway through it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your indulgence.

[Page 2861]

"The Sierra Legal Defence Fund reports that the burning of tires at Lafarge's cement facility in Saint-Constant, Quebec has resulted in increases of up to 3,400% in airborne releases of heavy metals and other toxic emissions . . .".

There are 460 signatures on this petition, and I have affixed my signature as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence, I would also beg leave to table a petition to which I have affixed my own signature as well. It is a similar petition. I would welcome, as well, the members of the committee to the House of Assembly, and I believe that all of us will in fact be turning our attention to this matter during the course of your time here, because it's a very serious concern.

I would note as well that Nova Scotia has been marked as one of the mercury hot spots of eastern North America today, which is a distinction we don't really want to compound. So with that, Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition that was initiated by the Annapolis Valley radio station on behalf of the Nova Scotia farmers. The operative clause is, "It is our responsibility to maintain an agricultural industry to feed our population . . .", and there are over 300 signatures on this petition and I have affixed mine.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of yourself, I would table the Report of the Auditor General to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly for the year 2006.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

[Page 2862]

There is a request to revert back to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 77 - Atlantic Baptist Churches Convention Act.

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

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

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

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

[Page 2863]

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, this morning I was joined by my Cabinet colleagues from Community Services, Health, Education, and Health Promotion and Protection, to present government's response to the report of the Nunn Commission.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, early in December Commissioner Merlin Nunn released his report into the death of Teresa McEvoy, who died as a result of a car accident with a youth driving a stolen vehicle. In his final report Mr. Nunn provided clear and insightful direction on how we can prevent and address crime while improving supports to families and youth in Nova Scotia. Today we announced that we are accepting and acting on all of Commissioner Nunn's 34 recommendations; more than half of Commissioner Nunn's recommendations have already been completed or are presently underway, but a lot of work remains.

Mr. Speaker, we have announced an initial $3 million investment to further implementation of the recommendations. This includes funding for more mental health professionals to reduce delays in completing court-ordered assessments; new Crown Attorneys specializing in youth crime; support for the new attendance centre; and a bail supervision program in the Halifax Regional Municipality. It also includes funding to hire a senior official responsible for youth, to develop the youth strategy, and to create a new family and youth services division within the Department of Community Services. Our first funding priorities were identified to get some of the people and programs in place that will create the foundation for many of the other recommendations.

Mr. Speaker, the recommendations are also about more than what we spend - they're about how we do things. The Department of Community Services will lead in developing a comprehensive strategy for children and youth services in Nova Scotia. The Premier has asked the Community Services Minister to serve as the minister responsible for children and youth, but Minister Streatch will not be working alone. As a government, we've made a commitment to improve coordination and integration of programs and services for children, family, and youth.

Commissioner Nunn also made several recommendations to shorten youth court case processing times and improve accountability. He also encouraged the province to continue advocating for specific improvements to the federal Youth Criminal Justice Act. Regarding strengthening the Youth Criminal Justice Act, Commissioner Nunn was clear - he echoed the concerns we have been raising with the federal government for over two years. We are moving forward on the youth justice recommendations under our control, and we now need the federal government to do its part.

Mr. Speaker, the delivery of this response does not mean we are at the end; instead, we are moving forward with renewed momentum. We know the task at hand is not easy. While some recommendations will help families and youth in need today, other preventive measures will have longer-term effects benefiting the youth of the future.

[Page 2864]

Throughout this process, the family of Teresa McEvoy has displayed extraordinary commitment to seeing something positive result from this inquiry. Ms. McEvoy touched the lives of many young people. Today's announcement and the resulting benefits are her legacy.

Mr. Speaker, we are accountable to the McEvoy family, and all Nova Scotians. We will report on progress and all recommendations within six months, by June 2007, and will continue to report on a regular basis.

Mr. Speaker, I give all Nova Scotians my commitment on behalf of this government that implementation will continue, progress will be monitored, and Nova Scotians will be informed. We are acting on this opportunity to set a course for a brighter future for youth in need and improve safety for our communities.

As well, Mr. Speaker, at this time, I would like to table the governments' response to Mr. Nunn's inquiry, entitled Helping kids, Protecting communities, as a response to the Nunn Commission. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the minister for providing a copy of his statement to our caucus prior to making it here in the House. I'm standing in my place for two reasons to speak in response to the statement. The first, our Justice Critic was not able to attend the release of the McEvoy Inquiry when it came out, and I was; and the second reason is that Theresa McEvoy was a constituent of mine. Her family continues to live in my constituency and I've taken, as most Nova Scotians have, a very strong interest in this family and in the outcome of this inquiry.

[1:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I think it's important to say that what Mr. Justice Nunn found in his inquiry was that the system failed Theresa McEvoy. Mr. Justice Nunn provided us with quite an insightful series of recommendations, 34 in total; six of which fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government but the balance which pertain to various departments within the Province of Nova Scotia: Justice, Community Services, Education and Health.

Mr. Speaker, it's clear that the Province of Nova Scotia had not done the work that was required for the implementation of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. It has been apparent for some time that things like wait time services for mental health assessments and treatments have been far too long so that young people are in a crisis before they can get access to many of these services, rather than having the early intervention that will

[Page 2865]

prevent young people from spiraling out of control, as Mr. Justice Nunn's report is entitled.

I think, Mr. Speaker, that not so long ago, as many as 40 children from the Province of Nova Scotia were outside the Province of Nova Scotia in secure treatment programs. One is puzzled by why that is the case, why we can't provide services that meet the needs of these children and their families in their own communities and closer to their families.

Mr. Speaker, for many, many years now, there have been members of the community who have advocated for some of the programs that this government has now seen fit to act on, like the alternative to out-of-school suspensions, and greater attention to the needs of young people and their families.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I'm very pleased with the minister's announcement. I'm very pleased, and members of our caucus are anxious to see all of the recommendations implemented from this report. We are very pleased that the government has accepted all of the recommendations and is prepared to act on them.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that I think we would all agree with is that the way in which the McEvoy family have conducted themselves in a period of grief, and really extreme pressure in the public eye has been extraordinary, and their approach has been so constructive.

I want to say one final thing before I take my seat, Mr. Speaker. The day that Mr. Justice Nunn made his report, the family of Theresa McEvoy said Theresa would be pleased. Throughout the entire process, they have looked at how to have a constructive debate and response, and they hope very much for the changes that will prevent another family from going through what they have gone through. That day when the inquiry report was launched, or was brought into the public eye, they asked that they not be left with the responsibility to monitor and push for the implementation of Mr. Justice Nunn's recommendations.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's incumbent on all of us here to make sure that that burden does not rest with them. They've been through enough. They need to get on now with their lives. It's incumbent on us. I thank the minister for starting us down this road to implementing the recommendations from this report. (Applause)

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

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as Justice Critic for our caucus, it's a pleasure to rise and respond to the minister's statement on the Nunn Commission report. I actually attended the announcement that took place today, involving several ministers and a significant number of staff from various departments. As has been said, we're

[Page 2866]

certainly pleased to see that the government has accepted all of the recommendations and has already started to map out a framework as to how they're going to move forward from here.

Mr. Speaker, it has been a long battle. I've been in this House since 1998, and certainly since 1999 we have continued to call upon the government to provide more services and more resources for youth at risk in our communities throughout Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, prior to today, it did not appear that the government recognized just how important an issue this was, and the frustrations that we have had with the Ministers of Justice dealing with this, where it appeared that the government was more interested in trying to convince Ottawa to create new offences to deal with youth at risk rather than providing more resources.

But today, Mr. Speaker, finally, it seems that we're moving on the track of being able to help youth at risk in our communities. There's nothing worse than seeing in our communities young people who we can see are going to get in trouble with the law, and there's absolutely nothing there to help them, whether it's psychiatry, whether it's more education support, whether it's support at home, whether it's support through the community. Finally today, we started that process of having a comprehensive strategy of being able to provide those.

The fact that we had, I believe five ministers involved - five senior ministers involved in this announcement - makes it clear that the government does take this seriously. As has been said before, the reason we are here is because of the very unfortunate passing of a Nova Scotia resident, an innocent person, but that has certainly brought this to light. I, too, wish to take the opportunity to thank the McEvoy family. I'm sure it was a difficult decision to allow this tragedy to bring them into the public limelight here in Nova Scotia, and to have all of the details disclosed, and having to get up in front of cameras and microphones. It's not something that I would wish on many Nova Scotians, having to do it on an almost daily basis myself.

It was a difficult decision, but our province, I believe, will be better off, and young people in this province will be better off because of that decision, because of the legacy of Theresa McEvoy. I also want to recognize their legal counsel, Hugh Wright, who has worked very closely with the government, different government officials, worked very closely with members of the Opposition, and being able to find a non-political and non-partisan solution to this tragedy, and in how we could move forward. I certainly want to recognize Hugh Wright, as well, and all of his colleagues and his law firm, who have been dealing with this.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, of course, to Justice Nunn, no stranger to members here in the House of Assembly who have been working with Justice Nunn ever since we were all elected, at least since my time. He has been our Conflict of Interest Commissioner and someone we have had some dealings with as elected members. So I want to

[Page 2867]

commend him and all of his staff who put this report together and, at the end of the day, obviously the success of his report is clear in the fact that the government has accepted all of the recommendations and has taken all of his findings seriously.

Mr. Speaker, let me say as well, that we are prepared to offer our support to the Minister of Justice on some of the recommendations that will require federal changes, as well. I do hope that he takes us up on that offer, rather than going forward alone; that he does take the opportunity to seek the support of all Parties in this House in trying to convince the federal counterparts to make the necessary changes as recommended by Justice Nunn, and I make that offer to him.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I believe today will be remembered as an important day in Nova Scotia history and, finally, our province and ourselves, as elected members, making sure that we recognize youth at risk, and we do everything we possibly can to avoid young Nova Scotians from getting in trouble with the law. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the members opposite for their comments. As well, more on a point of order, I would like to table the report of the Nunn Commission Inquiry for members to review, as well.

Also, on a point of order, I just wanted to let the House know, I know they had some questions over the last couple of months in regard to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Officer, and I wanted to announce to the House, let the House know that tomorrow I will be announcing who that new person will be to serve this province. So tomorrow it will be announced.(Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: It's definitely a point of notice to the House.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1562

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 Department of Education ensures that high-quality skilled trades training is available to employers and apprentices in Nova Scotia; and

[Page 2868]

Whereas skilled tradespeople are essential to the strength and growth of our province's businesses and its economy; and

Whereas in 2006, the Department of Education provided 787 new apprentices with a Certificate of Qualification for a designated trade;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate these Nova Scotians and recognize the work of my department and our many partners are doing to help ensure Nova Scotia has a skilled workforce ready to meet the demands of today and the promises 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.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1563

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

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, known as TIANS, hosted its annual Tourism Summit from December 3rd to 5th; and

Whereas the conference was, as always, a great success, with 600 members of the toursim industry sharing their experiences and learning from each other; and

Whereas TIANS coordinated an excellent lineup of speakers, including respected members of the industry, Lieutenant General, the Honourable Romeo Dallaire, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, the Honourable David Wilkins, and many more presenters;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate TIANS Chairman Susan Tilley-Russell, Executive Director Darlene Grant Fiander, and their team of staff and volunteers for once again providing this important learning and networking opportunity for the tourism industry members.

[Page 2869]

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. 1564

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

Whereas Candy Palmater, the Department of Education's Mi'kmaq liason officer, has previously been honoured for her work to improve racial understanding in Nova Scotia schools and its Civil Service; and

Whereas Ms. Palmater was a subject of a recent CBC Newsworld documentary following the highs and lows of her career as a stand-up comedian; and

Whereas through her roles as Mi'kmaq liason officer, and as a stand-up comedian, Candy Palmater promotes awareness of multiculturalism and multicultural education in Nova Scotia to all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize her as an educator who inspires positive change in schools, in government and in the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 2870]

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1565

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

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia honours its members each year with the Crystal Tourism Awards of Excellence; and

Whereas Nova Scotians in many different occupations were recognized for their innovative and visionary contributions to our vibrant tourism industry; and

Whereas the 2006 recipients included Harold and Wendy Nesbitt, the Ship Hector Foundation, Scott Walking Adventures, Cambridge Suites Hotel Sydney, Shelley Webb, Alan Melanson, Gordon Stewart, Daniel Brennan, and Terry Kelly;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all the 2006 Crystal Tourism Award of Excellence winners and acknowledge their outstanding contributions to the tourism industry and to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 131 - Entitled an Act to Repeal Chapter 477 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Treasure Trove Act. (Mr. Howard Epstein)

Bill No. 132 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 199 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Heritage Property Act. (Mr. Howard Epstein)

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

[1:45 p.m.]

[Page 2871]

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1566

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

Whereas the President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture has asked for the establishment of an all-Party committee to consider immediate and sustained action with respect to the short-term needs of the farmers across this province; and

Whereas the president of the federation states in his request that the government should be well versed in the short-term needs of the industry and that the all-Party committee should address and resolve those short-term needs; and

Whereas a better future for Nova Scotia farmers is important to all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly commend the Federation of Agriculture for its initiative, and endorses the request of the federation for an all-Party committee to address and resolve the short-term needs of the farmers across this province.

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1567

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

Whereas yesterday hundreds of Nova Scotians showed up at the Legislature to show their support for the agricultural community; and

[Page 2872]

Whereas the minister and the critics from the Opposition Parties stood on the steps of this House saying they supported the agricultural community; and

Whereas agriculture is at a crossroads and a way of life in rural Nova Scotia is disappearing and the time is now to put these words into action;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Agriculture strike an all-Party committee to report with binding recommendations no later than July 19, 2007 to address the short-term needs of the agricultural industry and to develop a long-term plan.

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 Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1568

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

Whereas the new Rankin School of the Narrows opened earlier this month in the small community of Iona on Cape Breton Island; and

Whereas the school replaces the former Rankin Memorial junior-senior and the Christmas Island elementary school; and

Whereas the new school, situated on a hill overlooking Barra Strait, now accommodates 140 students in Grades Primary to 12;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the staff and pupils of the new Rankin School of the Narrows in Iona; ensuring that children in rural communities have access to the best in educational resources is integral to our commitment to rural life in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 2873]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1569

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

Whereas volunteers are the heart and soul of any organization and help build stronger communities; and

Whereas Pictou Legion Branch 16 recognized long-service and other awards at their banquet on November 11, 2006, including Treasurer Stewart Logan and Ladies Auxiliary member Agnes MacNeill, who both received life memberships, Past President's medal recipient Marta Chenell and President's Pin recipient Viola Arbuckle; and

Whereas also receiving honours were 35-year pin recipient Edward Burke, Glen McCullion who received a Certificate of Appreciation, Past Officer Medal recipient John Stewart, Bar recipient Peter MacDougall and Alden Beck who received a 60-year membership pin;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate all the volunteers at the Pictou Legion Branch 16 and thank them for their continued service to the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 2874]

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1570

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

Whereas the Atlantic Agricultural Leadership Program develops emerging agricultural leaders to confidently and courageously shape the future of the Atlantic and Canadian rural and agricultural sectors; and

Whereas these men and women working in Atlantic Canada's agricultural and associated sectors meet to develop solid leadership skills, learn how political, cultural, social, economic and physical forces impact the agri-food industry, and establish networks with leaders from Atlantic Canada and beyond; and

Whereas for 11 years the success of the Atlantic Agricultural Leadership Program has been possible through the support and goodwill of government - New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Newfoundland - businesses, organizations and individuals who support tomorrow's agricultural leaders today;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House investigate sponsorship for the Atlantic Agricultural Leadership Program that is working to shape the future of agriculture.

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 Pictou Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1571

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

[Page 2875]

Whereas 22-year New Glasgow police force veteran Sgt. Kevin Scott is one of the 10 police officers featured in a new book by Dorothy Pedersen entitled Canadian Police Heroes: Beyond the Call of Duty; and

Whereas Sgt. Scott was singled out for his work in helping create a Critical Incident Stress Management Program developed for the Atlantic Police Academy, after he suffered from work-related stress himself; and

Whereas the stress management of police officers is often overlooked in favour of the victims of a traumatic event, therefore support is integral for ensuring that officers have all of the resources they need to serve and protect their communities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations to Sgt. Kevin Scott for being singled out on a national level, recognizing the impact that occupational stress has on police officers leads ultimately to safer communities and a reduction of the lasting impact traumatic events and crimes have on all involved.

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 Chair is just going to go back to the member for Kings West. I believe there is a request to repeat the operative clause, therefore be it resolved.

The honourable member for Kings West on the last motion you presented.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that because we are having a bad day so far for agriculture.

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House urge government to investigate sponsorship for the Atlantic Agricultural Leadership Program that is working to shape the future of agriculture.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 2876]

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 Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1572

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

Whereas Monday, January 15th is the birthday of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a day commemorated in the United States as a federal holiday; and

Whereas Martin Luther King, Jr.'s civil rights movement began in the United States but had far-reaching effects, spreading to Canada, where African Canadians embraced King's principles of non-violent protest and demonstrated for social justice and an end to racial and class inequality;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly acknowledge the anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose passionate struggle for justice and racial equality fostered and inspired the civil rights movement in Nova Scotia and throughout Canada.

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. 1573

[Page 2877]

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

Whereas in September 2006, the federal Conservative Government cut nearly $18 million from literacy programs across Canada; and

Whereas these adult learning and essential skills programs are used by thousands to encourage and support literacy in our communities; and

Whereas some Nova Scotians do not have the skills needed to fully participate in the workplace due to illiteracy, and the provincial Progressive Conservative Government has done little to help alleviate this problem;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly acknowledge January 27th as Family Literacy Day, and support those who continue to fight illiteracy 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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1574

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

Whereas the Pictou County Women's Centre was established in 1976, with a mandate to offer services and programs to women and advocate on their behalf; and

Whereas over the last year, the Pictou County Women's Centre has offered direct services to over 350 women, as well as program support in areas such as self-esteem, business know-how and sexual violence support; and

Whereas the Pictou County Women's Centre is prioritizing work on local issues, such as youth homelessness, affordable housing, public transportation and food security;

[Page 2878]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the ongoing and thoughtful efforts of the Pictou County Women's Centre to improve the lives of and offer specialized support to women in trying and difficult circumstances.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, if I could make an introduction, I'd appreciate it.

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, in the gallery today we have Mayor John Prall, from the Town of Berwick; as well as Councillors Gary Whittier and Don Clarke - I think they're long-time friends of our Clerk of the House, actually - as well as Fred Walsh, a 24-year representative for agriculture in Kings County; Martin Porskamp from Pork Nova Scotia; Jim Lamb of Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce, and perhaps all those from the farm community could join them as well, and rise and accept the warm welcome of the House here today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed we welcome our visitors, and all visitors to the gallery today for proceedings.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1575

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

Whereas Nova Scotia farmers and their mixed-farm operations were a model for farmers everywhere to follow; and

[Page 2879]

Whereas we now import over 80 per cent of our food, and that figure increases daily as our farmers throw up their hands and say enough is enough; and

Whereas foreign trade agreements cater to the lowest standards of quality and we no longer have control over what we eat;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House urge government to make agriculture a greater priority because no farms mean no food, no future.

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 Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1576

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Public Works recently called for tenders to build a new 15-car cable ferry in Englishtown; and

Whereas the 30-year-old Angus MacAskill will be replaced by a roomier, wider and longer one than the current cable ferry and will now include new safety features such as a 360-degree window for the captain; and

Whereas the department has budgeted $25 million for the replacement of the oldest cable ferries in the department's fleet within the next decade;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the Department of Transportation and Public Works for its proactive approach to rural transportation. Such support not only ensures safer travelling for the residents and visitors to the St. Ann's area, but helps preserve heritage so integral to small Nova Scotian communities.

[Page 2880]

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. 1577

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

Whereas Timberlea resident Shane Mailman played an integral role in the move of the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame to its new location at the Halifax Metro Centre; and

Whereas Shane has been involved with the Sport Hall of Fame in numerous roles since his days as a student at Saint Mary's University; and

Whereas Shane Mailman continues to serve at our province's Sport Hall of Fame as the facility and communications manager with the aim of educating young Nova Scotians about our sports history;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank Shane Mailman and all involved with the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:00 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 2881]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1578

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

Whereas New Glasgow residents Keith and Kay Bowman have, since 1985, been delighting Pictou County residents with the holiday display they construct in front of their New Glasgow home; and

Whereas from the first week of December when the lights go on, hundreds of people stop in front of their house to enjoy the hard work that both Keith and Kay put into the display; and

Whereas the Bowmans love Christmas and use the time to indulge in cheer for not only themselves and their family, but for the families who stop by every year to enjoy the scene;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Keith and Kay Bowman for the time and care they put into their holiday decorating. The pleasure that it brings to the people of Pictou County, particularly the children, is invaluable. Such spirit and talent can be found in every part of Nova Scotia and it is important that we take the time to recognize it.

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. 1579

[Page 2882]

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

Whereas Canada is hosting the Winter Games in Whitehorse, Yukon in March 2007; and

Whereas 17 young men will proudly represent Nova Scotia as members of the Nova Scotia Boys Under 17 hockey team; and

Whereas talent, training, dedication and hard work are essential to reach the level of excellence necessary to be selected as a member of this team;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Matthew Brown, a student at Cobequid Educational Centre in Truro, who has earned a well-deserved position on the Nova Scotia Boys Under 17 hockey team.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. MARK PARENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Before I read my resolution, I want to echo the welcome to our visitors, not only in the gallery, but hopefully watching on closed-circuit TV to the TV downstairs. Many of my neighbours, many of my church members, many of the people I go to Rotary with are with me, and I do want to give them a warm welcome.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1580

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

[Page 2883]

Whereas the Kings County Falls Prevention Program is facilitated by the Annapolis Valley Safe Communities and receives funding from both the Central and West Kings Community Health Boards; and

Whereas the program consists of a falls prevention educational component and an eight-week exercise program; and

Whereas falls are a significant factor in the rising costs of health care in the Province of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize this valuable service carried out for the people of Kings County in the field of injury prevention and to the province as a long-term cost-saving measure.

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. 1581

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

Whereas North Colchester High School recognizes a male and female student each month who have had great success in their school work, community involvement and academic studies; and

Whereas Robyn Nicholson has been an honour student at North Colchester High School; and

Whereas Robyn plays soccer and basketball and competes in track and field, and is recognized as one of the most talented female hockey players in Nova Scotia;

[Page 2884]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House extend their congratulations to Grade 12 student Robyn Nicholson of North Colchester High School for being selected as female student of the month.

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 Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1582

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

Whereas Matt MacPherson from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, was chosen to officiate at the World University Games; and

Whereas hockey referee, Matt MacPherson, has earned a trip to Turin, Italy, where he'll work as a linesman at the World University Games; and

Whereas this will be Matt MacPherson's first experience overseas and the first time he has worked with international officials;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Matt MacPherson on being chosen to officiate at the World University Games.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2885]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:06 p.m. and will conclude at 3:36 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

PREM. - AUTO ACCIDENT (MLA CUMB. NORTH): KNOWLEDGE - INFO.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Today, Nova Scotians learned that the Premier has not provided full and complete answers about how he and his government dealt with the accident involving the former Minister of Human Resources. The chair of the Conservative caucus informed the Premier's chief of staff about the accident almost immediately after it happened. They both knew where the former minister had been. They had been there also, as had many MLAs and staff. Can the Premier explain why he did not tell Nova Scotians the full story about when his office learned of this accident and what they did about it?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, indeed I did give full and complete answers to the best of my ability, to the knowledge that I had. I stand by what I've said during the past few days with regard to that. Further to that, we have a police investigation underway; the police need to do their job with respect to that. I am sure the member with his background would appreciate that, and that's where it stands.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier set out a timeline with respect to contact with his office which was inaccurate. Any reasonable person would have sought an explanation from the Minister of Human Resources the very next morning after this thing first occurred. I would like to think that the Premier's chief of staff is a reasonable person and I expect that if two members of the Progressive Conservative inner circle knew about the accident, then others must have known about it also.

The minister reportedly told the government vehicle fleet staff about the accident the next day and asked his secretary to make a police report. The Premier's office must have been making their own inquiry. So I ask through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, now that others have been more forthright, can the Premier tell Nova Scotians about how he and his office handled the news of this accident?

[Page 2886]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the Leader of the Opposition is not suggesting that I've not been forthright, and if he is, then stand up and say it and walk out the doors and say it. I have shared the information that I was aware of. I have laid out that time line. If what the member is suggesting is otherwise from his question, then I would ask him again to stand up and say it and walk out those doors and say it.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I have been continuously asking the Premier to come forward with the information which he knew or ought to have known. This is a matter which could have and should have been handled thoroughly, professionally and openly the last week of November and those who know the facts, sat across the aisle. So I ask the Premier to finally tell this House and all Nova Scotians, what he knew and when he knew it?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again, I've already shared that information, not only with the members of this House, but with members of the media. There is a police investigation underway and we should respect that investigation.

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

PREM. - AUTO ACCIDENT (MLA CUMB. NORTH):

CHIEF OF STAFF - KNOWLEDGE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, within the last few hours we have more information as to who knew what regarding the accident involving the former Minister of Human Resources and his subsequent resignation. While the Premier's chief of staff has said that he was only told a week after the accident, we now have the Chair of the Tory caucus, the MLA for Cape Breton West, who says he spoke to the chief of staff on the night of the accident, to indicate that he believed the car involved in the accident may have belonged to the former Minister of Human Resources.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier himself has defended the statement by the chief of staff in saying that he had only become aware on December 4th as to when this accident took place and actually 11 days after the accident and apparently 11 days after his chief of staff found out about it. So my question to the Premier is, why did your chief of staff not report this accident to you and acknowledge that he was told about it the night of the accident, November 24th?

THE PREMIER: Again, Mr. Speaker, I've shared the information, when it was brought to my attention which was on December 4th, but further to that, this is obviously a police investigation and we have to respect the process and I know that the member's background is in the law and I'm sure he's not suggesting that we should have any interference with a police investigation. I would hope not.

[Page 2887]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, let me tell the Premier, you don't need a law degree to know that asking the Premier of this province when his chief of staff found out about a motor vehicle accident involving the former Minister of Human Resources has absolutely nothing to do with the police investigation. The first time the minister resigned it was Cabinet secrecy they hid behind. Now all of a sudden they're trying to hide behind a police investigation, which has absolutely nothing to do with when the chief of staff found out and why he apparently did not tell the Premier as to when he found out that information. We have the chief of staff who sent a representative of the Premier to tell the media here is when I found out, on November - he says he found out on November 30th. Today, the Chair of your caucus says that he told him the night of the accident. My question to you Mr. Premier is, who's telling the truth?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, through you, because we're dealing with an issue that's a police investigation, I'll refer that to the Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, as I said in the House before and I'll say it again, I have every confidence in the police of this province. The police have indicated through the media they have launched an investigation. I would ask for members to respect that and I have every confidence that the police will do the right thing.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, you don't have to be a lawyer and you don't have to have a law degree and you don't have to be a police officer to know that when the chief of staff found out and the fact that he has apparently not given the correct information to the Premier, has absolutely nothing to do with the police investigation. The investigation is not over, there are no charges laid but we have a minister who has resigned and Nova Scotians have a right to know why did he resign and on what grounds did he resign, regardless of the police investigation.

So I ask the Premier, we now know, based on what your Tory caucus has said, that the chief of staff found out that night, why did your chief of staff wait 11 days and what kind of confidence can we have in your leadership when your own right-hand man chooses to keep information from you?

THE PREMIER: Again, Mr. Speaker, I will refer that to the Minister of Justice.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again I will repeat what I said earlier, there is a police investigation. Whether the members of this House would understand fully, as I do, that the police will gather every bit of information in regard to this issue and they'll make a determination of what the results of that will be.

I have every confidence, I ask the members to have the confidence and the police force in this area that they will do the right thing.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 2888]

PREM.: AUTO ACCIDENT (MLA CUMB. NORTH) - STAFF BEHAVIOUR

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I must say that I am gravely disappointed with the response of the Premier. There is no police investigation into the operation of the Premier's Office - maybe he is suggesting there should be. It is a travesty to have the Premier of the Province not answer legitimate questions with respect to this very serious incident. (Applause)

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the Premier has appointed two right-hand men - the chief of staff and his Deputy Premier - to help him run the government of this province. The Deputy Premier and the chief of staff both dealt with the reported accident involving the former Minister of Human Resources, which took place right after the Fall session had ended. It looks like they decided to cover it up. So I ask the Premier, how does this behaviour meet with his expectations . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, order. The suggestion of a cover-up in government (Interruption) Well, you can do a point of order if you wish afterwards, but I would suggest that the suggestion of a cover-up is suggestive of activity that is wrongful in government and if you're going to make an allegation, then make the allegation rather than suggest one.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

MR. DEXTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will change that to say they have not been forthright with the facts that they had within their knowledge. So my question to the Premier is this, how does this behaviour meet with his expectation for the men who he appointed to these vital positions?

THE PREMIER: Again, Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition refers to one particular gentleman, the member for Cumberland North, who is no longer part of my Cabinet. Again, I have shared the facts of the information that I was aware of and I made that very clear. I have shared that with the House, I have shared that with the media, we have a police investigation underway and the police need to do their job.

MR. DEXTER: Again Mr. Speaker, there is no investigation, I repeat, no investigation into the operation of the Office of the Premier. This is what we are discussing; the Deputy Premier yesterday deferred almost all questions about the incident to the chief of staff. The Premier's chief of staff has refused to answer any direct questions about the incident. The Premier was refusing to answer questions and now it seems clear that they all knew more than they were letting on, so my question is this; in the interest of openness, on the issue of ministerial conduct, will the minister direct the

[Page 2889]

Deputy Premier and the chief of staff to answer the press gallery's questions about how they handled this file on the Premier's behalf?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is suggesting that I have not been forthright with the information that I had. I fully, 100 per cent disagree with that member because I have been. If he wants to suggest otherwise, go outside those doors and suggest it.

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier is a very simple one, will he direct his chief of staff to answer the questions of the press gallery when put to him?

THE PREMIER: Again, Mr. Speaker, I've been very clear with the Leader of the Opposition. On my previous answer, I indicated I have shared the information, I have provided my timelines that I have available, and further to that, there is a police investigation. I am sure that he has the faith that I have in our police force and our police authorities across our province. If he doesn't, I would be somewhat surprised. They need to do their job. Yes, of course, obviously there was an accident, and we had a minister who resigned from Cabinet, as he should. The police investigation is underway, and we should allow the police to do their job.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

PREM. - AUTO ACCIDENT (CUMB. NORTH MLA) -

MISTAKES CORRECT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I sincerely hope that the Premier does not believe that he is going to be able to hide behind the thin veil of a police investigation that has absolutely nothing to do with the operation of his office. The questions that are put by the Official Opposition, the questions that are put by the Third Party and the questions that are put by the press gallery of the Legislature are legitimate, and the Premier has an obligation and a responsibility to respond to them. The Premier's own chief of staff is among those who I'm sure he wishes would have asked the right questions at the right time. So I ask the Premier, and I think my question is a natural one, what steps has the Premier taken to correct the mistakes his government has made in dealing with the former minister's incident?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, as of last Thursday, the member for Cumberland North is no longer a part of my Cabinet. Further to that, I expect all Ministers of the Crown to respect the code and the responsibility that they have taken on in their respective roles. If not, they will not be part of my Cabinet. I've made that very clear. The information that the member speaks of - we have a police investigation, and I believe that we should allow that to take its course.

[Page 2890]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, if what the Premier says is true, then the staff who are around him have spent an incredible amount of time and effort to try to convince Nova Scotians that the Premier has been left completely in the dark. I must say, this is a peculiar exercise. I will ask the Premier the question that many Nova Scotians are asking, what went so seriously wrong within this government that the Premier was kept in the dark about potentially serious misconduct of one of his most trusted ministers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again, I made the media aware, I made my colleagues in the House here aware of the timelines that I was aware of. I've shared those with the House. I would share them again, because they were the timelines. Beyond that, we have a police investigation and they need to be able to do their job. If the Leader of the Opposition is suggesting otherwise, if he's suggesting that somehow the government or someone else should be meddling in that police investigation, I find that quite hard to believe.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I remember the night of the Leader's Debate when the Premier refused to answer questions about the disclosure of the previous matter with respect to this minister. I remember how disappointed the people of Nova Scotia were. Well, you can't wilfully refuse to ask relevant questions and expect to be excused. Lessons should have been learned from the first resignation last February about the need to obtain all the facts that Nova Scotians deserve about the conduct of Cabinet Ministers. Well, those lessons were clearly not learned. I want to ask the Premier to tell Nova Scotians, what lessons did the Premier learn about the exercise of his own responsibilities with respect to this incident?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I do recall the debate that night, and I also recall what the people of Nova Scotia decided. They decided that the people on this side of the House had the best plan for the future of our province, for the children of our province, for growing our economy - and not just taxing and spending this province to death like the NDP would like to do.

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

PREM. - AUTO ACCIDENT (CUMB. NORTH MLA): INFO. - DISCREPANCIES

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the black cloud hanging over members of the government and their staff just seems to be growing by the day. We now have a situation where the Premier seems to be defending his chief of staff and leaving Nova Scotians to wonder who to believe between his chief of staff and the chair of the Tory caucus, the honourable member for Cape Breton West, based on who knew what and when they were informed.

[Page 2891]

Mr. Speaker, confidence in this government is being shaken by the minute when one sees the Premier refusing to answer questions about the administration of his own government and hiding behind a police investigation about what he calls a minor traffic accident. The Premier's chief of staff is the one whom one would believe is his most trusted person, unelected trusted person, and yet today we have media reports and statements from the chief of staff which clearly are not in sync with the comments from the honourable member for Cape Breton West. I ask the Premier again, who are Nova Scotians to believe - the chair of the Tory caucus or your chief of staff?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again I'll reiterate what I responded in the last question to the interim Leader of the Third Party. I've shared the facts to the best of my ability and, further to that, we have a police investigation underway. Neither myself nor any member in this House should be commenting with respect to a police investigation.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's one thing to claim that you've been left in the dark, it's a whole other thing to claim that you're not even interested in seeking the light.

This Premier knows now that others had information that he didn't have, and who were these other people? His Deputy Premier, his chief of staff, the chair of this Tory caucus, and his former Minister of Human Resources. Yet today the Premier stands in his place and says I was left in the dark, I'm still in the dark and, boy, I'm in a happy place staying in the dark. That is his statement. To hide behind a police investigation, sir, is a disservice to your office; it's a disservice to this House; and it's a disservice to the people of Nova Scotia whom you just claimed, in your answer to the Leader of the Opposition, elected you and trusted you and now, today, why are you showing the trust that they placed in you with . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind the honourable member to direct the question through the Chair, please.

MR. SAMSON: Through you to the Premier. It is he who says that he was given the trust of Nova Scotians, and today he hides behind a police investigation into a minor traffic accident and refuses to answer the actions of his chief of staff or the chair of the Tory caucus - in the information we have today. I put the question to you once again, when will the Premier finally leave the dark, get the light, and give Nova Scotians the answers and show them that they had a reason to put trust in him in the first place?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the interim Leader of the Third Party. Again, I have shared the information and the timelines that I had available. Further to that, there's a police investigation and it would be inappropriate for me to make further comment. But what I will say is that I believe that in anything like this, for any citizen of our province, or any MLA in this House, any citizen deserves due process and when there's a police investigation underway, I believe it's incumbent upon all of us to let that follow through.

[Page 2892]

Mr. Speaker, you know, if the Leader asks me the same questions, he will receive the same answers, and that's because there is a police investigation underway.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, the actions that have taken place here leading to the resignation of the former Minister of Human Resources, the new information that we have been given, which clearly does not sync with what the Premier has been telling us to date, is causing Nova Scotians to question the competence of this government, and based on his answers today I can tell you, through you, Mr. Speaker, it is causing us to question the confidence of this government.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure if the Premier fully understands the consequences of the answers that he is giving here today and the impact they are going to have. I cannot be any clearer in the statements that I am making.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier has an opportunity to come clean with Nova Scotians and tell us what happened through his office, through his senior staff, which had absolutely nothing to do with a police investigation. I ask the Premier one last time, will the Premier finally get out of the dark, come straight with Nova Scotians and whatever answers he doesn't have, that he seeks them immediately, because it is quite clear that there are lots quite close to him who have the answers he doesn't have?

THE PREMIER: Again, Mr. Speaker, I shared information. If there is more information, of course, that would be part of a police investigation and it would be appropriate for that. Again, the information I have heard, I have heard here in the House just before Question Period.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I am not going to interfere with a police investigation. This government, and I look back at earlier today, at our response to the Nunn Commission. There are many other important things happening across Nova Scotia which the government is focused upon - the Nunn Commission and our response to that being one of them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - COMMONWEALTH GAMES BID: GOV'T. SUPPORT - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I must say the Premier finally said something I agree with, which is that there are other important things that are happening in Nova Scotia that deserve the attention of the Legislature, and as fascinating as the Premier's failure to answer and the crumbling alliance between the government and the Third Party is, I'm now going to move on to a question for the Minister of Finance.

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General published his December 2006 report today. It states that on November 28, 2005, two weeks before Halifax won the right to bid for the

[Page 2893]

Commonwealth Games, a letter was written by a member of the Executive Council to the bid committee pledging government support for the Commonwealth Games. I would like to ask the minister, when did he become aware that this letter had been written?

[2:30 p.m.]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, to the House and to the Leader of the Opposition, I can't recall the exact date that I became aware of the letter, but it was some considerable time after it was written.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, under Section 59 of the Provincial Government Act, this letter should have been forwarded to the Department of Finance with specific information, requesting authorization from the minister. It was not. Subsequently, there was no clearance by the Governor in Council as required by the Act. I'd like to ask the minister, when did he realize that the Act had been breached in this manner?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the letter in question - I understand it was written when I was not Minister of Finance. As to the exact date, that would be sometime after I became Minister of Finance.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this is a highly irregular occurrence. A member of the Executive Council wrote a letter promising a very large sum of money to the Commonwealth Games Bid Committee without informing either the Minister of Finance or the rest of Cabinet of his intentions. I would like to ask the Minister of Finance a very simple question, who signed the letter?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the letter was signed by the Premier of Nova Scotia at the time - the honourable John Hamm.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - RRFB: TIRES - DISPOSITION

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, another report was released today and this one puts Nova Scotia squarely on the world map. It points out, unfortunately, that Nova Scotia, out of five places on the eastern side of North America, is a concentration of mercury. The wetlands of central Nova Scotia are in fact one of the most dangerous places to be found in eastern North America. A lot of that is in fact due, according to the Journal of Biosciences, to the incineration of coal, of municipal waste and of medical waste.

We do have an agency here which is intended to deal with that kind of problem, and it's the Resource Recovery Fund Board. The mandate of the Resource Recovery Fund Board is to deal with a wide variety of waste, solid waste, and that mandate

[Page 2894]

includes the recycling of tires. The board claims that it recycles or deals with some 900,000 tires every year. The people of Nova Scotia pay $3 per tire to the board in order to subsidize that activity.

Now, however, there is no contract for the disposal of these tires, only for the picking up. Can the minister tell me what is the intended disposition of tires by the Resource Recovery Fund Board of Nova Scotia?

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member, since we do have a chance to have two supplementary questions, would allow me to speak to the very first part of her comment about mercury levels, because it's a very, very important issue.

One of the first things I was able to do as a Minister of Environment at the Council of Ministers of the Environment in Yellowknife, at the first meeting we had as Ministers of the Environment across Canada, provincially and federally, was to arrive, finally, at an agreement for mercury reduction. What that means is, along with the steps we had taken already here in Nova Scotia, we will see a 70 per cent decrease in mercury emissions in the Province of Nova Scotia by the year 2010 over the figures that prevailed in 2001. That is a very good news story.

Now, if the member doesn't mind, I'll then move on to the Resource Recovery Fund Board.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that. I have heard that of the three tenders which were submitted in August for disposal of Nova Scotia tires, subsidized by the people of Nova Scotia, one of those proposals is for the incineration of tires in a cement kiln. I would like to ask whether the minister believes that, in fact, burning of tires is an acceptable form of recycling?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I've been clear with the House before that in our tire recycling program, there have been some concerns that we've had with how it was being carried out. So, there has not been - the Resource Recovery Board went to tender to get a new proposal. In the meantime they have had a backlog of used tires which they have now cleared up. Since December we collected 160,000 tires from tire salvage yards and they have been cleaned up and they are being shipped out of the province right now to Quebec and Ontario.

That's what the resource recovery fund brought forward and is doing currently with the tires. I understand the three tenders are out there and that a decision has not yet been made by the Resource Recovery Board as to which tender should be awarded.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I'd like to welcome all guests to our gallery today, but I would remind everyone here, they can respond to neither the positive nor to

[Page 2895]

the negative, of what's occurring on the floor. I would ask that be respected in the House.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate that my question is not academic because the burning of garbage is increasingly considered to be a possible disposal system in other places than cement kilns. I would like the minister's commitment, will the minister commit that the burning of any form of waste handled by the Resource Recovery Fund Board will not be considered an acceptable form of recycling from now on in this province?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, speaking to the member's concern, when I heard the potential was there, that one of the tenders might be considered to be used in part for tire-derived fuel, and when I knew that our tires were being shipped out of the province to Quebec to be used in part for tire-derived fuel, I asked for an independent, scientific study from Dalhousie to look at all the factors, all the emissions that come, the whole question of tire-derived fuel, improving greenhouse gas effect because that's very important in our climate on climate change. That study was asked for long before Christmas, I'm waiting eagerly for it and I will make my decision based on scientific evidence and upon good environmental practices. You have my commitment to that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

AGRIC. - PORK NOVA SCOTIA: RECOVERY PLAN - ACTION

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture. The fact is, the minister and his government continue to play crisis management and apply band-aid solutions to serious problems. Pork Nova Scotia provided the government with a well-thought-out, intricately planned strategy to revitalize the industry in 2005.

Mr. Speaker, the farmers, their families, the 400 workers at Larsen's, and all who indirectly rely on the industry would not be in this fight for their livelihood if the government had accepted their plan. It is obvious, the dust is collecting on this report in the minister's office. So I will present him, in the House, with a fresh copy today.

My question to the minister is, why has your government not subscribed to this plan?

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to welcome the pork producers and their families to the Nova Scotia Legislature this afternoon. I am really pleased that finally we are getting to some very important matters, and that is the agriculture industry in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2896]

Let me tell you this, Mr. Speaker, and I repeat, there is no report laying on the shelf at the Department of Agriculture gathering dust.

MR. GLAVINE: Well I'm glad, Mr. Speaker, that he certainly didn't repeat the promise of a month or so ago of $3.5 million in debt relief, because the hog farmers are basically calling it exit help.

Announcements, announcements, Mr. Speaker, none of these deal with the problems hog producers are having now. When this is coupled with the hog-wasting disease, the economic downfall is tremendous to an industry that generates over $100 million to the economy of Nova Scotia. Your government had money for S & J Potato Farms and Magic Valley, what about farmers?

My question is, why, Mr. Minister, has your government decided, without proper notice, to drop the hog industry and bring it to the point of collapsing?

MR. TAYLOR: Well, Mr. Speaker, the Agriculture Critic for the Liberal caucus may not think that $9.7 million is a lot of money, but I'll tell you, on this side of the House it was a challenge to get that money approved. It is the biggest single investment in agriculture in one time by the Government of Nova Scotia. That's what I'll say to that member.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I am going to read a portion from the letter I received from Eric Porter, a hog farmer, just five days ago. It states: Since September 2005, I have lost 35 per cent of my production due to wasting disease. It will be April before hog shippings are back to normal. I will have to feed these pigs during the next four months with no cash flow. My grain broker informs me that without government support for the hog industry, I can expect my credit to be cut off. My immediate predicament is keeping 1,200 hogs alive over the next four months, coupled with a lack of financial support for feed or, alternatively, for the humane killing and disposal of the hogs.

My question to the minister is, will you stand in support of Eric Porter and other farmers, or are you prepared to face the pending disasters which are just around the corner?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, this government, this Premier, and the Department of Agriculture has been consistent in our message, and that is that we will work with the pork farmers on a case-by-case basis. We've said that, and I will repeat that again today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

AGRIC. - ALL-PARTY COMM.: REQUEST REJECTION - EXPLAIN

[Page 2897]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier and all Leaders received a request from the Federation of Agriculture seeking an all-Party committee to address and resolve the short-term issues facing farmers across this province. Two Parties in this House have accepted the request, which was made from their frustration at the lack of action by government on challenges that this government knows very well.

So my question to the Premier is, why is the Premier rejecting this request from the Federation of Agriculture?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. Indeed, and as I mentioned here yesterday, I live in an agricultural community, I realize just how important agriculture is not only in my community, but across Nova Scotia, and I know that our hog farmers, and others, have experienced challenges.

The government is willing and able, Mr. Speaker, to work on a case-by-case basis with our hog farmers. We announced a package, a $9.7 million package, in December. Again, as the minister has stated, we are willing to work with them, willing to work with our farmers, because each individual will have certain circumstances which are their own circumstances within their own operation.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, allowing farms to go out of existence one at a time is pretty cold comfort to those in the agricultural industry. It's pretty cold comfort to pork producers. Such an all-Party committee would be an opportunity for all Parties to sit down and examine the problems facing the agricultural industry in a non-partisan context. Farmers are looking for a positive response, because they know their industry can have a bright future. I believe that farmers deserve respect.

This request from the Federation of Agriculture deserves a serious response, because they are seeking a basis for hope in the future. So my question for the Premier is, if the government continues to say no to the federation request, what other option does it offer to the hard-working farm families who seek a way for their short-term issues to be resolved in partnership with the government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government is very committed to agriculture. In fact we put forward a separate Department of Agriculture. I put forward a minister, a single minister whose sole responsibility is on agriculture. One of the things I spoke to the minister about, upon taking the portfolio, was to take a long-term approach, a long-term approach which would be beneficial to our agricultural industry and to our farmers. That is the government's focus, to find that balance between helping our agricultural industry but also ensuring that the interests of the public are also met, both at the same time.

[2:45 p.m.]

[Page 2898]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the President of the Federation of Agriculture has explained that he and other farm representatives have spent months meeting with the government and explaining the short-term issues they face. Five hundred farmers came to the House yesterday, and they left with nothing. Many more are here today, because they are looking for a resolution to these issues. My question is, why doesn't the Premier recognize that the immediate formation of an all-Party committee is the least that his government can do in response to the grave reality in the farm community?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will refer that to the Minister of Agriculture, who can provide an update on what has been done and what is moving forward.

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to tell the Agriculture Critic and Leader of the Opposition that, in fact, we do have an industry transition committee in place today. It has been working now for months. One of the first exercises as Minister of Agriculture that I engaged in was the approving of this industry transition committee.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps you didn't know, but the president of the Federation of Agriculture is on that industry transition committee, and the past Chairman of Pork Nova Scotia is on that committee. That committee is working extremely hard to look at the value chain, but the problem for the pork producer that is in the commodity model is that the cost of production has exceeded the North American market price for too long. What we are doing is, we are going to work with the pork producers in this province to help them transition to other models and to other initiatives, but we're going to sit down and work with them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

AGRIC.: INDUSTRY STABILITY - ACTION PLAN

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture. Agriculture in our province is important to so many people in both rural and urban areas. Yesterday, we saw hundreds of people outside the Legislature, supporting their industries. The facts are simple; we need a plan so that our agricultural industries do not fall in the same predicament that the pork producers are in right now. My question to the minister is, why are you not willing to put in place an action plan that will ensure the stability of the Nova Scotia agricultural community?

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that the agriculture industry has many success stories. He's up there painting a broad picture of doom and gloom. The fact of the matter is, there are many, many commodities that are successful, that are doing well. I think of the blueberry industry, the mink industry, the dairy, the chicken, the egg, and so on, but let's focus on the pork industry. The crux of the trouble right now is the pork producer is receiving a price that is less than the North

[Page 2899]

American market price. Now, the NDP know that, the Liberals know that, and we knew that.

Mr. Speaker, this minister went to government, went to Finance, and we brought back a package that we could afford and that was responsible to the taxpayers of this province.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, we are not just talking about money. People's lives are literally at stake, their homes, their cars, their children's futures. Everything is riding on the prosperity of their farms, and this government's lack of action shows they have little in mind for the financial future of rural Nova Scotia. Farmers know best when it comes to developing how to keep their businesses growing. We need to develop an all-Party committee to ensure that the future of these industries is stable. So my question to the minister is, will you conduct an all-Party committee with a strict timeline to develop a plan for the stability of agriculture in Nova Scotia?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, if you look at the investment, the incredible investment that the farmers and their families make, if you look at the risk that the farmer takes and look at what they get in return, it's the littlest in that value chain, but what we have done is put together a committee to look at how we can actually get more money back into the hands of the farmer and the family. Now, we don't necessarily agree until the report and the recommendations come back that you should just tax and spend, like the Official Opposition believes. What we believe is, let the Federation of Agriculture do its work and then we will respond accordingly.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, this side of the House agrees with the committee and the Kelco report. What the minister is missing is, the men and women in the gallery will not be farming by the time that report comes in. In late debate, the minister used the word "hope". The men and women in the gallery have no hope, quite frankly - that's why they're here. They say the greatest quality that an elected official can have is the ability to listen. Minister, you're not listening. Will you listen to the farmers and ordinary Nova Scotians and provide the short-term financial relief to the hog industry and provide a long-term plan for the stability of the agricultural community?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, as I repeated earlier, back on December 1st we brought forward a package with three components. Number one was direct income support to the non-supply-managed commodities in the Province of Nova Scotia. Next week, we expect to be issuing cheques. Yes, they're worth a few thousand dollars to the individual farmer; they're not as much as was requested, but we have a number of requests. Just yesterday I met with the horticulture farmers from Cape Breton and they had some challenges, big-time challenges. We are also talking to the cattle producers and many, many other commodities. There are lots of challenges out there but I can tell you one thing, what we do will be fair to the agriculture industry in the Province of Nova Scotia on behalf of the taxpayers in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2900]

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

CONSERVE N.S.: CAO APPT. - HIRING POLICY

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Premier. During a meeting in June of last year, the Premier fired Heather Foley Melvin as his chief of staff and offered her the position of chief administrative officer of then non-existent Conserve Nova Scotia Agency. On Wednesday, November 1, 2006, Ms. Foley Melvin appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of this Legislature. The same day the Leader of the Opposition asked the Premier about Ms. Foley Melvin's appointment as CAO of Conserve Nova Scotia. He replied, "I think that if the Leader of the Opposition takes a look, we are all well within the fair hiring policy in doing what we have done."

Mr. Speaker, I have done this. So I would like to ask the Premier, will he tell the House where, in the fair hiring policy, appointments to the position of chief administrative officer are mentioned?

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

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I understand, as has been stated by the minister in the past, that the Fair Hiring Policy was complied with.

MR. GOSSE: Well, Mr. Speaker, I will table a press release from the Premier's office dated June 23, 2006. I will also table the contract of Ms. Foley Melvin for Conserve Nova Scotia duties. Finally, I will table the Fair Hiring Policy. In both the press release and the contract she is referred to as Chief Administrative Officer, while in the Fair Hiring Policy this title appears nowhere. Curiously, it does not appear under the section the Premier uses to justify his misuse of appointment of power.

So I ask the Premier, will he follow the Fair Hiring Policy now, since he didn't in June, and ask the Public Service Commission to conduct an audit of this hiring?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the acting minister.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier in answer to the member's question, I understand that our Fair Hiring Policy was followed. Ms. Foley Melvin is a highly qualified person and deserves the trust of the House.

[Page 2901]

MR. GOSSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, but nowhere in that Fair Hiring Policy is administrative executive mentioned.

Mr. Speaker, clearly the Premier felt it was convenient to approach this situation as he did. Perhaps he felt it was the most expedient way to deal with an uncomfortable situation. Unfortunately for him, however, he had no grounds to do what he did and the justification he has tried to use for his actions only makes the situation worse.

My question through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, when will the Premier admit that he did not comply with the Fair Hiring Policy?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the acting minister.

MR. BAKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and through you to the honourable member, our government intends to follow and has followed the Fair Hiring Practice.

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

HEALTH: CANCER TREATMENT - WAIT TIMES

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question today is for the Minister of Health. Judy Young is a 46-year-old woman with an eight-year-old son. She was diagnosed with cancer by her family doctor in October 2006, but was told that it was not urgent. At the end of November, Ms. Young saw an oncologist who diagnosed her with inoperable colorectal cancer. There is no cure for this cancer but there is treatment that could prolong Ms. Young's life. The first part of that treatment is chemotherapy. Unfortunately for Ms. Young, the wait times for cancer care are long and she was unable to access chemotherapy until January of this year.

My question to the Minister of Health is, when will your department address the unacceptable wait times between diagnosis of cancer and treatment?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. As you know, for the last number of years the Department of Health has been working quite diligently on trying to identify what wait times are, exactly where they are in the system, to try to make changes within those systems. I can say that in comparison to other jurisdictions in Canada, that our wait times for cancer treatment is one that is in the middle of the pack and I can say that I want and this government wants to have our cancer treatment done ahead of the pack.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, there are thousands of Nova Scotians with cancer today who don't think their wait times for cancer treatment is in the middle of the pack. The Minister of Health already knows about this situation;

[Page 2902]

Ms. Young contacted both the Minister's Office and his colleague, her MLA's office. She has yet to be provided with any assistance.

In addition to chemotherapy there is a drug, Avastin, which could help prolong her life and allow her more time to spend with her eight-year-old son. The Province of Nova Scotia, however, doesn't cover the cost of this drug. So my question to the Minister of Health is, why is your government not providing the drug that will prolong the life of cancer patients like Judy Young?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The member opposite brings into question the decision of our committee not to fund the drug Avastin. Avastin is an oncology drug which treats very rare cases of the cancer disease. The decision to not fund this drug was based on a number of criteria, of course on the life expectancy of the individuals receiving that therapy, the effectiveness of it, as well as the cost. This drug is not one that is being funded in many jurisdictions in Canada - as far as I understand, there are only two jurisdictions in Canada that do cover this drug.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, to be eligible for the Drug Assistance for Cancer Patients program, patients must have a gross family income of no greater than $15,720 annually. Avastin, as the minister had stated earlier, is expensive and can cost up to $40,000 annually. My question is, why does the minister's government think it's acceptable to set the income cut-off for drug coverage lower than the poverty line?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brings up a valid point when it comes to the cancer treatment or the program that he talks about. The program he talks about was one that was created a number of years ago to try to help a very small segment of our population. I know through the Pharmacare Program for working families, the one we're trying to develop, we're trying to encompass this program as well as some other ones that have not been fair to Nova Scotians in making sure that they have the coverages that they require. I look forward to announcing that in the very near future.

[3:00 p.m.]

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

FIN. - DEPT. INFO.: AG'S OFFICE - ACCESS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, the Report of the Auditor General for the year ending December 2006 was released today, and to be honest the findings in this report are disturbing and shocking. It seems that the Department of Finance and the Treasury and Policy Board, as well as other departments in this province, have consistently withheld documents and materials from the Auditor General's Office, and

[Page 2903]

many times with very little explanation. This shows a complete lack of respect for the Office of the Auditor General and for the people of Nova Scotia, on whose behalf he's doing the work. Any member of the staff of the Auditor General should have access to the financial information of this province.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Minister of Finance is, would the minister please signal when he will stop this current practice of refusing full disclosure to our Auditor General and his staff?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, I can indicate to you that the staff at the Department of Finance and other departments fully co-operate with the Auditor General.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, when the Auditor General does their report each year, the Auditor General has always been very careful to word their recommendations and their comments very diplomatically. In the report, the Auditor General has said that they were not provided access to certain information we requested - it's in black and white, it's in the report, and we know the Auditor General is diplomatic.

There's a lot more to this than meets the eye. My question for the Minister of Finance is, I would like to know, in this day and age when Nova Scotians expect better, will the minister please commit, today, to start working with the Auditor General's department and office and start to provide full disclosure on every occasion?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I can reiterate, for the benefit of the members of the House, that our government, and particularly the Department of Finance, is committed to co-operating with the Auditor General in allowing him to carry out his functions.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, this government has a long history of being secretive and providing non-disclosure of information - the government even received an award not long ago as the most secretive government in Canada. You refused to disclose information during the investigation on questionable loans to S&J Potato Farms and Magic Valley, and also the Cabinet has been refusing to disclose the full extent to which they knew about the incident involving the member for Cumberland North. Now you are refusing, as we see in the Auditor General's Report, to give financial information to the person tasked with reviewing and auditing the finances of this province. My question to the minister is, there are some awards simply not worth winning. When will you commit, please, to put a stop to this obstruction of the Office of the Auditor General, and provide full disclosure to all relevant information so they can do their work?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member and the members of the House. Quite clearly we are committed to full financial disclosure to the Auditor General. We are committed to working with the Auditor General and obviously

[Page 2904]

there are disagreements from time to time and those will be worked out between staff at the Department of Finance and the Auditor General's office.

MR. SPEAKER: The honorable member for Dartmouth East.

CNS: STAFF INCREASE - EXPLAIN

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for Communications Nova Scotia. Today I will table a list of the Communications Nova Scotia staff that includes managing directors, directors, advisors and officers, dated July 2, 2003. There are 49 names on this list. Next, I will table a list with the same positions received by our office on September 19, 2005. This time there are 61 names on the list. That's a 25 per cent increase in just over two years. I'd like to ask the minister, why, when his government still has not added one new licensed long-term care bed to the system, does he believe they need a 25 per cent increase in government spin doctors?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I would say to the member opposite, our government has embarked upon an initiative here in the Province of Nova Scotia to bring awareness to Nova Scotia through the Come to Life initiative. As well, I would inform the member opposite that we have taken seriously, particularly the work at Health Promotion and Protection around our social marketing campaigns, trying to reduce the number of problem drinkers in this province, trying to reduce the number of smokers in this province, trying to work on strategies to reduce falls and to make Nova Scotia a healthier and safer province. I would think that would cover off a large number of those new positions that the member opposite talks about.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, last month Communications Nova Scotia sent out an updated staff contact list that covers the same positions that I just mentioned. This time, there are 73 names on the list, and I'm going to table that list also. This means that over the past three years there has been a 49 per cent increase in the number of government spin doctors, while residents, for example in Shelburne and other areas, can't even access a family doctor. So I ask the minister, just where in his Party's campaign platform did it mention this massive boost in spending on government spin doctors?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that from time to time we hear members of the Opposition Parties criticize the government for not informing Nova Scotia about the programs and services we provide, yet at the same time, when we make investments to Communications Nova Scotia to do that very work, they come back and criticize us. It's a double-edged sword. Which side do they want?

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, well perhaps, this is what the government does mean when they say that they're trying to stop the outflow of young professionals because they've just single-handedly tried to solve the problem by hiring them all as

[Page 2905]

government communication staff. This $1.6 million would have gone a long way in helping, let's say, the pork producers in Nova Scotia, achieve their plan. So I ask the minister, why did you choose to spend $1.6 million more on salaries for communication staff, instead of a plan that could help Pork Nova Scotia reach sustainability?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. I think the simple answer is that we listen to Nova Scotians and to the Opposition Parties. It is important for us and the Province of Nova Scotia to make sure that Nova Scotians were aware of the programs and services we provided and, therefore, we utilized the services of Nova Scotians to help do that. Mr. Speaker, I think the answer speaks for itself.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

IMMIGRATION - CORNWALLIS FINANCIAL: CONTRACT - REGRET

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Immigration is an issue of vital importance to the future of economic and social development of Nova Scotia, especially rural Nova Scotia. One of the chief architects and agents in promoting this government's Immigration Strategy has been the Cornwallis Financial Group. The Attorney General recently submitted that this government has lost the trust, confidence and belief in Cornwallis Financial, alleging that Cornwallis Financial collected more than $400,000 in unwarranted fees. My question for the Premier is, does the Premier now regret giving this contract for the Nominee Program to Cornwallis Financial while he was Minister of Immigration?

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

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, in answer to the honourable member's question, quite simply, the Government of Nova Scotia determined that the program could be better administered through the Department of Immigration. That's what our decision was, and as a result of that, the services of Cornwallis Financial were no longer required.

MR. PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, that question was really about the Premier's judgment and his ability to benefit from hindsight and reflection and his capacity to learn. Mr. Premier, your government refused to renew a contract with Cornwallis Financial last year, stating that the company prevented auditors from examining their records. Your government is now accusing your former partner, which made substantial donations to the Conservative Party, of retaining fees to which it was not entitled under Canadian immigration law. I would like to ask the Premier why he was not aware of these practices when he was Minister of Immigration?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the acting minister.

[Page 2906]

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, as I indicated earlier, a decision was made to have those services provided internally, and that is really all to be said.

MR. PREYRA: Mr. Premier, you were minister responsible for giving an extremely lucrative, untendered contract to this company without any public request for proposals or bids. In April 2005, in this House, you said ". . . the fact of the matter is we have a contract with Cornwallis Financial and the provincial Nominee Program is working very well. Cornwallis Financial brings a great deal of experience, it brings a great deal of professionalism towards this . . ." Will the Premier explain to Nova Scotians why they are paying for another situation in which he failed to ask the right questions?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I should provide some clarification. In fact, the member is incorrect. I was not the minister at the time that contract was signed.

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

AG'S REPT.: CONCERNS - ADDRESS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Auditor General's Report, released today, shows that only 48 per cent of the recommendations from three years ago have been implemented by government departments. The other 52 per cent are either in progress - which, after three years is a pretty pathetic rate - or they have been refused all together.

At the Auditor General's press briefing that was held just moments ago, the Auditor General said he was disappointed by the results, that he's asking government for more rigorous action on these. He also said that we don't make recommendations lightly. My question for the Premier is, why are your departments continually refusing to adequately address the many concerns the Auditor General's Office brings forward?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe some of the facts that have been presented perhaps need to be corrected, and I will refer that to the Minister of Finance.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, again, through you to the honourable member, I can indicate to you that government takes very seriously the recommendations of the Auditor General. Depending on how you count it, 80 per cent, or thereabout, of the recommendations of the Auditor General have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented. Obviously, there are cost issues with respect to implementing those reports and we're working on it.

The number actually rises significantly higher than that though, Mr. Speaker, if you allow for the fact that the report and recommendations of the Auditor General that

[Page 2907]

were not implemented in many cases were to universities, and government does not directly control universities. I'm not sure the honourable member is advocating that the government take away the independence of our universities.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my point is there's a trend here in the government. It isn't just one year where you haven't implemented your recommendations, it's two. Although the Auditor General has been making recommendations for years and years, they've only begun to track whether or not you're implementing them. We've seen last year 48 per cent that have been implemented and more than 50 per cent not. The year before from 2002's recommendations, on the third year look at it, they were only 35 per cent implemented - so even more poorly. So we have a trend here and the trend is not improving very dramatically or fast enough to show that the government is serious about implementing important recommendations that come from the Auditor General.

You know the trend has to stop and that's my point today, Mr. Speaker. My question is, and it is to the Premier again, Mr. Premier, will you personally send a directive out to the departments that they are to begin immediately working more vigorously to address the past and current Auditor General recommendations?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, we take the recommendations very seriously. The Department of Finance and the respective departments do a considerable amount of work with regard to those recommendations. The Minister of Finance has already provided an update as to the large percentage of the recommendations that have already been able to move forward, the number and the progress, and will continue. We have a deep respect for the recommendations put forth and we'll continue that close relationship.

[3:15 p.m.]

MS. WHALEN: Well, Mr. Speaker, this really signals an issue of leadership on behalf of the government because I believe that the staff at the bottom of the departments, all the way through the departments and throughout government, take their cue from the top. So it's very important that you signal personally that you want this done right away, that you want to see a change in the culture in government and that information that the Auditor General needs is provided and that their recommendations are acted upon. We've seen too much in the way of dragging our heels and delaying in terms of implementation.

So my question to the Premier is, will you direct your ministers and their departments to begin a policy of full disclosure within the law for the Auditor General's Office during audits and will you also begin further recommendation implementation?

THE PREMIER: I will refer that to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 2908]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Again, Mr. Speaker, I can reiterate our government's commitment to working with the Auditor General to implement his recommendations. However, as the honourable member would understand, many of the recommendations are recommendations. They need to be operationalized. That requires time and expenditure of funds. There is only a limited amount of either, but I want to assure the member and the members of the House, through you, Mr. Speaker, that our government is committed to implementing the Auditor General's report and working management will do that. The direction comes from very high in government, the Department of Finance and from everywhere else in government, that we want to do what we can to make our system better.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

ENVIRON. & LBR.: PENSION FUNDING - ACTION

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. The government is very well aware that there have been issues confronting many employer and employee groups when it comes to pension funding. In a few cases the government has taken some limited action. In fact, in April 2005, the Cabinet made a partial exemption for the solvency requirements for universities.

Mr. Speaker, then under pressure from the current and former members of the Halifax Regional Municipality employees, they made a few changes, which they announced a few months ago to provide some relief from solvency requirements for municipal pension plans. I want to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, why does it take an orchestrated campaign by current and future pensioners to force your government to act in these matters?

HON. MARK PARENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this issue because the issue of pensions and the solvency of those pensions is a very important issue. My job, as the Minister of Environment and Labour, who has the Office of Pensions under him, is to make sure that the pension plans of Nova Scotia are healthy and will be there to pay out for pensioners. We have had a rash of pension plans in the United States, in California, for example, where they're paying out 20 cents on the dollar to people who have contributed for their whole lives.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, my answer to the honourable member is that I tread very, very cautiously, as minister, in doing anything that would put pension plans in jeopardy. That is why, when it comes to pensions, I will be cautious because my job is to protect the pension plans of Nova Scotians and I will do that.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps there is one thing that the minister and I would agree on and that is the importance of

[Page 2909]

strong pension plans. There are a number of other organizations beyond the universities and beyond the municipal work force in the province that are struggling with pension solvency requirements. The minister would be aware of this.

Last Fall we raised concerns on behalf of long-term care facilities, which the government claimed at that time they didn't seem to know much about. However, we also raised the concerns facing the stable, multi-employer pension plan members, like those in the building trades. Right now they face an unnecessary reduction in benefits without some action on the part of this government. Yet to date, Mr. Speaker, the government has not addressed their concerns.

So I want to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, through you, why is your government turning its back on the needs of the building trades members in these pension plans?

HON. MARK PARENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Categorically we're not turning our backs on the building trades. We work very closely with all the pension plans and I have asked our Superintendent of Pensions - we have a very small department but are taxed to the fullest to look at pensions across the province and we have a proposal in that perhaps will enable us to do an even better job of that.

Mr. Speaker, the member may be aware that in Ontario they have hired an outside consultant to take a look at pension plans across the Province of Ontario. If the province has the financial capability, my suggestion would be to do that here because I have had members of the caucus opposite coming to me on behalf of employers, saying lift the solvency. I have had members coming to me on behalf of workers saying, please don't do anything that would threaten the pension plan.

Mr. Speaker, those contradictory messages I understand because MLAs come with their individual requests but my job is to take care of pension plans for everybody and I'll do that.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, I've always knows that the minister was somewhat clairvoyant. Mr. Speaker, it is the case that I am aware that in Ontario, the Ontario government did have a consultant appointed in November 2006 to actually study the solvency requirements and the impact, particularly with respect to the funding of multi-employer plans.

So, Mr. Speaker, my final question to the minister is, how soon will we have a review of the solvency requirements under the Pensions Benefits Act in the Province of Nova Scotia, so we can provide some assurance to members, such as the building trades, that they will have secure pensions, without seeing extraordinary and damaging and harmful reductions in their current benefits?

[Page 2910]

MR. PARENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the member for her compliment although I prefer the word prophetic rather than clairvoyant. I can assure the member that I am working very hard on this, very quickly. It's not entirely within my hands because there are financial implications, but I do think it's an important issue that I am raising. I thank the member for her concern as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

TCH.: CLAM HBR. FEST. - SUPPORT

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. In October 2006, Eric Wright, Coordinator of the Clam Harbour Sand Castle and Sculpture Contest, wrote to the staff in the minister's department, and he advised them that the Lake Charlotte Leisure Planning Association, which runs the festival is in the process of disbanding, which will put the future of the festival in jeopardy. My question to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. What plan does his department have to help save this critical tourism attraction on the Eastern Shore?

HON. LEONARD GOUCHER: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I do not have that correspondence in front of me. As Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, I value all our community festivals, and if the honourable member would be kind enough to give me the correspondence, I will follow up on it.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure if that means he has seen it, but he doesn't have it with him.

The minister might take this opportunity now to offer some concrete support to the local tourism association and see what can be done. So far his office has been silent on the issue. Two years ago the Clam Harbour Sand Castle Festival did draw around 20,000 to the Eastern Shore in just one day; it even made the national television news. My question to the minister is since his office was told informally last summer that this festival was in trouble, why didn't they offer some help back then?

MR. GOUCHER: Mr. Speaker, as I stated previously, I am familiar with the festival, even in my previous life within the municipal government. As I said before, we value our community festivals, and if the honourable member, again, if she would approach me or give me the correspondence after the House today, I will be glad to follow up on it and see what I can do to provide any support for them that I can.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, in fact I do have the letter with me and I'll share it with him later, but I really think he should have that letter - he's been there awhile. The Eastern Shore is one of the most challenged tourism destinations in Nova Scotia. Every festival, every event and asset is vitally important to them. The organizers are getting inquiries from as far away as Japan for this year's festival. The campgrounds are

[Page 2911]

already booked, but there may be no festival without some help. My final question to the minister is, will he commit to offering some staff resources and support to this community to keep the Clam Harbour Sand Castle and Sculpture Contest alive?

MR. GOUCHER: Mr. Speaker, I will review the file on that, and I will get back to the member at a later time.

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

FIN. - SECOND QUARTER RESULTS: ANNOUNCEMENT - EXPLAIN

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. Just before Christmas, the minister announced the second quarter results, which were in effect a call to alarm. The budget surplus is in danger of disappearing, and we are now down to what the minister himself called a "razor-thin" surplus of only $3.3 million. The government's reputation is in question here as we face a possible deficit this year. This is the first budget for this Premier and this Finance Minister, and look where we are, we're only $3.3 million away from entering into a deficit.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Mr. Minister, were your comments at the press briefing in December intended to prepare us and the people of Nova Scotia for the bad news that a deficit is likely this year?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: No, the honourable member misunderstood my comments. What I was indicating is that there is a razor-thin surplus and that government was going to take action to make sure that our budget remains balanced. That, Mr. Speaker, was what we intended to say, and we are in fact taking action to make sure our budget remains balanced, because our government is committed to doing everything necessary to ensure that.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, the minster stated that day during the press conference that departments were instructed to cut back spending, to defer spending and to conserve as much as possible. Upon being questioned, the minister indicated that $10 million or $20 million would be needed to be cut from spending but, at the same time, the minister did not provide any guidance about how that would be done.

So my question today here in the House to the minister is, would the minister please tell us exactly what programs and services does he plan on cutting to protect this razor-thin surplus for the province?

MR. BAKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and again through you to the honourable member, I can indicate to you that that is not a plan to cut or eliminate services, I think I may have even indicated that at the time. What it is is to look at

[Page 2912]

departmental savings that can be made and will be made, to ensure that the people of Nova Scotia have a balanced budget.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I'm concerned that this is a very general approach to a serious problem. I might suggest that the minister have a look at car leases as a start for saving some money this year. I would like to hear some specifics from the minister.

Mr. Speaker, there is a great deal at stake for the minister and the government and the reputation of this government in balancing this year's budget. So my question again is, exactly how serious are you, Mr. Minister, about attacking this problem and exactly what programs and services do you plan on cutting?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, again through you to the member, I think the member misunderstood something I said earlier. I think what I was indicating was that there was not to be a general cut in programs or elimination of programs, but to put in place administrative savings that would provide the balance that we need for Nova Scotians to be assured that the budget will be balanced. So to the member again, that's what we're doing.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

ECON. DEV.: BROADBAND SERVICES - TIME FRAME

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. Starting on February 12, 2007, all Nova Scotia companies that need to transport goods for export across the U.S. border will be required to file an online e-manifest, reporting details about the driver, truck and trailer to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

When Customs Agent Derringer held information sessions on the new rules for companies on the South Shore, they found that many of these businesses do not have access to broadband services. As the minister knows, this situation is duplicated across this province. If a company does not have broadband, they won't be able to complete the e-manifest.

Mr. Speaker, what action has this minister taken to ensure the continuing flow of our goods across U.S. borders?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite and to all members, this government has made it a priority for broadband in this

[Page 2913]

province to be 100 per cent covered, the first region in our nation to have 100 per cent coverage of broadband.

Mr. Speaker, we announced the pilot project approximately a week or a week and a half ago up in the Cumberland area and we will maintain our status that we will have broadband coverage across this province in the year 2009, or sooner.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, the date that I heard in the earlier questions was February 12, 2007. This is going to have a negative impact on rural businesses still patiently waiting for this government's promised broadband access to the Internet. Transportation companies in our rural areas stand to lose business and jobs; primary industries such as fishing, lumber and Christmas trees will lose quick access to their markets. Waiting until 2009 for broadband services is not an option for these businesses and their employees.

Mr. Speaker, when is the minister going to show at least some sense of urgency regarding the provision for this basic technology, broadband, for business owners facing U.S. Customs deadlines?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I can assure that member and all members of the House that this minister takes his job and his responsibilities at heart, and I will do my utmost best. I will also tell you that that member is also a member of the same RDA association that I'm affiliated with in southwestern Nova Scotia. Southwestern Nova Scotia is taking the leading role to have another pilot project in the southwestern region. Maybe that member should sit down with his RDA association and see what they are planning for the upcoming year.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I spent nine years on the RDA, seven of it as Warden of the Municipality of Barrington that knows full well the importance of this question. Less than two-thirds of rural Nova Scotian homes and businesses have access to high-speed Internet. In contrast to this, New Brunswick's efforts to expand broadband services has resulted in over 90 per cent coverage. This government is still piloting wireless solutions that may not even deliver capacity required by large businesses, hospitals and other large end users. When is this government going to get its high-speed Internet act together to ensure rural Nova Scotians have complete access in the global economy?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, in my previous life I happened to have been a private business owner and I know what broadband is to all regions of our province. I happen to have been the warden for my community, for 11 years I was on my local council, and I sit on the RDA association. I've listened. We do planning in our communities and we know what the priorities of our communities are. That's why the RDA association is working with this government, and this government has taken a lead role to make sure we're the first region in this nation to have broadband across our

[Page 2914]

province. I suggest that the member go back and get his researchers to look and make sure of his stats on the New Brunswick Government's broadband service.

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

Order, please, order. Regrettably, the time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 1411.

Res. No. 1411, Health - West. Shelburne Co. Long-Term Care Facility: Const. Start - Announce - notice given Monday, January 8, 2007 - (Mr. S. Belliveau)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank you for the opportunity to debate Resolution No. 1411. The operative clause reads:

"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 just want to point out to the members of the House, in the past session, I have tabled extensive literature of a paper trail of a community where their pledge for long-term care in Shelburne County has dated back 30 years. I want to emphasize that point . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: How many years?

MR. BELLIVEAU: Thirty years, they have been waiting.

AN HON. MEMBER: A generation and a half.

MR. BELLIVEAU: That's right. There are many stories that I can bring to the minister's attention about personal stories of people waiting that long for health care in long-term care. I want to just emphasize, first of all, a quick story about when I was a younger man and I was fishing in my community; in fact, I was Irish mossing. One

[Page 2915]

particular day, we got through the tide of moss, we were finishing up and one of the local buyers noticed that the elderly gentleman in my community was late and this particular gentleman, Malcolm MacDonell, what was unique about him is that he served in both wars. He served in the First World War and the Second World War. He was a man at that time in his late 70s. Mr. MacDonell went on to live to be the golden age of 98, somewhere in that range.

Important lesson. At that time it was foggy and we all know what the dangers of fog can do in a coastal community. So we quickly organized a search party for Mr. MacDonell and the elders in our community taught us how to run a grid pattern, how to do navigation with nothing more than a simple compass - a simple compass and a watch. After Mr. Malcolm MacDonell was lost for several hours, we went out and we ran a grid pattern and within one hour, we found him. It was interesting, as we went up alongside of him, I quickly realized that Mal, as he was commonly known in our community, was unconcerned. In fact, he was basically enjoying the day, and as I approached him, I said, you don't seem to be concerned, and he said, no. Why should I be?

I also noticed that on the small boat that he was using there was no motor on the stern of it. So I began to inquire why he was not so concerned. He used the motor to maintain his position because he realized that he was in distress and he realized that all he had to do was stay on his position and we would come and find him in a short period of time. Correct. We did it, and he used it as an anchor. I was intrigued by that and I looked back at it several years later and I said, that was basically common sense and what I'm suggesting today is, Mr. MacDonell was in a serious situation and if we're all familiar with the fog of the Bay of Fundy, Mr. Speaker, the Bay of Fundy has great tides and we can move a long distance in a very short period of time. The analogy that I want to make today is that I'm going to suggest to you that our government in the last 30 years is in a regulatory fog when it comes to long-term care.

We have watched and, as I said earlier, we have documented proof. We had the blueprints of a design of a home in our community that was going to be built 30 years ago. It's interesting that this regulatory fog is moving from our coastal communities and is moving inland and we're being threatened by hospital closures - we're being threatened by hospital closures. We're being threatened by regulatory policies preventing home-option care for our seniors and people who need that service in our communities. But Mr. MacDonell had it right. He knew what he had to do and he did it without any hesitation. This was a survivor. He survived two world wars. Two, not one, but two. And he did not want to go out into that sea or on the rocks or the shoals of what we call public flair in health care. They were dangerous places for him to go.

So I think what we've done here today is to realize, and I can present a lot of this information and a lot of human stories, how we patiently waited for this to be built. I can take you back to the election and it was quick to be pointed out in a number of debates and our friends from Middleton, Nova Scotia, my former school teacher, Mr. Atkinson,

[Page 2916]

stood there in his community and was promised and they suggested that it was no more than campaign literature, and it was also suggested that the community that I represent, Barrington, we have a letter. So we have been waiting for 30 years. We have been promised. We have documentation dating back the whole time and we have suggestions that this is going to be built in a short period of time. So now is the time to get it right - now is the time to get it right. Now is the time to make an announcement. So we're asking the minister not to make these people of western Shelburne County wait any longer.

There's a simple solution and the anchor, Mr. Speaker, is the budget of this particular government. We should not hesitate. We should not make these people wait any longer for the services that are required in this community. (Interruption) Yes, I will allow an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I want to thank the honourable member for Shelburne for permitting an introduction.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Merçi beaucoup, M. le Président. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Quickly I want to thank the member opposite for allowing us the time to do this introduction. I probably could have done it in a couple minutes when it was my turn to speak but I want to introduce some students from a school in my riding, from École Secondaire de Par-en-Bas, and of course with a number of teachers. I know there are a lot of them there, but I would like to introduce a lot of the students as well. So with a quick introduction, I would like to give them the warm welcome of the House. I know there's a lot of stuff going on and I urge them to stick around and maybe listen to a little bit of the speaking. Yes, it is always this exciting. So I would ask you all to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed we want to welcome all our visitors to the House right now and for those students who have joined us, we just concluded Question Period a few moments ago and now we're into Opposition Members' Business. The member for Shelburne is speaking on Resolution No. 1411 which is about Shelburne long-term care, so you'll know of what the member is speaking, and also you can have an additional minute which will be taken off the honourable minister's time when the time comes around.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that and I would also like to welcome the youth in our gallery here today. It's interesting that I made note earlier of our double wartime veterans in our community and the longevity of health care in our community. It's very interesting. I think it's very fitting to see the youth here today as

[Page 2917]

we talk about this, because this is about the future of our communities, our coastal communities, and I can assure you of all the press that we received in this particular session, that this is one of those issues that's very important.

I believe the minister senses that and it is interesting to know that we come basically from neighbouring communities. My grandfather moved from his particular community in 1905. In 1905 two brothers moved to Woods Harbour, Shelburne County, and they shared all their income, all their cares, and also my grandfather was on the council at the time in Barrington. They had access to a lot of money and they looked after their seniors in that community. If somebody needed wood, if somebody was too sick, or they just simply needed care of the community, they were looked after. This is what I'm asking the minister to do, to look after the people in these coastal communities because we are being engulfed by a regulatory fog across this province.

I'm going to suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that the documentation has been very clear for 30 years and I'm going to ask, through you to the minister, here is an opportunity to set the record straight. Here is the time to get a successful story this week in this House. Now is the time to make the announcement of when that date is going to be for the start of construction.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it is my honour and I'm very happy to stand to speak on this issue, as I have in the past, as I had when the member opposite, of course, was the warden and then since he has been elected as MLA for the constituency of Shelburne. It gives me an opportunity as well to talk about the Continuing Care Strategy, the things that we're trying to do not only for the residents of western Shelburne County, but as well for all Nova Scotians across this great province of ours.

Like many other provinces, Nova Scotia's population is aging. It's very fitting that we have students visiting us in this Legislature, but really, if you look at that, our youth are almost a minority population - our seniors are quickly outpacing them. Ultimately we need to be focusing a little more on our seniors and making sure that they have services available.

Something that's scary, as far as facts go, is that each month nearly 700 Nova Scotians turn 60 - as a matter of fact my mum just turned 60 a few days ago; of course I won't mention that a whole lot, what the date is, but happy birthday, mum - already our population is the oldest in Atlantic Canada, and the third oldest in Canada. Seniors now number about 133,000, and that number is expected to be doubled by 2006. Combined with that, Nova Scotia has the lowest disability-free life expectancy in the country, and some of the highest rates of chronic disease, and more and more people living with cognitive impairment and dementia.

[Page 2918]

The demographic shift we're experiencing is unprecedented. Its effects are more intensified by the geographic shift as people move to our urban areas. So then the question becomes what services are needed and where. Our government took on the challenge of finding an answer, not just for today but for generations to come. Regardless if you live in Yarmouth, Kentville, Ingonish, or Barrington, having a place to call home is deeply important to each of us.

Nova Scotians have told us what they want - and they want to remain in their own homes as long as possible, they want to do as much for themselves as possible, and they want to make their own choices about lifestyle. And they have given our government an agenda - to build on what already exists in our communities, to further develop local solutions that meet their needs, and to ensure that the support and care that they need is in place when and where they need it the most.

That vision, created by the people of Nova Scotia, is one our government will bring to life. How we're turning words into action is laid out in Nova Scotia's Continuing Care Strategy. It outlines how we will be providing programs and services in homes and communities throughout our province. We know that this approach is most economical. We know that it affords individuals and families the highest level of independence and quality of life. We know what Nova Scotians want, because we took the time to ask. It is not the time for band-aid solutions, it is the time to get it right. The Continuing Care Strategy is ambitious and comprehensive, a carefully outlined plan that will help individuals and families be healthy, active and independent in a place that they can call home.

Mr. Speaker, this is a 10-year road map that outlines how our government will significantly enhance and expand continuing care services for all Nova Scotians. Today's continuing care system provides a range of help from home, self-managed and long-term care to adult protection and care management for people with physical and mental health needs. Nova Scotians have told us that they want these services, and of course more. They have told us that they want change, and we are making that change happen.

In the first year alone, we are making significant improvements. We are spending $360,000 over the next two years to expand the Home Care Program to include portable oxygen, and that means more mobility and independence for many; we're spending $3 million in the next two years to develop and expand a wide range of respite options; we're expanding enhanced palliative care services across the province, so that families have more choices at one of the most difficult times in their lives. We've already invested some $1.25 million this year to expand the self-managed care program.

Even though only 5 per cent of our seniors ever enter a nursing home, it's vitally important to know that when they can no longer live at home, a facility is available to them as close to home as possible. To give Nova Scotians that peace of mind, we are

[Page 2919]

also building 1,320 new long-term care beds over the next 10 years, 826 of those will open no later than 2010. This is in addition to the 275 new beds that are already under development or actually complete in various areas of Cape Breton and here, in Capital Health. Planning for these beds is a tremendous amount of work, but everyone in the government is pushing hard to get them ready as quickly as possible.

We are well underway and we will be issuing RFPs for the first 826 beds soon and, to provide more options for Nova Scotians who want to stay in a place they can call home, we've already begun significant planning on all the year one and many of the year two and three community-based programs that will make this possible, as you saw in the Continuing Care Strategy.

Mr. Speaker, as you can see, we are backing our commitments with the dollars. In the first four years alone we will invest $122 million to get Nova Scotia on the road to where it needs to be - $122 million. When I said that living in a place they can call home is important to Nova Scotians, I meant all Nova Scotians including those who live in Shelburne County and of course, western Shelburne County, Barrington, Woods Harbour, Shag Harbour, Clarks Harbour, the Hawk. We can go on of communities in that member's riding, which is next door to mine.

Residents of Barrington shared their priorities and needs with us and we listened. The member opposite spends a lot of time talking about 30 years ago and how that promise came to fruition and how they've been waiting for such a long period of time. Thirty years ago, I was seven years old and I can say that I did not know of this until it was brought to my attention as I became the Minister of Health.

On June 30th, last year, the Bayside facility in Barrington became a long-term care facility and is now a welcoming place for local residents to age in their own community. In addition to the 20 beds already at Bayside, 40 more long-term care beds will be open in that facility no later than 2010. I confirmed this in June and I'm confirming it now. In fact, representatives from the Department of Health met with interested parties in Barrington to outline for them, in person, the process and time line for the construction of these 40 beds. You'll be happy to hear this past Spring Bayside accepted its first long-term care resident. This individual was able to return home to the community as a result of these changes.

This fulfills our promise to the community of Barrington and western Shelburne County, but it is only one of the steps we are taking to meet our commitment to all Nova Scotians, to expand continuing care across the province, to build a system that allows Nova Scotians to stay in their homes and communities and to ensure that each of enjoys a high quality of life and level of independence. These are the things that Nova Scotians want. These are the things that they worked hard for and, of course, deserve. These are the things that they will have.

[Page 2920]

Again, I thank the member opposite for bringing this to the floor of the House and I look forward to bringing the good news and continuing to pay attention to the community of western Shelburne County. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, first of all, a welcome to all the students in the gallery here today from the minister's riding, I guess. It's nice to see you here.

This Resolution No. 1411 is one that obviously can be extended well beyond Shelburne and I will speak to that situation, but it shows in many ways when a member here representing his community, his area, sees the plight of seniors, this is the place to let government know that action is needed now. Certainly, let's hope that in the next few weeks the strategies to deal with long-term care beds and facilities are going to be receiving some announcements.

At the current time, Shelburne, I guess, has about 75 seniors in distant nursing homes. Generally, seniors are having to move long distances from home to get placed. Forty seniors in Shelburne are waiting in hospitals for long-term care beds. We know that's one of the major problems that is facing our province, that we don't have the beds available, the rooms available, the nursing home facilities that can accommodate those that are in great need. For example, when I had a tour of the QE II on that particular day, just a bit over a year ago, there were 150 patients at the QE II, our major health facility in Nova Scotia, who needed long-term care placement.

So while we have a pledge, while we have some talk, there is no question that action is needed now. Many of these patients who are in our hospitals have been there for some time. Just a week or so ago, in visiting the Valley Regional Hospital, there were two patients from my riding there, stroke victims who need to be placed in long-term care facilities. They are not going to have the kind of recovery that will allow them to be in their home and be independent. So they need to get out of the hospital beds. They have been there for three months and they need to start a better, total living environment with some daily rehab to help them have a much better living area as seniors in this province.

Now the reality is there in terms of the number of seniors. This is what is behind this whole issue. Announcements really can't come soon enough. I know there are different models to deal with our seniors and, of course, we all encourage them, we are all working, as legislators, to do things and to have programs that will keep seniors in their homes. That's ultimately where they want to be, but seniors and families reach a point in time where that's no longer a reality.

[4:00 p.m.]

[Page 2921]

Just take a look at the staggering statistics here in Nova Scotia and, in particular, the Valley area that I represent. There are six communities in Nova Scotia that have 25 per cent of their population today who are over 65; three are in the Annapolis Valley: Digby, Annapolis Royal and Berwick; 25 per cent of their population is over 65 - major retirement areas. Then we can extend that a little further and there are eight communities in Nova Scotia that have 20 per cent of their population who are 65 and over, and five of those are in the Annapolis Valley.

While we have one fine facility at Grandview Manor, the need for additional beds and different models to be announced, to look after our seniors, is absolutely critical at this point in time. Certainly we know that there is no question with the studies and the work that has been done to take a look at our seniors and try to improve the quality of life in their last years. We know that some of our nursing homes have top care, they have good, wide-ranging, stimulating programs for seniors.

So this is what we need to get on with. This government has had seven years to realize that we have a crisis now, it is there upon us. So we need to get these beds, these facilities announced as quickly as possible.

In the Valley area and in most of Nova Scotia we know that the oldest baby boomers have reached 60 years of age, so we know exactly what's coming along over the next 10, 20, 30 years. If we don't make the kinds of plans and preparations, then our seniors are literally, if you wish, going to be out in the cold.

One of the last calls I had before the session opened was from a family who have been waiting now almost a year for placement in a nursing home, and he said, you know, what do I do? My mother is getting some home care but she's obviously deteriorating, trying to live on her own when there is nobody there. So finally he calls me a day later to tell me that in desperation he called an ambulance and took her to the hospital. She's at Soldiers Memorial Hospital and, again, on the transition unit there, it's not uncommon for patients to be there up to six months before they get placement in a nursing home. So whether it's the larger picture or the individual examples that we see, we know that there's a crisis on our hands here and long-term care beds can't be announced soon enough, because we know that construction timelines are going to take us down the road some time.

I think my colleague, the member for Glace Bay, wanted to say a few words on this resolution. So I think with the remaining time, we'll pass it to the member for Glace Bay.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay. You have approximately two and a half minutes.

[Page 2922]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to add my voice as Health Critic for the Liberal caucus to this debate on this resolution. Of course, we fully agree with the resolution - there's no problem there at all. One has to look at where you should lay blame in this case, and of course it falls directly on the lap of this government, because this government has been promising additional long-term care beds for almost seven years, and we have fewer long-term care beds today than we did seven years ago. I don't have much time but I'll give you a quick example.

In my riding, and this just happened last week, because of the situation with long-term care beds, I had a couple who had been married for 60 years. Sixty years they spent together, and they were separated because one was located at the Taigh Na Mara facility in Glace Bay and his wife was located at the Maple Hill Manor in New Waterford. That's about 13 or 14 kilometres away. Not much of a distance, but it is a tremendous difference when you've been married for 60 years. That couple deserved to be together for their remaining time on this planet, and it's not the case. Now, fortunately, it was resolved, but it was only resolved after some juggling that Department of Health staff had to do with long-term care beds. That juggling and the struggle that ensued is because of the fact that there are not enough long-term care beds in this province.

You don't have to dig too deep to know what's wrong in this situation, Mr. Speaker, there are not enough long-term care beds. They've been promised by government, but the promise has never been fulfilled. Whether it has been a 7-year-old promise, a 3-year-old promise, a 30-year-old promise, it has not been fulfilled by this government, and that's the problem. We can't have couples who are being separated when they're placed in nursing homes. We can't have long wait lists. We shouldn't have 75 seniors who are living in distant nursing homes in Shelburne, or in any other part of this province. That problem should not exist. It falls squarely on the Minister of Health, on the Department of Health, on this government to rectify the problem. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm glad to stand on behalf of our caucus as the Health Critic to talk about Resolution No. 1411. I want to thank the member for Shelburne for bringing this forward. It's an important issue in his community and I think it says a lot to why this member is actually here today. He's here today because the people of Shelburne County and western Shelburne County have been after governments for years and years to address a serious issue in their community, and that's the lack of a long-term care facility and beds to properly supply and, hopefully, give dignity to the seniors in that part of the province. So I want to thank the member for Shelburne for bringing this forward.

I don't understand, and I'm concerned why the government wouldn't even actually accept this resolution and actually have the Minister of Health stand in his place

[Page 2923]

and give a construction date for a nursing home in this part of the province, in western Shelburne County. As the member stated earlier, they've been waiting 30 years - they've been promised for 30 years - for a facility in that part of the province - 30 years. I was six years old when the residents of Southwest Shelburne County started their fight with government to be recognized for the need of a long-term care facility. That's pretty amazing - I was six years old when they started this initiative.

It's hard to believe today that the seniors in that area haven't been given the dignity they deserve, and I could say that you could have this resolution apply to many rural communities across this province, not just western Shelburne County. A lot of communities across this province, Mr. Speaker, could say the same thing, and need the same thing. They need long-term care facilities, they need more long-term care beds. I've said it before in this Chamber and I'll say it again, around the issue that we have - the crisis in health care on all levels. Wait times for surgical procedures, wait times in the emergency room are because of one reason and it's the number of beds. Many government officials, many Ministers of Health prior to this one, have always stated it's not a bed issue - well, I'm here to say today that it is bed issue. That's why we have such high wait times in this province. It's because of the lack of the number of long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia and the lack in the numbers that we really truly need.

The minister stated here that he has come up with this strategy, a 10-year strategy, to address some of the concerns in long-term care and the number of beds that we have in this province, but let's see if we can turn back time. Imagine if we could turn back time. The plan the minister has unveiled, this government has unveiled, is going to take 10 years to mature. Can you imagine if we could turn back time to the start of their mandate in 1999, if they had started to look at this issue then? This mandate they have, this vision they have for the number of long-term care beds could be almost maturing. Maybe the waits we see in health care wouldn't be at the critical numbers they are now.

This is a domino effect. When we don't have enough numbers of long-term care facilities to place our seniors in, it has a domino effect. A negative effect on health care on all levels, Mr. Speaker, right from the emergency room to waiting for knee surgery. I want to make it very clear that the government needs to recognize that, they need to understand that, and they need to accelerate their so-called plan or vision for long-term care in this province. The beds are needed now. They were needed yesterday. They were needed 30 years ago.

To say that they have a plan in place and they hope that by 2010, they may have some of the beds up and functioning is truly just disgraceful. It pertains to the dignity of our seniors, the dignity of our parents, our grandparents. Mr. Speaker, we all know the history of dealing with long-term care, especially since I have been elected, since 2003, we have fought as a caucus, as a Party that the government needs to recognize the importance of long-term care in the Province of Nova Scotia. We all know that the fight

[Page 2924]

that we brought, that the NDP brought to this House, before the Legislature around the draconian action of government to take away every penny that a senior has when they enter the long-term care facility. We all know that many seniors, many families in this province today have no funds left because of a family member who had to enter a long-term care facility.

It was our Party, it was our Leader, it was my colleagues who stood up and continued to fight for this, and it was the people of Nova Scotia who demanded change. Finally, after- I think the government tried every available opportunity for them to not address this issue, they realized we better do something. And we've seen the result. From my election in 2003, we had 11 members, we went to 15 members. We've seen the result in the last election, in the past summer, where again we went from 15 members to 20 members. It is because we continue to bring issues like this to the floor of the Legislature and push government to do the right thing. The right thing here for the residents of western Shelburne County is to tell them when they're going to have the construction of a long-term care facility, and not to delay it any longer. As I said earlier, it has been 30 years and I know the member for Shelburne County will continue to say that, time and time again, as long as he represents that area - and I believe he will represent that area for a long time because he is passionate about this issue, he is passionate about bringing the issues of people who live in Shelburne, but this issue is not just about Shelburne and western Shelburne County, this resonates throughout the province.

I know that if the government doesn't react, our numbers on this side will continue to grow. It is not that far now, Mr. Speaker, we don't need that many more who will end up over on that side. Then I think that truly the people of this province will realize they have done the right thing and we'll start to implement some of these changes that Nova Scotians want, especially around long-term care and the number of beds we have in this province.

We need to address it now, as I said earlier. Government needs to address it now because there is a crisis there. I know for a fact that right now there are hundreds of seniors down the street at the old VG Hospital in what they call the Transitional Care Unit. Well, to be quite frank, Mr. Speaker, it is a hospital. They are living in a hospital room. They are living on a floor of a hospital, it is not a long-term care facility. Yes, you can title it whatever you want, a Transitional Care Unit - well a transitional care unit for me, I would think, would be for the needs of those individuals. Those seniors who might have had an accident, their health has deteriorated a little more, where they entered the health care system to seek some assessment and treatment and now can no longer live on their own without assistance or help and they need that care in a facility like a long-term care facility.

[4:15 p.m.]

[Page 2925]

It is not meant for seniors and for individuals and for Nova Scotians to be there for a year or more. I know for a fact that there are people there for 16 and 18 months, Mr. Speaker, in a hospital room, on a hospital bed, on a hospital floor, here in Halifax at the VG site. I have seen it personally; I have actually taken people there as a paramedic and it is not the place that seniors deserve to be. It is not showing the dignity that we should be showing to our seniors and to those who need care in a long-term care facility. That is the main message, the dignity of our seniors, the dignity of the families who have dealt with someone who needs long-term care placement. It is a very difficult decision for someone to make, a spouse or a family to have to have someone enter a long-term care facility. Right now, I don't think they're getting the services they need and they are not getting the dignity shown to them by this government. I think that's the most important thing.

So I applaud the member for Shelburne County for bringing this forward. We'll continue to fight and I know he will continue to fight to make sure that not only people in western Shelburne County get the beds and the facilities they need, but the people across the province get what they deserve and what is ultimately our focus and our ability to give it to them, Mr. Speaker. We'll continue to fight for that. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for debate on Resolution No. 1411 has expired.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Can you please call Resolution No. 1409.

Res. No. 1409 - Environ. & Lbr.: Tire Burning Fuel Proposal - Condemn - notice given Monday, January 8, 2007 - (Ms. M. Raymond)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I welcome the opportunity to put forward the case in favour of the resolution placed on the floor earlier in this very brief session. I think I'd like to begin actually by reading from the current home page of the Resource Recovery Fund Board's tire recycling program. The Resource Recovery Fund Board is an entity established for the recycling of waste materials in Nova Scotia. It talks extensively about value-added manufacturing and about funding the development of new industries.

[Page 2926]

When it comes to the tire recycling program, however, the Resource Recovery Fund Board page indicates that the RRFB has taken over the collection of used tires in the province and regularly scheduled pickups will take place at all registered tire retailers and salvage yards. That means the Web page has been updated since mid-December when the RRFB took this over.

However, the page goes on cheerfully to tell readers and Nova Scotians and anyone else who cares to look that the uses of recycled tires are, once they have been transported to a recycling facility in the province where they are processed into various sizes of rubber crumb, this rubber is remanufactured into products such as sports' surfaces, carpet underlay, garden hoses, shoe soles, rubber mats, wheels and speed bumps. There's a very lovely picture of a soccer field in New Waterford, which was constructed using recycled rubber crumb.

Unfortunately, there's no reference to the fact that is not taking place at this time. It is not taking place as of the time the RRFB took over the collection of tires because the contract with Atlantic Rubber Recyclers had expired. That contract expired last Summer and the RRFB, as it tells us, is responsible for the recycling of some 900,000 tires in the Province of Nova Scotia every year. Nova Scotians pay a $3 levy per tire - although for some tires, larger, it can be up to $9 when they buy the tires - and that goes to fund the recycling and all these benevolent uses which are documented on the Web site.

Unfortunately, since that tender expired, that hasn't been happening. Since that contract expired, that hasn't been happening and three tenders have apparently been on the books. One of those tenders is for a whole new use, a new use for an old industry, an old material. That tender proposes that rubber tires should be used as fuel in a cement kiln. A cement kiln which is 30 years old, a cement kiln which has proven as recently as December that it is unable to cope with its originally intended fuel, which is coal, and a cement kiln which is not going to do a full retrofit in order to take care of tires.

There is considerable debate about the use of tires as fuel. It is true that scientific studies have been tendered. The results haven't yet come in in Nova Scotia. Scientific studies outside of Nova Scotia indicate the tires being incinerated and that is at the full 2,000 degrees incineration - which is considerably hotter than the Lafarge cement kiln is able to do; some 1,600 degrees I believe is the stated temperature of the Lafarge kilns. Even at 2,000 degrees, cement kilns in the United States have been shown, when burning tires, to be emitting dioxins, furans, PCBs, the expected poly-aromatic hydrocarbons and mercury.

I focus particularly on mercury because Nova Scotia - as I pointed out earlier today - has made its way onto the global map yet again. This time because the wetlands of central Nova Scotia, which I would note are not very far away from Brookfield, have now been marked as one of five mercury hot spots in Eastern North America. The other

[Page 2927]

hot spots in Eastern North America are all near industrial centres - Nova Scotia is not considered to be such. This is simply from the burning of coal in Nova Scotia Power plants, presumably the burning of coal in the cement kiln, which we have here; from the incineration of medical waste and municipal waste. The bitter irony is that all of these things are substances which should be dealt with under a recycling protocol.

These tires are making their way into the air of our province - cement kilns typically are assumed to have a plume some 100 kilometres wide. If you take a 100 kilometre radius from Brookfield, just outside of Truro, you're covering a large amount of the population centres of the province, certainly most of the Halifax Regional Municipality where 40 per cent of our population are now concentrated.

Given that we already have unconscionably high levels of asthma and other respiratory diseases in this province, it seems reckless at the very least to even consider that rubber tires could be used as fuel in a cement kiln. It seems reckless to even consider that the Resource Recovery Fund Board, with its mandate of recycling, should consider that energy recovery from incineration is an acceptable form of recycling. One could recycle any organic entity for the energy and I would defy you to, there are various ones I'm quite sure you wouldn't want to see recycled for simple energy recovery.

There are stockpiles of tires building up at the moment. The RFB has taken over pickup but I am often in contact with people at gas stations, service stations, tire dealers and other automotive dealers who tell me, or who don't even have to tell me, can show that there are massive piles of tires outside of their areas. I was going to say compounds but not all of those are fenced by any stretch of the imagination- but they have large piles of tires and that for some time now, long before the expiry of the ARR contract in Kemptown, they have been pleading for pickup of the tires and they have even offered to drive the tires, several people have offered to take their trucks, drive the tires up to Kemptown, and have been told - keep them.

So, since they've been kept in all these places, now there's an enormous backlog of tires to be dealt with. Certainly they're flammable, otherwise they wouldn't be such a desirable fuel, but we don't have an acceptable protocol for dealing with them. There is nothing on the table which suggests they'll be dealt with in the province and there is nothing which suggests that the aged Lafarge Kiln can be adequately repaired, shall we say, to deal with its originally intended fuel let alone adequately retrofitted and monitored to deal with this new fuel, which is widely believed, outside of Nova Scotia, to be a particularly dangerous way of disposing of the materials.

Burning garbage is not recycling and I think that's the thing that we have to remember at the heart of it. It is not recycling to say that setting fire to something and using the BTU recovered is an acceptable use. Right now the State of Vermont is engaged in a lawsuit against the State of New York because New York has approved, even on a trial basis, the burning of rubber tires as fuel in a paper plant. That case stands

[Page 2928]

to have enormous repercussions and at the moment the provision, which was only for a trial burn, has expired. So it's unlikely that will be renewed, but if by extension you say that tires can be burned as fuel in any sort of a plant, that is the potential that we are facing.

If the Resource Recovery Fund Board is willing to subsidize fuel, subsidize tires, ask the people of Nova Scotia to pay for the recycling, which is simply the incineration of waste material in any industrial or other setting where the recovery of BTU is of use, then we have a very dangerous potential on our hands. I only worry about what sort of a message we are sending to the people of Nova Scotia if we say burn it, get it out of the way; if you breathe it, never mind, but at least burn it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for bringing forth this resolution, a very important topic that should be debated here in this House and discussed fully. Before I get into talking about the issue of the Resource Recovery Fund Board, I do want to reiterate - and she talked about mercury and the fact that the coal that's being burned presently in the Lafarge cement plant is part of that mercury emissions and, as I said before, one of the great strides we've taken forward is in mercury reductions.

The testing that was done at Kejimkujik plant, unfortunately, indicates that we have to deal with this not only within our own province and within the country of Canada, but deal with it as well as a continental issue, because the mercury that was picked up there was trans-border mercury and that, of course, as the honourable member knows, the environment is a global concern. We are making some steps in mercury reduction.

The honourable member referred to the $3 fee, and I just want to be clear about this, I think there's a little bit of misunderstanding about the $3 fee. That's levied, by and large, for the collection and management of these used tires. Whether or not they are recycled, they still have to be collected and properly processed, Mr. Speaker. Collection and processing cost money and that's where the $3 is going.

I think it's also wrong to say that dealers have piles of tires left right now. Since December when the RRFB legally had the right to take over the collection of tires, it has collected, as I indicated to the speaker during Question Period, 160,000 used tires. This has essentially eliminated the backlog at tire retailers. Now I understand that the RRFB is moving on to collect those tires in salvage yards, where they have been stocked. These tires are now being collected by the Resource Recovery Fund Board. That's what the $3 is covering, Mr. Speaker. They're being shipped out of the province, where some are being recycled, and I understand some are being used for tire-derived fuel in the Province of Quebec, I believe. The value of those tires leaves the province.

[Page 2929]

I guess I want to commend the Resource Recovery Fund Board; when they saw that their contract with ARR was not resulting in the collection and the recycling that they wanted, they had the foresight to put in a contingency plan that would mean that used tires weren't stockpiling around the province and that is what they're doing. They also have put out a new tender for the collection and use of tires. That is what we're talking about this afternoon.

[4:30 p.m.]

I also want to question in the preamble to the resolution of burning tires, because you cannot burn tires in the Province of Nova Scotia. What the speaker may be referring to is the use of tires for tire-derived fuel, but that involves carefully controlled conditions and carefully controlled monitoring. No one has approval to burn tires in Nova Scotia, no one has approval to use tires for alternative fuel in the Province of Nova Scotia, and no one - and I want to assure the House of this - will receive that approval until I am satisfied that the science supports it and that the environmental and public health of Nova Scotians will not be adversely affected. (Applause) Thank you, and you have my commitment on that.

Mr. Speaker, the RRFB stands for the Resource Recovery Fund Board. We say recovery because this word covers the broad mandate of waste management. There are three Rs here: reducing, reusing and recycling; not just one, not just recycling, but reducing and reusing. Reducing is actually more important than recycling, because if we reduce our waste, we don't need to recycle it, we don't need to reuse it. So, those three Rs need to be kept in mind.

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the previous operator, ARR, who had the contract, could not make a go of it, and so RRFB called for new proposals. I can't publicly discuss those tenders at this time, but one company has publicly stated that they did put in a tender - and that's what we're discussing, I guess, this afternoon - and that's Lafarge Canada. As part of their tender, they have included tire-derived fuel in their proposal. I want to be very clear that the RRFB has not yet conveyed to me, and therefore I assume has not yet made a decision on which of these three proposals they will accept. I do not have, as Minister of the Environment, an application before me to use tires for alternative fuel at the present time.

Nonetheless, because this is an issue, I know, in Ontario and Quebec and the member mentioned in New York as well, I commissioned an independent scientific study out of Dalhousie to conduct a review of the science surrounding the use of tires in this way, because I wanted that information. This review is expected to come in in a few weeks, next month sometime, has carefully prepared terms of reference. It will conduct a review of the science to improve our understanding of the impact of emissions from industrial facilities that add used tires as an alternate fuel source. It will focus on peer-

[Page 2930]

reviewed studies and analytical data. Information from industry sources and NGOs will be reviewed to ensure that all issues are addressed.

Mr. Speaker, the scientific review will include a compilation analysis of any study results respecting environmental and health impacts of used tires as a supplemental fuel, and if, and I emphasize if the results of a science review support the potential of using tires as supplemental fuel, then Dalhousie will also review the implications of that. This means comparing current emissions to estimated emissions from a facility if used tires instead of coal were used as a fuel in that facility.

Dalhousie, Mr. Speaker, will also evaluate emission limits of cement kilns in other jurisdictions that include used tires as alternate fuel, such at Bath, Ontario at the present time. If potential adverse impacts are found by this study, Dalhousie will recommend ways to mitigate it. That's why in many senses the resolution coming before us this afternoon, although a good resolution, is premature because the tender has not been awarded yet. Once it's awarded, what needs to happen is, if LaFarge wins the tender rather than the other two, and LaFarge intends to use tire-derived fuel, then they cannot do that without an industrial approval, which is conducted by my department, and staff in my department report back to me. That industrial approval is a very full approval. The Environmental Act sets it out. You can see it on our Web page. It's very clear what they have to go through. It includes public participation, an opportunity for that, and strict conditions for protecting the environment.

The results of the study that I mentioned will be part of that, Mr. Speaker, I'm sure if, and only if LaFarge wins the proposal and this is set before me. That study - I assure all speakers in this House and all members in this House, I assure the public - will be made available to everybody at the same time so they can assess the scientific data that I have.

So, Mr. Speaker, I guess I want to conclude by stating that (a) the contract has not been tendered yet; (b) if it is tendered to LaFarge and LaFarge intends to use it for tire- derived fuel, they have to have a change in their industrial approval, because they're not approved for that activity now - no one in Nova Scotia is - and that industrial approval will be based upon sound science, with public input, being made public to everybody. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I've been intently listening to the previous speakers and there's a great deal of information they have provided, but there's one thing that I want to comment on to start this off. Twenty-five years ago in this House, we wouldn't have been having this discussion, because 25 years ago - and I use 25 years ago as sort of a random number - we didn't realize the potential health impacts,

[Page 2931]

environmental impacts, or the other impacts that were going to be problems for our society today and in the future, and we're only starting to realize those impacts now.

I remember when I was working in industry, I machined asbestos, pure dust, no protection from that. I remember working with pure mercury in a lab environment that was supposed to be safe at that time. When I first started in the business, I used potassium cyanide to heat treat metal - potassium cyanide. Now these are things that were known to kill people, potassium cyanide in particular, but yet it was a well-known and well-used chemical in the treatment of metals. Now, that has since changed, and thank goodness it has.

So the real question about this, in burning tires or anything else we are going to burn today, is what will the long-term health impacts be, what will the long-term industrial impacts be and what will the long-term environmental impacts be? Will it mean that we are going to have things in the environment that we can never get rid of and dispersed so finely over areas that we just can't collect and deal with?

We see major clean-ups in junkyards that were thought to be safe years ago, with PCBs. We thought PCBs were safe at one time when you looked at what they were used in, car seats is one thing, for example, that they were used in. Everyone thought they were safe but everybody was sitting on PCBs, one of the worst chemicals we know of, but at the time they were used they were thought to be safe. They had done a lot of scientific research on the product and to make products.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for the professionals at Dalhousie University. I think we have some of the best people in the world at Dalhousie University. I am very pleased to see that the minister has commissioned a study prior to this even becoming an issue within his department and I think that is very, very positive. I am truly hopeful that the minister will follow through, and I am sure that he will, with total public consultation and ensure that the scientific research on this is done not only here in Canada but outside of Canada with some experts who really know the issues with the environment and actually burning tires.

Now the other issues - and I don't know if the review really takes these into consideration - are the potential health issues with the burning of tires, the chemicals that come off in the burning, exactly how does that affect it? Has Dalhousie University been tasked to deal with the medical professionals to see if there is connection there of one kind or another, which I am sure there is, that won't be good for our health care system?

So this whole process is so complicated, I think that we have to move very carefully. You just have to look, we eliminated burning garbage years ago and when we were burning garbage everybody thought nothing of it, it was an okay thing to do, it was an easy way to get rid of garbage. They would take the ashes and just bury everything and away it went. They figured that was the end of it, there was no problem. They never

[Page 2932]

thought about the smoke that was coming off and all the contaminants that went into the soil and everything else that was a problem.

We have to learn from these experiences to a point where we are very cautious about what we do, because we could be doing something now that we think is very safe, and I don't believe that burning tires is safe, don't get me wrong here, that's not that I'm saying. We have to make sure that if we proceed with these things that every possible consideration can be made that it is safe and if there is any question whatsoever that there may be an issue, that it doesn't proceed. Period. It is that simple. I think that has to be the issue.

As far as the community in the area is concerned, I commend them for the hard work they have been doing and the dedication they have shown to protecting their community and ensuring that they work to try to protect their environment in their local community. On behalf of the residents around that area who have not become involved in this very much yet, there is protection of their health as well. I think that's why it is so important to live in the free country that we do and to have the information we have available. We have situations set up so that people can have input and make sure that we don't have problems that someone knows about who may be an expert in the field or has taken the time to talk to experts in the field who may be not considered by somebody who is working even though they've tried their hardest to ensure that that has been the case.

So just to reiterate, we have to make sure that we work and we look at everything that we possibly can to make sure of the health of not only the people today and our families today but people down the road, that there is not a problem with their health. Our health care costs have gone through the roof, gone to the point that we really can't afford it in Nova Scotia anymore, but we have got to afford health care and we have to make sure people are healthier. If we can stop them from getting ill, to start with, it will help our health care system. So we win all the way around.

I am sure the minister is well aware of these issues and as this process goes through and if the Resource Recovery Fund Board does give the cement plant the opportunity to burn tires. I hope that the minister will take every consideration into effect on this. I believe in the environmental process and in the industrial assessment process, or whatever the proper term for it is, that the Department of Environment would have to go through in the event that Lafarge is given the opportunity to burn tires. It also takes a health issue into consideration, and really takes that into consideration.

I was talking to people the other day and I heard the other day that even the asbestos workers at one time would come home and the people would shake out the clothes and not think anything of the dust, and the families have problems with that now, even though they didn't work in the direct environment. As you go through this thing,

[Page 2933]

it's the simplest thing that at the time doesn't seem to mean anything that can cause long-term health problems. It may not show up for 40 or 50 or 60 years or even longer.

It's time that this country really takes solid consideration of our environment. I know we've made major strides, but not enough yet. We have the worst polluter, I believe, in North America in Nova Scotia Power here, with the Bunker C they burn and the coal they burn and everything else. There have been some steps put forward to hopefully reduce some of those emissions, well they have to be reduced. We don't want to see anything else added to this. We have to reduce this as time goes on.

I think it's very important that, when the process goes forward, the study that the minister has already committed to is made available - which I'm pleased to hear he has done - with ample time for people to look at it, not just a short period of time regardless if Lafarge is given the opportunity from the Resource Recovery Fund Board, or not, to burn tires, because this issue may come up again sometime. It's important that this information is provided to everybody including industry, the general public and government to ensure that if it's ever requested again and if some very negative things are identified, which I'm sure there would be, that we know about them, and I stress that we know about them.

I'm sure that no matter how well we do the research, there are things you won't know about because you can only go on today's standards and standards change every day. These things are put out there for people to know about, and maybe we'll be fortunate enough to make a decision that says this is not something that's going to happen in Nova Scotia, ever, based on the scientific study. But we have to wait until that study comes in.

Again, I stress to the minister, hopefully he'll take these considerations into the overall process and turn this over, also, to the health professionals to see if anything that's coming out of these stacks, or potentially coming out of a stack, could cause a health problem that maybe the scientists on the scientific and technical end may not be aware of, or something else that could cause a problem. Even if there's a remote chance it could cause a problem, we can't take a chance on it for ourselves and for the children and the grandchildren who are coming forward and the many generations to come.

[4:45 p.m.]

Again, as I said at first, 25 years ago we would not be having this discussion today because we didn't realize exactly what kind of difficulties we have. We can only control some of our environment here, because we get emissions from the U.S. and Upper Canada and other places, but I think we have to do everything we possibly can to make sure that this is the safest place in the world we can possibly make it ourselves, and make it as safe as we possibly can for many generations to come. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 2934]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague to my right who was very articulate in mapping out this very important issue. I just want to say that even to be considering this in this House is a really regressive step for this province. I also want to point out that this whole tendering process that the Resource Recovery Fund Board put forward and to even accept a tender, to be even considering a tender to incinerate tires is really not part of their mandate when they were first structured.

I remember years ago, just prior to the Resource Recovery Fund Board being implemented here in the province, there were a lot of messages going around at the time. Clearly those messages were reduce, reuse, recycle. When the Resource Recovery Fund Board came to be, that was the mandate that they had, to really promote, reduce, reuse and recycle in this province.

I want to just tell folks here in the room a little bit about my history in Queens County. Back in the early 1990s, we were potentially looking at a state-of-the-art incinerator facility from Swan Hills, Alberta; a company that was coming in to set up shop in Queens County. This facility would have been incinerating garbage coming in from the U.S. We would have seen garbage coming in by barge, by the tonnage, across our harbours into Queens to be burnt in a state-of-the-art facility.

At the time, I was involved in a small recycling group promoting to our local council members recycling in Queens. It was before this province even took recycling to heart as a serious matter, something we would need to be considering doing. Our little group grew into a huge public movement, almost across this province. At the time, the current mayor today of Queens was sitting as Environment Minister here in this House. I can tell you, our little group grew into a group of seven to a group of over 2,500 people from across this province who rallied in Queens to shut down this potential incineration plant that was going to sit in Port Jolie next to our pristine beaches.

It was clearly evident we had researched the topic immensely, we had speakers come in from the U.S. who have seen the problems that have happened with incineration plants across the U.S., who no longer want to deal with those plants and they're looking for places elsewhere to set up shop.

So this is a very regressive step for us to be even talking about it here at our table. We already know that we are faced with many environmental challenges not only across this province, but across this country. We are facing issues of climate change, of increased acid rain in our rivers, increased numbers of respiratory illnesses and asthma. For us to be considering burning tires, or for the Resource Recovery Fund Board to consider it as a mandate to review tenders to burn tires in this province, is a serious, serious mistake for us to be making.

[Page 2935]

Although I am pleased that the minister will be making the decision based on scientific study and data that he will be reviewing, I am concerned that sometimes scientific data doesn't give us the whole picture. It doesn't give us the other side of the story in full detail. While the minister is also indicating that study will be made available to the public, I'm also hoping the minister will make it available for public consultation and recommendations before a decision is made. I urge this minister to use the precautionary principle here before this is even considered to be moving forward.

I also have a fear that if the minister decides after reviewing scientific data, and if he feels confident in that data and after any public consultation, that this may set a precedent across this province. If one company, if one industry is allowed to burn tires in this province, how many other industries are going to come and step up to the plate and say, I'm looking for a cheap source of fuel. Are we opening the door to something that we won't be able to stop here in this province?

I don't really have a lot of faith in our current environmental monitoring and assessment practices here in the province. I think our environmental assessment and monitoring processes need to be strengthened and I'm very much afraid that burning tires here in this province will not move those initiatives forward. Even though the minister feels that should Lafarge win this contract, that they would have to apply for an industrial application and they will have to perhaps modify how they will burn tires if, indeed, that is what happens. I'm not sure that they will be able to comply, necessarily, to meet our current emission standards and to move forward with new emission standards.

If this does set a precedent and we start to open the door to other industry to burn tires because it's a cheap source of fuel, then what happens when we start to look at where our supply is coming from. Will we be importing tires from other provinces and perhaps the U.S. to meet the demand for fuel? That's a scary thought.

I want to get back to reduce, reuse and recycle. This is an opportunity here for this minister to re-establish what the mandate is for the Resource Recovery Fund Board. Reduce, reuse and recycle, we need to start considering how we can reduce the amount of tires that we are collecting here in this province. We need to look at better ways for implementing and increasing public transportation across this province. That is really reducing, reducing tires. We need to seriously push the Resource Recovery Fund Board to look at the two other tenders that actually have a plan in place to recycle these tires, and we need to look at that to see what those implications are. How are they going to recycle those tires, and will it be efficient?

Again, I'm asking this minister to use the precautionary principle here. I want him to really seriously consider the implications of this very regressive step backward. We need to step up to the plate. We need to encourage not only industry, but consumers to get back to those three R's - reuse, reduce and recycle. Thank you.

[Page 2936]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources. You have approximately one minute and 20 seconds.

HON. DAVID MORSE: I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: You have approximately one minute and 10 seconds.

MR. MORSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The environment is something that is near and dear to all of our hearts and, indeed, the hearts of Canadians. It certainly is appropriate for the minister to stand up and say that in Nova Scotia decisions about the environment will be science-based on evidence and that we should always be aware of what the net impact will be on the environment. He mentioned a couple of issues that are very important to Nova Scotians, that being climate change, that the report from the Dalhousie consultant will address all these issues, and any recommendation that comes forward will always be based on science.

Mr. Speaker, I think that is what Nova Scotians want from their government. They want to know that the proper approach is being taken by the Minister of Environment and Labour, by their government. They want to know that we are conscious of their concerns, they want to know that there's a system in place to protect the environment. I think that is what the Minister of Environment and Labour shared with us this afternoon. I believe that Nova Scotians want to hear that from this government.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the Official Opposition's business today. I do understand that there is further business from the government. I'll send it over to the Government House Leader for introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

The motion is carried.

[4:57 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[Page 2937]

[11:27 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

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

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

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

Bill No. 77 - Atlantic Baptist Churches Convention Act.

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

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

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

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. This concludes the government business for this very short day. So with that, I would move that the House do now rise and that we meet on the morrow - and there is still a morrow - at the hour of eight o'clock in the morning. The House will sit until 12:00 midnight that day. The order of business will be Public Bills for Third Reading, and Private and Local Bills for Third Reading.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The motion is that the House rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 8:00 a.m. The House will sit tomorrow between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 midnight.

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

The motion is carried.

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

[The House rose at 11:29 p.m.]

[Page 2938]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1583

By: Hon. Mark Parent (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas the students of Port Williams Elementary School along with Gerald Long, their teacher and organizer of the annual Port Williams Terry Fox Run, joined with cancer survivor Alice Carey, mother of two graduated students, and grandson, Jacob Carey, of Port Williams Elementary to celebrate her 28 years of being cancer free; and

Whereas Alice Carey was instrumental in encouraging donors to support the run; and

Whereas the Port Williams students rose to the challenge, raising a total of $10,000;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the outstanding efforts of these people and their valuable contribution as volunteers not only to their community but as citizens of Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 1584

By: Mr. Wayne Gaudet (Clare)

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

Whereas Canada's World Junior Hockey Team won its third consecutive gold medal at the 2006-07 World Junior Championship in Leksand, Sweden; and

Whereas Canada's World Junior Hockey Team went an impressive 6-0 for the third consecutive year with the help of Brad Marchand, the pride and joy of Hammonds Plains; and

Whereas Canadian goaltender Carey Price was named the tournament's most valuable player and also named to the tournament's all-star team, along with defenceman Kristopher Letang and forward Jonathan Toews;

[Page 2939]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate Canada's World Junior Hockey Team for winning its third straight gold medal.

RESOLUTION NO. 1585

By: Mr. Patrick Dunn (Pictou Centre)

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

Whereas the Town of New Glasgow has, for the second consecutive year, received the prestigious 5 "Bloom" award from the Communities in Bloom organization; and

Whereas the 5 "Bloom" distinction is the highest grade of the provincial competition and is awarded to the town that scored high marks in categories such as tidiness, environmental awareness, and natural and cultural heritage preservation; and

Whereas the New Glasgow Communities in Bloom Program chairpersons, Kim Dickson and Jamie Stevens, accepted the awards at the 2006 Tourism Industry of Nova Scotia Conference and were encouraged by judges to participate at the national level next year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate chairpersons Kim Dickson and Jamie Stevens for their dedication - Pictou County, like all regions of Nova Scotia, takes pride in its surroundings and respects the beauty we are lucky enough to live in - and may this success remind us of the beautiful potential for all communities in Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 1586

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 this year, Michelin Tires celebrates 35 years of operation in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Pictou County facility produced its first tire in 1971, with the Bridgewater operation constructing its first steel cord product in the same year; and Michelin North America recently awarded funding for expansion and modernization totally $113 million to the Waterville and Bridgewater plants; and

[Page 2940]

Whereas Michelin is the largest manufacturing employer in the province, and its exports are second only to the oil and gas industry in Nova Scotia; the plant has invested over $1.3 billion in capital in the province and has produced more than 200 million tires, the 200th being rolled out in August of this year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations and thanks to Michelin on 35 very successful years in Nova Scotia; it has, over these years, employed thousands of Nova Scotians directly and indirectly, 111 of those announced this year, therefore providing opportunities for our people right here at home.

RESOLUTION NO. 1587

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 recent North Nova Education Centre graduate, Megan MacIntosh, has been selected to join an exclusive group of 79 international performers; and

Whereas Ms. MacIntosh is one of the youngest and one of three Canadians to be invited to join the "UP With People Tour", and beginning this month she will travel the globe performing and providing community service work; and

Whereas the troupe will assist in areas such as New Orleans, where Hurricane Katrina relief work is ongoing; the intensive five-month touring schedule will see the cast travel to numerous American states and six other countries including Thailand, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Megan MacIntosh on her achievement and wish her nothing but success as she embarks on what will surely be an extraordinary journey; supporting the diverse activities and achievements of Nova Scotian youth is paramount to ensuring we provide them with the brightest of futures.

RESOLUTION NO. 1588

By: Mr. Keith Bain (Victoria-The Lakes)

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

Whereas "East of Ordinary" is the new slogan to describe Cape Breton to potential visitors from around the world; and

[Page 2941]

Whereas the Cape Breton Partnership devised the new tag line as part of a new branding campaign aimed at attracting not only visitors, but newcomers to the vibrant island as well; and

Whereas after consulting with the people of Cape Breton "East of Ordinary" was overwhelmingly chosen as the best line to generate interest and intrigue, and the next stage of the campaign will involve unveiling stories of successful Cape Bretoners;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support the new initiatives to get the word out about the jewel in Nova Scotia's crown; such proactive work that goes toward promoting and laying the foundations to what will be a strong future for Cape Breton deserves our attention and congratulations.

RESOLUTION NO. 1589

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 school sports promote healthy living through physical exercise and sportsmanship; and

Whereas participating in sports and recreational activities is encouraged for all age levels; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team captured the Western Regional Title to become the champions in volleyball;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Coach Derek Nowe on his time and dedication to the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1590

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 school sports promote healthy living through physical exercise and sportsmanship; and

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Whereas participating in sports and recreational activities is encouraged for all age levels; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team captured the Western Regional Title to become the champions in volleyball;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Coach Ashley Smith on her time and dedication to the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1591

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 school sports promote healthy living through physical exercise and sportsmanship; and

Whereas participating in sports and recreational activities is encouraged for all age levels; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team captured the Western Regional Title to become the champions in volleyball;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating team member Stephanie Baker on being part of the Western Regional Championship team of the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1592

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 school sports promote healthy living through physical exercise and sportsmanship; and

Whereas participating in sports and recreational activities is encouraged for all age levels; and

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Whereas the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team captured the Western Regional Title to become the champions in volleyball;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating team member Nataya Smith on being part of the Western Regional Championship team of the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1593

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 school sports promote healthy living through physical exercise and sportsmanship; and

Whereas participating in sports and recreational activities is encouraged for all age levels; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team captured the Western Regional Title to become the champions in volleyball;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating team member Niki Brown on being part of the Western Regional Championship team of the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1594

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 school sports promote healthy living through physical exercise and sportsmanship; and

Whereas participating in sports and recreational activities is encouraged for all age levels; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team captured the Western Regional Title to become the champions in volleyball;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating team member Emily Rogers on being part of the Western Regional Championship team of the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1595

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 school sports promote healthy living through physical exercise and sportsmanship; and

Whereas participating in sports and recreational activities is encouraged for all age levels; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team captured the Western Regional Title to become the champions in volleyball;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating team member Janine Bressmer on being part of the Western Regional Championship team of the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1596

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 school sports promote healthy living through physical exercise and sportsmanship; and

Whereas participating in sports and recreational activities is encouraged for all age levels; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team captured the Western Regional Title to become the champions in volleyball;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating team member Alyssa Little on being part of the Western Regional Championship team of the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1597

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 school sports promote healthy living through physical exercise and sportsmanship; and

Whereas participating in sports and recreational activities is encouraged for all age levels; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team captured the Western Regional Title to become the champions in volleyball;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating team member Kelsey Rankin on being part of the Western Regional Championship team of the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1598

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 school sports promote healthy living through physical exercise and sportsmanship; and

Whereas participating in sports and recreational activities is encouraged for all age levels; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team captured the Western Regional Title to become the champions in volleyball;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating team member Tia Ko on being part of the Western Regional Championship team of the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1599

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 school sports promote healthy living through physical exercise and sportsmanship; and

Whereas participating in sports and recreational activities is encouraged for all age levels; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team captured the Western Regional Title to become the champions in volleyball;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating team member Olivia Pitman on being part of the Western Regional Championship team of the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1600

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 school sports promote healthy living through physical exercise and sportsmanship; and

Whereas participating in sports and recreational activities is encouraged for all age levels; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team captured the Western Regional Title to become the champions in volleyball;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating team member Jennifer Pitman on being part of the Western Regional Championship team of the Bridgewater Vikings Junior Volleyball Team.