The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

HANSARD 07-34

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

THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 2007

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1601, Mackenzie, Maj.: OBE - Appt., Hon. M. Scott 2952
Vote - Affirmative 2953
Res. 1602, Forest Products Assoc. (N.S.): Achievements -
Recognize, Hon. D. Morse 2953
Vote - Affirmative 2954
Res. 1603, Energy: Lisi, Luciano/C.B. Power Staff/Lingan Wind
Power - Congrats., Hon. W. Dooks 2954
Vote - Affirmative 2954
Res. 1604, Immigration - Stream: Usage - Encourage,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2955
Vote - Affirmative 2955
Res. 1605, TCH: Pineapple Award Winners - Congrats.,
Hon. L. Goucher 2955
Vote - Affirmative 2956
Res. 1606, École NDA: Health Award - Congrats., Hon. K. Casey 2956
Vote - Affirmative 2957
Res. 1607, McCallum, Ms. Dulcie: FOIPOP Review Officer -
Selection, Hon. M. Scott 2957
Vote - Affirmative 2958
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 1608, Women Unlimited: Developers - Thank,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2958
Vote - Affirmative 2959
Res. 1609, TCH - Tourism Partnership Coun.: Plan - Support,
Hon. L. Goucher 2959
Vote - Affirmative 2960
Res. 1610, Elizabeth Sutherland Sch.: ECMA Nomination - Congrats.,
Hon. K. Casey 2960
Vote - Affirmative 2960
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1611, Justice: - Crime Victims-Compensation,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2961
Res. 1612, Thériault, Patricia: Prime Minister's Award for Excellence -
Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 2962
Vote - Affirmative 2963
Res. 1613, Caribou FD: Vols. - Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 2963
Vote - Affirmative 2963
Res. 1614, Women, Status of - Gov't. Can.: Cuts - Condemn,
Ms. M. More 2964
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 133, Consumer Protection Act, Mr. P. Paris 2965
No. 134, Adult Protection Act, Ms. V. Conrad 2965
NOTICES OF MOTION:^
Res. 1615, Hfx. Explosion - Remembrance Ser.: Dart. Hist. Soc. -
Ms. J. Massey 2965
Vote - Affirmative 2966
Res. 1616, ROTP Scholarship - Cole Hbr. Dist. HS: Recipients -
Recognize, Mr. K. Deveaux 2966
Vote - Affirmative 2966
Res. 1617, Freedom Fdn.: Open House - Anniv. (17th),
Mr. T. Zinck 2967
Vote - Affirmative 2967
Res. 1618, AVRSB Autism Ctr.: Staff/Vols. - Recognize,
Mr. L. Glavine 2967
Vote - Affirmative 2968
Res. 1619, Haley, Sandra Marie: Prime Minister's Cert. of Excellence -
Congrats., Mr. G. Gosse 2968
Vote - Affirmative 2969
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 1620, King, Dr. Martin Luther, Jr. - Peace March: E. Preston/
N. Preston/Cherry Brook-Lake Loon Ratepayers Associations -
Commend, Mr. P. Paris 2969
Vote - Affirmative 2970
Res. 1621, Duc d'Anville Sch.-Grade 6 Students: Bottle Drives -
Congrats., Ms. D. Whalen 2970
Vote - Affirmative 2970
Res. 1622, Baird, Reg: Key to Keji Award - Recognize, Ms. V. Conrad 2971
Vote -Affirmative 2971
Res. 1623, Agric. - House of Assembly Food: Local Products - Ensure,
Ms. M. Raymond 2971
Res. 1624, UN Convention on Rights of Disabled Persons: Approval -
Signify, Ms. M. More 2972
Res. 1625, Walsh, Ty - Commonwealth Educ. Youth Forum:
Accomplishments - Recognize, Mr. L. Glavine 2973
Vote - Affirmative 2974
Res. 1626, E. Hants Reg. Proj. Office: E. Hants Mun./E. Hants Reg.
Dev. Auth. - Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 2974
Vote - Affirmative 2975
Res. 1627, TCH: Ship Hector FDN/King Freight Lines - Tourism
Promotions, Mr. C. Parker 2975
Vote - Affirmative 2976
Res. 1628, Makhoul Fam. - Dart. North: Support - Recognize,
Mr. T. Zinck 2976
Vote - Affirmative 2976
Res. 1629, Bishop, Dr. Henry Vernon - Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award,
Mr. P. Paris 2976
Vote - Affirmative 2977
Res. 1630, Queens Commun. Health Bd. Anniv. (10th),
Ms. V. Conrad 2977
Vote - Affirmative 2978
Res. 1631, Rockingham United Church Art Auction: Congregation -
Congrats., Ms. D. Whalen 2978
Vote - Affirmative 2979
Res. 1632, Annapolis Valley Radio - Pork Ind.: Support - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 2979
Vote - Affirmative 2979
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 1633, Macdonald, Sir John A.: Birthdate - Acknowledge,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2980
Vote - Affirmative 2980
Res. 1634, Shag Hbr. Incident Soc.: Init. - Congrats., Mr. S. Belliveau 2980
Vote - Affirmative 2981
Res. 1635, Francis, Jordan - People to People Leadership Summit:
Attendance - Congrats., Mr. C. MacKinnon 2981
Vote - Affirmative 2982
Res. 1636, Commun. Serv.: Fam. Violence Prevention Init. -
Reinstate, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2982
Res. 1637, Sydney Acad. Wildcats: Hockey Championship -
Congrats., Mr. G. Gosse 2983
Vote - Affirmative 2983
Res. 1638, Hfx. Atl.: Students/Musicians - Commend,
Ms. M. Raymond 2984
Vote - Affirmative 2984
Res. 1639, St. Margarets Bay Lions: Fundraising - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2984
Vote - Affirmative 2985
Res. 1640, Evergreen Trio: CD Launch - Congrats., Mr. S. Belliveau 2985
Vote - Affirmative 2986
Res. 1641, Sobey, David & Donald: Cdn. Bus. Hall of Fame -
Induction, Mr. C. MacKinnon 2986
Vote - Affirmative 2987
Res. 1642, African Cdn. Transition Prog.: NSCC Akerley Campus -
Introduction Commend, Mr. L. Preyra 2987
Vote - Affirmative 2988
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 339, Prem.: Auto Accident (MLA Cumb. North) - Staff
Direction, Mr. D. Dexter 2988
No. 340, Prem.: Auto Accident (MLA Cumb. North) - Staff
Confidence, Mr. M. Samson 2990
No. 341, Prem.: Auto Accident (MLA Cumb. North) - Caucus
Info., Mr. D. Dexter 2992
No. 342, Health - Simpson Hall (N.S. Hosp.): Status - Explain,
Ms. V. Conrad 2994
Ms. V. Conrad
No. 343, Prem. - Auto Accident (Cumb. North MLA): Code of
Conduct - Violation, Mr. M. Samson 2995
No. 344, Educ. - Dart. HS: Upgrades - Funding, Mr. T. Zinck 2997
No. 345, Com. Serv.: UN Convention on the Rights of Persons
With Disabilities - Support, Ms. M. More 2998
No. 346, Prem. - AG's Office: Info. - Access, Ms. D. Whalen 3000
No. 347, Prem. - Educ. Min. Fundraising: Min. Code of Conduct -
Uphold, Mr. W. Estabrooks 3002
No. 348, Educ. - Hfx. Reg. Sch. Bd.: Former Members - Stipend
Status, Mr. L. Glavine 3003
No. 349, Hum. Res.: African Nova Scotians - Jobs, Mr. P. Paris 3005
No. 350, Health - Glades Lodge: New Facility Request -
Status, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 3006
No. 351, Health: ER Closures - Address,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 3007
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
Bill No. 117 - Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act 3008
Mr. H. Epstein 3009
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3022
Ms. V. Conrad 3033
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 3046
Mr. J. MacDonell 3061
Ms. M. More 3075
Mr. C. MacKinnon 3089
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3093
Mr. G. Steele 3109
ADJOURNMENT 3124
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Econ. Dev. - Trenton Works: Viability - Ensure:
Mr. C. MacKinnon 3124
Mr. C. Parker 3126
Mr. P. Dunn 3127
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3130
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
Bill No. 117 - Members and Public Employees Disclosure
Act [Debate resumed] 3132
Mr. D. Dexter 3132
Hon. M. Baker 3139
Vote - Affirmative 3143
Vote - Affirmative
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
Bill No. 77 - Atlantic Baptist Churches Convention Act 3143
Hon. M. Parent 3143
Vote-Affirmative 3143
Bill No. 122 - St. Paul's United Church Lands Act 3143
Vote - Affirmative 3144
Bill No. 124 - St. John's Anglican Church Lands Act 3144
Vote - Affirmative 3144
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
Bill No. 43 - Student Aid Act 3145
Mr. L. Preyra 3145
Vote - Affirmative 3145
ARRIVAL OF LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR 3146
BILLS GIVEN ROYAL ASSENT:
Nos. 77, 117, 122, 124 3146
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again at the call of the Speaker 3147
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1643, MacIntyre, Sophie: Debating Championships - Congrats.,
Ms. D. Whalen 3148
Res. 1644, Ramsay, Dennis James: Civic Commitment - Recognize,
Mr. L. Glavine 3148
Res. 1645, Alzheimer's Awareness Mo. (01/07) - Recognize,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3149
Res. 1646, Ocean View Manor Residents/East. Passage Educ. Ctr.
Students: Art Prog. - Commend, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3149
Res. 1647, Enfield Active Seniors Soc.: Walking Prog. - Thank,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3150
Res. 1648, Health Prom. & Protection/N.S. Commun. Links:
Work - Recognize, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3150
Res. 1649, Enfield Tri-County Seniors: Commun. Contribution - Thank,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3151
Res. 1650, Antigonish RCMP: Seniors Serv. - Recognize,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3151
Res. 1651, River John Rec. Ctr.: Senior Fitness Ctr. - Thank,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3152
Res. 1652, Annapolis Valley Health - Seniors Lines: Dedication -
Recognize, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3153
Recognize, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson
Res. 1653, Green Hbr. Seniors - Meal Deliveries: Work - Recognize,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3153
Res. 1654, Pictou Reg. Dev. Comm. - Anniv. (15th), Mr. P. Dunn 3154
Res. 1655, Hoare, William "Bumper": Retirement - Congrats.,
Mr. P. Dunn 3154
Res. 1656, Pictou Co. Christmas Fund Telethon: Participants -
Congrats., Mr. P. Dunn 3155
Res. 1657, Moorehead, Ray: Achievements - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Parent 3155
Res. 1658, NSCC Kingstec Campus - Strategic Plan: Contribution -
Recognize, Hon. M. Parent 3156
Res. 1659, Steenbeck, Eve & John - Treasure House Soup Kitchen:
Efforts - Recognize, Hon. M. Parent 3156
Res. 1660, Kentville and Area Christian Woman's Club - Anniv. (25th),
Hon. M. Parent 3157
Res. 1661, Nicholson, Robyn: Can. Games Under-18 Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. K. Casey 3157
Res. 1662, Bridgewater Elem. Sch. Principal/Staff/Students -
N. Queens Sch. Rebuilding: Fundraising - Thank,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3158
Res. 1663, Young, Coach Scott - Bridgewater Sen. HS Boys
Volleyball Team: Time/Dedication - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3158
Res. 1664, Dicks, Brandon: Bridgewater Sen. Boys Volleyball Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3159
Res. 1665, Ramey, Garrett: Bridgewater Sen. Boys Volleyball Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3159
Res. 1666, Young, Mark: Bridgewater Sen. Boys Volleyball Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3160
Res. 1667, Peters, Dale: Bridgewater Sen. Boys Volleyball Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3160
Res. 1668, Coote, Tim: Bridgewater Sen. Boys Volleyball Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3161
Res. 1669, Davidson, Ian: Bridgewater Sen. Boys Volleyball Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3161
Res.1670, Baker, Alex: Bridgewater Sen. Boys Volleyball Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3162
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson
Res. 1671, Zinck, Kyle: Bridgewater Sen. Boys Volleyball Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3162
Res. 1672, Tanner, Matt: Bridgewater Sen. Boys Volleyball Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3163
Res. 1673, MacDougall, Jake: Bridgewater Sen. Boys Volleyball
Team - Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3163
Res. 1674, El-Darahali Saeed: Daily News Top 30 Under 30 -
Congrats., Hon. R. Hurlburt 3164
Res. 1675, Langley, Margaret: Dal. Sport Hall of Fame - Induction,
Hon. J. Muir 3164
Res. 1676, Stanish, Dr. Bill: Dal. Sport Hall of Fame - Induction,
Hon. J. Muir 3165
Res. 1677, Muise-Greene, Shaunda - French-as-a-Second Language
Educator of the Yr., Mr. S. Belliveau 3165
Res. 1678, Blades - Skeet Shooting Championship, Mr. S. Belliveau 3166
Res. 1679, Shelburne Co. PeeWee B Flames Hockey Team:
Achievements - Congrats., Mr. S. Belliveau 3166
Res. 1680, Hatfield, Kenneth: Time Capsule - Congrats.,
Mr. S. Belliveau 3167
Res. 1681, Bower, Ruby - Deer Hunting: Success - Congrats.,
Mr. S. Belliveau 3167
Res. 1682, Bruce Nickerson Mem. Fundraiser: Organizer -
Congrats., Mr. S. Belliveau 3168
Res. 1683, Shag Hbr. United Baptist Church - Anniv. (150th),
Mr. S. Belliveau 3168
Res. 1684, Black Loyalist Heritage Soc.: Determination - Congrats.,
Mr. S. Belliveau 3169
Res. 1685, Vaters, Jason: Writing Challenge - Congrats.,
Mr. S. Belliveau 3169
Res. 1686, N. Queens Elem. Sch. Benefit Concert: Organizers/
Performers - Recognize, Ms. V. Conrad 3170
Res. 1687, Liverpool Reg. HS Soccer Team: Provincial Finals -
Silver Medal, Ms. V. Conrad 3170
Res. 1688, Queens Co. Medical First Response Departments:
Equipment - Fundraiser, Ms. V. Conrad 3171
Res. 1689, Nasrallah Fam. - Liverpool: Return - Welcome,
Ms. V. Conrad 3171
Ms. V. Conrad
Res. 1690, Ackerman, Pam: University Study/Mentor - Congrats.,
Ms. V. Conrad 3172
Res. 1691, Wiles, John/Oakley, Anne: Music N.S. - Liverpool Event,
Ms. V. Conrad 3172
Res. 1692, Molega Lake Bridge - Replacement: Vols. - Recognize,
Ms. V. Conrad 3173
Res. 1693, Dulong, Sheila/Malay, Carla: Team Spirit Award -
Congrats., Ms. V. Conrad 3173
Res. 1694, Snarby, Kristopher/Rafuse, Jill/Camerata Singers -
CD Release, Ms. V. Conrad 3174
Res. 1695, N. Queens Visitor Info. Ctr.: Fundraisers - Recognize,
Ms. V. Conrad 3174
Res. 1696, Caverhill, Brennan - Environmental Leadership Award,
Ms. V. Conrad 3175
Res. 1697, N. Queen Rural HS - Wall of Remembrance: Development -
Recognize, Ms. V. Conrad 3175
Res. 1698, Hatt, Samantha: Skating Accomplishments - Recognize,
Ms. V. Conrad 3176
Res. 1699, S. Shore Ex. Riding Competition: Meadow Ponds Stables -
Awards, Ms. V. Conrad 3176
Res. 1700, Carroll Tri County GM - N. Queens Sch.: Donation -
Congrats., Ms. V. Conrad 3177
Res. 1701, Cole, Richard: Fundraising - Recognize, Ms. V. Conrad 3177
Res. 1702, S. Queens Jr. High Boys Volleyball Team - West. N.S.
Reg. Champs., Ms. V. Conrad 3178
Res. 1703, Bunten Borgersen, Susan - Int'l. Ukulele Ceilidh: Work -
Recognize, Ms. V. Conrad 3178
Res. 1704, Queens Debating Comp.: Participants - Congrats.,
Ms. V. Conrad 3179
Res. 1705, S. Queens Jr. HS French Immersion Classes: Trip
Fundraising - Recognize, Ms. V. Conrad 3179
Res. 1706, Killam, Kathryn: Bus. Efforts - Recognize, Ms. V. Conrad 3180
Res. 1707, Queens Quilters: Fellowship/Friendship - Recognize,
Ms. V. Conrad 3180
Res. 1708, Kehoe, Dianne - Prime Minister's Certificate of Excellence,
Mr. G. Gosse 3181
Res. 1709, Madden, Lavonah - Prime Minister's Certificate of
Excellence, Mr. G. Gosse 3181
Excellence, Mr. G. Gosse
Res. 1710, NSPI/Brigadoon Children's Camp Soc.: Vision -
Commend, Mr. C. MacKinnon 3182
Res. 1711, Canyon, George: Nashville Star's Top 20 - Congrats.,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 3182
Res. 1712, Violence Against Women - Legislators: Response -
Improve, Ms. M. More 3183
Res. 1713, MacDonald, Margie - Volunteerism: Commitment -
Commend, Mr. L. Preyra 3183
Res. 1714, Hill, Helen: Death of - Tribute, Mr. L. Preyra 3184
Res. 1715, Pachai, Dr. Bridgial - Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award,
Mr. P. Paris 3184
Res. 1716, Seniors: Programs/Services - Improve, Ms. M. More 3185
Res. 1717, Liquidation World: Truro - Welcome, Hon. J. Muir 3185
Res. 1718, Hazelton, Janet - Women of Excellence Award,
Hon. J. Muir 3186
Res. 1719, Dennis, Graham: Hon. Deg. - St.FX., Hon. J. Muir 3186
Res. 1720, Turnbull, Taylor - Locks of Love: Donation - Commend,
Mr. C. Porter 3187
Res. 1721, Annapolis Valley Radio - Shriners Hospitals: Support -
Thank, Mr. C. Porter 3188
Res. 1722, Hants Co. Christmas Angels Show - Anniv. (30th),
Mr. C. Porter 3188
Res. 1723, Hants Commun. Access Network - Bd. of Directors:
Yes Café - Establishment, Mr. C. Porter 3189
Res. 1724, Windsor Camp of Gideons - Anniv (50th), Mr. C. Porter 3189
Res. 1725, Windsor Elem. Sch. Teach: Christmas Dinner -
Celebration, Mr. C. Porter 3190
Res. 1726, Dee, Carol/Royal Bank Staff: Charitable Work - Recognize,
Mr. C. Porter 3190
Res. 1727, Turnbull, Taylor - Locks of Love: Donation - Commend,
Mr. C. Porter 3191
Res. 1728, Peach, Sandy: Bus. Success - Applaud, Mr. C. Porter 3191
Res. 1729, Daniels, Ruth - Gideon Movement: Faithfulness - Applaud,
Mr. C. Porter 3192
Res. 1730, Meals on Wheels: Windsor Rotary Club/VON/Richard,
Taylor - Commend, Mr. C. Porter 3192
Res. 1731, "Alice Stops Time": Success - Wish, Mr. C. Porter 3193
Res. 1731, "Alice Stops Time": Success - Wish, Mr. C. Porter
Res. 1732, NASA Phoenix Mission: Dal Research Team - Congrats,
The Premier 3193
Res. 1733, McMaster, Buddy: Scottish Traditional Music Hall of
Fame - Induction, The Premier 3194
Res. 1734, Wood, Cst. Randy: Bravery - Thank, The Premier 3194
Res. 1735, École Secondaire de Clare - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. W. Gaudet 3195
Res. 1736, École Jean-Marie-Gay - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. W. Gaudet 3195
Res. 1737, École Joseph-Dugas - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success
Wish, Mr. W. Gaudet 3196
Res. 1738, École Saint-Albert - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. W. Gaudet 3196
Res. 1739, École Stella-Maris - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. W. Gaudet 3197
Res. 1740, Saint Mary's Bay Acad. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. W. Gaudet 3197
Res. 1741, Dwight Ross Elem. Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. L. Glavine 3198
Res. 1742, École Rose-des-Vents - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success
Wish, Mr. L. Glavine 3198
Res. 1743, Kingston Elem. Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success
Wish, Mr. L. Glavine 3199
Res. 1744, Pine Ridge Middle Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success
Wish, Mr. L. Glavine 3199
Res. 1745, West Kings Dist. HS - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success
Wish, Mr. L. Glavine 3200
Res. 1746, St. Mary's Elem. Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success
Wish, Mr. L. Glavine 3200
Res. 1747, Somerset & Dist. Elem. Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. L. Glavine 3201
Res. 1748, Berwick & Dist. Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success
Wish, Mr. L. Glavine 3201
Res. 1749, Central Kings Rural HS - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. L. Glavine 3202
Res. 1750, Humber Park Elem. Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. K. Colwell 3202
Res. 1751, Nelson Whynder Elem. Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. K. Colwell 3203
Res. 1752, Ross Road Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. K. Colwell 3203
Res. 1753, Bell Park Acad. Ctr. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
^^Success Wish, Mr. K. Colwell 3204
Res. 1754, Graham Creighton Jr. HS - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. K. Colwell 3204
Res. 1755, Cole Hbr. Dist. HS - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. K. Colwell 3205
Res. 1756, Auburn Dr. HS - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. K. Colwell 3205
Res. 1757, Glace Bay HS - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. D. Wilson (Glace Bay) 3206
Res. 1758, Bridgeport Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. D. Wilson (Glace Bay) 3206
Res. 1759, Morrison Jr. HS - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. D. Wilson (Glace Bay) 3207
Res. 1760, John Bernard Croak V.C. Mem. Sch. - Staff/Students:
2007 - Success Wish, Mr. D. Wilson (Glace Bay) 3207
Res. 1761, St. Anne's Elem. Sch.- Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. D. Wilson (Glace Bay) 3208
Res. 1762, St. Michael Jr. HS - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. D. Wilson (Glace Bay) 3208
Res. 1763, Bridgetown Reg. HS - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish,^Mr. Stephen McNeil 3209
Res. 1764, Champlain Elem. Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. Stephen McNeil 3209
Res. 1765, Lawrencetown Consolidated Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. Stephen McNeil 3210
Res. 1766, Lawrencetown Educ. Ctr. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. Stephen McNeil 3210
Res. 1767, Annapolis Royal Reg. Acad. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. Stephen McNeil 3211
Res. 1768, Annapolis West Educ. Ctr. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. Stephen McNeil 3211
Res. 1769, Bridgetown Reg. Elem. Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
^^Success Wish, Mr. Stephen McNeil 3212
Res. 1770, Annapolis East Elem. Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
^^Success Wish, Mr. Stephen McNeil 3212
Res. 1771, Duc. d'Anville Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Ms. Diana Whalen 3213
Success Wish, Ms. Diana Whalen
Res. 1772, Park West Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Ms. Diana Whalen 3213
Res. 1773, Rockingham Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Ms. Diana Whalen 3214
Res. 1774, Clayton Park Jr HS - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success
Wish, Ms. Diana Whalen 3214
Res. 1775, Halifax West HS - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Ms. Diana Whalen 3215
Res. 1776, Barton Consolidated Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. Harold Theriault 3215
Res. 1777, Digby Adult HS - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. Harold Theriault 3216
Res. 1778, Digby Elem. Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. Harold Theriault 3216
Res. 1779, Digby Neck Consolidated Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. Harold Theriault 3217
Res. 1780, Digby Reg. HS - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. Harold Theriault 3217
Res. 1781, Islands Consolidated Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. Harold Theriault 3218
Res. 1782, Westport Village Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. Harold Theriault 3218
Res. 1783, Weymouth Consolidated Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. Harold Theriault 3219
Res. 1784, Clark Rutherford Memorial Sch. - Staff/Students:
2007 - Success Wish, Mr. Harold Theriault 3219
Res. 1785, Sandy Cove Elem. Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. Harold Theriault 3220
Res. 1786, Southside Learning Ctr. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. Manning MacDonald 3220
Res. 1787, Shipyard Elem. Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. Manning MacDonald 3221
Res. 1788, Sydney Acad. - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3221
Res. 1789, Holy Angels HS - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3222
Res. 1790, Sherwood Park Educ. Ctr. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. Manning MacDonald 3222
Res. 1791, Cusack Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3223
Mr. Manning MacDonald
Res. 1792, Ashby Elem. Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3223
Res. 1793, Cornwall Sch. - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3224
Res. 1794, East Richmond Educ. Ctr. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. M. Samson 3224
Res. 1795, Richmond Acad. - Staff/Students: 2007 - Success Wish,
Mr. M. Samson 3225
Res. 1796, Felix Marchand Educ. Ctr. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. M. Samson 3225
Res. 1797, West Richmond Educ. Ctr. - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. M. Samson 3226
Res. 1798, École Beau-Port - Staff/Students: 2007 -
Success Wish, Mr. M. Samson 3226
Res. 1799, Spryfield Lions: Efforts (50 yrs.) - Recognize,
Ms. M. Raymond 3227
Res. 1800, Emerg. Management: N.S. Role - Acknowledge,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3227
Res. 1801, Cartmill, Chuck - Sustainability: Contribution -
Commend, Hon. M. Parent 3228
Res. 1802, Clinician Assessment for Practice Prog.: Physicians -
Welcome, Hon. C. d'Entremont 3228
Res. 1803, Status of Women - Round Table (11/06): Participants -
Thank, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3229
Res. 1804, MacDonald, Theresa Lauchie: Commun. Contribution -
Recognize, Hon. R. Chisholm 3229
Res. 1805, Educ. - Sch. Bds.: Healthy Food Promotion - Congrats.,
Hon. K. Casey 3230
Res. 1806, Larsen Packers Ltd.: Workplace Literacy Award -
Congrats., Hon. K. Casey 3230
Res. 1807, Langley, Margaret: Dal. Sport Hall of Fame - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 3231
Res. 1808, Spanish, Dr. Bill: Dal. Sport Hall of Fame - Induction,
Hon. J. Muir 3231
Res. 1809, Dennis, Graham: St. FX - Hon. Degree, Hon. J. Muir 3232
Res. 1810, Hazelton, Janet - Women of Excellence Award,
Hon. J. Muir 3232
Res. 1811, Murphy, Coach Glen - Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey
Team: Time/Dedication - Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3233
Team: Time/Dedication - Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson
Res. 1812, Carroll, Coach Pat - Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey
Team: Time/Dedication - Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3233
Res. 1813, Rogers, Coach Phil - Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey
Team: Time/Dedication - Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3234
Res. 1814, McMullin, Coach Al - Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey
Team: Time/Dedication - Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3234
Res. 1815, Hebb, Corey: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3235
Res. 1816, Harvie, Liam: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3235
Res. 1817, Murphy, Patrick: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3236
Res. 1818, Baker, Mitch: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3236
Res. 1819, Patterson, Liam: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3237
Res. 1820, Cleveland, Joel: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3237
Res. 1821, Lunn, Morgan: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3238
Res. 1822, Carroll, Kyle: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3238
Res. 1823, Silver, Luke: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3239
Res. 1824, Cullimore, Colby: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3239
Res. 1825, McMullin, Brennan: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3240
Res. 1826, Whynot, Jamie: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3240
Res. 1827, Quigley, Matt: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3241
Res. 1828, Rhodenizer, Ryan: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3241
Res. 1829, Rogers, Mark: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3242
Res. 1830, Ross, Danny: Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson. 3242

[Page 2951]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 2007

Sixtieth General Assembly

First Session

8:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Cecil Clarke

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin with the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Hants East:

Therefore be it resolved that the government work in every way possible to ensure that Trenton Works remains a viable entity in Pictou County and an economic engine in the Nova Scotia economy.

That debate will be held at the conclusion of the regular orders of the day.

We will now commence with the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

2951

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

[Page 2952]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for Military Relations.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. With your indulgence and the indulgence of the House, I would ask for permission to make an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of the members some very important people in the Speaker's Gallery today. We have with us some folks from the military, family members and others. We have Major Allan MacKenzie, the recipient of an award that I'll be reading a resolution about in a moment, and his wife, Mrs. Celia MacKenzie. They're accompanied by their five-year-old daughter, Freya. As well, Lieutenant Colonel Alison Turkington, Major MacKenzie's boss at 12 Air Maintenance Squadron; and also Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan Freeland, who is with the folks as well. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Standing Ovation)

I understand, as well, I've just been informed, Mr. Speaker, that Mr. MacKenzie plays the Premier's great-grandfather's pipes - is that correct? Wonderful. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for Military Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 1601

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

Whereas Canadian Air Force Major Allan MacKenzie was, until recently, assigned to Britain's Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose as the Aircraft Maintenance Group Officer; and

Whereas Major MacKenzie was recognized for his exceptional level of professionalism, his many successes within that unit, his significant cost savings while increasing the level of activity of his unit, and his enthusiasm and dedication; and

Whereas Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II appointed Major MacKenzie as a member to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his outstanding service;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize, commend and congratulate Major MacKenzie for his outstanding achievement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2953]

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. (Standing Ovation)

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1602

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

Whereas the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia has been an advocate of responsible forest management and an agent of education about forestry in Nova Scotia since the mid-1930s; and

Whereas the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia works to conserve the productivity of our province's forests, to sustain natural ecological processes, and to provide continuing recreational and cultural benefits to Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia will conduct its 73rd Annual General Meeting in Halifax on January 18th and 19th;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize and commend the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia for its outstanding achievements in fostering an understanding of the commercial, recreational and environmental importance of forest lands to the people of 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.

[Page 2954]

The honourable Minister of Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 1603

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

Whereas Cape Breton Power Ltd. and Glace Bay Lingan Wind Power Ltd. have expanded the Lingan Wind Farm by investing in five new wind turbines; and

Whereas upon installation of these wind turbines, the Lingan Wind Farm will have the capacity to generate about 54 gigawatt hours of energy annually; and

Whereas the renewable energy produced is enough to supply over 6,000 homes in the Cape Breton region;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Cape Breton Power Ltd. and Glace Bay Lingan Wind Power Ltd. for their leadership excellence and their commitment to providing Nova Scotians with renewable energy.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for your blessing on this resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: Waiver of notice and passage without debate, I assume the honourable member is trying to say.

There has been an interesting 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 Immigration.

RESOLUTION NO. 1604

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

[Page 2955]

Whereas businesses in the province now have another option for finding skilled labour with the launch of the government's new immigration stream announced on December 12th; and

Whereas the new family business worker category is open to relatives of Nova Scotia employers in need of skilled labour who are qualified to do the job; and

Whereas immigrants are more likely to settle in the province if they have family here and there are job opportunities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House encourage business operators in their areas who meet the criteria, to use this new stream as a means of meeting their labour market needs.

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. 1605

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

Whereas each year the Tourism Industry of Nova Scotia presents the Pineapple Awards to recognize individuals who exemplify extraordinary service in the Nova Scotia tourism industry; and

Whereas visitors themselves nominate the individuals who go above and beyond to enrich their stay and help create the memorable moments they cherish forever; and

Whereas in 2006, recipients were Mr. Jonathan Marchand, Dundee Resort; Mr. and Mrs. Roger and Mary Anne Rolfe, Big Lake; Mr. Robin White, Burncoat Head Park, Hants County; Ms. Therese James, Halifax International Airport; and Ms. Carolyn Wagner, Bear River Visitor Information Centre;

[Page 2956]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all the 2006 Pineapple Award 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.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1606

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

Whereas according to the annual Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey, smoking rates among Nova Scotians continue to decline with a 13 per cent drop for 15- to 19-year olds in 2005; and

Whereas École NDA, a Cheticamp school of approximately 240 students from Primary to Grade12 has a zero per cent smoking rate; and

Whereas students and staff of École NDA were honoured by the North Inverness Community Health Board with a special plaque that recognizes this achievement;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the staff and students at École NDA for being great role models for healthier lives for all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[8:15 a.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2957]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House I indicated I would be announcing today who the new Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Officer is for the province. I had really hoped to have her in the House today to meet all members. Unfortunately she couldn't be here, but I would like to read this resolution and she will be here on a future date to meet all members.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1607

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

Whereas Dulcie McCallum, former Ombudsman for the Province of British Columbia, has been selected as Nova Scotia's new Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Review Officer and will oversee how the provincial government protects the privacy of Nova Scotians and handles requests for information; and

Whereas Ms. McCallum received her law degree from the University of Victoria and has particular experience in administrative and human rights law, and over the past 30 years has held positions in both private practice and in the public sector; and

Whereas Ms. McCallum is highly qualified and will bring tremendous expertise and knowledge to this office, particularly in the areas of children's rights, services for persons with disabilities, and justice issues;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ms. McCallum on her position, and thank her for taking on the important role of ensuring that Nova Scotians' rights of access and privacy are respected.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2958]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1608

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

Whereas investing in Nova Scotians builds our province's prosperity; and

Whereas in Nova Scotia, less than 5 per cent of women are employed in trades and 17 per cent in technology, fields that offer better wages and where employers face skills shortages: and

Whereas Women Unlimited is a Nova Scotia pilot project that introduces women to non-traditional careers and links them to opportunities with supportive employers and community organizations;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House thank the Women's Economic Equality Society, Hypatia Association and Nova Scotia Community College and their partners - the Nova Scotia Departments of Education and Community Services, Office of Economic Development and the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, as well as Service Canada and Status of Women Canada - for developing this excellent program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

[Page 2959]

RESOLUTION NO. 1609

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 Partnership Council is an industry-led partnership that leads planning for success in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the council has launched a new tourism plan for 2007 and beyond that recognizes the new realities of today's competitive global tourism marketplace, and takes our marketing efforts in a new, more focused direction to ensure our tourism industry continues to grow; and

Whereas one of the tactics in the plan is to use Google Earth to link potential visitors to novascotia.com where they'll see vignettes giving them engaging samples of Nova Scotia, and we're the first in the world to do this;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize the Tourism Partnership Council's leadership in developing this plan and support members of the tourism industry across the province as they find ways to help implement it through their day-to-day business.

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. 1610

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

Whereas last year, 45 students in Grades 4 to 8, at Elizabeth Sutherland School in Spryfield, performed Skyhawk the Musical, a fictional story with a safe schools message set in their community; and

[Page 2960]

Whereas the musical was a collaborative effort showing that bullying is something students, teachers, parents, and the community need to address together; and

Whereas Elizabeth Sutherland School won an ECMA nomination for the musical;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the staff and students of Elizabeth Sutherland School for earning this prestigious nomination and send best wishes to the cast when the awards are awarded next month in Halifax.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1611

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

Whereas the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program was established in 1981; and

Whereas the aim of this program was to acknowledge the harm done to the person resulting as a result of violent crime, and to assist in easing the victim's financial burden by paying for certain personal injury costs relating to the crime; and

[Page 2961]

Whereas the former Hamm Government eliminated this program in 2000, leaving victims of violent crime to deal with the financial burden often associated with the criminal act on their own;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice make every effort to bring back financial compensation for victims of violent crime, who are close to 70 per cent women under the former program, many of them assaulted by a spouse or an intimate partner.

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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 1612

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: M. le Président, je vous indique par la présente intervention que je soumettrai prochainement à l'assemblée l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que Patricia Thériault du Centre préscolaire de la Baie Sainte-Marie s'est vu attribuer le certificat de mérite du premier ministre pour son travail dans le domaine de l'éducation des jeunes enfants; et

Attendu que ce prix récompense les éducatrices qui font preuve d'un engagement remarquable dans le domaine du développement des jeunes enfants et qui s'efforcent de proposer à leurs élèves des techniques pédagogiques innovatrices, qui leur fournissent une base solide pour l'apprentissage; et

Attendu que le dévouement de Mme Thériault lui a permis d'élaborer des approches enrichissantes afin de toucher tous les enfants don't elle a la charge, tout en les encourageant à développer leurs compétences linguistiques en français et leur culture francophone;

[Page 2962]

Il est donc résolu que les membres de la présente assemblée adressent à Patricia Thériault leurs félicitations et leurs meilleurs voeux de réussite dans la poursuite de sa carrière.

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

Whereas Patricia Thériault from Centre Préscolaire de la Baie Sainte Marie was awarded the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education Certificate of Achievement; and

Whereas the award recognized early childhood educators who demonstrate a remarkable commitment to early childhood development and strive to ensure innovative teaching techniques in providing their students with a solid foundation for learning; and

Whereas Mme. Thériault's dedication has allowed her to develop enriching ways to reach each child, all the while encouraging them to develop their francophone language and culture;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Patricia Thériault and wish her continued success in future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1613

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

Whereas the Caribou Fire Department in Pictou County recently celebrated 20 years of service to their community; and

[Page 2963]

Whereas this fire service is a strong team effort, consisting of well-trained firefighters, an active, hard-working auxiliary, a dedicated board of directors, and other community volunteers; and

Whereas six charter firefighters recently received plaques in recognition of their 20 years of service, namely Ralph Hemmings, Frank MacFarlane, Allan Jankov, Donald Chiasson, Bill MacKay and Bob Langille;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate all the volunteers within the Caribou Fire Department and thank them for the important service they provide to their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1614

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

Whereas women in Canada and Nova Scotia face continued barriers and challenges in achieving full equality and participation in society; and

Whereas Aboriginal women, African Nova Scotian women, women living in poverty, rural women, and immigrant women face particular challenges and obstacles, including economic hardship, educational barriers, racism and discrimination; and

Whereas the federal Advisory Council on the Status of Women funded many projects in Nova Scotia which gave women, particularly the most disadvantaged women in Canada and Nova Scotia, a voice that will be silenced by federal budget cuts;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly condemn the sweeping cuts implemented by the Harper Conservatives in an obvious attempt to muzzle feminist

[Page 2964]

groups that have had sharp criticism for Conservative policy direction and its impact on women.

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.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I've spoken with the Deputy House Leader for the Tories and the Leader for the Liberals, and I'm going to ask, with the unanimous consent of the House, that we please revert back to the order of business, Introduction of Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request to revert to the order of business, Introduction of Bills.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 133 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 92 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Consumer Protection Act. (Mr. Percy Paris)

Bill No. 134 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 2 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Adult Protection Act. (Ms. Vicki Conrad)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1615

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

[Page 2965]

Whereas on Wednesday, December 6, 2006, I had the pleasure of attending the Service of Remembrance for the Dartmouth victims and survivors of the 1917 Halifax Explosion; and

Whereas the Service of Remembrance was held at the corner of Albro Lake Road and Pinecrest Drive at the site of the Mont Blanc Cannon Memorial; and

Whereas the 1,200-pound cannon from the Mont Blanc's stern was hurled over the harbour and town to Little Albro Lake, and was eventually presented to the Dartmouth Heritage Museum, which placed the cannon where it now rests;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank the Dartmouth Historical Association for all efforts in providing a wonderful memorial and sponsoring the Service of Remembrance for the Dartmouth victims of the 1917 Halifax Explosion.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1616

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

Whereas there has always been a strong connection between the Canadian Armed Forces and the residents of suburban Dartmouth, particularly Eastern Passage; and

Whereas the Canadian Armed Forces provides Regular Officer Training Program (ROTP) scholarships, valued at $80,000 over four years, to high school graduates entering university who meet a high academic standard; and

Whereas Cole Harbour District High School had the distinction of six of its graduates receiving the ROTP scholarship in June 2006;

[Page 2966]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Cole Harbour District High School for producing six ROTP scholarship recipients in 2006 and wish the best of luck in their future endeavours to the recipients, Jeffery Aucoin, Donald Ebsary, Patrick Aucoin, Mathew Edwards-Ryan, Matthew Grandy and Calvin Rideout.

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.

[8:30 a.m.]

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1617

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

Whereas the Freedom Foundation recently celebrated its 17th Annual Open House; and

Whereas the Freedom Foundation operates a home for males recovering from drug, alcohol and/or gambling addictions; and

Whereas the mission of the Freedom Foundation is to provide services which foster recovery from these addictions and the development of a positive self-worth in a secure and caring environment;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the efforts of all the staff and patrons at the Freedom Foundation and congratulate them on their 17th Annual Open House.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 2967]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1618

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 Annapolis Valley Regional School Board's Autism Centre was established in 2005 as a place of learning for children who have been diagnosed with autism; and

Whereas Kym Hume is the full-time autism consultant working with teachers, education assistants, speech therapist, and psychologists to develop a specific program for each student enrolled at the centre; and

Whereas the individualized programs at the centre provide an environment which allows the students to develop both mentally and socially, enabling them to meet their full potential;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the contributions staff and volunteers of the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board Autism Centre have made to the lives of the students and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 2968]

RESOLUTION NO. 1619

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

Whereas Cape Breton biology teacher, Sandra Marie Haley, earned a top spot on the Prime Minister's annual awards list for teaching excellence; and

Whereas Ms. Haley, who taught Grade 11 and 12 biology at Memorial Composite High School in Sydney Mines, was among 17 teachers from across Canada awarded with the Prime Minister's 2006 Certificate of Excellence in December 2006; and

Whereas Ms. Haley, now retired, was honoured for her approach to teaching, including effective use of the Internet as a learning tool and for engaging her students in hands-on learning use in a variety of multi-media technologies;

Therefore be it resolved this House of Assembly congratulate Sandra Marie Haley on her creativity, dedication and innovation and congratulate Ms. Haley on being the recipient of the Prime Minister's 2006 Certificate of Excellence.

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 Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1620

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

Whereas on Saturday, January 13, 2007, in honour of the late Nobel Peace Prize winner, the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a peace march and rally, will take place in the Preston area; and

[Page 2969]

Whereas the march and rally will feature guest speakers, local artists, organizations and groups from various communities throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality area; and

Whereas this peace march and rally is the initiative of the local Ratepayers Associations from the communities of East Preston, North Preston and Cherry Brook-Lake Loon to bring all ages of people together to demonstrate against violence and stand up for peace;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend the East Preston, North Preston and Cherry Brook-Lake Loon Ratepayers Associations for this commitment of solidarity and leadership in bringing people together as the communities "Come Together in Unity and Move Forward in Peace" in 2007.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 1621

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

Whereas the first Saturday of every month, the Grade 6 students at Duc d'Anville School hold a bottle drive in an effort to raise funds for the year end school trip; and

Whereas the bottle drive fundraiser is run as a business, providing an opportunity for students to learn both economic and environmental issues; and

Whereas Kim Allen and her son, Tyler thought of this fundraising activity to provide a much needed service in our community;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Grade 6 class at Duc d'Anville School and wish them each continued success in the future.

[Page 2970]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1622

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

Whereas Kejimkujik National Park has put in place the Kejimkujik Walk of Honour to recognize the hours of time volunteers have contributed to the various volunteer initiatives at the park; and

Whereas these volunteer initiatives include Species at Risk monitoring, Kejimkujik's Loon Watch, Trout Monitoring, Friends of Keji Co-operating Association and the Campground Host Program; and

Whereas volunteers at Kejimkujik National Park have logged more than 47,000 volunteer hours since the year 2000;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Reg Baird for his dedication of more than 5,500 volunteer hours at Kejimkujik National Park and his lifetime achievement award of The Key to Keji.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 2971]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1623

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

Whereas food production is hardly an industry but more of a necessity and if our farmers starve, then we starve; and

Whereas pork producers have visited the House of Assembly two days in a row this week and have been told that there is no available support for them; and

Whereas yesterday after the pork producers left the House, members of the Legislature were served pork chops in the Legislature's cafeteria, but these were not local pork chops;

Therefore be it resolved that this House ensure the food served in the House of Assembly is local food and supports the province's farmers in future.

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.

Order, please.

Just with regard to the use of electronic equipment, and while I admire the ingenuity and I would note from yesterday in debate in the House, there was use of a computer in referencing a Web site. The difficulty with that is, while it may be practical for use for your own purposes, during the course of debate there's no ability to table what is being seen from an electronic device in the House, should someone question the information that's submitted. So I would just note that the use of electronic devices with resolutions for Hansard, that usually copies are provided to the Pages for the record of the House. So I would ask that all resolutions brought forward be on paper copy in the Chamber.

[Page 2972]

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1624

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

Whereas on December 13, 2006, the United Nations adopted a landmark convention regarding the rights of persons with disabilities; and

Whereas in March 2007 the member countries of the United Nations will begin voting to ratify this convention and its optional protocols, which would make the convention international law, protecting the rights of disabled persons everywhere; and

Whereas Canada has demonstrated its leadership with prior UN conventions, and our country should be among the first members to ratify the convention and protocols in March;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly signify its approval today of the UN convention on the rights of disabled persons, and that the members here strongly encourage the federal government to move forward with voting for ratification of the convention and adoption of the optional protocols.

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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1625

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

Whereas Ty Walsh represented Canada at a youth forum during the 16th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers from December 11th to December 14th in Cape Town, South Africa; and

[Page 2973]

Whereas Mr. Walsh will attend the Commonwealth Education Youth Forum with delegates from 53 Commonwealth countries, and discuss and debate a variety of issues relating to youth education; and

Whereas Mr. Walsh is also a member of the Youth Advisory Council, has been a member and co-chair of the Provincial Student Education Council for two years, and was president of the Nova Scotia Secondary Schools Students Association;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize the accomplishments of Ty Walsh as he represents Nova Scotia at the Commonwealth Education Youth Forum.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East. (Applause)

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: And just think if I had made it to Leader, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the vote? (Laughter)

The honourable member for Hants East has the floor.

RESOLUTION NO. 1626

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

Whereas economic development in rural areas is best served by engaging local talents and interests; and

Whereas a local central office facilitates the exchange of ideas and initiatives between local leaders and governments partners; and

[Page 2974]

Whereas on December 15, 2006, the East Hants Regional Project Office was officially opened in Kennetcook, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Municipality of East Hants and the Hants East Regional Development Authority on their initiative, and wish it success in the field of economic development for the area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1627

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

Whereas the Ship Hector Foundation recently received the Tourism Innovator Award at the Tourism Industry of Nova Scotia 2006 Conference for marketing Pictou County with distinctive murals on the sides of tractor-trailers; and

Whereas these murals, depicting a piper and Ship Hector, are now on five trailers and will travel more than 4 million kilometres over the next five years across central Canada, New England, and the southern U.S.; and

Whereas Rollie MacDonald of King Freight Lines has donated the use of these trailers and King Freight Lines drivers distribute area tourist guides to prospective tourists along the way;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Ship Hector Foundation and King Freight Lines for their innovation in promoting tourism for Pictou County and for Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2975]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1628

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

Whereas Avanti Pizza, at 79 Boland Road, received the "Best Pizza in Dartmouth" vote recently in a survey of pizza connoisseurs; and

Whereas Maroun and Sonia Makhoul have operated this family business in Dartmouth for more than 30 years; and

Whereas the Makhoul family continues to offer the community of Dartmouth North a quality product and excellent service, along with supporting local organizations;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the efforts of the Makhoul family and their support for the community of Dartmouth North.

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 Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1629

[Page 2976]

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

Whereas Dr. Henry Vernon Bishop is a well known and respected Nova Scotian historian, curator, writer, musician and artist; and

Whereas Dr. Bishop has worked for decades to empower African Canadians and to foster an understanding and appreciation of African Canadian history and culture through his role as Chief Curator of the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Dr. Bishop's outstanding work and achievements were recognized in November 2006 in the form of Morehouse College's prestigious Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award given to those who contribute to the peace-based work of Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dr. Daisaku Ikeda;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize and congratulate Dr. Bishop for receiving the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award in honour of his contributions to non-violence, civil rights and education.

[8:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1630

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

Whereas 10 years ago, the Queens Community Health Board presented their first Well Women's Day; and

[Page 2977]

Whereas this year educational sessions were added to expand the services offered to the women of Queens County; and

Whereas the Well Women's Day, held at the Queens General Hospital, provides women with many services for the betterment of their health;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the 10 years of work the Queens Community Health Board has provided to the women of Queens County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 1631

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

Whereas the Rockingham United Church plays an active role in our community, hosting social and fundraising events that provide the church with the ability to provide assistance to those in need; and

Whereas the annual art auction for 2006, held at the Rockingham United Church, was a tremendous success; and

Whereas the auction is an opportunity for local artists to display and sell their works at an event that provides a social occasion for the church and the wider community;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Rockingham United Church members on their successful art auction, and their continued commitment to help people in our community and around the world.

[Page 2978]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1632

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

Whereas Annapolis Valley Radio invited its listeners to express their views on the crisis in the Nova Scotia pork industry; and

Whereas dozens of listeners responded instantly, many sending messages of support signed by their entire family for the pork farmers whose industry supports some 1,000 jobs in the Annapolis Valley; and

Whereas AVR has kindly sent their listeners comments to all MLAs, so each of us in the House could recognize the depth of feeling on this issue;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate AVR, Magic 94.9, and 1450 CFAB for initiative and leadership in helping Annapolis Valley residents give voice to their support for the pork industry.

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 2979]

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1633

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

Whereas today, January 11, 2007, marks the birthdate of a grand old man of Canadian politics, Sir John. A. Macdonald; and

Whereas Sir John A. was instrumental in orchestrating Confederation, and served as Canada's first Prime Minister; and

Whereas Sir John A. Macdonald and his many accomplishments must be remembered;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly acknowledge the birthdate of Sir John A. Macdonald on January 11, 1815.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 1634

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

Whereas the Shag Harbour Incident Society has been formed to promote the 1967 UFO sighting in Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the society's ultimate goal is to open a facility in the area dedicated to the unexplained sightings that have been the subject of numerous documents and writings over the years; and

[Page 2980]

Whereas the society has secured a suitable piece of property for a building near the Evelyn Richardson Memorial Elementary School, and had been working with the South West Development Authority to develop a funding application for the project;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Shag Harbour Incident Society on their initiative and to the ongoing development of this project, which will document unexplained sightings in the Shag Harbour area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1635

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

Whereas People to People International was founded by former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, and will hold an international leadership summit in Los Angeles in July 2007; and

Whereas Jordan Francis of Pictou Landing First Nation was nominated to attend the 2007 summit based on outstanding scholastic merit, civic involvement and leadership potential; and

Whereas Jordan Francis met the rigorous academic and leadership criteria, and was chosen to attend this summit that focuses on leadership, team building and community services;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Jordan Francis on being selected to attend the People to People International Leadership Summit in July 2007, and wish Jordan best wishes in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2981]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1636

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

Whereas violence against women at the hands of their partners continues to shock and horrify families and communities all across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the former Hamm Government abolished the Family Violence Prevention Initiative, a program intended to advise government on public policy regarding the best practices in working to reduce and eliminate violence, including woman abuse; and

Whereas the continued incidents of violence against women resulting in their death demonstrates this program should not have been eliminated and that there is a continued need for an initiative such as the Family Violence Prevention Initiative;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services make every effort to reinstate the Family Violence Prevention Initiative, so there may be renewed effort to prevent assaults and homicide against women by their partners.

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 Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 2982]

RESOLUTION NO. 1637

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

Whereas on Sunday, January 7, 2007, the championship of the City of Lakes boys high school hockey tournament was held; and

Whereas the Sydney Academy Wildcats defeated the J.L. Ilsley Judges 3-2 to capture championship honours; and

Whereas Josh Howell, with his second goal of the game, scored at 2:28 in overtime to secure the title for the Wildcats, who finished the tournament with a record of 5 wins and 1 loss;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Sydney Academy Wildcats on their well-deserved victory, and wish them all the best in their future athletic endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1638

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

Whereas music is the heartbeat of culture, and music education is well-known to be reliably correlated with academic success of all kinds; and

[Page 2983]

Whereas the J.L. Ilsley family of schools in Halifax Atlantic has produced a wide variety of professional musicians and has most recently earned an ECMA nomination for the musical Skyhawk, written for Elizabeth Sutherland School by Principal Glenn Taylor and music teacher Bernard Curtis Williams; and

Whereas Deborah Bruce and Linda Rosborough, both residents of Halifax Atlantic, have just received Emerging Musicians grants;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend students and professional musicians of Halifax Atlantic, and resolve to ensure that music remains part of education throughout the province's schools.

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. 1639

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

Whereas in December 2006, the St. Margaret's Bay Lions Club held their annual Christmas Tree Sale to raise funds for needy families in our communities; and

Whereas this annual event continues to be successful because of the efforts of the dedicated volunteers of the St. Margaret's Bay Lions Club; and

Whereas the St. Margaret's Bay Lions Club, under the leadership of King Lion Ronnie Smith, looks forward to a successful 2007, serving the communities of the St. Margaret's Bay area;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate and thank the members of the St. Margaret's Bay Lions Club for their continuing fundraising efforts.

[Page 2984]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 1640

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

Whereas Our Salute to the Veterans and War Brides, a CD by the Lynne Crowell Evergreen Trio, is a collection of music from the 1940 era; and

Whereas it is estimated that Evergreen Trio has played in as many as 115 different locations throughout Nova Scotia, not counting the approximately 300 performances at the local Barrington Lions Hall over the years, entertaining seniors; and

Whereas the 15-track CD features many songs performed by the trio during the Year of the Veteran programs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Evergreen Trio on the successful launch of their new CD, Our Salute to Veterans and War Brides, and for performing for our vet seniors over the years.

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 2985]

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1641

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 Canadian Business Hall of Fame has named only 147 Laureates since its inception in 1979; and

Whereas David Sobey and Donald Sobey hold a multitude of national honours from the retail sector and a plethora of community service recommendations and commendations; and

Whereas David Sobey and Donald Sobey have recently been named to the Canadian Business Hall of Fame as Sobeys 100th year of serving customers draws near in 2007;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly acknowledge the contributions of David and Donald Sobey to the business community, and congratulate both David and Donald on being named to the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

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

Whereas Stephen Harper's federal government recently announced the closure of 12 regional Status of Women Canada offices, including the Halifax location, as part of the overall budget cutback of $5 million announced in September; and

[Page 2986]

Whereas Status of Women Canada has played a crucial role in funding independent gender-based research and policy analysis, supporting grassroots women's organizations, and monitoring Canada's progress in achieving gender equality and each of these roles will be severely compromised, if not altogether eliminated, by the office closures; and

Whereas the closure of the Status of Women Canada officer is one more addition to a long list of cuts and policy changes executed by the Harper Government that, together, amount to an ideological attack on women's equality in Canada;

Therefore . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion is out of order, it is too long. Next member.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

[9:00 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1642

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'll try to keep it shorter this time.

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

Whereas the African Canadian Transition Program at the Nova Scotia Community College's Akerley Campus was launched in September 2006, and officially inaugurated in December 2006; and

Whereas the African Canadian Transition Program gives African Nova Scotian students an opportunity to complete the requirements of their high school diploma; and

Whereas the African Canadian Transition Program offered in collaboration with the African Canadian Services Division is a step towards addressing some of the systemic barriers to education faced by members of the African Nova Scotia community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend the Nova Scotia Community College, Akerley Campus, for introducing the African Canadian Transition Program, and wish the 2006 class of students all the best in achieving their academic goals this year and in the years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2987]

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.

Before I proceed as Speaker, I would like to do an introduction in my gallery today. There are three constituents of mine from Cape Breton North, that being Ian MacDonald; Diane MacDonald, his wife, and Jennifer MacDonald, their daughter. Jennifer has been part of my Riding Executive, as well as Ian was my Official Agent in the last election, so I would ask all members to give them a warm welcome to the House today. (Applause)

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period begins at 9:01 a.m. and will end at 10:01 a.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question will be for the Premier. The Premier told Nova Scotians that yesterday he learned for the first time that his caucus chair and chief of staff knew last November about the accident involving the former Minister of Human Resources. This could only be true if even as late as yesterday morning, the Premier had never asked his own staff and caucus colleagues what they knew about the accident.

So my question, then, to the Premier is, what direction had the Premier given his staff about the kind of information they would have shared with him and the kind of inquiries they were supposed to make when potential misconduct by a minister came to light?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I stand by the information that I've shared in the last number of days. The facts are that the chief of staff indicated the timelines that he had yesterday evening, and they are what they are. While the Opposition wants to continue focusing on this issue, we're going to continue

[Page 2988]

focusing on the issues that Nova Scotians want to talk about, and that's growing the economy in the province. They can continue that. That's a fact.

Mr. Speaker, we have an Official Opposition that wants to tax and spend, and tax and spend. We have an Official Opposition that wants to nationalize jobs in our province by putting in public insurance and raising the premiums of Nova Scotians. We have an Official Opposition that's not standing for the best interests of Nova Scotians, but I can tell you this government does.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what's in the best interests of the people of Nova Scotia is that they have confidence in the administration of the province. What's in the best interests of the people of Nova Scotia is that they have a little trust and respect for the people who are running their province.

Mr. Speaker, it would appear that in the immediate aftermath, when everyone knew the accident must have happened right after the former minister had spent several hours at a pub, responsibility for this file was left with the Premier's communications director. It was her very first day in that position. Her appointment was announced on Friday, November 24th. Her evident concern was whether news would get out about the accident. So my question for the Premier is this, why has the Premier organized his office in such a manner that no one felt it was their responsibility to discover all the facts and plan how to deal with them and keep him in the loop?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the facts were laid out last night. Again, the Leader of the Opposition wants to focus on who said what when, what's happening at this hour, what's happening. While he's focused on that, that's what his caucus wants to focus on, we're going to focus on making this province a better place to live, a better place to work, and a better place to raise our families, here in our province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that's his position now, I'm sure he'll have a different one in about five minutes, if things keep on as usual.

Nova Scotians expect that the Premier of this province is in charge. The Premier and his team are expected to direct the Government of Nova Scotia. Here they discover that a minister has had a traffic accident after one or more of them had a drink with the minister. They knew the accident was witnessed, they know that another vehicle was involved, they know that the minister did not wait to talk to the police that night, and all they did was make sure that the minister reported the accident, and kept a watch in case - in case - word got out. My question for the Premier is this, how is the Premier going to change the culture of secrecy and this approach to, don't ask, don't tell, which exists in his government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that member couldn't be any more wrong. The fact of the matter is the facts are what they are. He speaks of members knowing what.

[Page 2989]

I know that many members of his own caucus obviously were there that night. I'm not going to question that, because I'm not going to go to the bottom of the barrel. I'm going to focus on the issues that matter to Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians are telling me what matters. The hog producers are telling me what matters. It's not this issue. It's about their families and about agriculture and what they're doing in their rural communities. What the people of Nova Scotia are telling me when it comes to issues such as the Nunn Commission is that they see what the government has put forward in the 34 recommendations about protecting our children and protecting our communities. That is what they want to talk about, not the type of information that the NDP wants to talk about on a daily basis.

MR. SPEAKER: I see everyone has had their wheaties this morning.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

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

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, what Nova Scotians are talking about and what they want us to talk about is, why did the Minister of the Crown resign and why is there so much lack of confidence in this government?

The Premier's chief of staff finally broke his silence with reporters last night and told the truth, or what we are to believe is the truth, about when he was made aware of the MLA for Cumberland North's accident despite earlier reports that the Deputy Premier was the first to be made aware of the MLA for Cumberland North's accident when the police called his deputy on November 29th. We now know that chief of staff, Bob Chisholm, was made aware of the accident on the night it happened by a phone call from the Tory caucus chair, the MLA for Cape Breton West who drove past the accident that evening. We also know that Mr. Chisholm called the Premier's communications director that same night to advise her of the accident.

The Premier told the press yesterday that the first he heard of the caucus chair's phone call was yesterday as it happened here in the House. The Premier has surrounded himself with people who apparently pick and choose what they tell to their Leader. Therefore, my question to the Premier is, in light of everything that has taken place, does the Premier still have faith in his chief of staff and director of communications?

THE PREMIER: Absolutely.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, your own chief of staff, your right-hand man, your most trusted advisor non-elected, took it upon himself to investigate the facts surrounding this accident. He admitted that he had suspicions concerning the fact that the MLA for Cumberland North had full disclosure and he also had suspicions that alcohol may have been involved, but he did not ask because, truthfully, he didn't really

[Page 2990]

want to know the answer. The Premier's chief of staff and communications director both spoke with the MLA for Cumberland North and believed his version of a minor traffic accident.

Yet the government now knows that the police were trying to reach the driver of a vehicle involved in a hit and run on the night of November 23rd and the chief of staff, Mr. Chisholm, had real concerns and suspicions about the MLA for Cumberland North's version of events. Even after the story broke, senior staff failed to properly prepare the Premier with all the information, factual or conjecture, with what was at their disposal. Therefore, my question to the Premier, is it a written or verbal policy used by your staff in limiting what information and facts that they provide you with?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again, as I said on a previous answer to the Leader of the Opposition, the facts are what they are. If the interim Leader of the Liberal Party wants to focus on that issue, that's fine. If that's what the Liberal Party wants to focus on, they'll continue to sit in third place.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, there was no doubt before today that the Premier was out of touch with Nova Scotians' concerns and today he's proving them right once again, just how out of touch he is. The facts are that several members of the Premier's senior staff, three members of his caucus, including the MLA for Cumberland North, and both the Deputy Minister of Transportation and Public Works and fleet manager knew of this accident before the Premier. Yet while the Premier tells Nova Scotians that he was completely left in the dark, it is he who accepted the resignation of the Minister of Human Resources.

Therefore, my question to the Premier, you have gone through the embarrassment of not being told of the events surrounding this accident by your most trusted advisors. Therefore, my question to you today, will you finally show leadership and tell Nova Scotians the real reason why the former Minister of Human Resources resigned?

THE PREMIER: Well, obviously, Mr. Speaker, he did the honourable thing and resigned. Do you know what, when an individual as a member (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure if the member wants an answer or not. I don't mind providing one.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, when any member of the Executive Council does not follow what I believe to be a code of conduct of a minister, and the code which is expected to be followed, they should resign, and the member did so.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 2991]

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Premier. I think it's obvious to everyone that from the beginning of this affair that the Premier's position has been riddled with contradictions. The chronicle of events, starting with the accident involving the former Minister of Human Resources that was outlined yesterday by the Premier and his staff, has a startling omission. Never once did Nova Scotians hear that the Premier sought all the information he needed about the accident. So my question to the Premier is, why didn't he ask his own MLAs to tell him what they knew, rather than discovering through the offices of the press gallery that the chairman of the Progressive Conservative caucus saw and reported the accident on the night it had taken place?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again, I'm going back to what is before us. The facts are what they are, and they've been laid out, and that is crystal clear. The fact is that while, as I mentioned earlier, the Leader of the Opposition wants to continue focusing on that, then let them do that. I'm going to focus on making sure the people of our province have a better transportation system here in our province. I'm going to make sure that the people in HRM have a good solid education in dealing with issues such as the school board. While that leader wants to focus on other things, we're going to focus on what really matters to the average Nova Scotian.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, if the Premier thinks this doesn't matter, he hasn't read a newspaper, he hasn't watched a newscast, he hasn't listened to a hotline, he hasn't been in touch with a single Nova Scotian, because everywhere we go in the province, this is what people are talking about. The Premier has spent much of this week not answering questions, when in fact he should have been asking the tough questions much earlier, back on December 4th when apparently, apparently, he was first told about the accident. Everyone who learned the date of the accident quickly realized where the former minister had almost certainly been before he got in his car and drove home. So my question is, did the Premier recognize the significance of the date, or was it drawn to his attention so that he too understood the potential seriousness of the minister's departure from the scene of the accident . . .

[9:15 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If people want to hear answers, I have to be able to hear the question. I would appreciate that people would allow their own members to be heard when they're asking a question.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition on your question.

MR. DEXTER: I'll repeat just the question, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 2992]

MR. SPEAKER: The question.

MR. DEXTER: Did the Premier recognize the significance of the date or was it drawn to his attention so that he understood the potential seriousness of the minister's departure from the scene of the accident before speaking with police?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I've been very clear as to the information provided to me on December 4th, and I stand by what I've said.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it's easy to understand how the Premier and his colleagues must feel about how the former minister's behavior has affected them. It is much less easy to understand how the Premier, the Deputy Premier, the chief of staff, and the rest of the Tory team could leave themselves so vulnerable to the truth coming out against their wishes and hopes. So my question is - and let me repeat it for the Premier, as he avoided it in earlier Question Periods - what lesson has he learned from this incident?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again, one thing I do agree with the Leader of the Opposition on is that this is an issue that is an issue at this point in time for the member for Cumberland North, and that individual who was involved in this accident must deal with that situation. Other than that, the facts have been laid out by the government and that is where it's at.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

HEALTH - SIMPSON HALL (N.S. HOSP.): STATUS - EXPLAIN

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. Mental health services in Nova Scotia are obviously inadequate. This is evident from the lack of programs, the long wait lists and the conditions of existing facilities. Simpson Hall, part of Nova Scotia Hospital, is a clear example of this. I will table a report from your department that states, "The Space Planning Review conducted in 2002 recommended that Simpson Hall be vacated. The building continues to deteriorate and is not an appropriate environment to be offering health services to the public." That was five years ago. My question to the minister is, why is Simpson Hall still in use, despite the fact that five years ago it was deemed inappropriate and in need of demolition?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member may not be aware of it, but the delivery of health care in the Province of Nova Scotia rests with the Minister of Health, and I would refer that to the Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite that we're very aware of the situation with Simpson Hall, we're very aware of

[Page 2993]

the situation with mental health services in this province, and we continue to invest strategically within that system. I can say as well that we were very happy to announce the building of new facilities over at the Nova Scotia Hospital site, making sure that there are new residential options - four new units will be built to provide a more community-based treatment facility for those individuals who so need our help.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, while the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection is not aware of that particular portfolio, I'll redirect my question to the Minister of Health.

Patients and staff at Simpson Hall are forced to deal with electrical malfunctions, asbestos, moulds, leaking windows, water leaks from the heating pipes and, from outside, an inability to regulate temperature. I will also table photographs - one is of an electrical outlet in a client waiting area that, due to water damage, was burned when electricity arced from the outlet to the chair, and the other is of deteriorating pipes with exposed asbestos insulation. My question to the minister is, when is your government going to fix this?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, again, mental health rests in the Department of Health, not in the Department of Health Promotion and Protection. I know she did make a little comment there - I want to make sure, mental health does fall upon our purview.

I can say that we are aware of mental health services in this province. We continue to work with Capital Health; we continue to invest money to make sure that we're going to have new facilities at that site, and we continue to help those folks who so need our help.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, this is one problem in government, I guess, where departments are obviously . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Order. I expect that all members of this House are cognizant of the ministries and the portfolios that are held, and there's a reason there are critics in caucus in the Opposition, and that's to understand what those ministries are and the responsibilities. So please do not confuse the individual responsibilities. I don't mind the badgering back and forth but, more appropriately, members do know who holds which portfolio and what those critic responsibilities are.

The honourable member for Queens on your final supplementary.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, the next photographs I will table are of pipes and concrete erosions at Simpson Hall, caused by water damage. This is clearly unacceptable. When I received those photographs I was totally appalled. Please note, when looking at these photos, that between 150 and 200 people breathe this air and enter

[Page 2994]

this building every day. My question is, why are the mentally ill in our province being treated in such a deplorable condition, and what are you doing to make their lives, and staff's, safer and healthier?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I'll continue to reiterate that we continue, year over year, to put substantial investments into mental health to make sure that we have the right services in the right places. I can say that we have done a fair amount of work with the Nova Scotia site, making sure we're going to have those more community-based facilities, we're building four pieces there at the cost of millions of dollars and we'll continue to make that investment in health care in Nova Scotia, as we have year over year.

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

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

CODE OF CONDUCT - VIOLATION

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, we can clearly sense the frustration of the Premier in wanting to move on to other issues. Before doing that, Nova Scotians are asking themselves this government's competency in being able to handle the other issues of importance to Nova Scotians in light of their inability to handle this issue in front of us.

Nova Scotians are trying to look at all the facts. One day a statement's made, the next day a chief of staff comes back and says no, I misled Nova Scotians, here's what really happened. Nova Scotians are trying to judge exactly who knew what and when, including the Premier himself. What the Premier has told us is that he was only told that the MLA for Cumberland North was involved in a minor traffic accident. Yet, while he tells us he was left in the dark of all this new information, it is he who accepted the resignation of the former Minister of Human Resources. Therefore, Mr. Premier, on behalf of Nova Scotians, will you today tell this House, what did the MLA for Cumberland North do to violate the code of conduct for which you accepted his resignation?

THE PREMIER: Obviously, I wasn't provided with all the information and the minister did what he should do - step down.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, yet the Premier still stands here and tells us it was just a minor accident and he didn't give the details surrounding a minor accident. That is what the Premier said and he said it's not his words. Well, he has been repeating them for the last week and a half, that it was simply a minor accident and now he's telling us, because he was not told the details around the minor accident, that's why he accepted the resignation.

[Page 2995]

Mr. Premier, no one believes that. Not one Nova Scotian believes that. I know you don't believe that. I don't think any of the people sitting around you believe that. So, Mr. Speaker, it comes down again to a question of credibility in this Premier when no one is actually believing what he is saying. That's a judgment Nova Scotians are making on you now, Mr. Premier, not my own judgment. We have been giving you an opportunity for the last three days . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: . . . to ask you to put questions to your own ministers and everything else. Therefore, I ask you again, Mr. Premier, is it still your statement that you did not have any more information than what you claim to have the day you accepted the Minister of Human Resources' resignation?

THE PREMIER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, and as I said, I expect all Ministers of the Crown to share relevant information with me. If they are not sharing relevant information with me, as the member did not, then, yes, he should step down, as he did.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will just remind all honourable members, when asking questions to any member of the government, to please direct them to the Speaker, not to the member.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party on your final supplementary.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as I said before, Nova Scotians simply do not believe the stories they are being told. We have the Premier now today saying that he expects that his Cabinet Ministers are going to give him information. Does that mean he didn't expect it from his chief of staff? He didn't expect it from his director of communications? He's the one who allowed a press secretary, brand new, to come to this House and to give information that was clearly false and present that to Nova Scotians, only to have his chief of staff turn around and say that he lied, because it was not true. The director of communications stood there and said that she had not been truthful either.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Question, please. Order. The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party on your question.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, you know, the Premier's aware that his chief of staff and his director of communications came to this House and provided false information through the press secretary. My question to you, Mr. Premier, is, how can Nova Scotians have any confidence in your government when you are prepared to allow senior servants in your office to continue when you clearly know that they lied to Nova Scotians?

[Page 2996]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, really, that question doesn't even dignify a response. To stand here and criticize individuals outside of this Chamber is unacceptable in that way and that member should know better. The fact of the matter is, the information shared was the information available at the time to that individual. (Interruptions) I notice the interim Liberal Leader getting a bit excited but, again, the facts are what the facts are. If that's the type of leadership we see of the interim Leader of the Liberal Party, if that's the type of leadership we see, that they want to just sit here and criticize people who can't have a voice inside the Chamber, then that's up to them. I'm going to focus on issues that matter to Nova Scotians. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: And here we thought fireworks were at night.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

EDUC. - DART. HS: UPGRADES - FUNDING

MR. TREVOR ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, through you my question is for the Minister of Education. When St. Pat's and QE High close this year, Dartmouth High will become the oldest operating high school in the Halifax Regional Municipality. It plays a vital role in our community and in the lives of families and students who surround the Dartmouth North area. However, as the minister may or may not be aware, in September 2005 the former Halifax Regional School Board had recommended that $6 million to $8 million be spent on renovations by the year 2008. My question for the minister is, can she confirm that Dartmouth High School will be included in this year's funding allocations for school upgrades?

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, the final capital list for renovations, additions and new projects has not yet been brought to Cabinet, but there certainly is a proposal to look at all of the schools on the other side of the harbour.

MR. ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, this money is long overdue and less than $0.5 million has been spent by the province on upgrading the school in recent years. In December 2005 the former minister stated that he would also bring this and present it to Cabinet in the near future. Over a year later, Dartmouth High is still falling down around its students and teachers. So I would like to ask the minister, when is Dartmouth High going to get the money it so desperately needs to upgrade and provide the educational experience these students deserve?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I would repeat that Dartmouth High is certainly one of those schools that's under consideration for renovations review and when that decision is finalized, it will be made public.

[9:30 a.m.]

[Page 2997]

MR. ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, the school student advisory council has lobbied long and hard to have Dartmouth High properly renovated. Students involved in this campaign have taken videos highlighting overdue renovations. A whole generation of students will have passed through the school before a penny of upgraded money is seen. So can I ask the minister through you, Mr. Speaker, will she, here today, give her personal commitment to the students and parents of Dartmouth High to ensure that the renovations are indeed going to take place by 2008?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, I have been invited to visit the school on Tuesday of next week, I will be doing that, and then I will be sharing my observations as a result of that.

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

COM. SERV.: UN CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES - SUPPORT

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. In mid-December the United Nations made history by adopting a landmark convention protecting the rights of persons living with disabilities and this was the result of 20 years of consultation and negotiation. This March the convention will be open for ratification, becoming international law if 20 countries ratify the document. Canada needs to move forward in March and ratify the convention so Nova Scotians with disabilities can be better protected.

Now, in view of the fact that the government members just made the NDP resolution supporting this convention, I ask the Minister of Community Services, will she be urging her federal cousins to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and when will she do it?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to rise in my place today to discuss a very serious issue of services for persons with disabilities because indeed, it is those issues that, as the honourable member knows, Nova Scotians are quite concerned with. We take very seriously the programs and services we provide here in the Province of Nova Scotia. I have met with the commission on numerous occasions. We're moving forward with projects and goals that we have in common. We will continue to do so in a co-operative, collaborative way.

Mr. Speaker, I have also met with my federal counterparts on numerous occasions. I will be travelling to Ottawa in the very near future to meet with my new federal counterpart and I look forward to all of the discussion that we will have together in the days to come.

[Page 2998]

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I'm not talking about services to persons with disabilities, I am talking about an international human rights code. If Canada does anything less than ratify the UN convention, it is saying that it is acceptable for our society to continue to treat people with disabilities as second-class citizens. It is not enough to ratify just the convention, though; the optional protocols which provide the reporting and monitoring mechanism for the convention must also be passed by 20 member nations. I would suggest that many of those protocols will actually become the responsibility of provincial governments. So my question to the Minister of Community Services, as the minister whose responsibility it is to serve Nova Scotians with disabilities, when was she briefed on this Convention?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity again to rise on my feet and speak about something very important to Nova Scotians. I would let this member and all members of this House know that I am fully briefed by my staff, my extremely capable staff.

Mr. Speaker, this side of the House and I believe all members of this House believe that services for people with disabilities is extremely important and we treat all citizens as first-class citizens in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MS. MORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, I would suggest that the reality of being a person with a disability in Nova Scotia is very different from what the minister is suggesting. The federal Minister for Foreign Affairs has already stated his support for this convention and, with our high rate of disabilities, Nova Scotia should be a leader among the provinces supporting this landmark document and urging its ratification. So my final question to the minister, what will she do to ensure that her department is prepared to implement the protocols from the UN convention protecting the rights of people and persons with disabilities?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to address this very serious question again. There is no question that the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services, along with the Nova Scotia Government, believes that all persons should be treated as first-class citizens and we will do everything that we can within our power and jurisdiction to promote that.

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

PREM. - AG'S OFFICE: INFO. - ACCESS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question this morning is to the Premier. Yesterday, we saw the Premier and the Minister of Finance completely ignoring the fact that they have shut the Auditor General's Office out and refused access to information and documents that are relevant to the scope of their audits. The fact that

[Page 2999]

the Auditor General has been denied access to documents and denied the opportunity to photocopy important documents is an affront to all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, it is time for the Premier to turn his attention to the government's lack of financial accountability and openness and stop condoning the culture of cover-up, which is exhibited through the Auditor General's comments.

My question, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier is, it is time to put the business of the people first and will you apologize to the Auditor General's Office for the disrespect that staff has shown them in the Civil Service? Thank you.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there is no government in recent years that is more open and accountable than this government. When we came in in 1999, the Liberals left this province in a shambles. They left this province over $0.5 billion in a deficit position. They wouldn't follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. The fact of the matter is, this government and the previous government have taken this province forward, light years ahead of where the Liberals left it in 1999.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind all members that yesterday I referred, when a previous member had been speaking, to be very careful with the word cover-up in the House when you're referring to other members.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, in response to the Premier, I think it's very important to mention that in this province, in June 2006, we had a new organization called the Right to Know Organization, formed because people don't have proper access to information - the costs are too high. I would be happy to table, right here in the House, a letter from that group. What province in Canada requires a Right to Know Organization to pressure government to get better access to information? This government, as well, won the 2004 award as the most secretive government in Canada. So this is no record for the government to stand on, they should be going as far as possible to be as open as possible to overcome that impression.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. WHALEN: Thank you very much. I will ask you, how do you intend to deal (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier is, how do you intend to deal with the clear obstruction of duty that is facing the Auditor General within some government departments?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Minister of Finance.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, what the honourable member seems to forget is that there are literally thousands of transactions between the Department of Finance and other departments of government and the Auditor General every day, which

[Page 3000]

occur without any difficulty. This government is committed to co-operating with the Auditor General. Certainly, from time to time there will be minor disagreements, but overall it is a good relationship and we're providing the information he needs.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I reiterate that it's unacceptable for our Auditor General, who reports here to the Legislature, to have difficulty seeing and accessing information. He should not have to waste his own time copying down by hand information that he's not allowed to photocopy and bring to his office. That's embarrassing, and it's bad for our government. It's a bad image for our province. We're all embarrassed by that sort of publicity. I would like to know, what will happen this coming year when the audits again take place for the revenue estimates? We were told yesterday that they were qualified because the Auditor General could not see all the information.

My question to the Premier is, will you direct your Finance Department to disclose all information necessary to the Auditor General in the upcoming year, so that we can have full confidence in the revenue estimates that are before us?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Minister of Finance.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the big issue we're debating about here in this House is whether schools or the Government of Nova Scotia have all the information about magazine sales and orange sales and other school-based activities. That's the kind of thing that the honourable member is talking about. Quite frankly, no Auditor General in the past has been interested in that, and there are some things that are statistically insignificant. We are talking about school-based funds, not about some huge issue. We do co-operate with the Auditor General in allowing him to do his job.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

PREM. - EDUC. MIN. FUNDRAISING: MIN. CODE OF CONDUCT - UPHOLD

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. In case the Premier isn't aware, I would like to bring a concern of a Cabinet Minister to his attention. I will table documents, including the letter from the Minister of Education on her constituency letterhead. I highlight that by reminding the Premier that this is on the minister's constituency letterhead. In this letter, she requests and outlines a turkey fundraiser in which members donate $100, and they get a tax receipt for that full donation amount and a $25 gift certificate for, of course, a turkey. My question for the Premier is, was he aware of this fundraiser in Colchester North?

[Page 3001]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I was not aware in that particular riding that they were doing that fundraiser, but I am aware that it's a fundraiser done by our political Party. I would encourage all members of the House to buy a turkey if they get a chance.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, for the Premier's edification, I would like to table an explanation from the Canadian Revenue Agency regarding cash gifts with advantage - I quote, cash gifts with advantage. The rules clearly state that if a person benefits in a tangible way from a donation, such as getting a gift certificate, they are only eligible for a tax receipt for part of the donation. In other words, the member for Colchester North violated the Canadian and the Nova Scotian tax laws by issuing receipts for a full $100 and handing out the $25 gift certificate for turkeys, as a fundraiser for the Progressive Conservative Association.

My question to the Premier is, will the Premier uphold the Ministerial Code of Conduct when dealing with this fundraiser for the PCs on constituency letterhead?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member is not one in this situation or with this fundraiser. Again, I am dealing with a Party matter here that would issue receipts. In fact, I would agree with the member that this letter should not have been sent out on MLA letterhead. In fact, this a Party initiative and I'm sure it will never happen again.

Again, Mr. Speaker, the member is asking a question which is a Party question, not a government initiative.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to compliment the Premier, and I know he hasn't had a lot of them lately. I'd like to compliment the Premier from this member in pointing out that faux pas on constituency letterhead, but the tax issue is a concern. Whether it's through ignorance or negligence, it's important that the matter be addressed.

So my question to the Premier is, what assurances can he offer that unlawfully gained money will be repaid to the taxpayers of this province immediately, as through this fundraiser from Colchester North?

THE PREMIER: Well, Mr. Speaker, again I would disagree wholeheartedly with what the member is suggesting. In fact I have stated that, of course, it shouldn't have gone out on MLA letterhead, I'm sure it was an oversight, but again he is asking a Party question, not a government question. I can assure that member that any fundraisers, as I'm sure with his Party or with any other Party in this House, follow the appropriate rules that should be followed, tax rules. I have no doubt that those appropriate rules were followed.

[Page 3002]

Again, Mr. Speaker, he is dealing with a Party issue, not a government issue. My understanding is that there was an opinion gained with respect to this, to ensure that appropriate procedures were followed in this case. Again, it is a Party question.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

EDUC. - HFX. REG. SCH. BD.: FORMER MEMBERS - STIPEND STATUS

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Education. On December 19, 2006, the Minister of Education invoked Section 68 of the Education Act and removed all governing authority from the dysfunctional Halifax Regional School Board. After a long and turbulent year of infighting, all governing authority (Interruption) The situation has only really one bright element to it and this is a government without any bright moments lately, so I guess they cheer.

[9:45 a.m.]

So after a long and turbulent year they sent the former Deputy Minister, Howard Windsor, to take on the position of authority. Mr. Speaker, although the decision comes as a relief to students and parents alike, the minister only solved one part of the problem. All dismissed board members will still receive their $8,200 annual stipend until board elections take place in October 2008. My question to the minister is, can the minister tell Nova Scotians why these board members will still receive their stipends?

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, I made the statement at the time that it was not within the authority that I had under the Act to remove that stipend, but I also made the statement that the whole issue of stipends is under review, and information will be shared once it's available.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, allowing the dismissed board members to collect their stipends clearly demonstrates this government's careless spending of the public purse. This government can afford to hand out stipends and lease $900 used vehicles, yet they can't afford to help farmers in their greatest time of need. Many Nova Scotians are outraged with the guaranteed stipends, and rightfully so. It is time that this government addressed the entire situation surrounding the Halifax Regional School Board and stipends the members receive.

My question to the minister is, the minister is currently unable to prevent dismissed board members from receiving the stipends, will the minister bring forth legislation to prevent similar situations in the future?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat that under the Act, I do not have the authority to do that myself, but the process is in place to review that, and I am not any happier with that money being spent than the member opposite.

[Page 3003]

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, if this minister or this government continue to give stipends to these board members, then the most logical next step is to call for new board elections so that the board will be paid for work it actually does. The original intent of all school boards in this province was to not only work on behalf of the parents, students and teachers, but also to be open, cohesive and elected. By appointing Howard Windsor as the lone board member, it strips away all public accountability. My question to the minister is, will the minister help restore the public faith in school boards across the province and call an early election to replace the dismissed board?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, the announcement that was made at the time was that there would be a person in place to operate that board, to assume the authority and responsibility until 2008, and that's the position we continue to have.

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

HUM. RES.:AFRICAN NOVA SCOTIANS - JOBS

MR. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Human Resources. Just before Christmas, this government released a diversity report showing that less than 8 per cent of government employees are from a minority group. This compares to nearly 12 per cent within the general workforce of the province. In releasing this report, the government admitted it has much work to do. Yet, as evidence of the progress being made, they trumpeted things like offering 34 casual positions to individuals from minority groups. The unemployment rate within African Nova Scotian communities continues to be higher than among the general population. I ask the minister what specific steps have been taken to improve the job prospects of African Nova Scotians?

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, that diversity report was tabled on November 23rd. It indeed did show the statistics that the honourable member has indicated. I will say that the diversity report was something that was put in place a few years ago. We are showing progress in that. No, we are not fully representative of the population that we serve, but we are making progress, and we will continue to do that.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, my second question is for the Minister of Justice. In recent weeks, renewed public attention has been brought to the challenges facing our African Nova Scotian communities. Late last month, community leaders in North Preston, East Preston, Cherry Brook and Lake Loon came together to seek justice in the shooting of some young African Nova Scotian men. This brings to mind the sad fact that African Nova Scotians continue to be overrepresented in the justice system. In light of the recent report of the McEvoy inquiry, I ask the minister what specific initiatives is his

[Page 3004]

office taking to reduce the number of African Nova Scotian youth coming into conflict with the law?

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, the inquiry the honourable member brings to the attention of this House is something I believe will change not only how we deal with youth in conflict with the law, but as well, across the five departments that came together yesterday to give our response. I can assure the honourable member opposite that the question he brings before this House today is a very important issue, that we will continue as a government and my department will continue to ensure we do everything we possibly can - whether it's youths or adults in conflict with the law - to ensure that we provide protection for the communities of this province as well as to ensure that we provide and put in place programs that would do everything we can to attempt to ensure that young people do not enter into a conflict of the law.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, my final question is for the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs. Unresolved issues are unfortunately not uncommon when it comes to the treatment of African Nova Scotians. The community is still waiting for this government, HRM, and the federal government to arrive at a compensation arrangement with regard to Africville. To date, no such arrangement has been arrived at. Will the minister tell the House when this compensation package will be forthcoming?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I'll say to the member opposite that we've worked very closely with the Africville Genealogical Society. We were able to facilitate a meeting between the Province of Nova Scotia, the federal government, and Halifax Regional Municipality. That file is closer to being resolved now than it ever has been, and I look forward to the day when that file is completely resolved. However, the member opposite should be aware that the responsibility for that rests with the Halifax Regional Municipality.

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

HEALTH - GLADES LODGE: NEW FACILITY REQUEST - STATUS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question this morning is for the Minister of Health. The Glades Lodge in Halifax is a nursing home that has been serving the community for over 30 years. The care is excellent, but the building is old and cramped. A 2005 Department of Health study concluded that all of the building's systems were at, or past, their useful lives. A new building or a very substantial renovation is clearly needed, but the Department of Health has delayed this action for years. So I ask the Minister of Health when will the owners, the residents, residents' families, and staff, get an answer to their request for a new facility?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, indeed, I've had this conversation a number of times with the member for Halifax Fairview, and I can say that

[Page 3005]

we'll continue to work with the group. Just yesterday we had the opportunity to talk about the Continuing Care Strategy and the investments that we're making in that system, and I can tell the member opposite that this facility will be on a renovation list that I hope to be talking about in the very near future.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I hope the minister means in the very near future isn't years, because it seems to be a trend in this province with this department and with this government to avoid doing the renovations and the construction needed, especially in the long-term care area. On Wednesday, December 6, 2006, my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, attended a meeting at Glades Lodge that was attended by the home's owners, residents, residents' families and staff. At that meeting, Keith Menzies, the provincial director for long-term care, stated repeatedly that his recommendations concerning the future of Glades Lodge would be on the minister's desk before Christmas. So my question to the Minister of Health is very simple, is the recommendation now sitting on his desk for a new facility at Glades Lodge?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can say, through the last number months, through our commitment to the Continuing Care strategy, one of creating 826 beds in this province, expanding that over the next 10 years for 1,031, considering the fact that we do have a number of facilities in this province that we do want to replace, we want to make sure that those replacements will respond to the needs of all seniors in this province who are going to require long-term care. I can say to the member opposite, over the next number of weeks that you will see announcements on replacements and the new beds happening in this province and I look forward to doing that for all Nova Scotians.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I don't think the minister heard my question. I asked him if it was on his desk, a very simple request. It is clear that the decision rests now with the minister and the minister alone. Everyone who has an interest in Glades Lodge's future has been waiting for a long time for answers and results and, hopefully, renovations or a new facility. My question to the minister is, when will the minister go to the Glades Lodge and announce the decision about the future of that facility?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, thank you very much and, indeed, I can tell you that file is not sitting on my desk. Indeed, it is going through the system for the correct approvals. I can commit to this House that over the next number of weeks we'll be making some wonderful announcements for seniors in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay. (Applause)

HEALTH: ER CLOSURES - ADDRESS

[Page 3006]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I don't care how much they cheer me on, I'm not going over there. (Applause) Mr. Speaker, and I certainly wouldn't be going with the socialists, I can tell you that.

Last year saw the highest number of emergency room closures in this province in the last six years. ERs were closed for 3,900 hours - almost five and one-half months. The hardest hit areas were areas such as Glace Bay, Digby, Pugwash and Middleton. There's a shortage of ER doctors in this province and the problem is only getting worse. Doctors are retiring and continuing to leave the province. The government has no plan to fix this situation, no plan to retain the doctors, no plans for training, no plans to attract other doctors, no plans to help recognize the credentials of foreign-trained doctors who would love to move to this province, no plans to create a fund or administer any programs that would help our existing doctors fill the vacancies.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): My question is to the Minister of Health, what is your government's plan to reduce the number of emergency room closures in this province?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can say that over the last number of months, that member has been bringing to the attention of the House and to Nova Scotians the issue of ER closures. I can say that the Department of Health takes that to heart in making sure that we can try to find opportunities for foreign-trained doctors through the IMG program in Yarmouth, through the CAP program through the College of Physicians and Surgeons. I can say that through investments we will continue to have more physicians and more emergency specialists in this province. I can say that over the last number of weeks, I have instructed the department to come up with a strategy for ER closures and I'm looking forward to that report to come from them.

[10:00 a.m.]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, this government continues to simply bury its head in the sand and ignore the problem of ER closures in this province. It's not going to go away Mr. Minister by simply ignoring it. The problem gets worse every year. We should not stand by and wait until possibly, possibly somebody . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Sadly, time for Question Period has expired.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 3007]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Third Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I believe protocol provides that I move third reading of the bill and I do so.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, one of the items I have taped to the door on my office is the front page, Page 1, of The Daily News from this past autumn. You may recall that it relates to the process at second reading for Bill No. 117. This was the item where the headline read, I believe, "Blah blah: NDP bores Tories into submission". I like this particular front page of The Daily News.

On the face of it you might think that it's not very complimentary to my caucus colleagues, but what accompanies that very large headline is a series of 12 head-and-shoulders photographs of my colleagues, each of whom had spoken at second reading on Bill No. 117, and accompanying each of these photographs was a short extract from the speeches that they had given. They were wonderful. They were trenchant comments; they were punchy; they really got to the heart, in each instance, of some aspect of what was fundamentally wrong and what remains fundamentally wrong with Bill No. 117.

I'm sorry to say that my photograph was not amongst those photos, because I hadn't had the opportunity to speak on second reading. The photos were of the 12 of my colleagues who did get that opportunity. In terms of our own internal workings, our own list of who was going to speak and when, my name appeared last. I happened to be at the bottom of the list. I think we were more or less just going through the rows in a back-and-forth - or to use the long Greek word, boustrophedonical - fashion in the rows here, and I happened to be last on the list. My job was, I think, to use the kind of term that my colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect would use, I was going to bat cleanup at the end.

But I never got that opportunity. I'm sorry I never did get the opportunity, which is perhaps why I get to speak first this time, when it comes to third reading. I just simply

[Page 3008]

have not had previously the opportunity to put into the official record my views on Bill No. 117. So I'm grateful to have the opportunity to speak and speak first in the batting order this time. Members who were here during the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, on the clause-by-clause, will probably find my remarks familiar. I think I made a number of these comments, perhaps almost all of them in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, but of course that's not a Hansard process, it's not one where it's officially on the record.

I do wish to go through what seemed to me to be a series of fundamental objections to this bill. In the end, I can't see that even though there has been some progress on the technical side of amending this bill that we're any further ahead, seriously, than we were when we first started out. So I don't find myself persuaded that this bill is the right item. But even before we get into that, I want to deal with the issue of why it is that so much time of this House has been demanded of the members to deal with it.

Why are we here in an extraordinary January session to deal with this particular bill? I know many of my colleagues are aware that Nova Scotia has many other more pressing problems than the question of electoral finance. I think electoral finance is something we can turn our minds to, it's something that, indeed, at some point we should reform. It's something we should reform in a thoughtful and measured and progressive fashion. It's something that we should have done by consulting the public.

You may recall that at an earlier stage in the proceedings, we proposed a six-month hoist for this bill. We proposed that, because it seemed to us that this very useful and important aspect of how the democratic process is organized and funded in Nova Scotia should go out to the public so that they can learn a bit more about it and so that they can give us the benefit of what it is they know and think about this process.

That would have been fine but, unfortunately, it didn't happen. There was a combination of the votes of the government and the votes of the Third Party that blocked that initiative. That sent us a clear signal - if indeed we needed one after the announcement in the summer session after the election and after the first budget - if we even needed one, we then knew for sure that something was afoot between the government and the Third Party, and that part of the arrangement had to do with this bill.

It wasn't our choice to move so rapidly or so extensively on this bill - we have a much higher list of priorities. We regard issues around jobs, issues around poverty, issues around the environment, issues around workplace health and safety, and issues around the vitality of our rural communities as all being matters that are of much higher importance when it comes to the demands on the attention of our government. Instead of moving ahead in an organized and thorough fashion on some of these issues, what we found is that the government has chosen to put its efforts into a bill that they seem to

[Page 3009]

think will offer them some electoral advantage when the time comes for another provincial election.

Now I think you have to admire the foresight in the sense of the sheer turning of a mind towards a coming problem, but one would wish that the government would take seriously its responsibilities and start thinking about the future for a larger group of people than merely those members of their Party, assisted by the Third Party, and the hangers-on.

Nova Scotia has almost 1 million people and we have a diversity of problems here - some are worse than other problems, some not quite so worse but we have a whole range of problems, some of which I have just enunciated, and there could be initiatives from the government on virtually any of these. A number of these problems are, in fact, very serious. When I mentioned the question of jobs, I think primarily about the rural areas and areas like Cape Breton, and areas like the Cumberland Counties, and areas like down on the South Shore where unemployment rates are much higher than they are certainly in metro, but certainly throughout the province averaged out as a whole.

That is something that's pressing; that is something that has been identified regularly in debates on the floor of this Legislature. I would have hoped that the government would have turned its mind to a problem like that and perhaps brought in an initiative, brought in policies, brought in legislation, brought in something that we could deal with here that would show some leadership, some foresight, some attention to the problem, with a thoroughness at least equivalent, and I would hope better than that shown in their drafting of Bill No. 117.

Think about poverty. A number of my colleagues have brought to the floor of this House issues around poverty: energy poverty, homelessness, expensive homes - that is, too-expensive apartments - lack of availability of community services in some neighbourhoods, the community services system and the inadequacies of that. These are issues that are important to a huge number of Nova Scotians, and the continued existence of problems like that is a disgrace in our province.

Canada is a rich nation, we don't have to have poverty. The barriers to change are not lack of knowledge and certainly not lack of wealth. People who study these things have told us for a long time how it is that a wealthy community like Canada could eliminate poverty. It has to do with education. It has to do with support. It has to do with long-range support. It has to do with individualized support. It has to do with dealing with families, particularly when focused on young people. There are a whole variety of well-established strategies out there that we can afford and, in many respects, we can't afford not to invest in.

But has this been the thrust of what the government has decided to be farsighted about? No. It isn't. I know in my office that we continue to hear from people who live

[Page 3010]

in our constituency who are finding their circumstances so pressing and difficult and the responses of the departments that are supposed to be dealing with them and their problems so inadequate, that we feel ourselves some despair and somewhat overwhelmed and a little depressed. We continue to slug it out, but it would be nice if the government turned its mind to the problem and came along with us and tried to solve some of these problems in a farsighted way. But that's not the case.

When it comes to the environment, it's not just a federal matter. It's not just something for the federal government. Responsibility for the environment, for sustainability, for thinking about the future and where we're going with our life-support systems, is something that's a provincial responsibility, as much as it is federally. This province is falling down on the job, especially when it comes to energy issues. Do we see main items central to the government's platforms, central to what it's thinking about, central to what it's asking us to deal with coming forward? No.

Questions are asked in Question Period as they were in the Fall about these issues and it's clear that the government is taking a hands-off approach. They're standing aside and waiting for the leadership of the federal government. Unnecessary and wrong. Instead of tackling that problem, along with an array of others, they've turned their minds to this particular issue, this question of political Party financing, political Party funding.

The list goes on. I mentioned workplace health and safety. I mentioned rural communities. These are things on which we've spoken before, we will continue to speak, we will continue to raise these issues. But I have to say that I am, at the very least ,disappointed and I know Nova Scotians continue to be, not just disappointed but agitated and resentful, when it sees its government failing to have an appropriate sense of priorities. It's not as if something like this is an isolated event. It's not as if one bill happened to drift to the top of the pile. What Nova Scotians have assessed is the fact that the government doesn't have an appropriate sense of priorities at all.

One year under a new Premier has not been a huge amount of time, but I think for Nova Scotians, they're getting to feel it has been plenty. Maybe more than enough. I think they feel they have a good grasp of what the sense of priorities of this government is. This bill is one more illustration of a misplaced sense of priorities by this government.

[10:15 a.m.]

So this is exactly the first thing that's wrong with this bill that the government is choosing to highlight it, that they're choosing to bring the full resources of their alliance with the Third Party to rush it through the House. They're choosing to use their alliance with the Third Party to avoid extensive public scrutiny. They used their alliance with the Third Party to hold hearings at the Law Amendments Committee, late in December, at a time it could not reasonably be expected at all that informed and

[Page 3011]

interested members of the public could come forward in appropriate numbers and with a diversity of views that would be helpful to us as legislators.

Nova Scotians have taken note of this and they'll remember this not as the only item on which the government demonstrates its failures, but as one of an accumulative list. I want to be clear that I and my colleagues have no objection to being here at an unusual January sitting. This is just fine. Several of us have complained on the record in the past about the relatively few number of days in the year in which we are called upon to sit. We're prepared to do the work. That isn't the issue. We're prepared to be here in the House. We're prepared to deal with legislation. We're prepared to debate policies. We're prepared to debate initiatives. We're prepared to engage with all of those things. That isn't the issue.

The question is the choice of priorities, and I want to note that even though there's a minority government, the rules are that the government, even though a minority, still has control of the legislative agenda. They get to choose, in most instances, on most days, what it is that comes forward. Now, we've certainly taken our time to the maximum allotted amount during the course of this debate. We've done that because once the government chose to bring this bill forward and to focus on it and to say that we have to deal with it, we wanted to try to improve the bill, if we possibly could, and to lay out our criticisms of this bill, in detail, so that the public would know the problems with it.

Well, that is the first problem. The first problem is that the government chose to highlight this bill rather than other topics that it could have been dealing with. What's the next problem? The next problem has to do with how it is that a terrible historical fact of political life in Nova Scotia will receive, through this bill, the blessing of the government, the blessing of the Legislature, the official approval of the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia if this bill goes through, and I'm referring, of course, to the Liberal Party trust funds.

Everyone knows, or should know, the story of how this money came into the hands of the Liberal Party. My colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, yesterday, in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, laid out in detail the history of how it is that the bulk of the trust funds that are held by the Liberal Party came to be raised. I hope he takes the occasion to repeat today on third reading, where it will be recorded in Hansard, what he said then. A number of us have read about this, thought about it, laid it out, and I'm going to do that again, just briefly, to remind us of what it is that the problem has to be seen to be.

The Liberal Party, in times past, several decades ago, raised money through what is called tollgating. At a time when they were the government, they were in a position to extract from those seeking to do business with the government involuntary contributions to their Party. Now, not only is such a practice clearly immoral, it's also

[Page 3012]

contrary to a whole array of laws and, ultimately, some of the people involved in this scheme were prosecuted criminally and several of them were either convicted or pleaded guilty. To a certain extent, the facts came out.

Now, the Liberal Party had accumulated significant numbers of dollars, several millions of dollars in that way. The funds that the Liberal Party had as trust funds came primarily from that source. They came also from a source, the origins of which are unknown. The best, perhaps, we will ever know about that, the origins of those funds that were not apparently from tollgating might have been laid out in the memoirs of the lawyer, Frank Covert in his book, Fifty Years in the Practice of Law. Mr. Covert was a stalwart of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia for many years. He tells us some things about the origins of some of those funds. But mostly what he tells us about is who administered them. But it's not really that relatively smaller portion of the funds, the origins of which are murky, unknown, that I'm focused on.

What I'm more concerned about is the funds that were raised through clearly illegal activities. The question becomes, why should a Party be allowed to continue to rely on such funds? That money should simply be forfeit to the Crown. It should be forfeit to the public purse. It should go to the Minister of Finance and be part of the consolidated revenues of the Province of Nova Scotia. That's the appropriate thing to do with that money. I cannot understand why it is that the Third Party continues to embrace those funds. I cannot understand why it is that the Third Party, even though members of that Party, internally, have raised the issue with them at conventions, at some of their conventions, from time to time, why it is that they continue to be so attached to these funds.

Surely, a mature, modern Party that has been in government as a majority, occasionally as a minority, is in a position to turn to its supporters, amongst the public of Nova Scotia, and say, we are now asking you, on a voluntary basis, for donations to help us out with our ongoing and electoral activities. They could do that. That's what the rest of us do. But, instead of relying exclusively on that initiative, they want to hold on to these trust funds. I was put in mind of the statement by St. Paul in 1st Timothy, Chapter 6, verse 10, the love of money is the root of all evil, St. Paul says.

Now, it should be clear that it's not money itself that's the root of all evil, but the love of money, the attachment to money that, I think, is the dilemma that the Liberal Party has found itself caught up in. It's become attached to this money. It's not prepared to bring itself to the point of giving these funds up. This is a taint on the Third Party, but it's also a taint on the whole electoral process in Nova Scotia, and it would be a taint on anyone who voted in favour of legislation that gives the cloak of legality to that money. Never before has there been anything that has blessed the existence of these trust funds, never before has there been a provision in our laws that said, we, the Legislature of Nova Scotia, recognize that these trust funds are legitimate and can be used, but that's what's in this bill. That's one of the central provisions of this bill. It says that these trust funds

[Page 3013]

can be used, albeit with differential purposes in election and non-election years by the Liberal Party of the Province of Nova Scotia. What a scandal, what a complete scandal.

Why is that provision in this bill? Of what advantage is it in a government-sponsored bill to have such a provision? Clearly it's not a partisan matter for the financial benefit of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia. The exclusive Party, the only Party that will have a financial benefit as a result of such a provision is the Third Party, the Liberal Party, which has such funds.

So Nova Scotians are asking themselves - I ask you, I ask myself - why would the government include such a provision in the bill? Why would the government include such a provision in the bill that benefits the Third Party? Undoubtedly there is a quid pro quo, undoubtedly. Undoubtedly, this is part of the ongoing alliance that was worked out last summer between the government, as a minority, and the Third Party to prop it up. If there is any other possible explanation, I would like to hear it. None has been suggested, I don't think any could be suggested. This is, as I said, a scandal that has been of longstanding in Nova Scotia, and which is now going to taint the government. They have chosen to embrace something that has been notorious in Nova Scotia politics. They have taken onto themselves, through this bill, all of the wrongdoing of the Third Party, all of the historic wrongdoing of the Third Party. That is a high price to pay for staying in government.

[10:30 a.m.]

What about the contemporary views of the leading lights of the Third Party? Do we know what they think about these trust funds? Do we know what the leadership candidates have to say about these trust funds? Not yet we don't. Inside the sitting caucus of the Third Party right now, the nine members, there are two, perhaps three members, who might be candidates for leadership of the Party. We haven't heard one word yet from them, even though there are numerous occasions - there have been numerous occasions as we have been debating Bill No. 117 on which they could have stood up and said, we reject these trust funds, we are prepared to give them up.

Indeed, they voted against amendments that we brought forward that could have resulted in the forfeiture of these monies to the Crown. That happened at Committee of the Whole House. To the extent that any of the potential leadership candidates inside that caucus have commented, we only have the comments of the honourable member for Richmond from back in the Fall when he raised a point of order with respect to some comments that were made by some of my colleagues. In the course of his comments, he made a suggestion - in fact, I think he made a direct statement, more than a suggestion, that in his view there was nothing wrong with the trust funds, that they had been cleansed, that they had been audited and that they were legitimate funds.

[Page 3014]

This is simply not the case. There was never an audit. Those funds were never cleansed. The firm of auditors that had a look at the funds 20 years ago were very clear that they did not do an audit, they were not asked to do an audit and that in no respects could they say that these funds did not come from illegal activities. What they were able to say, what they were asked about was, how much money, specifically, could be allocated or assigned to the illegal activities of the three persons who were convicted criminally.

They came up with a number - I believe it was $1.3 million. So the Liberal Party did pay that amount out of the funds to the government of the day, the Government of Nova Scotia, to the public purse.

As a starting point, that was certainly the right thing to do. But first, it wasn't enough; and secondly, there is no cloak of legality, no cloak of propriety that could possibly be woven out of the thin threads of that action by an accounting firm. That is not an accounting, that is not the blessing of an accounting firm, not by any means.

So that's the situation. It's a mess. It continues to be a mess, it continues to redound against the credit of the Third Party and we don't know what it is that candidates for the leadership of that Party think about it or are prepared to do about it except by implication - and a clear implication - their continued support of Bill No. 117 in its present form indicates they want to hold onto that money. They have attached themselves to that money and they are latched onto it like a limpet to a rock and they're not letting go.

This is a serious mistake for them, a serious mistake politically for them, but it's simply wrong in terms of public morality. It's wrong in terms of good public policy. It's wrong no matter how you choose to categorize it or analyze it. Well, that's the next thing that's wrong with this bill, is that it purports to give the cloak of legality to these tainted funds.

Let me turn to the next thing that's fundamentally wrong with this bill. This is that it includes continued reliance on contributions from corporations and unions. This is something which we, in our Party, offered jointly with the other Parties, of course, to give up. We were prepared to give up corporate and union contributions as part of electoral reform in Nova Scotia. But the other two Parties, the government and its ally, the Third Party, would not do that. They would simply not do that.

The model we proposed was essentially the federal government model. Electoral reform is not unique here in Nova Scotia, it has been going on across Canada in different jurisdictions and at the federal level, and it goes on in other parts of the world all the time. We know, if we know anything as a result of something like the Gomery Inquiry, how messy relations between political Parties and the private sector and those who seek

[Page 3015]

benefits from government can be, through the nexus of money. This is something to be guarded against in any democracy.

When we look south of the border, at the United States Congress, we look at one of the most pressing public policy issues in the United States - that is the dismal state of their health care system - and we ask ourselves, why is it that Americans have not moved to the kind of single-payer, government-sponsored national health care system that Canada enjoys? The answer is, the economic influence of private companies that are in the health care business in the United States over members of Congress. They exercise such financial influence over members of Congress that it has been in the past virtually impossible for even those members who have embraced reform of the health care system in the United States to move forward on that agenda. That has been the main barrier to change.

I mention this as an example of one of the serious problems that can arise when people with deep pockets are allowed to continue to make contributions in large amounts to political Parties, or to individuals who are in a position to make decisions about public policy matters. Well, if we can see the mote in the eyes of others, perhaps we can see the beam in our own.

This is a problem here as much as anywhere and we offered the opportunity to get rid of it. We offered the opportunity to end corporate and union contributions. We said we'll do it if you do it. Let's all do it. Let's all simply follow the federal model in Canada. The federal government has done this with legislation that governs the financing of the political Parties at the national level. They've said if there are contributions that are going to continue to be made, they can be made by individuals. Well, why not? Why not move to that basis? Is there some practical problem?

Well, there might be a transition practical problem. It may take awhile to move to a new system, it may take a couple of years, but any Party that's serious about being involved in the political process knows how to organize itself so as to do fundraising. We can all meet the challenge of increasing our memberships. We can all computerize our systems if they aren't computerized already, but I'm sure they are. We can all get out and try to persuade more members to go on to PAC, the pre-authorized chequing system for monthly support of our political Parties. We can go around in election years and try to ask for more and extra amounts of money and so on.

All of this can happen and the governing Party and the Third Party, their allies, are undoubtedly in a position to do it. We are. We're trying it. We do it. We rely as much as we possibly can on individual donations, that has been our history, but we are prepared to move away from both union and corporate donations entirely, and we urged that on the government. Even with a transition to help move away from that system, we urged it upon the other Parties and they wouldn't accept it. They simply would not

[Page 3016]

accept it. Neither of those two Parties, even though they purport to be engaged in electoral Party financing reform, would embrace that.

Furthermore, and this brings me to my next point of criticism, when it comes to the amount that they are prepared to receive, they've set the limits very high and this really forces us to ask the question, what is the nature of this so-called reform? What is the essence of what it is that Bill No. 117 does? If this is a reform bill, if this is a bill that tries to improve electoral Party financing, what does it actually do? But really all it does is it caps contributions at the $5,000 level and it says that political Parties will also be able to get funding out of the public purse depending on the number of votes they get and, furthermore, it's retroactive based on the number of votes you got in the 2006 election. That's the essence of this reform. Is this reform? This isn't reform. This is a self-serving grab.

Our attempts all throughout this process, at second reading, at the Law Amendments Committee, in Committee of the Whole House on Bills, has been to try to take what is a self-serving bill put forward by a minority government that is worried about its future, supported by its ally, the Third Party, which is so petrified of the next election that they are prepared to prop up a government which has been beset by disasters month after month for a full year. That's what this bill is about. It is self-serving for both of those Parties. One of the examples of the ways in which that is done is by keeping the contribution limit high. It looks like reform, but it isn't. It is another example of fast-food government - it kind of looks like the real thing, but it isn't.

I think Nova Scotians have understood this. I know that Nova Scotians have many other preoccupations, and I started out by listening to what they are. I think that they are much more important than electoral Party financing, but it has not failed to come to the attention of Nova Scotians what it is that the government is trying to do with this legislation.

Let me turn now to the next aspect of a difficulty with this bill. I mentioned in passing just a moment ago, and it is, that in some sense this bill is retroactive. It is retroactive not in the sense that it goes back to previous years and previous elections extensively, but what it does is this - it says that out of the public purse, political Parties will be paid a certain amount per vote, commencing January 1, 2007. So if this bill goes through this week, technically it will be retroactive to 10 days or 12 days ago. That's not my main point. My main point is that the trigger mechanism for entitlement to being paid out of the public purse is how well the political Parties did in the last election.

In other words, the government says - and this is probably part of its attempt to and thinking that they might have induced support from the Official Opposition - they say, folks, let's look at how well we all did in the 2006 election and now let's pay ourselves. Pay our political Parties based on what we already know. That is not the way to do electoral finance reform. If electoral finance reform is going to take place, it should

[Page 3017]

take place prospectively. You should say the following thing, you should say here's a new system of funding political Parties. And you know what? It will go into effect after the next election.

That's the case if there is going to be public financing of political Parties. If there is going to be public funding of political Parties, then that's the way to do it, because you let everyone know what the new system is going to be. That means that political Parties out there that want to get themselves organized or may have become moribund, get the chance to put forward their ideas in the marketplace of politics. I think that is the right way to do it, if that's going to happen.

[10:45 a.m.]

Instead, the government is saying oh look, we got 160,000 in the 2006 election, I guess we'll just kind of use the public purse to pay ourselves a buck and a half per vote, won't that be nice. It is not the right thing to do, in my opinion. That's another example of being, I think, self-serving.

Now let me look at one other aspect, and this is an associated aspect of the last point. This is the question of whether there should even be public financing for political Parties. Political Parties are an important part of democracy, but I am far from convinced that there should be public funding of political Parties.

I want to table an item. It's from an article in The Sunday Times - that is the U.K.'s Sunday Times - from October 22, 2006. It's an article by a man named Michael Pinto- Duschinsky. It's called, It's their party and we pay for it. This author is identified as "the world's leading authority on party finance", and he is described as someone who has "advised the UN and several governments". Mr. Michael Pinto-Duschinsky says in his article, yes, "parties have important functions in a democracy only in so far as they represent members of the public. By making them even more dependent upon state funding, they automatically become less democratic."

Now the opinion he offers, that reliance upon state funding automatically makes Parties less democratic, is one that I happen to share. If I had my druthers, I don't think there should be public financing of political Parties, except as a transition measure. That is to say, it could be temporary - it could be short term, perhaps a year or two if there was a shift from an old system to a new system - and if there were electoral Party finance reform so as to eliminate corporate and union donations, so as to severely limit the dollar amount - and we've taken the position that it should be reduced from $5,000 to perhaps $1,000 - then as a transition measure there might be, indeed, some government, that is to say taxpayer dollar support for political Parties on a temporary transition basis.

I'm aware that not all members of either my caucus or this House agree with that position, but I put it out because, first, it's what I happen to think and, second, it seems

[Page 3018]

to me an important point, and based on the item I read into the record a moment ago it is not without support - and thoughtful support - elsewhere. So I'm concerned about that. I'm not convinced that this is the right thing to do by any means, but there it is.

Let me point out the next difficulty - except with respect to the use of the Third Party's trust funds, this Statute does not make any distinction in its thinking between the funding needs of a political Party from year to year and the funding needs of a political Party in an election year. It seems to me that unless we're assuming that we're on a permanent election footing, which is a possible way to think in a minority government situation, we should consider election years in a different way.

One of the things that probably should have been included in this bill was a differentiation when it comes to election years - there should have been special recognition that election years entail extraordinary expenditures for political Parties well beyond the normal run of things. I think that is also something of a flaw here - I don't regard it as such a fundamental flaw that it would, if it were the only problem, lead to rejection of the bill, but it's a way in which this bill could have been improved.

So there are quite a number of problems with this bill, and I want to turn, finally, to one that so far has not been officially identified in the debates, although I did mention it when we were in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills. It has to do with the core provision in the bill that has to do with the triggers for eligibility for government funding. This has to do with the financing arrangements when the money is to come from the public purse. You will recall that the trigger mechanism is one that includes a barrier that is tied to percentage of vote gathered. Now the trouble with that is that it is of dubious constitutional legality. There is a Charter of Rights problem with a trigger like that.

I predict that what will happen is that if this bill is adopted and keeps within it, as now seems inevitable, that trigger provision including the percentage hurdle that is specified, that there will be litigation against the Government of Nova Scotia. That provision of the bill will be challenged under Section 3 of the Charter of Rights, the right to vote provision, perhaps also under Section 15, but it will certainly be challenged. I predict that the results will be that the litigants, any political Party that has run candidates in the past, will be successful in finding themselves to be eligible for public funding.

I don't wish to endorse a bill that includes such a provision. Such a provision should not have been in the bill and it is not just on the basis of my casual reading of this bill that I say this, there is litigation, there is jurisprudence, there are rulings of the courts in Canada that support what I'm saying. Indeed, the most recent decision of the courts in Canada is the Longley case in Ontario decided just in October. When I became aware of that decision shortly after it came down, I found the decision, supplied it to some of the individuals in our own caucus who supplied it to the government.

[Page 3019]

So the government has known since the time of second reading of this bill, of the Longley decision, if they actually needed that decision because there were predecessor decisions; for example, the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Figueroa case. In both of those cases the Canada Elections Act was attacked because of provisions that had triggers in them for eligibility, relating to eligibility for public financing that related either to the number of candidates run in an election or the percentage of votes that were obtained by a political Party. In other words, a barrier had been introduced, a barrier, according to the courts, that favoured the more established Parties and disadvantaged other political Parties.

Now I want to say that I don't regard myself as having a mandate for any of the other political Parties but I am ashamed to be asked to vote for a bill that purports to make our system more democratic when it contains within it, at its heart, at the heart of the provisions in this bill, something that violates the Charter. I couldn't vote for something like that. As a matter of the ethics of my profession I couldn't vote for something like that. In terms of my integrity as an MLA, I couldn't vote for something like that. As a practical matter, I can't imagine why it is that the government would want to pass a bill - why it would want to introduce a bill and then force upon us a bill, in company with its ally in the Third Party, that is going to result in a lawsuit, probably next week. It is entirely predictable that this will happen.

Now is simply wrong, it shouldn't happen. It is easy to read these cases, it is easy to see that the Section 3 Charter of Rights Provision that says there is a right to vote has been understood by the courts and in a very expansive way. They've said that the right to vote doesn't just relate to going into a ballot box and putting your mark against the name of some individual. What the courts have said is that the right to vote is a basic democratic matter on which the courts are prepared to consider a wide range of issues and they have engaged on examination of things like where electoral boundaries are drawn and in the context of Party financing they have looked at issues around barriers to entry to the system. Nothing could be clearer than that the right to vote as enunciated in cases like Figueroa and the Longley decision call into question the core provision in our legislation that has to do with public financing because it offers it on an unequal basis. Well, there we have it.

Mr. Speaker, whether it's an objection based on the sense of priorities, whether it's an objection based on the Third Party's trust funds, whether it's an objection based on the clear self-serving nature of this bill, whether it's an objection based on the fact that it's retroactive and making it, therefore, additionally self-serving, whether it's an objection based on the violation of Section 3 and probably Section 15 of the Charter of Rights, I can't support this bill. All of this individually and cumulatively makes it something that should clearly be rejected by this House. There is a wide array of reasons why we end up in the position we do, namely non-supportive of this bill. I can't understand why the government persists with this. We have offered them moment after

[Page 3020]

moment throughout the process the opportunity to back away from this, to make what purported to be a reform measure a true reform measure, something that would really add to the democracy of our political life in Nova Scotia, and they have passed by every opportunity. Every opportunity has been passed by.

Mr. Speaker, at the beginning I noted that I hadn't had the opportunity to speak to this bill at second reading. I regret not having had that opportunity, but I have appreciated having had the chance today to put on record at third reading my thoughts on this bill and an explanation of why it is that I simply cannot and will not support it. So I thank you for your attention.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[11:00 a.m.]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I'm very pleased to have an opportunity to enter into the debate at third reading on Bill No. 117. It's interesting, particularly following on the speech that was just made by my colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto, to see that this is an issue that people care about and it has many, many different aspects in terms of points of view even within caucuses, I think. We don't always share entirely the same ideas about the impact of changing the campaign financing and what that will mean and I think in some ways it's because we don't really know until we've tried something out.

I would like to talk a bit in the time that I have here about my thoughts on public financing for political Parties because I see things slightly differently than the honourable member who just spoke. However, I'm certainly very open to be persuaded by his point of view and I would be very interested in knowing more about the distinguished expert that he made reference to from Great Britain who has, no doubt, looked at this with more detail than I certainly have had an opportunity to.

I want to start at the outset by saying, Mr. Speaker, that like so many other things this government has done, I think Bill No. 117 has been rather poorly conceived and certainly very poorly executed. It's not a piece of legislation I wish to be associated with, and I will not be supporting this bill when it comes to a vote at the end of the interventions by members in this Chamber.

Mr. Speaker, I say this with some regret. I have been in this place now for close to nine years and I have voted both for and against various bills, but there are few other bills that I could not support that I have found so fundamentally repugnant as Bill No. 117.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Bill No. 68.

[Page 3021]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Maybe Bill No. 68, yes. The Leader of the Liberal Party asks about Bill No. 68, and I found that quite repugnant, as I did the legislation removing the right to strike for paramedics. Mr. Speaker, it's because those pieces of legislation went to the fundamental rights of members of our province with respect to collective bargaining. This is a bill of significant consequence to the political system in the Province of Nova Scotia. It's a bill that I think has been demonstrated through the debate and through the analysis as being flawed, as being unbalanced and unfair certainly to one of the political Parties in this province, namely the New Democratic Party. That's widely understood and widely accepted now. It also is not in harmony with the federal government's recent Accountability Act, which also overhauled the federal system of funding for political Parties. I think an opportunity was missed here with this bill.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk a bit more about what a good bill would look like. If we were here in this place to bring forward real reform of financing for political Parties, what would it look like? Well, it could look like the federal legislation, it could be a process, a new set of rules that would reduce to zero contributions from corporations, and contributions from trade unions or, indeed, any other organization that is not a citizen. The principle that we would be adopting in the Province of Nova Scotia for the financing of political Parties would, indeed, be a principle that says that political Party contributions will come from the citizens of the province who have the franchise to vote in elections and hold membership in a political Party and participate in that way.

This is what the federal Accountability Act essentially has done. It would be the proper thing to do here, in fact, is the position that has been taken in many other provinces across this country, and it would put us in that league, rather than leave us, yet again lagging behind and I think contributing to a perception not only in this province, but outside the province that we politically, in Nova Scotia, are a bit of a backwater. I don't like to say that, because I care a lot about the image of our province.

I'm like most other Nova Scotians, I guess, the hair rises on the back of my neck when I hear from people who aren't from our province ridicule our province. They generally do it based on their impression of our politics and our politicians, and the fact that we still haven't grown up, politically, in this province, and matured to the point where we can conduct ourselves in a more ethical and upright manner. We've missed an opportunity with this legislation, as we so often do, I think, as this government so often does in the kind of manner in which they lurch from crisis to crisis.

Mr. Speaker, we would, if we were really reforming the financing of political Parties, move far beyond that one change. We would also require that contributions that are made in leadership campaigns be fully disclosed and that they be subjected to the same rules as the rules that exist in a general election, that there be contributions that would be made from individuals, from citizens with a franchise, living within the province, and that they be subjected to limits.

[Page 3022]

We failed again during the process of amending Bill No. 117 to endorse amendments that were brought forward by the NDP caucus to, in fact, place in this bill those kinds of limitations for contributions during a leadership campaign and full disclosure in a timely fashion in a leadership campaign. Now, this is a very important point, because the people who ultimately succeed in those campaigns are people who are a fundamental part of the political system. I think that the people in the Province of Nova Scotia have a right to know, they're entitled to know, and they certainly want to know who has been bankrolling the leadership campaigns of various candidates for a political Party.

So that's a change, I think, that we should be making, and I want to say that I'm very disturbed that there was no support from either the Liberal caucus or the government caucus, the Tory caucus for this particular change, which also, Mr. Speaker, I understand, is a piece of the Federal Accountability Act. When I had an opportunity to speak in Committee of the Whole House on Bills, I pointed out that on some level this whole process of reforming the federal set of rules governing the financing of political Parties came out of the dispute between Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin. Paul Martin was raising money through his very strong connections with corporate Canada even before a leadership campaign had been announced at the federal government level.

Prime Minister Chrétien, at the time, was not very happy, and he was particularly unhappy that people such as Brian Tobin and John Manley and other fairly capable and prominent members of the Liberal Party were starting to openly question whether or not they had any hope of mounting a credible campaign to lead that Party in the event that the Prime Minister - and everybody knew that Prime Minister Chrétien was going to be leaving fairly soon. This is what started that particular process going. Of course Stephen Harper, Prime Minister Harper, has taken those beginning reforms at the federal level, started by former Prime Minister Chrétien, and has moved them even further along.

Mr. Speaker, there is something else that is already a principle that is entrenched in our current set of rules that a piece of Bill No. 117 violates. In our current system of Party financing it is required by law, right now, that all money received by a political Party, every bit of money received from a political Party, has to be identified in terms of where that money came from. This is unlike the days when money could be received by a political Party, there was no tracking of where it came from, who had given it. Those days have not existed for some considerable time and there is this principle that we all accept is a very important principle, that political Parties should not be receiving money, the origin of which is not specific.

I think this is the part of Bill No. 117 that troubles me the most, the fact that we know the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia has trust funds whose origins cannot be determined, have not been determined and yet this bill, with Section 21, very specifically legitimates the use of those funds by the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia, except for a very narrow window that can be as short as 30 days, every five years. Mr. Speaker, that is

[Page 3023]

reprehensible, in my view, it is not supportable and it is extremely puzzling to me why any member of the government caucus would find that to be an acceptable and such a fundamental part of this particular piece of legislation. No money whose origins cannot be determined should be part of any money for political Parties for their operation on any level.

[11:15 a.m.]

Last night when I had a chance in committee to talk on the amendments, I talked about all of the places that we could use those funds and what the position of the NDP caucus is, is that the proper disposal of those funds are to go back to the Crown, the Province of Nova Scotia. My colleagues have laid out very clearly what the history is of those trust funds and why turning this money back to the people of Nova Scotia, from where much of that money came, would be the right thing to do.

So real reform of campaign funding would, as I have said, eliminate corporate and union donations. It would only allow citizens to be contributors to political Parties through campaign financing. It would set limits on how much citizens can, in fact, donate. It would be the same set of rules that exist at the federal level, so there would be harmonization between that system. There would be no money in any political Party's coffers that cannot be traced or determined what the source of that money is. And not only in my view should there be limits set on contributions to political Parties from individuals, but I think we really need to engage in a debate about limits on spending in an election.

This particular idea is my idea, it's not necessarily one that the NDP caucus has adopted. We are engaged in a process of talking about the various ideas for electoral Party reform and things that can be done to improve the democratic process, and this particular idea is one of my hobbyhorses. I first ran for election in 1984 - that wasn't yesterday - the member for Richmond probably wasn't born then and he certainly wouldn't have been too old at that time. I wasn't too old at that time either, I was in my 20s.

When I look back on it, I think about how campaigns were at that point in Nova Scotia. It was rare to see billboards of the Leaders in the province, that was very rare, even of the more established Parties, Parties more established than the NDP. Television advertising at that time, obviously there was television advertising, but it was nothing close to the saturation we have now.

I think the greatest means for political Parties to campaign and communicate their message back in the 1980s was through radio, daily and local newspapers, campaign events, the leaders moving around the province holding daily media announcements. While all of those things continue, the increase in technology and the astronomical change in the kinds of communications - we're living in an information and

[Page 3024]

communications age - has really contributed to quite a significant growth in the cost and complexity of electoral campaigns.

Many people complain that we may be bombarded with commercials and billboards and what have you, but they find that the substance of our electoral politics has become less meaningful and more superficial, simplistic - some people say vacuous. Political Parties, their Leaders, their platforms, their messages are harder to distinguish. There has been criticism that the cult of personality has displaced the substance of the strength of character and the strength of ideas and that balance that's required to adequately run a government and to serve the people of the province.

There are many people who would like to see us return to a simpler campaign style that is formed by ideas and policy issues and not necessarily by the technology. So if we were going to really reform the financing of political Parties, in my mind, these are the elements that we would be looking at.

Mr. Speaker, I, as you today during Question Period, listened intently to the exchange that was happening here on the floor and I was puzzled during Question Period when the Premier had an opportunity to answer some probing questions, he indicated that he wanted to focus on issues that matter to Nova Scotians. He talked about what some of those issues were and he talked about hog farming, jobs and the economy. I agree with him, I agree with him fully, but what puzzles me is if these are the issues that this government wants to talk about, then why on earth have they called us into a special winter session where none of those issues are on their agenda, where the only issue that's on their agenda is getting public money into the coffers of the government Party, is protecting the trust funds of the Liberal Party in law and legislation, and introducing legislation that has an unfair element in terms of the Official Opposition.

I'm very puzzled by the Premier's logic in terms of the response he gave to some of the questions in Question Period and that particular response and the reality that's happening here. It seems to be somewhat incongruent and it doesn't reflect the reality that this Legislature, in fact, wasn't called back to deal with those issues. This Legislature was called back to deal with one piece of legislation, Bill No. 117, a piece of legislation that we could have dealt with back in November. So, you know, it is troubling and it is puzzling the mixed messages that we get from the government and from the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk a bit about Bill No. 117 with respect to the public money that political Parties, including my own Party, will receive. First of all, I think in a way it's a bit of a misnomer to, if people are left with the impression that political Parties have no public money now, then in a way they're wrong. We don't get money directly from the public purse now but we certainly do indirectly. There is right now a public benefit to making a contribution to political Parties and there has been for some time. In Committee of the Whole House on Bills, I made reference to the fact that I

[Page 3025]

thought the political tax contribution system was an element that was introduced into our political system I think at a federal level first. It was something that was negotiated, as I understand it, I recall, during a minority government when the NDP held the balance of power federally.

I was saying yesterday that I thought it was when Ed Broadbent was the Leader, but in retrospect I think it was when David Lewis, in fact, was the Leader of the federal NDP, David Lewis being the father of Stephen Lewis. What that meant was that individuals and organizations that made contributions to political Parties would get a tax benefit, a tax credit for those contributions. So, for example, Mr. Speaker, right now, pre-Bill No. 117, if in the Province of Nova Scotia somebody makes a $100 contribution to the Liberal Party or the Progressive Conservative Party or the NDP, in fact it's like donating $25 rather than $75, because if they have a taxable income they get a $75 tax credit which might mean a rebate or it might mean that the tax they have to pay is reduced by $75 - and what that means is the provincial Treasury is out by $75.

So, in a way, political Parties have been getting public money through the tax system for quite a number of years now. That benefit is already well entrenched - many people don't know about it but people who are active in political Parties know about it, and it is certainly something we tell people when we have an election and we are out raising money and we are asking people to make contributions to our campaigns. We ask, do you know about the tax benefit? Do you know about the political contribution rules? If you give a $100 donation, 75 per cent of that you will receive as a tax credit when you file your income tax.

This is something that many people think, gee, I can give $25, that's not a big problem, if I'm going to have a $75 tax credit against my provincial income tax. So we already have a system where the public subsidizes political contributions. So it's not direct, it's an indirect way of supporting, financially, the political Party structure, but it is there.

This bill doesn't change that. In fact what this bill does is expand the limit on which you can get a tax credit - it raises the ceiling at which you can get a credit. So the political Parties will financially benefit greatly, not only from the public money but they will substantially benefit from the shift in the credits that are available.

[11:30 a.m.]

Now some people think, and my colleague who spoke before me raised concerns that he has, that public money will contribute to less accountability and less democracy in our system. I have to say I certainly hope that's not the case, and this is something I think we need to monitor very closely because, if it is the case, we need to be prepared to address that.

[Page 3026]

It is my hope that, alternatively, people will feel more empowered to hold the political Parties more accountable because the public money that is coming to political Parties is now so directly coming, and not coming in the back door through the tax credit system. You rarely get a constituent or a member of the public calling you and saying, look, you're accountable to me because there is a tax credit system in this province that funds your political Party, so I think you had better pay attention to what I have to say. People don't understand that that system is in place, but they will understand, and I hope they'll understand - and I'll make a commitment in my limited sphere of influence to let people know that they are funding the political Parties in this province now, and that as people who are taxpayers and funders of our system they really need to take advantage of whatever power that puts in their hands to say you need to pay attention to me now because your funding comes directly through me.

I don't know that that will be the case. The member for Halifax Chebucto, who is a very well-read person, has brought to our attention that, certainly in the U.K., a British expert, who has looked at political Party funding, has raised concerns about it. I think we need to be prepared to have a very open mind around this and to evaluate the impact of this, but at the same time I think it would be very good if, in fact, this did contribute in some way to a more robust system of accountability and people holding political Parties accountable.

Sometimes people with great justification, I'm sure, would like to see the abolition of the political Party system. I obviously have a vested interest in a political Party system, being a member of a Party, and having been involved for many years, and it's my intention to stay involved at some level for probably many more years to come, whatever that level might be.

It has been said, Mr. Speaker, as you know, that as flawed as our democratic system and institutions are, they're still better than the alternative of not having a democratic system. I think in spite of whatever our differences around various issues in this Chamber, whatever those differences might be, we are all democrats in that we all believe in the democratic process. I'm very proud to be a social democrat in the tradition of J.S. Woodsworth, Tommy Douglas, Stanley Knowles, David Lewis, and Ed Broadbent, who has devoted a considerable period of his life to looking at democratic reform and ways to strengthen the democratic system. He has written extensively on things like campaign reform.

So, Mr. Speaker, these are not inconsequential matters, they're important matters, and although they may not be, nor should they be the number one priority when there are so many other things that are pressing and important to people in their daily lives, we deviate from paying attention to the elements of our democratic system at our own peril. I don't mean in a personal way, I mean at the peril of a society that we live in, that we're very privileged to live in.

[Page 3027]

I mean, we all watch the news and we see Somalia, we see Afghanistan, we see Iraq, we see so many places around the globe where people are living in agony daily, with leadership that is despotic, that is autocratic, that is sadistic in some cases, that has no respect for or no knowledge of what it would really mean to be in a democracy. There are no human rights. There are very little economic rights. Women are at great disadvantage. They receive no education. They're, in some cases, not allowed to participate in the democratic system at all.

So there are so many reasons we have to be very grateful for the democratic system that we have, but that doesn't mean we should be complacent and think that we have it made. We don't have it made. We have a long way to go, and Bill No. 117, I think, demonstrates that. It demonstrates that there are still many things that can be done to change a piece of legislation that has some significant weaknesses.

I was at the Law Amendments Committee shortly before Christmas when there were some presentations on the bill. It was interesting, the leader of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, Rick Clarke, made a very good presentation at the Law Amendments Committee. I think the member for Richmond is agreeing with me that he did make a very good presentation. He indicated the Federation of Labour would be fully in support of changes in electoral financing in the Province of Nova Scotia, which would see the elimination of union contributions to political Parties. He spoke at length in terms of how else they might use fairly limited resources for other very, very good causes that can make a significant difference in the lives of the working women and men in this province - unionized or non-unionized.

We know that we have as a province, as a country really, a fight on our hands to maintain a public health care system. The forces that would see privatization as a profitable endeavour have been chomping at the bit to get at the public health care system pretty much ever since the Medicare system came into being. This is a fight that is very much in the interests of the working people in this country. I'm sure organizations like the trade union movement, the unions in the province and, let's be clear, Medicare was largely won because of the efforts of organizations within the trade union movement. The reason we have a Medicare system comes out of the history of the struggle of the labour movement in this country.

So I'm sure they would be able to use their resources to continue the efforts to maintain public Medicare. At the same time, I've read in the business columns in The ChronicleHerald, various commentators have indicated that the corporate sector in the Province of Nova Scotia would be more than happy to see Bill No. 117 in a different form, in the form the NDP wanted which was to make sure that there were no corporate donations.

Corporations, as everybody here knows, are in a very, very tight competitive environment and their resources - although some people might think they're unlimited,

[Page 3028]

they're not unlimited. Their resources also need to be used prudently and need to be targeted and need to be invested wisely. There are many people who work hard and do due diligence in the corporate sector who would like nothing better than to see the elimination of corporate donations.

So you have these two entities - the trade union movement and the corporations in the province - looking at this legislation, looking at the amendments the NDP brought forward in support of them. Yet, you have the two old Parties in this province - some people would say the old, tired Parties in this province - unprepared to let go of the status quo. That is puzzling in terms of the stated objectives of this legislation and the minister saying that it's about democratic renewal, and change and restoring some faith in the political process.

The other thing about this process and I said it at the beginning, was how flawed the actual process of bringing forward this bill is. The last day that the House sat in November, the Minister of Finance brought forward a resolution to talk about democratic reform and the establishment of an all-Party committee to report back to this House in June, I believe. We haven't heard a squeak out of the government since then with regard to that committee, yet here we are putting the final commas and touches into Bill No. 117 before its passage, and we don't even have that all-Party committee struck. It seems to be quite an odd process in that we'll have the legislation probably passed and proclaimed before the work that really was required to go before this legislation has even started. I'm certainly wondering what that whole thing was all about, that particular proposal from the government. It doesn't really make a great deal of sense.

Mr. Speaker, I don't have a whole lot more that I want to say with respect to this bill. When we had a chance to talk in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, I did have an opportunity to talk about the places that the Liberal trust funds - the money in the Liberal trust funds - could be used that would be of great benefit to the people of the province. I would like to restate that here on the record, given that the debate in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills is not on the record.

The Hamm Government eliminated two programs that I'm increasingly convinced were low-budget items that provided a great benefit to the people of this province. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Program. I had a resolution here in the Legislature this morning on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program, asking that the Minister of Justice be encouraged to have a look at bringing that program back. The government caucus Nayed that resolution. It's a shame, because this was a program that compensated the victims of violent crime for the costs that were associated as a result of being assaulted. Most other provinces in the country have criminal injuries compensation programs of this nature. It was a program for which there was never an expenditure of more than approximately $400,000 annually.

[11:45 a.m.]

[Page 3029]

There would be roughly maybe 400 applicants each year to the program, or recipients from the program, and 70 per cent of those recipients were often women - particularly women who were assaulted. My colleague, the member for Dartmouth East asked me if children were included as well, and, yes, children as well were recipients. There is a report at the Department of Justice Web site that is the last report of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program in 1998-99. It has a lovely little pie chart that shows who the various categories of applicants were, children, women, the nature of the assaults. It was really a very important program. It was paid for exclusively out of fines that people pay when they're charged with summary offences in the Province of Nova Scotia. So it was a program that is sort of self-supporting, in terms of the revenue.

The cancellation of this program is troubling, and it's one I think we need to continue to encourage the government to bring back. Certainly $3.4 million, or however many millions that are in the Liberal trust funds going to the Crown could go a long way to support a criminal injuries compensation program and there would be something deliciously ironic about taking the Liberal trust funds monies and using them for criminal injuries compensation. I would suggest that yes, it could be ironic.

The other program that I spoke of was the Family Violence Prevention Initiative. This was even a program that cost less than the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program. It was roughly, I think, $200,000, $250,000 a year. It was a small office in the Department of Community Services, and it served as a clearing house for information on the best practices around family violence from across the country and from outside the country. Every week in February, we would have Family Violence Prevention Week; it would be a week of public information. It was an office that also gave advice to government on public policy with respect to child abuse, wife abuse, various forms of violence in the context of a family.

This has gone now and I think, particularly given the number of deaths of women in domestic violence situations in the Province of Nova Scotia over the last year or year and a half, the government really does need to re-examine how successful their current regime of program is and services are for women living in these situations. It is my view that we need to do more and certainly the Liberal Party trust funds could go a long way towards supporting a program like that.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure how much more time I have - 10 more minutes, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I probably won't take the entire 10 minutes although I will come close.

Mr. Speaker, I've said here before that while the system we have has its flaws, it's still better than the alternative of not having a system; that, like it or not, the political Party system is the cornerstone of the democratic system that we have. I don't want to speak disparagingly of colleagues in another level of government but I have to say I watch municipal politics sometimes with great interest but also with sort of incredulous

[Page 3030]

interest. I tell people that I sometimes come back to Province House and kiss the ground when I enter Province House after being at HRM Council sometimes. I think, I like the political Party system a lot better than this every-person-for-themself kind of system which I am not convinced gives you a better quality of government.

Mr. Speaker, the political Party system we have is one that we need to give consideration to supporting if we want to improve our democracy, that it is very expensive for an individual to succeed politically if they don't have independent means financially. A person of modest means would find this process daunting and very difficult to be successful in and political Parties are, to some extent, a collective, a way of helping individuals across a wide spectrum of means participate and I believe that's the right thing to happen.

Mr. Speaker, you might be aware, maybe not, we were all so busy in the last election that it is hard to keep track of what is happening in everybody's particular riding, but in the last election, one of my opponents, the candidate for the Liberal Party, on the day he announced his intention to run in the constituency of Halifax Needham, announced that if he were elected, he would be donating all of his MLA salary to charity. There was a great deal of public interest through the media in that particular announcement (Interruption).

Well, he came in in third place in a constituency where many people felt that particular announcement would perhaps give him an advantage because there are so many deserving organizations and a substantial mass of the constituency who live in poverty or who are of modest means. Some people felt that that would be seen as an inducement to support this candidate, but I think, obviously, it didn't turn out that way. However, it raises questions.

There's a particular concrete situation that would be worth discussing and debating as part of electoral reform. Is this something that should be properly allowed in an election campaign? Should individual candidates be able to say, elect me and I will donate $70,000, $80,000 to the food bank to ( Interruption) I hear the member for Kings West say something about the CAW, donate it to the CAW, I'm not sure what that means. Given that no member of the Liberal Party has taken the opportunity to stand up and make one sentence of intervention on this bill, I find it puzzling that none of those members over there have stood up to say what they think should occur in the political reform system. No, I don't think they want to share their views publicly. But, they won't be able to get away with that forever, Mr. Speaker, as you know.

I was saying, this is a point that's worth having a discussion about. I think right now in our electoral rules, it would be a breach of our rules for any member or any candidate to offer or make a financial contribution to an organization or individual that would be seen as an inducement for their support. That's not allowed during an election.

[Page 3031]

In fact, we've been cautioned that during an election, you cannot be giving financial contributions to organizations and groups and individuals in your constituency.

So, does the idea of saying, elect me and I will donate $5,000 to the art gallery, $10,000 to the music festival, $20,000 here, all of my salary, how would that fit into electoral campaign reform? This is why we really should have had a different process for this bill. We should have had the process of the select committee, we should have gathered information about what the federal rules are. We should have looked at the desires of organizations like the unions, like the corporate sector to no longer be placed in a position where they feel they have to support political Parties so that they have connections and perhaps, influence, at a time when they might need it in their particular issue or sector.

I'm pleased that we were able to get some small changes in the bill. We were able to secure a change that means that no longer will Crown Corporations be able to contribute to political Parties. This Party was not very happy to see the World Trade and Convention Centre making contributions to political Parties in the province. That is an organization that is a public Crown Corporation and the money they're passing out to political Parties is not their money, it belongs to the people of the province. So this is a good change. There were no limits placed on the age of people who can make contributions to political Parties and I think it was unfortunate that didn't happen.

These are kind of minor points, Mr. Speaker. I know my time is at hand. Those are the things that I wanted to say. I will not be supporting this bill when it comes to a vote and I, like my colleague who spoke before me, feel somewhat ashamed that this legislation is here at all for this debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, to stand here to speak to the third reading of Bill No. 117, well, it has been a long week. As we all know, we were here in the Fall session speaking to Bill No. 117. When I received notice that the House would resume for the sole purpose of the want to move forward this piece of legislation, one of my questions was what else will we be doing in the House, what other business will we be looking at, what other business will the government be moving forward on? The answer was there is no other business except for this particular piece of legislation dealing with electoral reform, but we all know this week we did see other issues raised in this House - issues brought up by us, but certainly other issues that weren't so great to be dealing with here in this House for the time that we've been here.

I guess, you know, I was really disappointed to also hear that the public consultation, that I understood would be happening in between the Fall session and when we would next be called back into session would be taking place, hasn't happened. There has been no consultation on Bill No. 117 with the public. There hasn't been enough time

[Page 3032]

to give the public notice of full consultation on this bill. There was no full consultation with my Leader and my colleagues of the Official Opposition and that's a shame, that's a real shame. Here in this House we have spent countless hours discussing and debating this bill, Bill No. 117. We have heard nothing from the government side and certainly nothing from the Liberal side of the House, and that's not a true democratic process here happening.

[12:00 noon]

What we have seen are colleagues standing one by one speaking on this bill. We have seen a disinterest from the government. We have seen a disinterest from the Liberal caucus. That's not true democratic discussion here in this House. It's not a sharing of ideas. It's not the way Nova Scotians perceive government business to be handled without real debate and the sharing of ideas. There is no accountability here and no responsibility here shown by this government and the Liberal caucus in tow. The Leader of the Official Opposition and my colleagues have brought forward and demonstrated our want to have true electoral reform. We've offered several ways in which electoral reform can happen in this province.

To be here and witness the votes and members standing on their feet and voting and feeling that there was absolutely no interest in what the voting was for, I don't think there was one member on the government side or the Liberal caucus side who actually heard what was being discussed on this side of the House, because there was no interest. So here we find ourselves in a place where we have not moved forward at all with electoral reform.

This bill is one of inequality and which continues a sense of entitlement for some - a very false sense of entitlement. It also continues the mis-belief of some who may feel it is their rightful place to be here, and that's very, very much a misconception. Nova Scotians do not elect us because we feel it is our rightful place to be here; they elect us to represent their voices, their concerns, not our concerns, not our voices. They don't elect us to represent our Party voices; they don't elect us to see us try to move forward legislation that is in our Party's best interest. We are elected to represent their best interests, so it's not our rightful place to be here, it's a humbling place to be here. Many of us have worked very hard to be here. That's not to say that every member in this House has not worked hard to be here.

This bill continues the long, tired tradition of Party financing that includes corporate donations, union donations and the use of Liberal trust funds that are very suspect. I'm really surprised that the Liberal caucus didn't take the opportunity to speak on this bill, especially in light of the fact that there is a Liberal leadership race happening in just a couple of months, a few short months. Not one Liberal member chose to get up on their feet and discuss why they wanted to see this bill move forward. Not one chose to stand on their feet and defend the use of suspect Liberal trust funds - not one.

[Page 3033]

I'm hoping that, at that Liberal leadership race, many of the Liberal Party members ask those sorts of questions of the leadership contenders. I would be very curious to hear some of those responses because they certainly chose not to represent their thoughts here in this House. Not one government member stood on their feet to discuss what they felt were the benefits of this particular legislation, not one. What signal does that send the people of Nova Scotia when government members who are putting a piece of legislation forward, with little or no discussion, choose not to stand and speak? What does that tell Nova Scotians? It tells Nova Scotians that government is not interested in really debating, in really discussing true electoral reform.

This continues to be old Party politics and Nova Scotians are not going to buy into this any more. The people of Nova Scotia are losing faith in government, they are losing faith in politicians in general. The voter turnout in Nova Scotia continues to decrease every year, on the municipal level, on the provincial level and on the federal level. That's the sad reality of how Nova Scotians feel about our political system.

For us to be here discussing electoral reform, Nova Scotians need to be included, they need to be informed. They need to trust that the government and the politicians they elect to represent them are truly going to discuss and debate the issues and not avoid debating those issues.

We, as politicians and political voices, need to demonstrate that we are able to build better relationships with the voting public. Nova Scotians have no appetite for politics that continue to promote the financing of political parties through corporate and union donations and suspect Liberal trust funds.

The leader of the Official Opposition and my colleagues - we came up with real ideas, real opinions. We stood on our feet day after day, hour after hour in the Fall session and here during this session. The government and the Liberal caucus chose not to participate in those ideas and in that discussion.

We stood here and we said, ban all union donations, all corporate donations. There wasn't even discussion around that. We indicated all of the reasons why we should see the banning of corporate donations and the banning of union donations. One of my colleagues pointed out - and rightly so - that this will be the last time, the very last time that any other member of any other political Party, other than the Official Opposition that stands here today, will ever be able to challenge us or to use that old, tired line - the NDP is in the pockets of unions.

We will campaign in the next election and we will make sure that Nova Scotians understand where we stand on electoral reform. We will make sure they are reminded of this week's session where no true debate has taken place, no true discussion.

[Page 3034]

In some ways, some Nova Scotians will look at this session as a waste of time, a waste of Nova Scotians' time and they'll look at this as a waste of time because we have not dealt with many issues that really concern Nova Scotians, that really, truly interest Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians have real concerns and issues and expect - rightly so - that the people that are elected in this room, they expect us to bring those issues forward on a daily basis. Instead, the government chose to see us here for a week to discuss the interests of one bill and on Party financing.

Many families across this province and in our communities struggle every day just to survive, struggling to make ends meet, to put food on the table, to pay the rent and to pay for heat. Many of those people are living in poverty daily. They don't want to hear us talking about Party financing. They don't want to hear how this bill will continue to promote corporate and union donations and the use of Liberal trust funds. They are interested in knowing how they will continue to make ends meet, day after day.

Can they afford to go into the grocery store and purchase milk or the nutritious food they need for their daily diet. Many Nova Scotians work tirelessly around the clock in this province at minimum wage jobs and they still live in poverty. They're not interested in hearing us spend hour after hour talking about electoral reform that's not even true electoral reform.

We have many communities struggling in this province - aging populations, communities are seeing a growing number of seniors in their communities, seniors who are looking for access to health care, seniors who need long-term care facilities - those are real issues in our communities. We have a serious problem with out-migration of youth in our communities, that's what our people are concerned about, that's what Nova Scotians are concerned about.

For them to look at what's happening in this House this week, where government and the Liberal caucus choose to just discuss their own Party interests is not in the best interests of Nova Scotians.

Small business owners across this province are challenged year in and year out to balance their books and yearly they have to continue to look at ways to revise their business plans just in the hope that they can survive the next year. They are not interested in government filling their own pockets, thinking about their own interests. They are interested in surviving. They want government and politicians to be speaking out in their best interests.

We have seen in the last week, pork producers from across this province come to this House and they wanted to discuss real ideas; they wanted to discuss their real issues. They struggle yearly, they are in a crisis situation and this government couldn't come up with a plan; couldn't come up with real incentives; couldn't come up with real solutions; couldn't even come up with a "yes" answer that they would sit down at the

[Page 3035]

table on a continuous basis to help these pork producers. We were too busy in here - government was too busy trying to push this piece of legislation forward dealing with Party financing, and of course there were other issues that kind of stood in the way of real issues.

Our agricultural communities across this province, they have real issues, real struggles that are really important to the survival of Nova Scotia, to the survival of our rural communities. Instead, here we are at the government's will, to discuss Bill No. 117 on electoral reform.

Our fishing communities across this province are in dire straits, struggling. Our fishing communities are not as vibrant as they once were; we have a lot of serious issues to deal with in our fishing communities. We need to seriously consult with our fishermen across this province to understand their needs and work with them to help them sustain one of our natural resources. Instead, this government chose to bring us back here for a week to try to push through a piece of legislation that deals with Party financing, filling the pockets of politicians; feeling that it is an entitlement to continue old-style politics, corporate donations, union donations and tainted, suspect Liberal trust funds.

[12:15 p.m.]

The time we have spent in this House this week has proved very little to the Province of Nova Scotia. It has been an embarrassing week, at the best. Probably for most Nova Scotians, an interesting week because I suspect that they are walking away shaking their heads and saying, we've elected these members of the House and they have chosen to do nothing to really represent our concerns.

I suspect that when I go home in my riding - and I already have a volume of e-mails, a volume of calls - but I suspect I am going to have a lot of people coming into my office and asking me just what the heck is going on? What is government doing? They will know that the Official Opposition - my Leader and my colleagues - have been working very hard in this House to represent the views of Nova Scotians. Even though we have been brought back here to deal with Party financing and a piece of legislation that is not true electoral reform, we have been able to talk about the real issues that Nova Scotians want to hear. The questions we were able to ask in this House dealing with consumers of mental health services, seniors, education questions, questions around the need for our pork producers and our agricultural communities to survive and their issues, those are the issues that we attempted to bring forward. Those were the issues. We have worked diligently in this session. We have chosen to use the opportunity that the government gave us in calling us back for this week to deal with the pieces of legislation, to get those issues forward, trying to get them front and centre.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of other things happening in this House that we had to work very hard to try to get those issues in the public eye, to prove to Nova

[Page 3036]

Scotians that we continue to work on their behalf, that we continue to work in their best interests, that we do stand up and support all of our families across this province and the struggles that they are enduring day after day, and we will continue to do that when we leave this House. I am looking forward to getting back to my riding with the people who have elected me and those who are looking at me as, you know, it's a good thing she is there, those who perhaps didn't vote in my direction, who are looking at me and saying, do you know what, she does work hard and she does know our issues, and she will continue to work hard and we have faith that she will continue to represent our views. That's what I'm looking forward to doing. I can't wait to leave this House this week and to get back where I belong in my community serving the people who have elected me to be a voice here for them.

I will be telling my constituents about this week in the House and I will be telling them that for the most part, while this government exists, that old-style Party politics will continue to happen in Nova Scotia, that true electoral reform did not happen in Nova Scotia in this session, but it will happen and I truly believe that the day will come that true electoral reform will happen in this province. We stood here and we gave options. We came up with alternatives and the government still refused to even discuss those options, to even debate those options. Not one member stood on their feet here. That's really surprising. All of the members here were elected to represent their views. Were there no constituents in your ridings that have given you any indication of what you should be voicing here around electoral reform? Maybe the constituents were just not interested because it dealt with Party financing, covering our own butts with money that, you know, corporate donations, taxpayers' money. This is not electoral reform.

This was an opportunity. This bill could have provided a real opportunity for true electoral reform. We should have been talking about real grassroots building, really connecting with the voting public, really demonstrating that there is a need for electoral reform and grassroots connecting here in the province. Nova Scotians are a smart group of people. We have some of the most vibrant people across this province and sometimes we take for granted that perhaps they're not listening, they're not watching, but do you know what, they are watching and they are listening. They know who was standing on their feet and who was not. They know who is sincere in bringing good ideas forward, that have the ability to bring good ideas forward. They have been watching each of my colleagues here stand and bring good discussion forward to this House and they also know that that good discussion went unheard.

Many of us know what it takes to run a campaign in this province. Those of us who have run in elections before, and ran in the last election, we've all worked really hard to build the grassroots around our associations. Most of us have been involved in fundraising and other initiatives to become visible out there in the public eye. It's a lot of hard work. It's hard work to put a fundraiser together - whether you're selling tickets or whether you're putting on a fundraising dinner, whether you're selling tickets on turkeys or whether you're selling 50/50 tickets, whether you're doing three fundraising

[Page 3037]

dinners a year or whether you choose to do auctions, or whether you choose to "buddy up" with another fundraising event, it's a lot of work. It's a lot of work to recruit volunteers, volunteers who believe in the Party but perhaps don't have the time or sometimes the resources, and it's a lot of work to recruit volunteers who perhaps will have the time and will have the resources to help with building a financial base so that Parties and candidates can run campaigns.

It's not a lot of work when corporate donations are handed over to political Parties; it's not a lot of work when union donations come into play; and it certainly isn't a lot of work to dip into trust funds that perhaps are suspect. There's no work to that; there's nothing really involved with doing that - there's really not a recruiting of volunteers. Perhaps there may be a little bit of networking on the side and, perhaps too, on the other end there may be - just may be - a donation comes in and there's an expected return, an expected return. It may not be said out loud; it may not even be clearly evident of what the payback should be; it may not even be suggested. But there's something that's still not right. There's something that's - a donation comes in, it's a fairly substantial donation, and there's a popular belief out there that those types of donations come with ties - they come with political ties.

To the average Nova Scotian, the average voter, to have that perception only gives more cause why they continue to lose faith in the political system. They don't generally believe politicians when politicians say there are no ties, no strings attached, there's nothing that I have to give back for this particular political donation. Do you think we're believed if we say that? No. Probably not at all. But to have volunteers out on the ground networking and raising funds, raising funds with no expectation of any return, there's not even a perception that there will be something given in return when funds are raised that way.

This was an opportunity to really build the grassroots, to talk with individuals, to give individuals the opportunity to decide whether or not they will contribute or should contribute or may think about contributing to political campaigns. We lost that opportunity, and that's a shame. We've spent hours and hours in this House, and we lost that opportunity. We have so many issues that we're not dealing with, that we didn't deal with here in the House, and it will be interesting to hear the public feedback that comes back to each and every one of us when we go back to our constituencies. I would be very interested in hearing what each of you may be telling your constituents when you're asked about electoral reform, when you're asked about the other issues that were dealt with in this House, when you're asked about the embarrassing moments that took place in this House and when you are also asked, so what work actually got done, you were all here for a week and x number of hours so what work was actually accomplished? Can you tell me if you earned the salary that you make out of the taxpayers' money, did you really earn that this week?

[Page 3038]

I would be interested in hearing some of the answers because I know that on this side of the House, the Official Leader of the Opposition and my colleagues know I earned every hour that I worked here. I stood here on my feet, I sat here day after day with my colleagues, side by side and we represented the views of our constituents. When I had a break, what was I doing? I was phoning my constituency, I was returning calls, I was sending e-mails, I was in touch two and three times a day with my constituency. That was the work that I got done in this House. Then I stood on my feet and I asked questions relevant to my constituents. I also stood in support of my colleagues and the Leader of the Official Opposition in opposition to this Bill No. 117 . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Maybe I could ask the honourable member to return to the third reading of the bill that is before the House, please.

MS. CONRAD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Bill No. 117 is exactly why we're here. This is why we were called back to the House. We were called back to deal with one piece of legislation, electoral reform, and we have seen no real reform here in this House. What we have seen is the same old same old. There was no real public consultation, there was no real discussion out there, there was no real discussion with the Official Opposition.

This is a minority government and we need to work together and this week has been a demonstration of a very fractured minority government because the government and the Liberal caucus, the coalition that has been formed, has not been an effective, working minority government. This government chose to shut out the Official Opposition on consultation on Bill No. 117 and chose to ignore members of the Official Opposition when they stood on their feet time after time, day in and day out, hour after hour. They have been walking back and forth, they have been talking among themselves, they have been reading papers, doing work, instead of listening to debate and participating. Not one member, I can't remember all this week, one other member in this House on the other side of the House, standing on their feet and saying one word about this piece of legislation. That is astounding, that is not the democratic process.

[12:30 p.m.]

There was no consultation, there was no discussion, no serious discussion at all. We came forward with real ideas around electoral reform and corporate donations and union donations. Get rid of the trust funds. That wasn't appealing, that wasn't discussed, that wasn't taken seriously, so we came back with other amendments. We came back with other ideas around electoral reform. We put different timelines, extended timelines but that wasn't of interest to the government, that wasn't of interest to the Liberal caucus. They weren't interested, it seems, in changing anything. They came forward with their own views - here it is, here's the paper, end of discussion.

[Page 3039]

This is a minority government, this is not democratic at all. There was no debating, there was no real discussion. That's not what we were elected to do. We were elected to represent our constituents, and we were elected here to share ideas. This bill is clearly . . .

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member is carping away about the way the Legislature works, and different pieces of legislation were brought forward, and many amendments. Some of them lived, some of them didn't. Some amendments were even supported by some members of the honourable member opposite's Party. The point I'm making, Mr. Speaker, and you would know well (Interruptions) I don't know if he got suspended yesterday, he said he was supposed to support it, but anyway.

The point I was making, back to the point of order, Mr. Speaker, the member should know, and I know she's a new member, but the point is - you know what? That's the way democracy works. If you don't like it, you're going to have to suck it up, because that's the way democracy works in the Legislature.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the honourable member, the honourable minister knows that point of order is not in order.

The honourable member for Queens. Continue, please.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, to get back to Bill No. 117, when we left here in the Fall session a lot of us were with the understanding that there would be real consultation around this bill. I remember sitting here and understanding that there would be a committee formed, and that committee would consult with Nova Scotians across this province about what they expected to see in electoral reform. Did that happen? No. It didn't happen. When is it going to happen? After the bill is passed, so that perhaps we need to come back and do the same sort of exercise over again?

Public consultation is just something that this government doesn't seem to understand. There have been so many issues besides this particular piece of legislation that the public has been asking to have a say on, to be a part of the process, and they are constantly shut out. That's what happened with this piece of legislation. When this session was called back, the public was completely shut out of these discussions, and that's not what we were elected here to do. We are elected on the public's behalf. We were elected to represent their concerns, not our concerns.

Being in this House isn't about the money we raise for our political Parties. This has no place in this House. It shouldn't have a place in this House. There are volunteers and members of our Parties who give of their time to help volunteer to raise funds. We shouldn't be taking up hours of House time and business to be talking about filling our pockets; Party financing is a discussion that required in this House more outside

[Page 3040]

discussion between the Parties so that we could come in here and come up with true electoral reform.

The next election will be an interesting walk forward. I will be telling constituents that we stood here in this House talking about true reform, that we're not interested in union donations, that that has always been a misconception. That has always been (Interruptions) We offered that we wanted to see a banning of all corporate and union donations. We took that stand, and we stand behind that. I stand behind my Leader, the Leader of the Official Opposition and my colleagues with that move. That was a bold move for our Leader to stand here and say we want a banning of all union donations, and along with that a banning of all corporate donations. You will never again be able to walk up to anyone in this province and say, do you know what, the NDP is in the back pockets of unions. How many years have we listened to that? That's kind of like the same old tired statements we hear about the "tax and spend" of the NDP. What is with that? That is so old and tired and it's not true. I mean, have you looked around at some of the successful NDP Governments in the country? We have Manitoba and Saskatchewan, you know, but it's old-style politics, the fear-mongering that is old-style Party politics (Interruptions) Old Party politics.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Queens has the floor and it's very difficult for the Chair to hear the honourable member. (Interruptions) Please, please, I would ask honourable members, if they want to pursue their discussion, to take it out of the Chamber.

The honourable member for Queens has the floor.

MS. CONRAD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm sure there are many who are sitting here today who are saying, this is all repetitious, repetitious, we've heard the same thing over and over again but, do you know what, I may be standing here saying the same thing in this particular speech, maybe I've repeated myself a bit but I do that with my children. That is something that I learned very early on with my children. In order for them to truly understand what I was saying, I would have to repeat myself time and time again. We have been standing here trying to get the government and the Liberals to really understand true electoral reform and it seems to be falling on deaf ears.

As I have said earlier, not one member has chosen to stand on their feet, except on the odd point of order which comes more out of seemingly frustration than perhaps a valid point of order, but we have heard really nothing. It's truly interesting and, as a new member, it's truly eye-opening. I must say this has been one of the most interesting experiences since my six months here in office, truly interesting, and I'm looking forward to helping my constituents understand the past week here. That will be an interesting process when I go back to the riding of Queens which I'm very much looking forward to.

[Page 3041]

The work that I've been doing in my riding, I'm very pleased with the results. I have people coming into the office and thanking me for just listening, for them to be part of the process. They share with me their concerns and their issues and I've been moving them forward and that's what I intend to do when I get back into my constituency. I hope that they share their thoughts around electoral reform. I will sit with any constituent who comes my way and wants a full understanding and if it's information that I may not have in front of me, I will certainly make sure that I get all of the accurate information for them. I will share with them just what happened here and I will be asking for their input. I will be asking what they think about electoral reform. Do they think that it's right for this piece of legislation that allows corporate donations to carry on, that allows union donations to carry on, and that allows the Liberals to continue to use that trust fund money, that trust fund money that has been surrounded by scandal, that is suspect?

We had an opportunity here and we missed it, but that's not surprising either because I kind of sensed that we were going to miss an opportunity from the Fall session. I mean we've seen the same kind of disinterest from government to truly discuss the issue. We've seen a disinterest from the Liberals, and we knew that this coalition was kind of there, and that this was not something that was going to be really discussed here. I guess perhaps most of us sensed that back in the Fall.

When we walked away with the understanding that there would be some consultation happening, I walked away thinking, well, perhaps the government will really follow through in putting a committee together and seeing that committee go across this province and talk to Nova Scotians about what they see as electoral reform. What do they think we should be doing in terms of Party financing?

But those questions weren't even addressed, because there was no committee. What happened to the idea that there was some sort of an agreement that a committee would actually be formed, that the public would actually be part of the process? That they would be consulted. Well, it turns out it was a bit of a joke, perhaps a bit of a joke on this whole House, because it never happened, and it's not going to happen. Maybe it will happen after this legislation goes forward, but what will that prove?

Will it prove that we have to find ourselves back here discussing, again, electoral reform after a committee goes around this province and talks to Nova Scotians, and they come back with recommendations, and all of a sudden the recommendations are different that what we have in Bill No. 117, which actually is not electoral reform at all.

I suspect what we may hear from the public, should a committee go around this province, is we are going to hear what about the real issues? What about the struggling Nova Scotians across this province? What are you going to be doing about the fact that we are losing our youth out West and to other provinces, looking for jobs?

[Page 3042]

Because our economy - even though the numbers may show otherwise, we don't have a robust economy here in Nova Scotia, and it's false for us to think so. It's false for us to put stock in numbers that may tell us, well the unemployment rate is down, but really the economy is not robust. We have an out-migration of our youth, we have an aging population, we have a broken health care system, we have a system that does not service consumers of mental health issues. Those are the issues that I suspect we're going to hear throughout a public consultation process on electoral reform.

I think some of those Nova Scotians are going to say, hey, wait a minute, that's all fine and good, I'll give you my ideas around electoral reform, but I also want to tell you that you should be addressing these issues, and I don't see the government moving forward on any of these. What is the government's plan? What plan do we have?

[12:45 p.m.]

What else is interesting is, when we talk about this committee and this public consultation, members did not get up on their feet from the government side and explain what this committee is going to look like. That was an idea that came and went in the Fall session. It was put out there, it was chatted about quickly in the Fall session, and now we're faced with a piece of legislation, and I don't see any reference to a committee. I don't see any involvement of the public at all around this piece of legislation, and that's really surprising, because it was there, that suggestion was there in the Fall. I was here. I walked away thinking that the consultation across the province was going to happen, that we would not be discussing Bill No. 117 until some months into the future after the public consultation happened. Again, as in previous issues, when public consultation is suggested, this government does not include the public to be part of the process - he public, who have elected us here to see their work done.

We will have a lot of answers, I'm sure, to questions that will be asked of us. You know, the answers that some Nova Scotians are going to be hearing are not answers that they're probably going to be impressed with, not impressed with at all.

Looking back on this week, it's been kind of mind-boggling in a way. I mean, dealing with electoral reform and not really seeing that happen, and then dealing with all the embarrassing issues that came before this House. And meanwhile here we are, the Official Opposition, trying to get the interests of Nova Scotians represented at the same time as all of these other kinds of mind-boggling experiences here in the House, you know, talking about electoral reform, and that really didn't happen, discussing the issues of members and the handling of government and conduct.

When I go home I'm not sure whether or not - certainly I can say for myself that I have worked on behalf of my constituents while I've been here, but did we really work on behalf of all Nova Scotians as a minority government? I don't think that I can quite

[Page 3043]

indicate to my constituents that on behalf of all Nova Scotians this minority government actually did a lot of work on their behalf this week.

Again, this was a missed opportunity, but I do believe there will be a chance in Nova Scotia for true electoral reform to happen - there will be a time when there will be an end to corporate donations and there will be a time when there will be an end to union donations, and there will be a time when either the Liberal trust funds will kind of run out or the Liberal trust funds will no longer be able to be used for electioneering purposes.

I really hope that there have been some lessons, in this process, learned by all sides. I would think that the Liberals may, after their leadership race, perhaps think back and decide that perhaps they should have stood on their feet and addressed the concerns around this particular bill. I'm also hoping that some members of the government side may go home and think, well, I had an opportunity and I could have spoken and I could have said why I'm supporting and why I will continue to support union donations and why I continue to support the use of the Liberal trust funds. Perhaps those members may have to answer those questions to their constituents, but they may decide to kind of give their opinion out there anyway prior to their being asked. So hopefully there will be some lessons learned.

I guess there's not a lot more, Mr. Speaker, that I can say. Certainly in the Fall session I talked a lot about the Liberal trust funds and the scandals around that, and the responsibility of government to move forward with good reform. I chose, during my time here today, not to speak on those particular issues again because we have heard them all - all of my colleagues have articulated very well the complete ins and outs of this particular legislation. I chose to stand here and talk about the missed opportunities that I see, and the lack of public consultation, and the real work that I don't see being done in this House this week because we have had a government and a Liberal caucus that really chose not to take the opportunity to debate and really discuss this issue, the fact that a committee was suggested back in the Fall and the government has decided not to move forward on that.

Mr. Speaker, I think I have used up my time. I thank you for the opportunity.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I, too, am going to stand and have a few brief words on this issue of Bill No. 117. I have to keep those brief words and comments within the allowed time of approximately an hour - hopefully I can do that.

With this bill, of course, we have something against us, and that is time. Ultimately this bill will pass through the process here in the House with the support of

[Page 3044]

the Liberal Party and the government. We all know that, we knew that in the Fall, but as an elected official, as a member of the Official Opposition here in this province, we take our job very seriously, and I think with every piece of legislation we really try to improve that, to hopefully come out with something better than what we started with.

We all agree, and we agree even though we've been up here on our feet, including the last Fall session, now I think close to maybe nearly 40, 50, maybe even 60 hours we have spoken about this legislation, Mr. Speaker, and we truly wanted to see if we could get positive changes to it. I have to admit there were some amendments that we put forward to the Law Amendments Committee that passed, that the government accepted, which we appreciated, but ultimately the bill, as a whole, is still not what we would want and we believe what the public would want. The public really wants us to look at changes and reform to Party financing, to election financing.

Mr. Speaker, I know it's not at the top of their interest level but when you engage Nova Scotians, as I have on many issues, they let you know what they're thinking and when you talk about this issue, as I have over the last couple of months, I've mentioned it, too, when people have approached me in the community on what we've done in the last session and, of course, the end of the session definitely was something that I went through for the first time on pulling the hoist on Bill No. 117 to try to allow for more of that exchange of ideas and try to educate the public on this bill and what the implications are, we were trying in the Fall to get that six-month reprieve to go out and do the consultation that I think we really need to do on this bill.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, and I've actually had some of the government members say that we're following the procedures of the House around consultation. It is that consultation that I think we have lacked in, that we didn't give enough time to go out into the communities and ask them what they think about this piece of legislation.

I recall, Mr. Speaker, that it was back in the Fall - in the winter, I guess, I think it was November - when early one morning - I don't know the exact date - there was a news release from the Minister of Justice calling for the Law Amendments Committee later that day to deal with Bill No. 117 and our caucus was surprised. We had no notice that was going to be called, and it was supposed to take place, I think, around 2:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. and to my amazement - and I know to many of my colleagues' amazement - this actually happened. Well, come to find out that the Law Amendments Committee didn't meet that day, and I believe it was because our members couldn't attend. We had some of our members on that committee who were away; the Liberal members of that committee couldn't attend - I believe it was on the eve of the federal Leadership Convention in Montreal and they couldn't attend, so the meeting was cancelled.

Then it gave us that notice, the indication that government was trying to push this through the process; they were trying to get this piece of legislation through and keep us

[Page 3045]

off keel on what we were hoping to do with this piece of legislation, and that was the consultation part, Mr. Speaker. We said in November, in the Fall session, that we wanted to consult and we stood here in our place. I actually was the last member to speak that day, when I was told listen, we've come to an understanding with the government, our House Leader came to us and said, they're giving us the opportunity to delay this later on in the new year so that we could do that consultation. We said, well, that's great. Then we succeeded in what we were doing back in the Fall.

As the member for Halifax Chebucto stated earlier, the cover of The Daily News that day or the next day was: "Blah blah: NDP bores Tories into submission", into agreeing to come to an understanding, and there were pictures of our members, 12 of our members had pictures and quotes on that cover, Mr. Speaker.

That is the process where we were going through to hopefully get that opportunity to talk to individuals, talk to Nova Scotians, talk to taxpayers, and I think those are the most important ones right now, the taxpayers of this province, because they are ultimately, when this bill passes, going to be responsible for funding political Parties.

Now I don't know if the Progressive Conservatives from Yarmouth or the Liberals from Glace Bay understand that now they're going to be supporting the NDP through their taxes. It's going to be interesting to see when they actually understand, when the public realizes what passes, when this bill passes, the implications and ultimately the funding of the political Parties here in this province.

Yes, of course, those who support our Party now are going to be supporting the Progressive Conservative Party and the Liberal Party, but I don't think people truly understand that and the implications of this bill and this piece of legislation. That's why, as an Opposition member, and as my colleague and the Leader of our caucus have stood here hour after hour to bring up those points on this piece of legislation because, as I said, all taxpayers ultimately are going to be affected by this piece of legislation.

Now, we've stated earlier, and I'll state it again, that I believe this piece of legislation was drafted to try to stem our Party from some of the financing we get at election time, Mr. Speaker, and was really crafted around two Parties. As the member for Queens stated earlier, as the Official Opposition here in the Province of Nova Scotia, we were not consulted on this piece of legislation. I think that was a misfortune for taxpayers. It was an oversight, hopefully, for the government, which I know it wasn't. They purposely kept us out of the loop on this one because it does affect us, but we're going to gain from this piece of legislation if it passes. Between elections we're going to continue to receive funding for the amount of votes that we received, and I have to remind the government that for the last decade or more the number of votes for our caucus, for our Party, has increased.

[Page 3046]

Mr. Speaker, we have 20 members of the Legislature right now. I know that the MLA that I took over from, Mr. Holm, back in 1984 would have never thought, back then when there were only two and then three members of our caucus, that today we would have 20 members and that the support for our Party has grown every year since and it continues to grow. Ultimately our funds are going to go up because of that support in this province and I think it's because of issues like this, or bills and the process of this House, that we continue as Opposition members to stand and point out the good and the bad things about pieces of legislation, especially about Bill No. 117, that the public realized they can put their confidence in us and their support behind us.

As I said, that continues to grow every day and it will continue to grow I think, and I believe, especially in recent days and months with some of the events that have cast some doubt on if this government should continue to rule and govern in this province.

[1:00 p.m.]

There's a lot of doubt right now, Mr. Speaker, even prior to the conduct that we've seen from one of their Cabinet Ministers in recent weeks, there have been questions around policies and issues here in this province that the government had been ignoring for far too long, and people are starting to recognize that and are starting to say, has it been too long, have they worn out their welcome, the Progressive Conservative Party? They've been governing this province since 1999 and I think that a lot of people, and I've talked to voters in this province, some of them are Progressive Conservative voters, some of them are Liberal voters and, of course, our Party supporters, they're questioning that now.

Has this government run out of good options? I think we've all seen many of the good ideas that our Party has brought forward, our caucus has brought forward, that the government has adopted and we're more than happy to lend them to them, to allow them to use our ideas and changes that we want to see in public policy, changes like what we would hope we would have seen in Bill No. 117.

There were amendments that we brought forward as a caucus that we felt were important, that reflected what voters, what taxpayers would want to see, and I'll go through some of those later, the ones that did pass. I think it's important that we recognize that taxpayers wanted to see some of these changes, these amendments, and we brought them forward. When one amendment wouldn't pass, Mr. Speaker, we didn't just give up, put our hands up and say, okay, we tried our best. We felt, well, as an Opposition and as a Party that has come to the table, has come to this Chamber many times and been accountable and compromised with the government to try to work out a deal, work out a situation that might not be the best for all of us, but it's a good outcome that might be the best for the taxpayers. That's what we've done.

[Page 3047]

We came here with those amendments, with changes to this legislation that we all agree need to take place in this province. What happened, Mr. Speaker? The small amendments that government felt didn't really change the intent of the bill were passed and agreed on in the Law Amendments Committee, but the major ones, which I think would really reflect that intention or the wishes of those who are going to be ultimately paying the price for this piece of legislation, things like eliminating the need or the requirement or the will of political Parties to seek corporate and union donations, that was a big step for us, it was a big step for our Leader to stand up and say, no, let's try to be fair to the public. If the public is going to start funding our Parties, then let's try to make it a level playing field for all three Parties so that when we go into the next election, we're all starting at the same spot.

With this legislation the way it is now, that's not going to happen. We will still continue to see corporate donations, which this piece of legislation is really tailored around. If you looked at the books of the donations received from the Progressive Conservative Party over the last however many years, you could look back 20 elections, that a high percentage of their income comes from the corporate donations in the range of $1,000 to $5,000. They receive a lot of money between those numbers. Also, we see that the use of the trust fund that the Liberal Party has - and we all know the history of it, we all know the implications of the wrongdoing that had happened years ago, and people were convicted on it. We all know the history, I won't go into it in detail. I know that maybe I should, but I won't.

We all know that there was a questionable way of receiving that trust fund. We know the outcome. The money that they could actually trace back to illegal dealings was given back to the province, but they also stated during the audit that was done at the time that they couldn't tell where the majority of money came from, so we can't tell them to give it back.

Mr. Speaker, the use of those funds will always shed a shadow of doubt on, I believe, your Party and the Liberal Party, on where it actually came from. You can't tell us where it came from, because there seems to be no trace. The rightful thing, I think, to do is to get rid of that. Give it back to the taxpayers. Imagine what Liberals and potential Liberal voters would think if the Liberals would ultimately, someday say, okay, let's get rid of this trust fund. Maybe they'll have more than the nine seats that they have now. Who knows? Maybe they would. Maybe I shouldn't be suggesting that, because I hope that they continue to go on the trend that they've been going on in the last several elections, but maybe if they did the right thing their fortunes would change. I won't go there.

They choose to continue on the path they're on, and I think that leaves questions in the minds of voters around elections. This will come up in the next election. It hasn't come up too much, I believe, in the two previous elections that I've been involved in, but with this piece of legislation coming through this Chamber, it brings all of that back into

[Page 3048]

play. People will have those questions. It got tucked away for a few years, maybe 10, 15 years, but it will be back. There will be questions in the next election, I guarantee that this issue will come up, and the issues of corporate and union donations, in the next election. It will, because of this piece of legislation.

I think if we wanted to truly try to clean up the image and the cynicism that voters have around political Parties, no matter what Party they support, we need to try to level that playing field and show a transparency in how we work as a Party, as a political Party, but also as MLAs, Mr. Speaker. I think the amendment that we brought forward was something that we should have looked at, that the government and the Liberal Party should have endorsed and should have thought was the right approach for this legislation, to make it a better piece of legislation when it finally gets the vote at the end of this third reading process.

When that amendment didn't come forth, Mr. Speaker, the elimination of union and corporation donations, the elimination of the Liberal trust fund, we thought, well, what can we do? Let's try to make this - let's rethink our idea and maybe we can come to an understanding to try to make this bill even better, as I said several times. So we suggested another amendment that that cap we have in this piece of legislation, at $5,000 for a union or corporate donation, how about looking at that and trying to wean off that. Let's try to reduce that over the next several years so that in a few years' time we won't have the ability to seek those donations.

So that was an amendment we brought forward to try to reduce it, I think it was by 2010, I'm not too sure of the exact time, but this election we would set it at $5,000, the next year or so it would be $4,000 and then $3,000 and so on, so that ultimately we would wean down and result in no donations from corporations or unions in this province.

It was a compromise, it was an understanding that I thought our colleagues said, well, it's not what we want. We want to ban them all, it's not what we want, but this job isn't about what we want. It's not about what the NDP caucus wants. It is about what the voters want. It is what Nova Scotians want and I believe they want something like that, Mr. Speaker. I would have hoped that the government would have looked at that amendment and said, well, we are in a minority situation here. We have to work with the other Parties even though in the last six months I haven't seen too much of that, other than the so-called coalition that the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives have right now to get through this session especially. I will talk a little bit about why we're here in this historic Chamber for one reason, to pass one bill.

I think we need to recognize that as a minority government, the ideas that come forward should be really scrutinized, looked at, evaluated, and we should be able to come to an understanding. That's what the voters of this province put us here for. They didn't put us here or they didn't put the government here to rule on every policy that

[Page 3049]

comes through this House, Mr. Speaker, they didn't give them that right. With the 23 seats that they have, they didn't give them that right to rule on everything that comes through this Chamber. They reserved judgment on government in the last election. They actually took away some seats from them. They reserved judgment on what is going on, what the dealings of government have been over the last three and a half years since the last election before the election in the summer. They reserved judgment on that.

The point was made, I think, by the voters that we need to work as a group here on pieces of legislation, especially I think a reform like this where it deals with Party financing - that's not just dealing with one Party. This is dealing with all three Parties that are sitting here in this Chamber. So I think the decision to continue on here in the province as a minority government - it is incumbent upon us, as MLAs, to make sure that we try to negotiate and we try to reason with each other to get the best possible outcome to legislation and the public policy.

There's no difference if we're talking about the budget or if we're talking about Bill No. 117, it doesn't matter. You shouldn't have to negotiate for a few and just stand firm on other ones; we need to negotiate on everything. We need to make sure that the public interest is taken into account, with a minority government here in this province. I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that I was elected here in 2003 and the former Premier, John Hamm, had worked with our caucus on a lot of issues. He sought input from our caucus because he knew - he respected that voters in 2003 had made a decision, had reserved judgment on the government. He recognized that, something that I think the new Premier has forgotten.

I hope that maybe the former Premier, Dr. Hamm, will have coffee with the current Premier and make him realize that ultimately he's responsible to the people of this province and he has to abide by what they want or he won't be sitting in that chair much longer. Maybe Dr. Hamm will give that call to the Premier and give him a wake-up call to say, listen, you have to start looking at the best interests of the public, not the best interests of government and not the best interests of the Progressive Conservative Party. You have to look at the best interests of the public when legislation comes through this Chamber - like this bill.

As I said earlier, this is ultimately going to affect the taxpayers of this province, the people who pay my salary, the salaries of the government members and the Cabinet members. I don't think we went through the process allowing those taxpayers to have the best chance to have input.

As I said, this isn't on the highest priority list for taxpayers, but if you can engage them, which I think is the responsibility of members here, to talk about, what do you think about this piece of legislation and not just sit back and say we called Law Amendments one day, we had a couple of presenters, there's no interest out there. You

[Page 3050]

can't judge it like that, especially when Law Amendments was called leading up to the holiday season - leading up to the busiest time of the year for all of us. We all know that.

You can't judge the appetite for change or the lack of appetite for change in something like Party financing on that indication. As I said earlier, the government tried to rush this through by calling Law Amendments one morning. I remember the news release, I remember the Minister of Justice sent out calling for Law Amendments later that day and there weren't enough members of that committee around to have that meeting. We knew then that this was going to be rushed through this House.

What happened after that? They did hold Law Amendments, a few members of the public - the ones that we could try to get to make presentations. We tried to make it known to the public during that lead up to the holiday season to get in here. We did have some presenters and they had concerns with this. There were eight of them, I believe.

What happened after that? We know. It's why we're standing here today, this week. The government deemed fit to think this was a piece of legislation we had to get through, so they called a winter session - which hasn't happened since I've been here, for nearly four years, I don't think from hearing from members here, have never had a winter sitting. Maybe yourself, Mr. Speaker, I believe you've been here over 15 years, not quite 15 years? But you've been here awhile, so it's rare. Everybody should agree to that, it's rare to come back to this House at this time on January 4th to talk about legislation.

But, it wasn't to talk about legislation, to talk about bills, to talk about public policy - it was to talk about Bill No. 117. It was a surprise for most of the members of my caucus because in the Fall session we tried to bring forward a hoist to allow some time to do that consultation I talked about, several times now.

One of the agreements, I thought, and maybe, yes, we were at fault, we never got anything in writing from the government about us to sit down - for me, actually, I was actually the last speaker on that when all my colleagues were speaking for an hour on the hoist and the reason we wanted that, I was the last speaker and I was given a note to say, listen, close debate on that, we're going to allow some time so that we can do that. We said, great.

[1:15 p.m.]

So, it was kind of a surprise for us to see all of a sudden we're back on January 4th to deal with this piece of legislation and not farther in the winter and actually why not, as many of us said, brought back in the Spring during the budget vote. We all know the rumours are going around, it's not going to be that long until we're back here debating the estimates and debating the budget, so I don't understand, I really don't

[Page 3051]

understand the need to really rush us through this step and to bring us back to deal with this one bill.

As I was saying, I don't understand why there was such a rush. As I said, a couple more months - I'll make a prediction here, Mr. Speaker, that the week after March Break we'll probably be called to this House to deal with the budget. We all know that the Liberal Party has a pending leadership race, and that, I think, is affecting why we're seeing us come back at that time. I know, I can only guess because I'm not privy to whatever agreement or coalition that the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives have, but I would suggest that there is some agreement to get the budget here, to get it approved and get it out so that the Liberals can concentrate on their leadership race.

As I said, that brings me back to another amendment. I know I mentioned around ending the corporate and union donations, but around the leadership race of an individual as an MLA for a political Party. That was another amendment we brought forward, and we talked about it this week. It was to ensure that transparency, that accountability for individuals who take it upon themselves to take that jump, and it's a big jump, Mr. Speaker, I know that. I know that those individuals who decide to run for the Leader of an official Party here in the province, it's a big jump, one I'm sure the Premier is questioning right now. I know it's early in his jump to do that. It's a big jump, and it's a big requirement, and I think it's necessary to ensure that when individuals - because it could be an individual, you don't have to be a member of this House to run as a Leader, as individuals - members of the Legislature who deem it appropriate, or it's time for them to make that jump to run for Leader of their Party that there's accountability there, there's transparency.

In the amendment we brought forward, Mr. Speaker, earlier this week, it outlined the need, I think, that taxpayers would want to see, that voters would want to see to ensure that those individuals who seek donations for a leadership race disclose who they are, be very open with voters, and ultimately be very open with members of their own Party. We all know that whoever votes for a Leader of a Party belongs to that Party. So it's ultimately being more transparent, more accountable to the people we represent, not only our constituents but the Party we choose to park our support behind.

I think this was a reasonable approach to addressing that concern and the need for accountability, to ensure that those individuals who took that jump, who decided to run as Leader for a political Party that they're accountable and it's transparent, and that any donations that they receive are disclosed within a 30-day timeline, so that not only the people in their own Party but the people of this province should recognize who is supporting them. It gives that extra, I think, good feeling that the old-time politics aren't still happening here in the Province of Nova Scotia, that we're willing, if someone's willing to donate to me, I'm willing to stand up and say these are the people who donated to me in a timely manner.

[Page 3052]

Right now, there's no law that states anybody who runs for Leader of a Party has to divulge that information, and I don't understand why we even accept that. Why is it any different if you're running to be a Leader of a Party than it is if you're running to be an MLA? As an MLA, I know for myself, I've done it twice now, that we have to be very cautious, there are very strict guidelines on who we can take donations from, and especially around the reporting of those donations. There are very strict guidelines. So if I'm held to that high level of accountability, I would expect the same, if not higher, level of accountability to be thrust upon the Leader of my Party, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, the Leader of the Liberal Party, or any other Party that might form in the future in this province. I think they should be held at an even higher accountability level, to their own supporters in their Party and to the taxpayers of this province, especially when this bill passes.

Ultimately, the taxpayers, even if they're not involved in the Progressive Conservative Party or our Party or the Liberals, will be funding our Parties. So I think we need to ensure that Leaders in their leadership race have those guidelines, those strict guidelines in there. That's why I don't understand why we're holding our Leaders at a lower standard, when it comes to disclosure of donors, to their political aspirations to become a Leader of an official Party here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

We don't have to look far, Mr. Speaker, to see changes that have already happened here in the country. I know other provinces, we've mentioned it before, have deemed it fit to make sure that Party financing and reform to an election Act is transparent and that there are guidelines to ensure accountability there for taxpayers.

Quebec, I think we've heard that this week several times - years ago actually, Mr. Speaker, if I'm not mistaken, it was even brought forward by the Bloc Québécois that was in power at the time in Quebec, and all Parties supported it. Now the Liberal Party, you know, follows those rules in Quebec. Jean Charest, I'm sure now, when he ran and won the leadership for that Party and the provincial Party, had to divulge his information of who donated to him and how much. It seems like a natural step, a natural step to take those regulations and ensure that they're in whatever Act pertains to donors and financing in the province here in Nova Scotia, or wherever, across the country.

Mr. Speaker, there are other provinces, I believe Manitoba had the same strong accountability clauses and guidelines in their election Act. Also our federal cousins, our Members of Parliament, recently changed reform to the way elections are funded and the requirement of disclosure around donations. They went through this, something like what we're going through here on Bill No. 117, and what's different there is there was wide consultation.

I heard about it on a daily timeline, Mr. Speaker, from Ottawa, in the papers around the need for change. There was a need for change. There was a need for accountability. We all know what really gave that issue the kick in the butt it needed to

[Page 3053]

get out there, and it was around, of course, the Gomery inquiry and all that transpired around that. Voters in this country were upset that this was allowed to happen, and they were tired of it happening. It has happened for years and years not only provincially, but federally, where there seems to be a secrecy around political financing, donors, who does, who doesn't, who's getting kickbacks, as we saw in the federal politics a couple years ago. I think that's what brewed the cynicism that we have in the financing of political Parties here in the country.

So they adopted change in Ottawa, Mr. Speaker. They first of all kicked out a government and replaced it, which often happens. I've often said, here in the Province of Nova Scotia and across the country, that voters rarely vote for a Party to put them in power, they rarely vote for a Party to govern. They usually get rid of one; they vote to get rid of one. We see it time and time again in history. We've seen it in this province and we've seen it in Ottawa, that voters get tired of the Party that is there and they vote them out.

I've always expressed, especially to my voters, the constituents in my area, that it's time we vote a government in, put somebody in there to give them a chance. That's the message I know many of my colleagues have gone around this province with, and it's actually taking root, and people are actually agreeing with that, Mr. Speaker. I think time will tell if that will be the case here in the province.

As I said, in Ottawa, we've seen those changes. After the Gomery events and all that stuff that was exposed, voters said enough was enough, and they made changes. They made changes and they adopted them, and all Parties supported it. All Parties had input on what they wanted to see, and there the minority government, like we have here, especially over the last several years, is very unstable. I have to say it's more unstable than Nova Scotia's minority government has been in the last three and a half, almost four years.

Yet, on this issue around political financing, reform, disclosure, transparency and accountability, they were able to sit down and say yes, we all understand, we all recognize voters want that. It might not be the highest thing on their agenda. We all know health care is. Every poll that we had, I am sure that the government had or that the Liberals had, provincially, federally, say health care, housing, social needs are important but when you were asked or you engaged the public on changes, especially to finance, they said no, we agree, we need changes there. It might not be the first thing they say but, as I said, if you engage them they will talk about this issue and they will say that they want changes.

So I don't understand how our Members of Parliament from all Parties who have 300-some members, I don't know what the number is now, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health is trying to help me but there are many parts of this country that are small, rural islands and inlets and the north and the east, the west, they were all able to come together

[Page 3054]

and make positive changes to a piece of legislation that was going through the House of Commons. I think it is the Federal Accountability Act, I believe is what their piece of legislation is called.

That is why I don't understand if we see that co-operation, that ability from our federal MPs, for the three Parties that we have here and in Ottawa we have the Bloc Québécois, another Party that has self-interests, they even agreed with this. It might have been because in their own province they have a similar piece of legislation so they thought, what's the big harm if we reflect what we do in our own province provincially, why can't we do it federally.

So here we have the federal government, all the Parties on the federal scene agreeing to change the way politics has been funded and the changes to bring more accountability to election and the financing of Parties and the political Parties here in this country, Mr. Speaker, that's why I don't understand we can't have the same thing here in Nova Scotia. Why are we settling for less? Why are we holding ourselves at a lower level of accountability? As I said with one of the amendments around financing or disclosing of donors for Leaders of political Parties, and they're even on a lower level of accountability than the MLAs here are going to be required to have to maintain. I don't understand that and I don't believe anybody over there on the government side or anybody on the Liberal side who has continued to say that they are going to support this could change my mind on this, could give me an argument to say why we're settling for less than what the people of this country said we wanted to see in Ottawa but yet we don't hear here today.

I'd be prepared to sit down right now and allow maybe the Minister of Justice, maybe the Minister of Health, maybe the Minister of Transportation, the Minister of Energy, to stand up and give me a reason why we're putting our accountability level lower than we expect of our MPs. The Minister of Community Services, I would love for her to stand up and tell me why our MPs are held at a higher level of accountability than our own members here.

What about the members of the Liberal Party? I'd sit down and let them stand up and try to explain to me why we need to put this piece of legislation through without making it as strong as possible, or at least the same as what we have in Ottawa and what we hold our Members of Parliament to. I just don't understand it, I don't think and I don't see any people gesturing to me that they want to stand up and give that to me, Mr. Speaker.

[1:30 p.m.]

So ultimately we see that's the difference between the three Parties here in this province. We see a coalition between the Liberals and the Conservatives to support this piece of legislation that holds Nova Scotians, politicians, political Parties at a lower level

[Page 3055]

of accountability than we do in Ottawa. We've stood here, that's why we are on our 50th some hour of debate on this bill, to make sure that the public knows this and that people of this province and the taxpayers who are going to be funding the Parties know this. The members of the government and the members of the Liberal Party will have to - hopefully somebody will hear this and hopefully they'll question them on it and maybe they can try to answer that question for those voters who approach them.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, we've been here for a while and we feel it is important that we stand here and bring forward the changes, the amendments that didn't go through and reflect on them and try to encourage voters, people who might be listening, people who might read these debates later on, to enquire and ask questions and try to get answers of why this piece of legislation didn't go through with stronger clauses, stronger guidelines for accountability in this province around the financing of political Parties.

As I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, we're here in a rare winter sitting of the Legislature, and part of me is saying I'm very glad I've been here for the last week. It's been an interesting week. I know that many of the government members are probably thinking they're not too glad that they decided to bring us back - something about timing, I think, just doesn't help the cause of their government and the decline in the support they've had. And they can't deny that they've had a decline, especially after the last election. So that's why I think it's important that they realize, and I said it earlier around the co-operation and the ability to talk with the other Parties to try to get legislation through this House that is good for the public, good public policy.

I don't understand why they took the approach they did with this piece of legislation. I can understand maybe a little bit if we were talking about the budget and the Financial Measures Act, when we all know that if there is no support for it, in this province now with the minority government, it would trigger an election. We all know that. So I can understand, maybe, to a certain point, them trying to get the support of one of our Parties over here. I understand that. Our Party has supported the last several budgets because we understood that it was something that the public wanted, that the budget reflected a lot of the things that we have stood here and fought for, and there was that co-operation, that working with us on many issues - and many of the issues, as I said, that we brought forward they addressed, so we supported that budget.

I can understand that, because there are consequences if it's the budget, if it's the Financial Measures Act, but with this piece of legislation there are no consequences right now, there is no election that's going to happen. When we stand up, maybe tonight or tomorrow or whenever the vote is, or on Monday, for this bill, if we vote against it, which I can say now we don't support, there's no consequence of an election being triggered. So that's why I don't understand why the steps weren't taken to ensure that a piece of legislation like this wouldn't have been put out to be consulted, not only with the public, but with all three Parties. It involves all three Parties.

[Page 3056]

It's really involving mostly just us here in this Chamber, the three Parties that are represented here. It's really going to benefit us. When there is no election, we're going to rake in some - I don't even know what the figures are, I didn't even want to look at that right now - it's over $100,000, I believe, a year that is going to come to our Party because of the number of votes we have. So we're all going to benefit here. No questions asked.

The problem is around elections that we had, and I pointed them out earlier and I won't go over them again unless I have a lot of time left, but I don't think I do. I won't go over them again right now. With this piece of legislation, why wasn't that something that the government would recognize, saying, well we all want it. We stated from the start of this piece of legislation that we want something like this to come forward so that we can give that assurance to voters, to the public, to the taxpayers, that we as MLAs, we as members of a political Party want to make sure that we're accountable to the taxpayers, and there's transparency so that we can try to get over that cynicism, as I said so many times, and try to fix the image out there around political Parties.

I remember a conversation I had earlier with someone around how we've talked about that cynicism and how people hold us in such low regard as public officials. Actually he said it's not true for him, and when I was having the conversation I reflected on it. It's true, I think in many of the ridings in our province, especially the 20 we represent, maybe because they had that cynicism for so long they recognized there was a need for change. And we've grown as a caucus. We've grown in the last election. I think that shift indicates that voters don't want to see the same old-time politics in this province. They want to make sure that the changes we make in legislation like Bill No. 117 is what they want to see to try to clean up politics - I hate saying that, but clean up politics - and make sure when I send out a letter, maybe in the next campaign, requesting a donation, because we all have to do that, we all recognize the need to do that, voters know that I am going to be very open and accountable to divulging, disclosing who I send those letters out to, maybe not who I send the letters out to, because I don't get a donation from everybody I send a letter to, I wish I did, but those who do, that I disclose that.

So, the old-time politics, I think, is out in the open when it comes to, do I owe anybody anything? I feel ultimately that by disclosing in a timely manner who I get donations from would help to alleviate that. If we all know, as I said earlier in the leadership race for those individuals who run in a leadership race, if they were required to divulge or disclose who financed their campaign right at the start, we wouldn't find out six months later and say, oh, by the way, look at this, that's why maybe a government member who ran for leader gave a contract to somebody.

That goes through somebody's mind every time it's reported. We can go right now - I know some people referred to them earlier, about the donations the current Premier had and you can go through that and find numbered companies, you can find

[Page 3057]

businesses that have received, since that election, money and government contracts. But, I truly believe, for one, if we adopted one of our amendments and got rid of it altogether we wouldn't have to talk about it. I believe if government had supported some of our other clauses, we wouldn't have that perception that maybe that's why they got that money.

I'm not going to name the companies. The papers can do that. There are papers now that do that on a regular basis, not only for government members, but for our members , they do that. It's there. Eventually it's going to get out, so I don't understand why we don't just have it in the bill in the first place. It would be easier on the Premier, it would be easier on Cabinet ministers, on government, if right after the election of a leader, here you go, here's who donated to me. Let it go, people recognize it and then when the time comes to issue those contracts, I think people would understand, hopefully, if the government does its job properly if the companies that receive contracts here in this province, receive them because of their merits, because of their work ethics, because of the job they do and the jobs they've done in the past are good jobs and we need to continue to support that. We have to support the industry here in the province and everybody recognizes that.

I know I have talked a little bit on all the issues, but as I said at the start, time is definitely against us on this. We all know that this bill will pass. As I explained and a lot of the examples I gave over the last while, why we made amendments and why we think there should be stronger guidelines in this legislation to give that accountability to the taxpayers who ultimately will be paying for this. My discouragement to have to come back to this House, it's not because I'm back here, but to be back here and discuss one piece of legislation- why didn't the government take this opportunity to bring forward other pieces of legislation, other issues that government needs to be addressing? We've mentioned them in Question Period. It gave us the opportunity to question some of the ministers around some of the issues we hear from in between the sessions that we have, like health care.

I could stand here and list probably 100 different areas that I think government needs to address or could bring legislation forward that would improve the delivery of health care, improve the wait times in our province. If you're dealing with surgery, or if you're dealing with mental health, why isn't the government bringing that forward? Why are they just bringing forward Bill No. 117?

That's what I don't understand. That's why I'm discouraged to be here, Mr. Speaker. I love being here in this Chamber. I love this part of my job as an MLA. It's an honour to be here and to be able to debate and talk about issues. I enjoy it, but I'm discouraged I'm here to talk about Bill No. 117 and only Bill No. 117. I know that bills and legislation that goes through, there's never full consent and agreement and approval from the members, but I would hope that government would have seen fit to hold this

[Page 3058]

rare winter sitting, it was an opportunity for them to bring forward some of their agenda, some of the issues, some of the changes that we need to see in a couple of months.

The Minister of Health earlier today said, oh, very soon we're going to hear some things around long-term care. Well, why didn't he take the opportunity today. Here he has the attention of the media, to a certain extent, there are other issues they're dealing with, but they had the attention of the media. We have the attention of Legislative TV. We have the attention of other members of this Chamber when he could have made an announcement today maybe. Why wouldn't he have chosen that opportunity? Why weren't we brought back to hear all the good things that the government is going to announce over the next little while? That's what I would hope we would be here talking about, discussing. I know it's part of my job, I will stand here and discuss Bill No. 117, like I said we have, and try to bring changes to it and amendments to it to improve it, because I think that's why I'm here.

I respect the voters and our position here in this House is to be the Official Opposition. I respect that, I said that earlier, and I think government needs to respect also that they're there to govern, not only on just one issue, not only on just one bill like Bill No. 117, Mr. Speaker, but on many issues. There are a lot of issues out there that need to be addressed. There's a lot of legislation that we need to see go through this House and we all know in a couple months maybe we'll be back here to talk about the budget and how involved we get with estimates, the requirements that get involved during estimates and the approval process for that.

Often it's said that it takes away, I think, from some of the other pieces of legislation that come forward from our Party, from the Liberals and from the government, other government bills, because the budget is the ultimate focus of that session. Especially now in minority government, if that one piece of legislation, whether it's two or one, the budget or the Financial Measures Act doesn't pass, that triggers the election, but I think it takes away the focus and the attention that's needed on those other pieces of legislation that are introduced at that time.

[1:45 p.m.]

So why didn't the government say, well, when the budget comes in, when we call the House back, we're going to deal with the budget, we're going to deal with estimates and the Financial Measures Act, and now with this rare winter sitting of the Legislature, we could see some of those pieces of legislation now. We could be debating here for the next couple of weeks. Get rid of that, get the focus on what government wants to do with that, then deal in the Spring with the budget. That I don't understand and that's why I say I'm a bit discouraged to be here now during this session, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Say something about the bill.

[Page 3059]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Bill No. 117 and that's why I'm discouraged to be here just to talk about Bill No. 117. So with those comments, Mr. Speaker, I know there are other members of our caucus who want to talk on this. They really, they're anxious to talk about this. I know it's going to be the last time I can stand and speak on an issue until the Spring, but we'll be back. Maybe we could find out some rules there that we can continue this on for another little while, but I don't know, we're running out of those I think. So I know other members of my caucus want to speak but, as I said, it's important that we recognize we have a minority government here in this province and I think with this piece of legislation the government forgot that the co-operation that we've seen over the last three and a half years with a minority government hasn't taken place with this piece of legislation. So thank you, with those few words that I had.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Well, I can tell by the reaction of members opposite that they have been waiting with bated breath for my comments and I will try not to let them down, Mr. Speaker.

My colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto, started for us earlier today. He made reference to the front of the newspaper, The Daily News I believe,"Blah blah: NDP bores Tories into submission", or some such thing. He mentioned with regret the fact that his picture wasn't one of the 12 of us who had actually spoken in second reading. It kind of raised the point he wasn't really sure why it was that he hadn't been on the list. I just kind of wanted to let him know, it must have been I before E, and that was the reason I made it ahead of him.

We've heard a lot, obviously from my colleagues, on this bill. I guess we always come back, or I have to come back to the question of, why this piece of legislation and why now? I know the government members, as my colleague who just spoke alluded to, are probably saying why now, especially in light of all the circumstance around this week. The Premier's answers in Question Period always seem to indicate, or he tries to indicate, other issues that he wants to deal with, the issues that are important to Nova Scotians, and that's what he would like to see the House talk about instead of recent events around his former Minister of Human Resources.

Mr. Speaker, if the Premier actually was concerned about other issues, why are we dealing with only one piece of legislation? There hasn't been another bill called for second reading in this week. There has been no indication that the government is moving on any other agenda or any other issues other than this piece of legislation, which is Bill No. 117, the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act. So even though the Premier does go out of his way in Question Period to try to convince the Opposition that he is more concerned about other issues that are more relevant to Nova Scotians, his government side of the House has flatly refused to bring forward any legislation on any

[Page 3060]

other issues or even have much discussion on any other issues, and I think there are issues that are important to Nova Scotians, certainly more so than this piece of legislation.

I don't want to use unparliamentary language, Mr. Speaker, and I try to make an effort in the House not to do that. Let me just say that this is a piece of legislation that I would deem to be not particularly friendly to the New Democratic Party. Now, I think it's being sold as kind of levelling the playing field when it comes to electoral finance reform, and the fact that there is a $5,000 cap on union and corporate donations. Well, on the face of it that seems to be pretty sensible, a $5,000 cap for both these groups, but in essence, and if we labour under the assumption that the New Democrats get more money from unions than the other Parties do, which some people do labour under, the idea would be that, and if the Progressive Conservatives or Liberals get more money from corporations, a $5,000 cap, if you had 10 companies whose employees were members under a particular union, each one of those 10 companies could make a $5,000 donation, but the union would only make one $5,000 donation, which would be a comparison of $50,000 compared to $5,000.

In essence, really, and assuming that we were the beneficiary of the union donation, then we could assume that the New Democrats, in the next election, would have a much tougher time getting funding than the other Parties. Certainly one of the, I guess, hardest to swallow aspects of this piece of legislation is the legitimizing of the Liberal trust funds and allowing the Liberal Party to keep that money.

I think my colleague from Halifax Chebucto probably spoke to this well enough but when you find that, through this whole process, the government did not go through the Electoral Reform Commission, or the Electoral Commission. This piece of legislation wasn't vetted through that commission and you have to say that if they weren't willing to do that, why not? If we're aiming to be transparent and open and all the things that government tries to insist that it is, then why not let that body - which is the usual body, certainly if it looks at legislation around elections, that has some say - make some adjustment or gives its stamp of approval that this was a step that the government chose? I am assuming thinking they know best, and perhaps didn't want to wear any comments from the commission that would indicate that they had a problem with this piece of legislation.

Now I'm not sure what language is actually in Bill No. 117, Mr. Speaker, around the $1.50 that Parties collect as a result of the number of votes you get or whatever. My colleague from Halifax Chebucto actually cited an argument under the Charter, right to vote, where for since the old line Parties, and I'm not sure at what point - I guess we could think of the New Democrats now as one of the old line Parties - that because the Parties that get the most votes get the most money, this could be seen as a barrier to entry. In other words, it would be difficult for a new Party to get started because the other Parties would get this extra foothold by getting more money, and not because I can

[Page 3061]

speak on a professional way to a Charter argument, I guess what I have the difficulty with, Mr. Speaker, is that we are an assembly of lawmakers. We are the body in this province that gives the stamp of approval, I guess we could say. Certainly if a majority of the members in the House vote for a piece of legislation it is going to pass through the House.

So the problem I have is that the government would bring in a bill that would actually have flags attached to it that would raise an issue of a Charter challenge. If there is any place where we would expect that a piece of legislation would meet all the standards, all the appropriate standards to prevent a challenge, any challenge, to a piece of legislation . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Would you allow an introduction?

MR. MACDONELL: Certainly.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you to the honourable member for Hants East. The honourable Minister of Health Promotion and Protection on an introduction.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to stand in my place to make an introduction to members of the House. Today in the east gallery we have Ken Faulkner, a long-time Sackville resident, and normally can be seen in the bleachers at the Sackville Blazers hockey games, cheering on the Blazers. If Mr. Faulkner would rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you very much.

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When I talk about other issues that the Premier had alluded to in his answers in Question Period, and there are lots of them, we've had on Tuesday and today we have had two different groups who have been to the House, trying to draw attention to issues that they have and in particular on Tuesday was the hog producers. The hog producers are in a terrible way right now. I talked with one producer who ships 300 hogs a week. He's losing $40 a hog, so $12,000 a week is what he's losing.

This, I would think, would be an issue the Premier would want to deal with rather than be dealing with Bill No. 117, and to what point the government is willing to let that continue. I mean, the issue of poverty in Nova Scotia and in Canada, a country that has as much wealth as it has, and yet we are willing to let people who produce our food enter the poverty rolls. In other words, we're willing to force them into poverty because they cannot get enough out of the value chain to keep their operation sustainable.

[Page 3062]

Mr. Speaker, I don't know if you were outside the other day when I was speaking, but I had bought a roast from Sobeys, about five pounds - it cost $19.04. Actually, that roast sold for $8.35 a kilogram or some such thing and a hog producer gets $1.25 a kilogram. So, a hog producer would get about $2.90 for that roast and Sobeys would get $19.04. That wasn't always the way the world was. The value out of the value chain - producers always got a greater percentage. In recent years it's been whittled down; the retail sector gets about 58 per cent of the consumer dollar, the rest is shared between the processor and the farmer.

If we were to talk about issues other than Bill No. 117, like the Premier indicates in Question Period that he wants to, then this would be something I would think the House would be interested in doing. As a matter of fact, the government has been credited over some time, particularly in the forest sector, for the sustainability fund. What the sustainability fund is, is a fund that's collected per cubic metre of wood or cord or wood - a levy - that goes into a fund and then it's spent for silviculture programs, et cetera. I'm not sure why the province couldn't establish a sustainability fund for agriculture and allow the processors and retailers to pay into that fund and have that money go back to farmers to help cover their costs. We're really looking at cost of production here.

Some people tend to mistake the fact of how much money you are supposed to let somebody make. This is not talking about above and beyond in the terms of profit, this is talking about cost of production and just making ends meet.

[2:00 p.m.]

I think a few of us have talked about the timeliness of Bill No. 117. I really questioned it last Fall, because I wondered what the government was thinking about bringing in this legislation now. While we could say, because it's kind of backdated, that when it comes into effect, the Parties are paid money based on the June election. So, maybe that was the government's intent because they would get themselves a lump of money - and we'll be recipients of money as well - but, my thought was, maybe the government wants to have this in place for an upcoming election in the Spring of the year.

Mr. Speaker, I think you and I, we don't travel around together much, but we're in the same world generally and I don't think a Spring election in turn for the Progressive Conservative Party would be altogether the best notion politically for them.

I still have to ask, why this piece of legislation and why this piece of legislation now? I can't come up with a sensible reason. If the government were to do it this coming Fall, I might say there's probably going to be an election in 2008 so I think I would probably be getting my head around that. I certainly wouldn't be expecting one in 2007.

[Page 3063]

The hit will be the same for New Democrats, but the Minister of Fisheries, I think, is going to donate to my next campaign, if I understood him right. I think we're doing okay in that regard. I have to learn how to vote the right way, Mr. Speaker, before I consider that.

We had asked for a six-month hoist in the Fall and had actually thought that there was going to be a bit of an engagement with the public on this piece of legislation, that we were going to be out and getting some input. I'm not sure whether that was a misinterpretation on our part. We didn't think the law amendments process was actually going to be the process by which this engagement was going to take place, but anyway, as it turns out, law amendments was the only game in town so is it our debate or lack of debate, I guess, for the members on this side, is this going to be the only record of what people think about this bill and this House of Assembly?

My colleagues in the Third Party have been notably silent on this piece of legislation. As a matter of fact, they are a Party that, as far as I can see, have had a little bit of power in this House during this period. I had really hoped that they would exercise that power and refuse to support this legislation until the government offered support for the hog producers. That didn't happen and here we are, we are going to be out of the House - I don't know if it will be tomorrow but it will be soon - and that's a card that is probably not going to get dealt and I think it has been a real shame for the hog industry that there wasn't more of an effort by the Third Party to stand up and fight for them.

Now, as much as my Party and my colleagues in this Party have not been enamored by this piece of legislation, I think a good message has come from this, at least I hope it has, and I know in the next election campaign and in subsequent election campaigns after that, my colleagues, and hopefully future candidates, will be able to stand in their constituencies and say, well look, at one time Bill No. 117, when it came though the House of Assembly, we had an amendment to ban union and corporate donations, which really would have levelled the field as far as representation by the Parties. In other words, no one could make the case that you are beholden to any particular influence and actually, for as many years as we have been criticized for our connection, Mr. Speaker, we will be able to say, well, it was a combination of the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives who prevented that from happening, so they should get those candidates to explain why they weren't willing to get rid of union and corporate donations.

For New Democrats, the federal model has been the model that seemed the most appropriate. The federal government was willing to go down that road. They had already run one election on that basis and the Progressive Conservatives probably should be heartened by the notion that it was a Conservative Government that was elected afterwards and didn't seem to penalize them significantly, so this may have been a road that they would have been willing to go down.

[Page 3064]

Mr. Speaker, so the question of all the issues that the province is facing, why haven't we dealt with more that the Premier has indicated? He talked in Question Period about issues that he would like to see Opposition deal with, instead of raising the issues around the car accident. But yet there has been nothing through the process or procedures of the House that would indicate the government was at all interested in dealing with more legislation or more issues than this one bill.

I mentioned previously about groups that have come to the House of Assembly. I mentioned hog producers on Tuesday, there is the group and I think they're from Brookfield, Shortts Lake and probably the Truro area who have been to the House today to try to make their case around the proposed burning of tires at Lafarge Cement Plant. My impression is, they didn't get any great reception from the government side. With all we know about burning tires and the chemicals that are released with the burning of tires, we don't hear a comment from the Minister of Environment and Labour on this. So here's another group with an issue - the Premier talks about dealing with issues, other issues, and yet is not particularly interested in dealing with them.

So whether it's health, environment - I know my colleague, our member for Sackville-Cobequid had mentioned about health always being at the top of the list for issues the public is interested in. Actually, I think the most recent polling indicated for the first time ever that environment has outstripped health at the top of the polls. Maybe this is something that's fuelling this change in electoral finance that we see in Bill No. 117.

I think all Parties, and certainly in this House we're representative of three Parties - there is definitely a fourth Party that's involved in politics in Nova Scotia and that's the Green Party. There was a Green candidate that ran in my constituency last time and with the federal Leader, Elizabeth May, and her reputation and her history, this is a Party that I think people should be thinking about. I think the agenda of this Party - the environment - seems to be one, if recent polling is correct, would indicate it's at the top of the list for Canadians, and therefore I would expect you'll see environment become a much bigger part of Party platforms in the future. Certainly this Bill No. 117, the way it's written, would probably be disadvantageous to a new Party trying to establish itself in this province.

That would bring me back to the Charter challenge that my colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto had mentioned in terms of the right to vote. So it may be seen as a barrier to entry, where you have such small numbers of voters and a new Party trying to enter the political realm, and therefore the old-line Parties being compensated at a much greater level.

I think there's a problem with taking taxpayers' money and supporting political Parties to such a high degree. Contrary to what most people think, the New Democratic Party relies a lot on the ordinary person on the street for donations to fund our election

[Page 3065]

campaigns. I don't expect that's going to change anytime soon. I think in light of our success in the last election, we probably are going to have a greater field to draw from, but there is absolutely no way, as far as I can see, that any Party can run election campaigns without donations from the public and without volunteers.

It certainly is my hope that elections and politics here are not going to change too much beyond that. I'd like to think that Nova Scotia is a situation where an ordinary person can enter politics, that you don't have to be independently wealthy or some other financial state that allows you to out-compete anybody else in your neighbourhood.

I'd like to think that people are actually elected on their salt and what they're made of personally. Of course there's no separating that from the Party you run for. There are a number of things people look for, I think, when they vote for a candidate. It could be the person themselves, it could be the Party, it could be the platform, it could be the Leader, it could be any combination of those four, and it could be sometimes, maybe, that just one of those factors is enough to make them vote for a particular Party.

Tuesday I discussed the difference in approach of Bill No. 117 in terms of donations submitted for leadership races. Our Party has a pretty low ceiling, I guess, compared to the other Parties, in terms of the maximum amounts spent on a leadership race, $25,000. In my memory, I don't think that has changed. Actually, to a point, it's a bit gratifying to think that someone could actually run a leadership campaign that was restricted to such a low number, if we think about, well, even the other two Parties in this House, not to mention across the country, not to mention our neighbours to the south where just staggering amounts of money are used to get people elected.

I referred to one of the newspaper articles, something to the effect of a democracy watch, the comment that whoever pays the piper picks the tune. I had used the analogy about the ring in the bull's nose and whoever puts the ring in or pays for the ring gets to lead the bull where they want. I'm not sure if I need to explain that comment. I had a question afterwards about, why would you put a ring in a bull's nose? Well, the reason you do is because when you have an animal that weighs about a ton, the usual methods of persuasion don't always work in trying to move him in the direction that you may want to go. I think anybody could assume that an animal's nose is a pretty delicate instrument.

[2:15 p.m.]

For years - I wouldn't even want to guess how many, if I said 500, I might be right on, but certainly for years- the method of choice to handle a bull is to put a ring in his nose because he would respect the tugging on his nose. The reason I use that analogy is just the notion that if you're a candidate, we like to have some transparency, some clarity as to who controls you, whether you're actually there to do the job for the

[Page 3066]

majority of the people who live in your area, or all the people in your area, or whoever is paying for your campaign.

I think we all would make the boast that if somebody walks through our door and they ask for help, we're going to help them. Quite often, I think most members of the House would say they're not even aware of who donates in their campaigns. Usually when the receipts go out after our campaigns, or my campaign I should say, I like to send a little note of thanks. Actually, that's the only time I really become aware of all the people who have actually donated in my campaign. It is something that I think most candidates - because you have other people in your campaign who look after this, somebody is taking care of fundraising, somebody else is doing something else, that you can't always be aware of all the things that go on and all the people who are involved. But we certainly like to think that if someone donated to you, that's not a reason that you're going to excuse yourself from helping them, but the question of whether or not they would get more of a benefit from an elected person because they did that than someone who didn't, is always the one that is uppermost in our minds, that we would like to be sure that everybody lives on a level playing field, and I think for anybody who calls us, as much as within our abilities we would like to try to help, whether they vote for us or donate to us, that that represents real democracy. There is no getting away from the fact that you're probably friendlier on the street with someone you knew who donated to you than perhaps a passerby who slapped snow on your shoe.

Mr. Speaker, I guess Bill No. 117, as much as being an interesting piece of legislation, I think interesting in, well, probably interesting in its content, but certainly in the path by which it got here without going through the Electoral Commission is one that I think people will talk about for some time and I think will talk about who the beneficiaries of this legislation will be. I am hoping that at some point the members of our caucus will be on that side of the House to actually speak to the fact that this piece of legislation has not proven to be the benefit that the members who brought it to the House would have thought it would be.

You know, Mr. Speaker, when I think about all the organizations and the commodity groups and so on that I speak with and I talk to in my Critic areas, how they look for a particular program or funding for some initiative they want to see done either by Horticulture Nova Scotia or the pork producers or the Nova Scotia Cattlemen's Association, or whomever, I think about pretty near nine years of doing this work and the continuous battles that I have carried out for these organizations, sometimes year after year, for what appears to be very little gain that can't see to get government to do the thing that I think that they should do.

I think there are some fallacies that people believe. I think because of the way government appears to work - people believe, number one, that government works very slowly. They think that the bureaucracy runs the ministers. I think that quite often if something doesn't change, in other words, the members of a particular Party become the

[Page 3067]

government side of the House, the people who put them there think there will be a change because the previous administration wouldn't budge on their issues, and then they don't change, that government doesn't change the issue.

I think they are quite often told, Mr. Speaker, oh well, it is really tough, the bureaucracy won't let us, which I would tend to think that the ministers are at the top of the heap when it comes to authority, and if they want something done, I think it is going to get done.

Now there may be some (Interruption) Yes, I realize how naive I am. But there obviously is going to be that bit of debate and negotiation around the Cabinet Table for particular initiatives or incentives or whatever, in financing, for particular projects. I can see those things being barriers to getting something done, Mr. Speaker. I don't see the bureaucracy's unwillingness to do it as the barrier. I think if the minister and the Cabinet make a decision that something is going to happen and they are going to put the resources to it, then I believe it will happen; I think if they just tell the bureaucracy that this is what we want done, this is how we want it done and we want an update once a month until you get it done.

I do believe that if the government has no intention whatsoever to do something that the public wants done, then they will make that appear that there are so many hurdles and roadblocks in the way that it is so difficult in order to do this thing, and you'll see it come up on the agenda one year and it will come up on the agenda the next year and then three years, four years, five years, and the group that keeps pushing to get this clarified or put through, you know, well, if they're still around, they keep pushing for that to happen but, you know, that didn't happen with this piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, this piece of legislation came to this House lickety-split. (Interruption) You can quote me on that. There was no problem for the government to get this piece of legislation into this House and to get it here fairly quickly and considering that we had the election in June, we went back to the House in November, and presto, you know, without much problem at all, this piece of legislation showed up fairly quickly. I try to make the case to my constituents that anything the government wants to do, it can do it fairly quickly and there are a lot of myths and a lot of misconceptions about what people think minority government means. I think people believe that the Opposition actually has its hands on the rudder controlling the ship of government in a much greater way than it does.

I remember I went to one of the local lumber mills and a gentleman there- actually he was one of my constituents but he was working outside of my constituency. He mentioned something about a loan for that mill, or one mill, and he had some complaints about that. He said when that comes across your desk at the Legislature, I want you to vote against it. I said to him I will never see it. That's not something that would come to the Legislature, that will go through the bureaucracy of Nova Scotia

[Page 3068]

Business Inc., or wherever, but I said that's not something that MLAs see every day and we would have no knowledge of that, and I wouldn't even have known it if he hadn't told me that.

I think what people don't recognize is the Legislature is a slightly different vehicle than the running of the province. This is a place where legislation gets passed, or hopefully in some cases. I think maybe hopefully not in this case, Mr. Speaker, in the case of Bill No. 117, but this is a place where the government needs at least 27 votes to get a bill passed and people don't recognize that once the budget passes in the Spring, the government basically runs as a majority. They have the ministers, they control the budget, and there is really no way for the Opposition to move them on to particular policy. I hear quite often the public saying, why don't you forget your partisan politics and work together to develop certain policy or whatever.

Well, that would be great if we had some power to implement it once we develop it, Mr. Speaker, but there is no mechanism for that. The ministers actually all run their departments and they collectively run the ship. The Executive Council runs the province. They come to the Legislature to pass legislation that may help them with that and it may be just legislation for a particular society group, or whatever group in the province, like dental hygienists- I know there was another group I had on the tip of my tongue, I lost it but, anyway, some of that is not necessarily related to the running of the province at all. They're more pertinent or personal to a particular organization that helps them with administration and structure and so on in that way. As far as the everyday running of the ship, if the ministers don't think they have support for legislation in a minority, then we probably won't see that particular piece of legislation.

So I have to say, Mr. Speaker, in my office in Enfield, I'm not getting a whole lot of calls from people about Bill No. 117. As a matter of fact, if there are issues, issues around poverty - certainly recently there's been a lot more contact in terms of hog producers and the situation facing agriculture. Roads never cease to be an issue at all. It doesn't seem to matter the time of year.

If there has been an upside, I guess, of coming into the Legislature every day this week, it has been that the weather has been so good, it has been the ability to travel. I know that this may not apply to other members so much, but it certainly applies to me because I'm a commuter. I travel out of the city and to home in Enfield every evening and back in the morning, so the condition of the roads is a major factor for me. If there has been any upside, it is that I have certainly been able to travel without too much worry about the roads, although on my way in today I did hear about an accident, or actually a couple of them. I was lucky that I avoided them or they weren't in my area, so I see that as a possible upside of coming in to deal with Bill No. 117. But I don't see many others, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 3069]

Actually that kind of leads me to think or leads me to worry about, in my critic area, what the downside is of this mild winter. I mean, here we had a big part of the agricultural community to the House on Tuesday, basically here to show their concern for the hog industry, but there were a lot of other commodities. I think that come Spring we may find out that the damage of some of those other commodities is far worse because of this mild winter than we were expecting. I'm not sure what the negative impacts are going to be on any of the blossom industries regarding the fruit industry in particular, apples and pears, et cetera. So a greater downside may be right around the corner as a result of what we might deem to be really nice winter weather.

When we sit in the Spring, maybe the minister should be thinking about the possibility of what kinds of plans or programs or initiatives he may want to put in place with his $9.7 million that might - he might be looking down the road and determining what the negative aspects of this winter might be. Maybe he has already done that, maybe he has somebody on his staff who has taken on this job already. It would be nice to think that he is being proactive and looking down the road and actually doing this in a way that he can perhaps avoid spending money if he can get something in place, the old ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So if he was thinking ahead and was going to be somewhat visionary, this might be an aspect that he would be willing to consider.

[2:30 p.m.]

I think when this week is over and if we are to consider what the news story at the end of the week is going to be, then I don't think that Bill No. 117 is going to be at the top of anybody's list and certainly for my constituents, I would expect that it's not. I haven't spent enough time in Enfield and Elmsdale or at the local Tim Hortons to find out what the conversation has been this week, but I would be willing to bet that it's not going to be the limitations of Bill No. 117. I think it will add a little extra fuel to the fire in the sense of the people's lack of confidence, I think, in this present government and considering the June election results, if ever there was a Party that needed a boost or a bump that was a positive one, this piece of legislation isn't going to do it, and certainly the events of the last week or so aren't going to do it.

I would think - and actually this is a message that I think will fall on deaf ears, like so many of mine - I would say that the ministers should think about the fact that this is a Party that has come through two elections with minority governments, and actually fewer seats in this last election. At some point, I think the people of Nova Scotia are going to wonder when this government is going to get the message.

If we look back to 2003, after the 1999 majority Progressive Conservative Government, issues like the Digby quarry, which took out a minister from the government side, but yet that didn't seem to cause any great dismay on the government side of the House. They carried on in a minority in just about as arrogant a way as they

[Page 3070]

might have with a minority and so in 2006 we have another minority Progressive Conservative Government with fewer seats than the previous.

Certainly, the actions of the Minister of Agriculture in the last few days would indicate that the government is still not going to be flexible when it comes to trying to come up with a long-term vision for that industry, and that's going to not pay dividends for the Progressive Conservative Government down the road, especially with two ministers from Kings County. I'm not sure whether those seats are two that they're interested in sacrificing, but certainly there's every good reason I think for those two ministers to be particularly sharp and on their toes around their constituencies because the ramifications of that in their communities is going to be significant in terms of the regional economic development for the area and actually the negative impact.

You have to understand that any dollars put out by the province to that industry is money that will come back to the province. It's not a net loss. So if the minister thinks that part of that $9.7 million or all of it will come back, then he would assume that $11.7 million would come back and so, therefore, all the more reason for a good case for helping out that industry. I see absolutely nothing but a downside for the industry, for those communities, for those people, and for this government by not going further to help them.

Well, actually, Mr. Speaker, the comment from the Minister of Agriculture - what would you do, close hospitals? - he doesn't seem to see the link that by causing a demise in those communities actually could have that possible result. So it could mean the closing of schools. Even in the minister's own constituency, there was an issue about school closures and this led to the moratorium on school closures. The government does not see any connection between keeping young families working in rural Nova Scotia and keeping those schools open or keeping those hospitals open. At some point, they would find that this would be a small amount invested in order to try to compensate for a larger amount of dollars to artificially support those institutions. (Interruption)

I want to thank the member from Cape Breton for his intervention. I want to just let him know because he may have missed some of my preamble on this, but my connection to Bill No. 117 in this regard is purely from the Premier's comments in Question Period about all the other issues in the province we have to deal with, that he seemed to be wanting to avoid questions in Question Period because of these more important issues, and I would take this to be a more important issue than Bill No. 117. (Interruption) I'm glad.

Mr. Speaker, time in this sitting I think is probably going to be quite short. I'm sure members on the government side are probably wishing it was shorter than it is. (Interruptions) Yes, well if the members like listening to me, they don't seem to act on anything I say. Perhaps after a half-dozen speakers, they've heard (Interruptions) Well,

[Page 3071]

I appreciate comments of the members opposite and if I have more influence than anybody else, then I realize how little influence the rest of us have.

I do want to say that when I referred to the last election, I put our rise in the number of seats of popularity squarely in the hands of the gentleman to my left who was more instrumental in getting us there than anybody.

What will be the end result of this week in terms of this piece of legislation? I don't see any significant benefit to the people of Nova Scotia. More of their tax dollars are going to go toward political Parties. I would think that some people may not mind that, I think a lot of people will mind it. I think it always comes down to the issue - the member for Kings North had made the comment back two or three years ago, something to the effect that there were too many seats in the House of Assembly, that we should have maybe 40 instead of 52. Actually, it was someone - I can't think of the gentleman's name, I met him at one of the agricultural events - who was kind of promoting this notion that he thought the member for Kings North was accurate on this. I tried to make the case, why don't you only have one MLA because if 40 don't do any more for you or if the government's side doesn't do any more for you than governments have done, then you may as well have fewer MLAs rather than spending all that money on 52 salaries.

That's an issue I'd adhere to. When we elect the government, it should actually do something for its people. This is not a ship that the province runs, that the Progressive Conservatives run for their own benefit. This is one that we try to see as run for the benefit of Nova Scotians. Actually, if any member was working like they should be, then there should be all kinds for 52 members to do. As a matter of fact, it should be difficult for any member to get everything done, rather than thinking we should have fewer members and a bigger area and more constituents for them to have to work to satisfy and try to get back to.

I think if every member was working to their full capacity, then they'd be asking for help to try to get their work done and not expecting we could get the work done with fewer people, but with more people. (Interruptions) I haven't said that, but I'll consider it.

Mr. Speaker, it has been a rough week, I think, for all members of the House. I think that when you see us deal with a piece of legislation like Bill No. 117, that the public is not crying for at all - matter of fact, probably questioning why we would call the House back for this unique winter sitting, especially when we look at the comments in the paper around, we get the award for the least number of days that we sit, and then to look at substantive legislation that we could have dealt with in the Fall sitting that we didn't.

Then we come back and have a short sitting for one piece of legislation that the public isn't asking for; and have our Premier indicate to us that there are so many other

[Page 3072]

issues that he would like to see dealt with but yet hasn't brought any of those forward; and then to have our House visited by people who are in real need, who are in dire straits in an industry that is part of the overall agricultural sector that the government on more than one occasion has referred to as the backbone of the rural economy. The Minister of Agriculture, even prior to being Minister of Agriculture, would be quoted quite often as talking about farmers feed us all and yet we've seen absolutely no initiative to help alleviate the stress on those families.

It is not just them, it spreads much larger than them. I think when the Mayor of Berwick comes and speaks on their behalf, that kind of indicates what he thinks the impact is going to be on his community and yet we deal with Bill No. 117 that looks at trying to - well I think the message is going to try to be sent by the government that this is somehow progressive legislation that levels the playing field for the Parties. I don't know how you include the legitimizing or legalizing of the Liberal trust fund in that, that's just an aside that is looped into this piece of legislation.

Probably the issue around the $5,000 cap on union and corporate donations, if the bill had come through with that alone, that probably would have appeared to be a fairly - you could almost sell that as an equitable piece of legislation and how it affects all three Parties. Throwing the Liberal trust fund into that and how the Liberal Party is able to use that is actually an aside or an addition that obviously must have come from some agreement with the Liberal Party and I am assuming around the budget in the Spring. It would have been nice to see the Liberals use some of that leverage to help the pork producers get some help in this last week.

Mr. Speaker, it is a tough piece of legislation, not much in terms of an upside for New Democrats in this legislation. I think if there is anything that we will claim as a gain, as a positive out of this piece of legislation - and I won't be supporting this piece of legislation I'll let you know - it'll be that we have on the record, I will vote the right way on that, I'll tell the minister - we will have on the record our trying to ban corporate and union donations for all time in this province, which failed due to the Liberal and Progressive Conservative coalition.

[2:45 p.m.]

So with those comments, Mr. Speaker, I'll relinquish the floor to any other members who want to speak. Thank you.

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

MS. MARILYN MORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am very pleased to rise and speak for the third time on this bill. I just want to make sure that my comments are on the record because I believe I bring a perspective that hasn't always been expressed around legislation. There haven't been many women, except those members of our

[Page 3073]

caucus, who have spoken on this and I think the legislation had the potential to have a tremendous, significant, progressive, proactive impact on increasing the participation of women in the political process. I think it is a huge missed opportunity because of the gaps and some of the inconsistencies that we find in this Bill No. 117.

I want to take this opportunity to get some comments on the record, because when I spoke previously it was during Committee of the Whole House on Bills and those comments are not recorded in Hansard. As I said earlier, this has the potential to do a lot of good in terms of reforming the democratic process in Nova Scotia, but the opportunity has been missed by this perceived backroom deal between the two other Parties. It could have eliminated the perception of undue influence on political decisions through large donations from corporations, from unions, and from organizations. Instead, I think after analysis of the political consequences for the Progressive Conservative and the Liberal Parties, they've come to some sort of halfway approach to benefit them and, they think, to hurt the political aspirations of the NDP - but I think we can prove them wrong there.

This bill had the potential of creating more representative governance, and I'm going to get into this in a little more detail, Mr. Speaker, because the bill could have included mechanisms to help more women and more representatives from minority groups get elected to this Chamber, and that didn't happen. If there had been caps on political spending for certain political activities, I think it would have equalized the playing field somewhat for people who traditionally have not had the same access or the same opportunities to run for political office.

It also could have restored credibility to those of us who are elected. I've mentioned this before, and my colleagues have also raised this point, that when you're elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly the general public think that you're government. Now, I have many opportunities to seek out opinion in my community. When I'm talking to most people, to ordinary people, they tend to think that once you're elected you're part of government. They don't understand the Party system, they don't understand that the Party with the most elected representatives is actually the governing body. They assume that we all have equal responsibility and equal ability to influence the decision making in this Chamber. Depending on the context, sometimes it's appropriate to explain how it actually works, other times it's not really relevant because people want to get their point across, and I think my primary responsibility as an MLA is to listen to what they have to say, because it's usually very good information and it can be used to inform some of my decisions and some of my actions as a member of the NDP.

The other lost opportunity with Bill No. 117 is that the government, with their advisers from the Liberal Party, could have actually looked at what's happening across Canada and what happened at the federal level. There has been a lot of activity around electoral reform in Canada, and a number of different models for involving and informing the community have been used in different areas of the country. We could

[Page 3074]

have had our pick, we could have modified it. But one thing they have in common, the common ground I found in looking at what has happened in various provinces is that they took the time to make sure that the information about what they're proposing, why they're proposing it and what the possible impacts might be, all the options have been shared with the general public. There have been many, many different opportunities for people to be able to learn more about the democratic process and how it might be improved through electoral reform.

We don't see any effort by this bill or the process being used to fast track it through the approval process. We don't see any attempt to make a genuine effort to involve the community. So, there again, is another lost opportunity.

Another aspect I want to mention is the lack of transparency. There could have been a number of different sections or clauses included in this legislation that would have restored public confidence in the whole process of transparency. I'll just pull out one as an example. If there was timely reporting and full disclosure of who contributes to leadership campaigns, I think, especially in this age where we seem to be changing leaders quite frequently in some Parties, I think there would be an opportunity to restore confidence the public would have in the political process.

As I mentioned, the meaningful consultation. When things are done to groups of people without informing them, without involving them, they don't feel they have a stake, they don't feel connected to the legislation. I'm not surprised that everybody is saying that nobody cares about this piece of legislation. It's not being discussed in the coffee shops, it's not being discussed on the corner; of course not, because they don't know about its significance. They don't realize that the consequences, whether intended or unintended, of this piece of legislation will impact on them every day for the rest of their lives. That's the danger in fast-tracking this piece of legislation. I believe, as well-intended perhaps as members of the other two Parties in this chamber are, I don't think some of them understand what they're doing and what the possible impacts might be.

The other reason I'm pleased to have an opportunity to discuss Bill No. 117 for a third time is my concern about the process we're using to approve it. Traditionally in Nova Scotia, changes to the democratic process have come through the all-Party elections committee. This has been our traditional way of reform. We've been given no explanation as to why that particular committee or mechanism was not used this time.

We also haven't received sufficient explanation as to why we've been brought back for this rare winter sitting of the Legislature. We were discussing this bill towards the end of the Fall session last year and certainly when we adjourned our debate on the bill, we understood that the other two Parties in this Chamber had recognized the value of taking a little bit more time and trying to get more input from the electorate.

[Page 3075]

I know there was some talk about a select committee that might actually be composed of one or two members of each Party that would travel around the province, both informing people who were interested, but also seeking their involvement and their input in terms of what they would like to see to improve the democratic process. Certainly, it needs improvement. I'm going to discuss later that the cynicism of the voter has really created a credibility problem that is resulting in lower turn out at successive provincial elections and a number of other consequences that I think are serious symptoms of a democratic deficit in this province and things that we have to look at quite seriously.

We have some very good models from other provinces about how this process could have been improved. I'm not sure of the status of the select committee on, I'll call it, democratic reform, I don't know what the status of it is. There was a rumour at one point, I believe I saw some mention in the media, that that committee may be set up but that it would be reporting back in June. Now that just doesn't make any sense and it makes one question the motivation behind Bill No. 117. If a select committee may be set up to produce some comprehensive strategies or plans for reforming electoral process in Nova Scotia, why would we take out this particular piece of that electoral reform and rush it through a rare sitting of the Legislature in January? It does not make sense.

Other provinces have done it quite differently. Some have set up a third party commission. I believe in Prince Edward Island, a retired Supreme Court Judge had been tasked with looking at some of these same issues. Other provinces have put together a citizens' committee - I believe in B.C. In Quebec they actually brought together 1,000 residents, 1,000 citizens of that province, to a two- or three-day forum to talk about some of these issues. Each province has found a method that they feel would work very well in their particular area of the country, but in all cases it has allowed for involvement of the public in some of these decisions on how the process would move forward.

So what message are we in Nova Scotia giving to our citizens when we sort of behind closed doors come up with this proposal, try to fast-track it through a rare sitting of the Legislature, and do it in a way that isolates both the community and, I think, the media somewhat as well because they have, quite frankly, been preoccupied with other matters this week and perhaps are not concentrating on a very valuable piece of legislation that had the potential to really change the democratic system in Nova Scotia, but is just doing it in such a piecemeal, sporadic, superficial way that it's not going to meet those expectations at all.

I, too, share the frustration of my colleagues. I would prefer to be here in this Chamber talking about the issues that are so important and so relevant to our citizens. We've had several demonstrations this week. We continue to get letters, e-mails and phone calls from constituents in our home areas, all talking about things that they think are very, very significant, very important to them and their families, and are we able to deal with those things? No. What we're dealing with is a very superficial piece of

[Page 3076]

legislation that doesn't go far enough, that pretends to be electoral reform, that may actually jeopardize the future of electoral reform in this province, and it's just so frustrating not to be able to deal with significant change that is actually going to have a very positive and progressive impact on our citizens.

[3:00 p.m.]

Now, I talked about unintended consequences and certainly some of my colleagues in the NDP caucus have detailed what some of those are. It appears that the government and the Third Party think that they are harming our chances of electoral success. I think it has been pointed out by some of my colleagues that some of the money that's going to be available to, for example, the Liberal Party, some of those candidates representing that Party are actually going to threaten the electoral success of some of the government members, and I'm just curious to know whether there has been any change in thinking, any change in the level of support from the government caucus after having some of those, as I call them, unintended consequences fully explained and illustrated to them.

It boggles my mind, Mr. Speaker, it absolutely boggles my mind as to the rationale of the government in giving an Opposition Party such an advantage as allowing them to keep their trust funds. I can't rationalize it. It just does not make sense to me at all.

Now, as I've mentioned before in this Chamber not only am I a member of the NDP caucus, but I'm probably the only MLA in this Chamber who is a current past-president of a political Party. I actually was (Interruptions) He's the current past-president? (Interruptions) No, I'm a current past-president, because I actually was president of the NDP provincially when I ran, and when I was successful I resigned as president of the Party. The current president is just one president removed. So I'm still the current past-president.

I have a very full and detailed understanding of how my political Party works. I understand the challenges of fundraising. I understand the temptation to go after public funding of political Parties and campaigns. I understand the impact of a lot of the clauses in this particular piece of legislation. It's interesting, because some of them are so inconsistent that, as I said before, it boggles my mind as to why some of these are being pushed by the government, in particular.

I won't speculate as to why I think this might be happening, that's perhaps getting a little bit outside my area of expertise, but it does raise the question. I guess what bothers me the most is that these questions are going to be raised in the media, these questions are going to be raised in the public, and I think it's going to continue to

[Page 3077]

undermine the credibility of politicians in Nova Scotia, and we all suffer from that. We're all branded in the same way.

So that voter frustration and that voter disillusionment is something that we're all going to wear no matter what Party we represent. We see that voter frustration all the time. It has been mentioned before, that voter turnout in Nova Scotia continues to decline each provincial election. I just want to give you a few figures. In 1998, for example, the voter turnout was 75.76 per cent; in 1999 it went down to 68.12 per cent; in 2003 it declined further to 65.79 per cent; and then last year it went down to 59.89 per cent. Now those figures all come from the Elections Nova Scotia Web site, and I believe they are quite accurate.

Why are people not going out to vote? I think there are several reasons. One, they don't think their vote counts. I'm not as familiar with the public school program as I used to be, but I know many years ago when I was in junior high, in particular, we had what we called a civics class, and it was during those classes that we learned about municipal, provincial and federal politics. I found those classes fascinating, never dreaming that I would one day be standing here in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly discussing that experience. I'm not sure that young people today actually feel connected to the political process.

I think another reason that the public is so cynical and doesn't get out to vote - and that's something we need to be very conscious of because I think this legislation had the potential of increasing that relationship between the voter and the political process - but another reason that the general public voting patterns are going down is because government and political institutions are viewed as unwilling or unable to address the issues that are important to people.

I'm just wondering what's going through the heads of the people who are protesting today outside this Province House, concerned about burning tires for fuel. I'm wondering about the hog farmers and other representatives of the agricultural community and their supporters who were here earlier in the week. Do they feel that we were listening? Do they feel that we are reacting? Do they feel that we actually see their problems, their concerns, their issues as a high priority? I doubt it very much.

More and more Nova Scotians feel disconnected from what happens in this Chamber and from the work we do. They feel disconnected from the whole business of governing. That's why we need to be taking Bill No. 117 more seriously. That's why we need to be looking for a comprehensive strategy to help people feel connected, to help people feel that what we do here - the political process - actually has an impact on their lives and that it should provide hope for a better future and a hope that there are people who feel they are there serving the general public.

[Page 3078]

I think another reason that they feel disconnected is they don't recognize the impact of what we do here on their daily lives. They don't realize that public policy and legislation impacts on every aspect of their lives from the time they get up in the morning to the time that they go to bed and while they're sleeping. I'm not going to get into all the details, but there is a lot of that education and awareness raising that could be done through government, through the other political Parties, through good policy development and certainly through legislative reform, but we've missed that opportunity because we are fast-tracking this in a way that the media is not talking about it, fast-tracking it in a way that it almost - we have become a laughing stock.

It is frustrating, I know as a member of my Party, to be taking this so seriously and to be accused to just wasting everyone's time. That's so frustrating because we have such an opportunity here and we are losing it. People are not taking it seriously enough.

Now some of you may realize that I am also the Critic for the Status of Women, so I'm very interested in issues that impact on women and families in this province. I am also the first critic for the voluntary sector in this province. I have, I'm guessing, perhaps a 35-year involvement with the voluntary sector in Nova Scotia. I have witnessed the degree of frustration felt by volunteers and families, particularly women, by program cuts and privatization, Mr. Speaker, and downloading. The reason I mention that is because legislation and public policy are not neutral. It impacts on different groups of people to different degrees.

It is very frustrating because Bill No. 117 had the potential of perhaps improving access to the political process for women and people belonging to minority sub-populations in this province and it did not take that seriously. There is nothing in there to level the playing field for people who traditionally have not been encouraged or supported in getting involved in the political process.

I will come back to that, but the last point I want to talk about in terms of why the voters are cynical and, to some degree, getting more inactive in the political process is quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, their lack of trust in politicians. Now some of you may be aware that on an annual basis, the Canadian Press and the Leger Marketing survey people do a survey across Canada measuring the level of trust of Canadians in certain professions. Now, I have mentioned this before but I do want to get it on the record and there may be some people listening who didn't hear my explanation or analysis earlier.

The trust of Canadians in all categories of professions that were surveyed have gone down each year but, Mr. Speaker, would it surprise you to know who makes up the category that is least trusted by Canadians? Now, I realize you can't answer me but you're shaking your head. I want to tell you, the group of people least trusted by Canadians in this country as a profession are politicians. They're not only at the bottom of the ranking, the level of trust goes down each succeeding year.

[Page 3079]

Now, I don't know about anyone else in this Chamber, but that concerns me a lot because I think there is a lot of interest among politicians today to prove to the electorate that we are a new and different breed and yet the content of Bill No. 117, the way that we're rushing it through the approval process, just reinforces, for the average Canadian, that we don't deserve their trust. They view us in that old stereotypical way of just out for our own interests, or our own Party's interests, and we're not going to break through those myths for the most part. I mean there may be a few of that type of politician around, but generally I have a lot of respect for the people in this Chamber. I know that you work as hard as I do and that you have your constituents' concerns and interests as your prime motivation. But there's a breakdown between how we're perceived and how we act sometimes and what we're trying to be in terms of this new breed, this new way of doing politics in Nova Scotia.

Now, it's interesting, Mr. Speaker, because I was astounded to see which categories of professions ranked higher than politicians.

AN HON. MEMBER: I know, I know, I know. This is the third time I heard it, I know. (Interruptions)

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: Put your hand up.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: Politicians are the last, followed by lawyers and journalists. (Interruption)

MS. MORE: Yes, okay. (Interruptions) Down, class, down.

AN HON. MEMBER: What's the ranking on journalists? (Interruptions)

MS. MORE: I'm trying to. The categories that ranked higher than politicians are journalists - I can't even hear myself think - lawyers, insurance brokers, real estate agents, unionists or union members, publicists and car salespeople. Now, we're below all those groups in trust.

[3:15 p.m.]

So you might ask, Mr. Speaker, why are these public attitudes relevant to Bill No. 117? Well, they are, because they just prove that Canadians, especially, or I should say including Nova Scotians, are disillusioned and frustrated with politicians in the political process and here we are dealing with inadequate legislation, rushing it through this Chamber in a way that's going to feed into that perception. We're rushing this through the Legislature in a way that's going to harbour suspicions that politicians in the Province of Nova Scotia continue to be self-serving and are afraid to allow meaningful informed public input. I don't think that is the impression that we want to leave with the voters of Nova Scotia.

[Page 3080]

Now, you can always learn other things from surveys and I thought it might be interesting to mention the groups of people who were most trusted in the last survey by CP and Leger Marketing, the groups of people who were most trusted by Canadians - because I think there is something that we can learn from this - they include firefighters, nurses, farmers and doctors. Now, in trying to analyze this on just a superficial level, Mr. Speaker, what do these groups have in common? What I've pulled out from this is that firefighters, nurses, farmers, doctors - when they do their work, they prepare, they plan, they work together, they deliver, they don't procrastinate and delay and make excuses. I think that is what citizens expect from their politicians as well.

Now just imagine this scenario, Mr. Speaker - a fire truck pulls up to a house that's on fire. Perhaps you live next door. It's 2:00 o'clock in the morning, everyone rushes out in their pajamas, neighbours and residents of the house that's in flames. Now can you imagine if the fire captain looked at the situation and said, hmmm, sorry, we don't have enough money to fight that fire, or we're going to study your problem, or we'll think about helping you in the next budget, or the program's full, let's turn around and go back to the station. No, when you look at farmers, we've heard this week the situation where farmers are subsidizing our food. They're taking money out of their pockets in order to provide pork in this province. Now, that's the most generous thing possible. Here they're looking for a little help in order to allow them to actually meet the cost of production of that pork, and we're ignoring them.

You can see the credibility gap between the professions that Canadians admire and perhaps why we're at the bottom of the list. Now lack of faith and trust in politicians, I think, is a big concern, and it should be a big concern for everyone in this Chamber. Like you, I would suspect that all of us served our community in a variety of ways before we ran for election to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. I know, certainly five years ago I would never have dreamed of being here. I realize now that being an MLA is another way of doing community service - serving one's community.

Certainly, the approach that I like to use, Mr. Speaker, is respecting others' points of view. So it's important to me. I know I don't have all the answers. I admit that perhaps my caucus doesn't have all the answers. I would suggest that the more people who can provide their point of view, the more people who get involved in brainstorming, the more we include different points of view - the better the result, the better the decision, the better the process. I wanted to hear from marginalized groups in particular about electoral reform. I wanted the chance to talk to other women, people with disabilities, people from minority groups - all groups that are severely under-represented in this Chamber.

I remember shortly after I was elected, Mr. Speaker, two women from a Middle East country were in Halifax taking some education programs. They wanted to meet with a woman politician, and so they came to meet with me in my office. I remember them telling me that in their country they weren't allowed to vote, and they weren't allowed

[Page 3081]

to run for election. They were returning to their country and they asked me, just off the top of my head, what argument could I provide them that they could take back to their country and explain why this wasn't right, this wasn't fair? I must admit, they sort of stunned me with the question, I had never met anyone from a country that wasn't able to vote or take part in the political process. The argument that immediately came to mind was. if you had a pool of talent to do anything in your country, why would you automatically disqualify half - or 52 per cent as it is in Canada - from taking part? I mean it is not in anyone's best interests to take the talent and interest and knowledge and experience of a significant number of your citizens and prevent them from taking part in the democratic process, but because of our systemic barriers to women - I will use women as an example in Nova Scotia - to women's inclusion in the political process, we are not taking advantage of that pool of talent that we have in our own province.

Now I mentioned earlier, Mr. Speaker, that legislation is not neutral and it impacts differently on different groups of people. Now I have been asking for some time in this Chamber to have a gender lens on the public policy and the legislation that comes before this House. What that would do is, it would analyze and state how the legislation would impact on women in particular.

Now let me just give you an example. Long before my time in this Chamber, there were decisions made about, for example, and this was done, I recognize it was done in order to increase the financial viability of certain programs and hopefully be able to re-allocate resources to do more things but just look at the impact of quick discharges from hospitals, like day surgery and other procedures within the health field that supposedly allow patients to go home much more quickly and recover in the home setting, which I think most people would agree is usually a more relaxing, positive atmosphere than recovering in hospital.

Because we didn't have a gender lens on some of those decisions, I don't think what people realized is that the care-giving burden for looking after those patients when they returned home and to their communities, fell for the most part on women in our province. So you might have saved a little money, but what you did was pull women out of the workforce for significant lengths of time in order to care for husbands or parents or children or grandchildren while they were recovering from an operation or an injury. This also impacted on women's involvement in the voluntary sector. So especially in rural communities, you saw decreased hours available for community activity by women because they were having to stay home and, more and more, look after people who had been discharged early from hospital or who were using the day surgery program. Now that's just a small example.

I don't think anyone realized the impact on women and the fact that in some cases, because of the de-institutionalizing of people with mental health conditions and people with disabilities, the long-term care provided by many women in our communities has actually interfered with their financial security in the future. Some of

[Page 3082]

them have actually had to leave their jobs, it is going to impact on their public pensions and private pensions, and so it may create a dependency on government programs down the road. These are what I call the unintended consequences and this is what happens when you don't have a certain lens - it can be environmental, it can be a broad community health lens or it can be what I call a gender lens.

So getting back to Bill No. 117, I want to show the relevance of what I'm discussing. Part of the new political activity, I think, is being more responsive, wanting to involve the community, having more input from community members, and because we have rushed this piece of legislation through the Legislature, we're not going to have a chance to talk to all the people we need to to find out the impact of what's in the legislation, what's in Bill No. 117. We're also not going to realize the impact of what's not in Bill No. 117. I know from my own personal experience that this current bill, this current piece of legislation is going to impact on women and their access to the political process much differently from men.

Mr. Speaker, you might argue that the women in this Legislature can speak on behalf of the women in the province. Well, we try, and I'm very proud to say that all five women NDP caucus members have spoken at length on this legislation. There are obviously missing women's voices in this Chamber, and I challenge them to get up and voice and represent the women of this province.

Even though the five of us have spoken collectively, we don't cover all the experiences and all the different perspectives that might come from consulting with more women across the province. Why is this bill so important to women? It's because women make up 52 per cent of the population, but I wonder if anyone can name off the top of their head the percentage of women actually represented in this Chamber when we have all 52 members here, which I'm sure we do today. (Interruption) It's 17 per cent, yes. This is the highest percentage that we have ever had in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly - 17 per cent, and women make up 52 per cent of the Nova Scotian population.

I can tell you that getting elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly is still a challenge for women in this province, and also for other marginalized groups. Women - unlike the Middle Eastern country that the two women I spoke of earlier came from - in Nova Scotia have been able to vote and have been able to run in provincial elections since 1918. That's 89 years ago. We've had 24 general elections in 89 years, 24 general elections. We didn't have a woman elected to this Chamber until 1960, when Gladys Porter, who had been the mayor of Kentville, was elected - 1960.

[3:30 p.m.]

How many women have been elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly in 24 general elections? I'll just let you think about that for a second. (Interruption) Pretty close - 26. Would you like to know what Parties they represented? Twenty six women

[Page 3083]

elected in 89 years, and we're 52 per cent of the population. Now, do you think that's fair? Do you think there's something going on there, that women don't get elected to represent other women, men and children in this province? Of the 26, 10 were or are NDP - because this includes the current contingent of women in this Chamber - 10 from the NDP, 10 who were Progressive Conservative and 6 Liberals; 26 women in 89 years. How do we rate across Canada? We are in the middle of the pack. So except for Quebec, which I think is well ahead and obviously that is an electoral reform piece of legislation that we need to be looking at, that could have been a model for changing the situation, I think, here in Nova Scotia.

So Bill No. 117, does this bill actually create more opportunities? Does it create a fairer playing field for women in our province? Will it increase the representation of women? Will it help make this Chamber more representative of the population of Nova Scotia? I doubt it very much because that wasn't even an objective of this piece of legislation.

Who knows, if we have included a clause that completely eliminated corporate, organizational and union donations and limited spending or put caps on spending limits on some categories, it might have been surprising what a positive impact that might have had in changing the representation in this Chamber.

Now it may be that there is no interest in this Chamber representing the actual population and sub-population groups of Nova Scotia but I think that is the higher standard, that is the higher expectation that informed Nova Scotians expect today. It is interesting, because any study done to analyze why women have a problem getting elected or why they are discouraged from running for office, it always includes the issue of financial resources. That is why, even if we look at Bill No. 117 as a purely funding mechanism for political Parties, it should be addressing some of these issues to make our process much more inclusive.

Last Fall a number of very credible organizations in Nova Scotia released a report entitled Untapped Resources, Women in Municipal Government in Nova Scotia. Now Untapped Resources is interesting, it refers back to the analogy I could use to that pool of talent, untapped resources. Now, a consultation and a study was done that was sponsored by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, the Halifax YWCA, the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. It is interesting, they updated and confirmed findings from other studies that had been done both in Nova Scotia and I would suggest across Canada, that confirmed some of the challenges and barriers to women's participation in the political process and certainly the financial barrier is one of the big ones, because the reality of being a woman in Nova Scotia today is that we earn lower incomes, on average; we earn 71 cents for every dollar earned by a man, even when the women have higher qualifications and training.

[Page 3084]

Another reality of being a woman in Nova Scotia is that women usually have less discretionary money. Their money goes for the everyday necessities of raising a family or being independent in this province, so they don't have the extra money that it takes to cover the personal costs of running for a nomination for a political Party, they don't have the extra money, for the most part, to cover the personal costs of actually being in a campaign.

The reality of being a woman in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, is also that we are especially - I will call it time-challenged. We are always multi-tasking, we're always juggling paid work, voluntary work, caregiving to elders and to children and grandchildren and we are also juggling the multiple tasks involved with household management. So it often leaves very little time to get involved in the grassroots and work your way up through the political process to become a candidate. Yet when you look at the bulk of supporters and workers behind the scenes in political campaigns, I would suggest that many of them are women in our communities.

Finally, in terms of women's ability to have access to the financial assets that we need to run in elections, either to get a line of credit or to cover those personal costs, women don't have, generally in Nova Scotia, the same access, the same assets that they can use to get that line of credit and to sort of bankroll the personal costs and expenditures that are associated with political campaigns.

So if we had had more time to consult on this bill, I am sure that there would have been suggestions, Mr. Speaker, to put ceilings on spending for various activities, including nominations, which is sort of the entry point in the political process for a lot of people.

Why is it important that Bill No. 117 proactively increases women's participation as elected officials? I would suggest that we would have better decision-making if more women were involved at all levels of the political process. It is important that women's perspective - and I use women as a category because they are 52 per cent of the population but you could substitute any minority group representation in here and you would have the same positive benefit from their inclusion because if you deal with issues that are important to that group or deal with issues that are important to women and their families in Nova Scotia, it is going to increase the relevancy and the effectiveness of public policy and legislation for all Nova Scotians in this province, not just women.

It is interesting that the one opportunity for any public input on this bill during Law Amendments Committee happened in the pre-Christmas, pre-holiday season when, as we all know, women who disproportionately bear the burden of holiday and Christmas preparation, are probably the most busy in the entire year. So, I think, even if there were some groups - I actually wasn't able to be at the Law Amendments Committee meetings, but I would be interested to know how many women actually presented to Law Amendments Committee. I suspect it was either none or very few and I know because

[Page 3085]

that is often a peak time, both in their paid work and also on their volunteer side and perhaps in their union. So two of the eight were women, I am led to understand. That's a very low percentage and I think even if we had done as limited participation as the Law Amendments process allows, if we had done it at any other time of the year, I would almost guarantee that there would be a much higher percentage of women taking part in that process.

I understand, as I mentioned earlier, from my perspective as a past president of a political Party, the operational needs, the pressures on political Parties and the challenges in this day and age, I understand the temptation of the other two political Parties to rush into this to provide stable public funding for their political Parties, especially when they think that perhaps it is going to undermine the efforts of my own Party but, as I mentioned earlier, I think there are some flaws in their logic here. It's a bit scary to see the way that certain aspects of electoral reform have been sort of cherry-picked and put together in this package without understanding that the dynamics of those could actually undermine, not only what they hope to achieve in terms of stabilizing Party funding, but also in terms of undermining even further public confidence in their Parties.

I'm not going to get into a lot of detail about my frustration with the inclusion of the Liberal so-called trust fund in this legislation except that I would like to challenge any candidate. I realize it's going to be after the fact and, you know, I am not a suspicious person, I tend to look for the best in everyone. But you know, there's a little voice that wonders in the back of my mind - is one of the reasons we're rushing this through, Mr. Speaker, is so that the candidates for the Liberal leadership race do not have to take a stand on the Liberal trust funds? I don't know, it just keeps pecking away inside my brain.

It's frustrating because this trust fund, no matter what source of information you look at, has to be considered suspicious. Whether you look at the journalistic exposés, whether you look at the judicial decisions, whether you look at or consider information gained from people within the Party, any source of information raises huge questions around the source of this money. So why would it be included? Why would it be legitimatized in this legislation? It actually gives an advantage to a Party other than the governing Party. I can't imagine why they went along with this unless they're getting something in return. Who knows, but what message is that sending to the public?

[3:45 p.m.]

I've talked previously about the federal Accountability Act and action plan that actually only received Royal Assent last month. It prohibits Members of Parliament from using trust funds for political purposes and the rationale for a number of the recommendations and pieces of legislation clauses in their legislation is that they don't want politicians to have access to funds "from unknown original sources". Well, if any

[Page 3086]

original source could be considered suspect, I would suggest it's the origin of the Liberal trust fund here in Nova Scotia.

So, Mr. Speaker, there are so many reasons why this bill - Bill No. 117 - should not pass. It has the seeds of possible genuine electoral reform, but it has to be considered much more thoroughly both by this Chamber and it also has to be discussed and shared with the general public in a way that they can make a meaningful and informed contribution to the discussion. This is too important to rush through. This is too important to do it in a piecemeal, inferior, superficial way that actually is going to harm the reputations of all politicians in this province and not just the two Parties that are working together to get it through. I'm really discouraged and I'm really disappointed and, you know, I know we can do much better. So thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and it's a sad day in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to take my place in the Legislature to speak on Bill No. 117 for the third and final time before a vote is taken. There are two aspects of the bill that I want to address, the $3.4 million trust fund of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party, and the Liberal-Progressive Conservative refusal to eliminate union and corporate donations to political Parties in Nova Scotia.

In earlier debate, I used the phrase, remove the shackles of influence, remove the shackles of influence by banning all union and corporate donations. However, Mr. Speaker, at this time I want to address the issue of held assets, assets that came in part by ill-gotten gain, that came in part in the form of a 25-cent-a-quart levy, a levy on spirits, on liquor sold in Nova Scotia Liquor Commission - Commission at that time - stores throughout the province, a highly-organized and very lucrative kickback system.

Last night, Mr. Speaker, the MLA for Halifax Citadel and I had supper with two of my three children, my daughters Jyl and Sarah. At one point, the member for Halifax Citadel asked if they were interested in seeking public office. The response was more "perhaps" rather than the affirmative. It's my hope that more and more young people will show an interest in seeking public office, and I also hope that one or more of my children may someday seek public office, as their dad has done on seven occasions. I certainly hope that they do that after I have several terms. I'm sure that with Bill No. 117, we will have the ammunition, we have the ammunition. Now, how can we encourage young people to seek office where there is such a large collection of political garbage in Nova Scotia, garbage from years gone by, and an unwillingness to get rid of it, to dispose of it, to come clean?

Bill No. 117, meant nothing to the people of Pictou East last week. No one was mentioning it, absolutely no one was mentioning it. It meant little to Nova Scotia in general. If you were to have taken a poll geared to Bill No. 117, most people would not

[Page 3087]

have known what Bill No. 117 was all about. Mr. Speaker, that is changing and this is due to the NDP, to our efforts to make fundamental changes in the financing of political Parties, to do away with the union and corporate donations and to end, once and for all, the blemish on Nova Scotia politics, the blemish of the trust funds. The $3.4 million could be used for so many good things, and the Liberals would be responsible for those good things. As it is now, the Liberals will be haunted by the trust fund, haunted in the pending leadership campaign, haunted in the next election, haunted by the press and haunted in the ballot boxes.

In addition, the Liberals will have no crutch. There will no longer be a crutch, a crutch that the NDP gets substantial dollars from the unions. Because we wanted to give up the 13 per cent or more that we get from the unions and we wanted to rely on average Nova Scotians for donations, average Nova Scotians, from individuals.

So if we couldn't give up the union donations in 2007 because of the Liberal-Conservative tag team, we went to Plan B, a maximum of $5,000 in 2007, $4,000 in 2008, $3,000 in 2009, and an end to all union and corporation donations by January 1, 2010. Again, the Liberals and the Conservatives join forces to defeat our efforts.

The Liberals are propping up the fledgling Progressive Conservatives and perhaps after this week I should say, the floundering Conservatives. To prop is to support. It is to brace. But on Bill No. 117, the props are not poles, they are pillars. They are pillars. On numerous other cases and instances, the props are pillars.

Sure, there is rhetoric, yes there is rhetoric from over there, there is rhetoric from the Liberals. In Question Period, they put the questions in Question Period, they participate in the press scrums and the general appearance of being separate. In reality, they are joined at the hip, joined at the hip on many issues. Let me say, they are actually joined right here on the hip on the wallet side of the hip, that is where they are joined.

Let's for a moment examine the Liberal-Progressive Conservative alliance to examine how firm the support is, to see how the t's are crossed and to see how the i's are dotted. Can we in fact do that? No one really knows, no one really knows how formal the agreement really is, but it's easy to speculate. It's very easy to speculate. I wonder aloud whether or not the agreement goes beyond an agreement. I wonder if it actually goes beyond an agreement.

On Tuesday in debate, a member referred to the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives as being a coalition, and a coalition they may be. This picture comes to my mind repeatedly. I can't help thinking of them as sort of the popsicle twins. That's a strange blend of red and blue and blue and red and red and blue and many of you with children - in my case, grandchildren - many of you with children and grandchildren have seen those multi-coloured popsicles. You've seen those multi-coloured popsicles and they have those two little sticks, two little props sticking out of them.

[Page 3088]

Mr. Speaker, you know what happens to those popsicles when there's heat, they melt quickly. In this sitting of the House, the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives are melting, they are melting with the heat that's being put on them. You know that this heat is just coming from a couple of sunsets, that's all it's coming from, a couple of sunsets.

Now one can say that the NDP Government worked with the Hamm Government to keep it in power for three years and actually that compromising and co-operation went on until after Dr. Hamm had retired. It went on right up until the election call, but there was a fundamental difference, and that's what I want to talk about, the fundamental difference. The NDP and Progressive Conservatives worked on issues that benefit Nova Scotia and benefited Nova Scotians.

Contrast that to Bill No. 117. The sole reason for this special January sitting of this House, with dozens of other issues more important to Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians, Bill No. 117 has two main benefactors, the Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party. Both want to keep the large corporate donations and the Liberals want to keep the bad money trust fund.

Mr. Speaker, I find it totally appalling that both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives have had no one, absolutely no one, speaking on Bill No. 117. Twenty NDP members have spoken repeatedly, none of the nine Liberals not even once, and none of the 22 Progressive Conservatives - the 22 minus one Progressive Conservatives. We also have a Speaker, so it's 22 minus one.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, they must be stuck to their chairs. I think the circulation must have stopped in some parts of their bodies, I really believe that you know. In fact (Interruption) Yes, it is very connected because you've been sitting over there on the Liberal side, you've been sitting over there for so long, so the circulation has actually ceased to some parts of your bodies.

You know I think doctors' waiting rooms may have even more people visiting them next week - or maybe the week after, if we keep going, but I think there are going to be bigger lineups next week in the doctors' waiting rooms as some of those MLAs visit for the circulatory problems and bruising that they have suffered.

The silence sends a message to Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker. The message is that the NDP wanted to ensure that Nova Scotia would have a more mature political system, a cleaner system, a system that could be an example to others. Instead, other jurisdictions are - and more will be - examples to us. Even the Harper Government has supported funding change, and provinces are improving their systems, eliminating the shackles of influence.

[Page 3089]

The first political event I attended was in 1957 when John Diefenbaker came to Pictou County. He came to my hometown of Westville, and as an 11-year-old I was fascinated with this colourful politician. Politics was in need of reform and this great speaker appeared to be capable of making change. I went there with my coal-mining dad to hear John Diefenbaker, and as a kid I was really, really impressed with him, although my dad had, on occasion, been a Clare Gillis supporter - Cape Bretoners will remember Clare Gillis, the CCFer who represented them so well in the House of Commons for so long. The Cape Bretoners sure will remember Clare Gillis.

Mr. Speaker, what has transpired in the 50 years since 1957? More women in politics, no booze, no nylons . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: No chocolates.

MR. MACKINNON: No chocolates, no money for votes, more transparency, massive media changes - numerous, numerous other advances. But here we are in 2007, in Nova Scotia, still dealing with matters that we should have moved beyond years ago. One of the fundamental changes is the media itself. The media is better, it is more probing, it has less concern for the fallout from coverage. It has a bulldog approach, as we have found out with the November 24th incident, "the minor accident".

AN HON. MEMBER: That was the 23rd . . .

MR. MACKINNON: I think it was early morning of the 24th.

AN HON. MEMBER: You're right, yes.

MR. MACKINNON: Years ago, Mr. Speaker, politicians had to answer for their decisions but they seemed, on many stories, to have a media that wore out faster than today and rarely dug into personal matters as deeply as they do today. So things have changed; they have changed, but politics will remain the same in Nova Scotia if we don't change, if we don't have changes to Bill No. 117. The ill-gotten gain of the Liberals will plague us, and the shackles of influence will be there with donations still coming from the unions and corporations.

Again, what is most amazing is the fact that the ultra-right-wing Harper Government, the Conservative cousins in Ottawa, have even seen the light on this issue and have banned the union and corporate donations - even the Harper Government. It is time for the Progressive Conservatives in Nova Scotia and their kissing cousins, the Liberals, to do the same - ban the union donations, ban the corporate donations - and go a step further by returning the money to the people of Nova Scotia.

Bill No. 117 has not been a big issue; it has not been a big issue, but it will be in the next campaign. In Pictou East, Bill No. 117 will ring from the hills of Ardness and

[Page 3090]

echo through the valley of the East River. In the last campaign, my big disadvantage was that I had lived away from the area for most of the last 30 years. With Bill No. 117 and the Progressive Conservative-Liberal coalition to help in a campaign, watch MacKinnon when he has been home for three years or less.

Mr. Speaker, I don't intend to speak for a full hour. I've already told my colleagues that. On my third go on this bill, I have no intention of speaking for a full hour. Today, I have no intention of killing time by repeating myself, no intention whatsoever. I want to get back to Pictou East. I have a job to do and I want to do it well. The Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals have a job to do, but they don't want to do it. On this issue, I want to let the bells ring and the banners fly and the vote to be taken and the dust to settle, settle for awhile, and Bill No. 117 to come back with a new number, with a new government, a government capable of real reform, a government above self-interest working for the good of Nova Scotia and for Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I think it's an important part of the process that I stand in my place and give my comments on this particular piece of legislation and the time-consuming process that we've all been involved in because, as you well know, people are constantly, particularly early in the morning when we're making our way in and I stop at my coffee shop and they begin to say you're dressed up, you must be going to parliament again, Bill - why is it starting so early? So automatically you begin to say, well, we're going through 16-hour days. Well, the only thing we see on TV is the Question Period by the sounds of things, but we're going through 16-hour days.

So I want to frame for some of the people in my constituency who are watching this afternoon and I want to frame for Nova Scotians a bit of a history lesson here if I may, Mr. Speaker. In my previous life, as I've said many times in this House, when I had a real job as a history teacher, it was always important to make sure that you focused on the issues as you presented the argument of the week and the discussion topic of the day and you begin to look at exactly what was going to unfold as we looked at what we had to approach as the history topic of the week.

Well, let's look at the history topic of this week if I can, Mr. Speaker. When time comes back to this week and when we look back on what has happened from Monday through to this Thursday, and perhaps on until tomorrow and maybe to the first of the week, will it be a week that Nova Scotians will say exactly what did happen? Is this the week of the cell phone issue? Is this the week where, unfortunately, all of us have been in many ways disappointed by the behaviour of one of our colleagues? Is this the week where we'll be remembered for putting in these long hours? Is this the week where we could have made some drastic changes to legislation in this province?

[Page 3091]

Well, we'll have to wait for history to decide that but I want you to know that I've had the opportunity to teach kids about Robert Stanfield, the best Prime Minister Canada never had, an exceptional Premier of this province. I've had the opportunity to teach high school students about Gerald Regan and the embarrassing antics of that particular government. I, of course, have had the opportunity, and I've mentioned it before in the House, to teach - and meet, of course, Senator John Buchanan who in his way and in his day, as the Lions Club member from Spryfield, served a wonderful community and worked hard on the residents' behalf. But Mr. Buchanan, along with that particular government, and Mr. Regan, because of some of the antics of that government, have given the Province of Nova Scotia a political black eye that has been around for far too long.

As you probably know, Mr. Speaker, I have a daughter who works in the media. She is employed with the CBC, in fact she works in the Yukon. Having met a number of the members opposite, I won't particularly comment on what she thinks of Cabinet Ministers opposite when they were in the Yukon, but let me tell you, I have met some journalists from the Yukon and the first question they have asked - in fact I was talking to a journalist from the Yukon yesterday - the first question the young reporter from the CBC in the Yukon asked is, is that how they do politics in Nova Scotia?

The young reporter I was speaking to on the phone yesterday on an issue of a constituency matter, on a personal issue dealing with a constituent of mine who has a relative in the Yukon, following this debate, and CBC watchers, whether they are in the Yukon, whether they are in Nunavut or whether, of course, they are in Nova Scotia, ATV, CTV watchers, Global watchers, people across this country are saying, is this how they do politics in Nova Scotia?

What about the bad old days of Gerald Regan, the bad old days of John Buchanan? Is there any difference between toilet seats and liquor tollgating? Well, if you look at some of the issues that have taken place during these issues you will look at comments about power, about patronage, about personal influence. You will look at the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission caper, and then of course you will look at one scandal after another as it unfolds.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there is no need to go through the Senator Barrow embarrassment, there is no need to go through the Liberal trust fund embarrassment. However, let me tell you, there are members of my caucus who have stood in their place, and I want you to know that they have said on many occasions - my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview has admitted publicly, and it's an admission that I'm glad he has done and I hope he put it in his disclosure papers, he once worked for Lloyd Axworthy. I don't know if we have to disclose such personal faux pas, but Lloyd Axworthy from Winnipeg and the member for Halifax Fairview, we all were involved with other political Parties somewhere.

[Page 3092]

I know that the interim Leader of the Liberal Party champions the fact that he has been a Liberal since he was 14. Well, good for him. Anybody at that age who is that significantly contributing or involved in one political Party I would say, as Winston Churchill said, somewhere in your political career everybody has to be a socialist at some time, everybody has to be a socialist at some time. Winston Spencer Churchill, he was a member of a lot of political Parties.

So I want to retrace something for you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. MARK PARENT: Can I ask a question of the honourable member, because his quote from Winston Churchill triggered another quote that . . .

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Will the honourable member entertain a question from the honourable minister?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you. I have my comments and I have my time, but if the member opposite wishes to stand in his place when I finish my time, I encourage him to reciprocate in any manner in which he wishes. I want you to know - and to the members of my caucus, that's how you do it.

I want to show the members opposite and I want to show the members of the Liberal Party that at one time, as a young teacher, I had the occasion to visit with John Buchanan. Mr. Buchanan at the time led a rather small, I can call it "rump", I believe it's a political term, the number of Tory MLAs that he had, and when he came into Sir John A. Macdonald High School at that time he asked me whether I had ever considered politics, had I ever considered running for the Progressive Conservatives of Nova Scotia.

Now let me tell you, my background is based upon the fact that I have a mother from Westville, Nova Scotia, God bless her soul, who was - and now I will have to put this in my disclosure form - a Tory, and God bless her, a Darroch from Westville, who was a Tory, and she married a young man, an outstanding hockey player and a member of the Sydney Millionaires from Dorchester, New Brunswick, named Estabrooks, who, of course, was a Liberal. Now I really have to admit that in my disclosure papers, you are telling me.

Now let me tell you, because of the family name at the time, you could identify the people in my hometown of Dorchester, Sackville, Tantramar Marsh, by their last name. The Estabrooks were Liberals, then whoever the Melansons were on that

[Page 3093]

particular street, they lived across the street from where I lived, or across the marsh, they were Tories. That's the way it was.

So Senator John Buchanan was aware of the fact that there was a standing joke in my household that when my mother came home from voting, she used to say in my presence, as a young man, well, I killed your father's vote today. At that time I would think, my mother doesn't know how to load a gun, what would she do that for? But the two of them had some great discussions and some great arguments on politics.

When I was asked by Mr. Buchanan at the time to consider running for the Tories, I called my mother - I didn't call my father, he didn't answer the phone, thankfully, although he was probably at work - I called my mother and my mother said under no circumstances are you to get involved with politics in Nova Scotia. You have a new career, you're in a wonderful high school, under no circumstances are you to be involved with the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia. I took her advice, called Mr. Buchanan back and said, Mr. Buchanan, honestly, I'm not ready at this time, my mother has said no to politics.

Let me continue. A number of years later, I was asked by a member of the Liberal Party, when I was the vice-principal at Sackville High School, to run for the Liberal Party. In fact, at that time Vince MacLean was the Leader of the Liberal Party and he had sent his emissary, Al Hollingsworth, a man who I have a lot of time for, to come to Sackville High School and to ask the vice-principal of that school, had I ever thought of running for the Liberals and, on cue, who did I call? My father.

I called him at work and said, I've been offered a chance to run for the Liberal Party and he said to me at the time, under no circumstances are you to be involved in politics in Nova Scotia, particularly with the Liberal Party, particularly with Vince MacLean.

So let me tell you, I received good advice along the way, whether it was from an inquiry from John Buchanan, an inquiry from Al Hollingsworth and not Mr. MacLean directly - let's be clear on that. But why did I run for the NDP? I can answer very clearly, the answer was based upon the fact that I had taught history through a number of years, at that time, and I came upon the Liberal trust fund, the Liberal trust fund.

I'll tell you, the Liberal trust fund has been something that I think has been a stain on this province and a stain on politicians in this province, whether they're young journalists from the Yukon, whether they're young teachers at Sir John A. Macdonald High School, it is an embarrassment. I want you to know that when I was teaching one of those years, I quoted from Dean Jobb - I will table this - this was written in February 1992, good teachers never throw away their great documents. It's called The Trust Funds - Pots of Gold or Dirty Money?

[Page 3094]

I can tell you, on many occasions, I said to anybody who wanted to get involved in politics or Liberal politics, you take that particular article, you read it over and you look at it. I'll table it for members of the Third Party, I'll table it for Pages who would like to have a look at it. Dean Jobb very clearly makes it well-known there's a reason not to offer for the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia.

Well, it always takes something. It takes one particular influence. Along the way, I want you to know I have some time for some Liberals, I have some time for some members of this House, I have some time for some Liberals who worked hard in my constituency, who compete at elections, who get involved, who make sure they're part of the process. I can tell you those people continue to be involved, in less declining numbers, and there are some of them I've had the privilege of running against. I want to point out that at one time during a provincial election, I ran against Vicki Tingley, the Liberal candidate, who used to be a student of mine. She didn't do quite that well in that particular election.

On two occasions I've had the opportunity to run against another student of mine, a well-known Liberal named Bruce Holland. Mr. Holland didn't do very well in those elections I have to tell you, but I can tell you that in the next provincial election whoever the Liberal candidate is, and in the last election it was a young woman named Lisa Mullin, who was not a student of mine. Ms. Mullen ran in the election but I do know that on some occasions it was brought up on the doorstep because I heard from people who would say, you know, the Liberals have been here and they're saying you and the NDP are in the back pockets of unions. It's used on the doorsteps. It's used against us, it's used against every one of us, but I can tell you this time I'll have that press release in the back pocket, I'll have some comments from the Leader of this Official Opposition, I'll remember the day that he boldly stood in his place and said we no longer will be dependent upon union donations because the NDP recommends that there should be no donations from corporations, but there should be also no donations from unions. (Applause)

I want you to know, that alone, that particular announcement will be something that I hope the Liberals in Timberlea-Prospect, and I hope the Liberals across this province, take that approach and bury it where it deserves to be. Down and deep, it doesn't have any credibility anymore because the Leader of the Official Opposition attempted to do it right, to do it correctly. When the legislation was brought in, I recall his words, the MLA for Cole Harbour said, "This is an opportunity for us to do it correctly. If we are going to get us involved in finance reform, if we're going to look at campaign issues and donations, let's do it right and the place to start is with donations from corporations and unions."

Members opposite of the government, I'm sure that there will be, they will find a Progressive Conservative candidate somewhere to run in Timberlea-Prospect, I hope they remember the same lesson that I'm trying to give to the Liberal Party, take that

[Page 3095]

particular piece, and I will use the word propaganda, take that piece of propaganda and forget it. It doesn't work anymore because old-style politics don't work anymore in this province either. I know I've heard members of this House, members of this caucus stand during this so-called debate, and I say so-called debate because aside from the occasional interruption, or a request for a question, or a point of order, there have been no members of the government, there have been no members of the Liberal Party who have stood in their place.

I say this is a debate because I know there has to be an exchange of ideas, but I've heard the members of this caucus stand in their place and speak with passion. When the time comes in the next election, I urge every one of them to go to those doorsteps, to knock on those apartment doors, to make sure that you get into those trailer parks, and say to them that we debated campaign financing in this province and we tried to correct the mistakes of the old-line Parties but they would not listen. They would not listen on the corporation donation. They would not listen on the union donation and, of course, they would not listen on the Liberal trust fund.

Now, the question might come up on that doorstep - just advice to my fellow caucus members and maybe members opposite who want to answer this question - what do you mean the Progressive Conservative Government said the Liberals could use the trust fund money? Explain that to me. Is this not the government that the member for Lunenburg, when he was the Minister of Justice, said to Danny Graham at the time, and if I've used Mr. Graham's name, the previous member for Halifax Citadel, the Liberal Leader at the time, when the member for Lunenburg said there should be an end to trust funds and he literally called Mr. Graham out on that issue. He called him out and said, what are you going to do about them, that money should not be used, but that minister is still in this Cabinet. He's no longer the Minister of Justice, a job he did very well, incidentally, he is the Minister of Finance and he has brought this bill to this House. What happened to that member for Lunenburg along the way? What happened along the way? He decided to compromise his values. He decided to forget what he had said when he earlier called out Mr. Graham.

Let me tell you, that's a disappointment on my part. I have a lot of time for the member for Lunenburg, I wish him all the best in the days that he has and we're going to be with him right through this because he's going to beat it, but I can tell you, even in spite of those health problems, it disappoints me that he would go back on the fact of the Liberal trust fund. The Liberal trust fund is a stain, it's an embarrassment, the issue has to be addressed.

But what has to be really addressed, if I may, is that when I look at the process that we've been going through here, Bill No. 117 had a process. Back in November, in fact it was November 21st, and I will table this, Marilla Stephenson, the well-known columnist for The ChronicleHerald wrote, "Tory political fundraising bill riddled with holes". Marilla Stephenson says it's riddled with holes. November 21, 2006.

[Page 3096]

That said it all to me - here's a well-known journalist who follows the comings and goings of politics in Nova Scotia and this House very closely and her verdict is the verdict that I've agreed with from the first. It is riddled with holes. The example of the amendments that have been brought forward, the process that we've gone through, this bill is still riddled with holes. It is not a good piece of legislation.

Let me take you through this, and for listeners or watchers, I want them to know this is an important part of the process. We're in third reading here. That was November when Ms. Stephenson had her comments in The Herald. In the meantime, we were told there was going to be a select committee, a special committee, there was going to be a committee and the committee was going to go around the province. It was going to be made up of MLAs from the three political Parties and there would be an opportunity for Nova Scotians to have their input on the topic of campaign financing.

That was - and still is - a great idea. In good faith that idea was presented to this caucus and we said, after discussing this issue at length, we can live with that. We can live with that, there's no hurry. If we're going to improve campaign financing in this province, let's take our time, let's do it right, let's do it correctly, let's make sure we proceed in a timely, orderly fashion but along the way we give the opportunity to Nova Scotians to have their say. We're going to go to the Pier - as in Whitney Pier - we're going to go to Shelburne. We're not just going to hold hearings here in the Red Room, we're going to go out there and we are going to have the opportunity to listen to Nova Scotians.

We're going to go to their Legion halls, the basements of their churches, we're going to sit and we are going to say, so what do you think of campaign financing in Nova Scotia? Great idea, an idea that we endorsed, an idea we said would work very well.

Then came that fateful day in December where my constituency assistant called me and said, you have to go to the Law Amendments Committee tomorrow. The Law Amendments Committee tomorrow? When the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General and the chairman of the Law Amendments Committee decide we're having a Law Amendments Committee meeting and we're having it before Christmas, we're going to ram this thing through so we can take it back for, obviously what was going to follow, a January session of the Nova Scotia Legislature.

My first question was, what happened to the select committee? I can tell you at the time in my own subtle way, I was maneuvering for the fact that if the Leader of the Opposition was looking for a representative from this caucus, I would love to have the opportunity to go to Whitney Pier. I would love to have the opportunity to go to Shelburne. I would love to have the opportunity to go to Fairview, to be able to listen to people on what they thought about campaign financing.

[Page 3097]

[4:30 p.m.]

Suddenly the select committee is out the window. The select committee is gone. The opportunity for average Nova Scotians to have their say - you have to book a time, you have to be in the - I was going to say the Red Room but we of course didn't hold it in the Red Room because the Red Room was full of a Christmas tree, celebrations and the receptions that were going to be held either by the Speaker or by the Lieutenant Governor. There was no opportunity.

So we had a Law Amendments Committee meeting in the Dennis Building. There were eight presenters. Among the presenters were two representatives of the New Democratic Party who serve on the Electoral Commission. When those people spoke, when I had the opportunity to listen to those representatives, what struck me, and I hope members opposite know this, at no time during the preparation, at no time during the writing of this particular piece of legislation, were the people on the Electoral Commission even consulted. They weren't even part of the process. The people who have a huge amount of knowledge, a huge amount of say, they weren't even considered on that particular piece of legislation.

I want to congratulate them. Kim Turner is a constituent of mine. Kim Turner, a great young lawyer, takes the time to make sure that she represents the interests of the political Party of which I am a member at the Electoral Commission. Michael Coyle, also related to the Coyles in Shad Bay, incidentally, also in my constituency, made his presentation.

Now I know what the interim Leader, the member for Richmond said, there are only eight people, nobody cares. Nobody knows about it, that's the problem. Nobody knew about it because of the fact that if we looked who was here, there was the previous member for Cape Breton West, Mr. Russell MacKinnon, he made a presentation; there was Peter Glenister , the Halifax Citadel NDP Treasurer, who made a presentation; Rene Quigley from the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour made a presentation; Rick Clarke of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour made a presentation and there were two other citizens - Kathryn Morrison and Don Dockrill who made presentations. So there were two people who took the time during the Christmas rush, two average - if I can use that term - unattached, no political connection Nova Scotians, who took the time to come to the Law Amendments Committee.

I can tell you that it was a frustrating process. We were looking for the opportunity to hear from Nova Scotians but then again, maybe the select committee would have been the way to do this. That would have been the opportunity for us to get to listen to Nova Scotians. After all, the Law Amendments Committee is held here, it's held in downtown Halifax, it's usually held in the Red Room. This time it was held in the Dennis Building. One particular gentleman, Mr. Dockrill, told us an amusing story about how he had to find out what law amendments was all about, but he persevered and

[Page 3098]

Mr. Dockrill said in his comments - and I know that the Minister of Justice will not soon forget Mr. Dockrill. He was accusative and he was to the point and he made sure that the Minister of Justice and the interim Leader of the Liberal Party were paying attention. In his wrap-up comment he said he has never been affiliated with a Liberal or a Progressive Conservative Party but in the next election he was going to not only vote for, he was going to work for the NDP MLA for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

So for Mr. Dockrill, he has found a reason because it has been given to him by how this issue has been handled. So we have now come into this House in a January session. I remember when we were first making our plans; you know we have to inform, we have to educate, we have to make sure that people are paying attention to it, not just the journalists from the Yukon, not just CTV or Global News, we have to make sure people are aware of the fact that we are back at work.

Well, let me tell you, they know we are here; they know we are in this place; they are aware of the fact that Question Period is being held, that the Premier and this government are being asked certain questions and, along the way, they are aware of the fact that the "good old boy" network is continuing to work and we are going to continue with good old politics in Nova Scotia, the way it has always been as the Liberal trust fund will be allowed to continue to operate.

Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I want to turn to an important issue for me and, I know from your previous career, an important issue for you, when it comes to the cynicism of young people and the cynicism of youth that we each face, each in our own way. I have heard the member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley very poetically say on a number of occasions how politicians are rated. I heard how she listed the ratings and where politicians sit on the list and for those people at home, or for people listening in the gallery or, of course, for members, I'll tell you we're a long way from the top. We're a long way from the top. (Interruption) Being second from the bottom - I do question second from the bottom. There should be talk show hosts and there probably has to be another layer after that.

There has to be an opportunity for us to rise in our place, but let me tell you I'm not questioning the statistics that my good friend, the member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley, has brought up because that alone, you can reach in - and I know that particular member goes into the schools and the high schools in her community. The question that I'm asked on so many occasions when I have the opportunity to speak to students at Halifax West High School and the political science class there at their recent model parliament, or when I have the opportunity to visit classrooms at Sir John A. Macdonald High School - and I do visit other schools too, but it's high school students and I think members know that when you go during an election campaign, when you go to a debate in a high school, they are going to put it to you. They are going to ask the questions and they want the answers.

[Page 3099]

The question that has always taunted me, and I don't go through my explanation of why I'm an NDPer, I don't mention Vince MacLean, Al Hollingsworth or John Buchanan, but I thought for the record I should admit that those things have happened to me, the question that's always asked in student groups where I go, in the high schools in my community is, Mr. Estabrooks, why would you ever get involved in politics? Why would you ever get involved in politics?

You can begin with the answer, well, I'm going to make a difference. I'm frustrated with how things are working, but many people will say - whether they're high school students, or whether they're friends and acquaintances of mine - why are you involved in politics? Why didn't you stick to being a school teacher; it's a much more honourable profession. An honourable profession, a profession with influence, a profession where you're well trained, a profession where I guess I was received with a bit of recognition - why politics?

So you begin to say to people, well, I'm involved in politics because I don't like the old way of doing things. I don't like the cosy relationship, I don't like that we owe each other sort of pats on the back - you scratch my back, I'll scratch mine. I've always said to them those are the bad old days. That's not the way politics in Nova Scotia, that's not the way politics in Canada should operate. So at times you have to turn to students and say during the recent results of the federal election - having been in schools, I have paid the compliment to the new Prime Minister of Canada. I have said to students in the schools where I visit, I think we should look at the new Prime Minister of Canada and the Federal Accountability Bill that has come forward, the Federal Accountability Act that has come forward, and the particular address of issues and campaign financing.

Now, in Ottawa they've done it and they've done it right. In Ottawa, in spite of all of the dissension and all of the difficulties that happen at the federal level of politics; in spite of the Bloc Québécois and their separatist attitudes; in spite of the differences, whether it's the reformers, the Alliance or the Conservatives; in spite of the new different Liberal Party, whether it's led by Mr. Martin or Mr. Dion; and in spite of all the other differences that the NDP might have with other political Parties left, right or centre, those political Parties in Ottawa have come together and done it right when it came to campaign financing.

So the inevitable question is - and what have they done - they have gotten rid of corporate donations. They have gotten rid of union donations. They have done it right. So my question has to be redundantly asked because I know this isn't Question Period, why haven't we followed their example? Why haven't we followed their example and said there's a better way to do this and the example is not like reinventing the wheel, it already exists. It's in Ottawa and it already exists. It's in Quebec. The provincial Government of Quebec, the PQ in their day brought in legislation that we should have followed as an example.

[Page 3100]

The Government of Manitoba did the same thing. The Government of Manitoba brought in legislation which we should have looked at and said, that's not reinventing the wheel. Mr. Speaker, that is legislation that we can accept and we can follow. Sure, we can tweak it. Sure, we can give it that Nova Scotia flavour, but it's an example that we can use because students have to understand the fact when you say to them who donated to your campaign.

Now, let me tell you, in my growing constituency - and I know there are some municipal politicians over there in a previous life, if you call that life, but in a previous career, especially when they were in HRM politics - the question that was always asked of me at one particular high school is, Mr. Estabrooks, what developers contribute to your campaign; what developers contribute to your campaign?

Now, my first question is, why do you ask that question? Well, how do some of the developers in our community get away with what they get away with? How do they suddenly come in and put duplexes where there are supposed to be single-family dwellings and then later deliver turkeys to the community saying, I made a mistake but it's going to go ahead?

Those are questions that are asked of me, as a provincial MLA. I say to them, that really has nothing to do with me, it's municipal politics that decides on those zoning regulations, but no developers are contributing to my election campaign. Because, as I have heard the member for Dartmouth North say, he is answerable to the people of Dartmouth North, he is not answerable to a particular union, he is not answerable to a particular developer, he is not answerable to a particular well-connected businessman, he is answerable to the people of Dartmouth North.

I have told him along the way, you don't owe anybody for getting here, anybody at all. It was your hard work, it was the people who took the time to put up the signs, it was the people who co-signed the loans. Those are the people who put you up there. You aren't going to get a call from a developer who says I contributed $1,000 or $2,000 or $5,000 to your campaign and I want this particular piece of legislation to go through. That won't happen to any of us, because we don't believe that's how new-style politics should continue to be done in this province.

That's the difficulty. When you talk to students they ask those questions. You make it clear to them, if you want to see who contributed to my campaign, I'll make it available to you. But you know, when the list comes out, we all pour through the lists - who gave to who, what well-connected law firm gave to which particular MLA? You look at that and you begin to say, so they in return will be asking for favours, won't they?

My good friend, the member for Pictou East used the term, which I have quoted a number of times, the shackles of influence - wonderful terminology, the shackles of

[Page 3101]

influence. So tell me this, do you want to lease a car? If you want to lease a car, then you go to the local car dealer who donated to your campaign. That's the message. I'll make a donation to that particular candidate's campaign because if he or she, or when he or she gets elected, then they will come to me and I will get what is owed to me. There we have it, and it happens on far too many occasions. It sends all the wrong messages. It sends the wrong messages to high school students, it sends the wrong messages to Nova Scotians of all ages, it sends the wrong message to people watching, because that is the shackles of influence; the shackles of influence. You are tied to the fact you are owing somebody something.

[4:45 p.m.]

Now, we in the past, in this political Party, it has been said the unions, they cover the NDP's costs, and they are in the pockets of unions across this country and across this province. Well that's no longer the case, because the Leader of the Opposition says we are not in favour of that, we're going with individual donations. That's what we prefer, individual donations. That particular donation is not one that we have to be tied to.

The answer should be, well, it's just so easy to accept $1,000 from Tusket Toyota, it's just so easy to accept that. But guess what? It doesn't make you a stronger political Party, it doesn't make you a political Party that's more well-connected to the grassroots in your community. Because I can tell you - and I've heard stories of this and I've heard them given to me directly, of members of my caucus who, when you have the opportunity to knock on a senior's door and he or she says to you that you are doing good work and thank you and keep it up and I want to make a donation - it's a personal thing, and I would rather not mention that particular MLA - when a senior goes and gives you $5 and they are on a fixed income, that's a donation. That's a donation you take and you treasure.

You take that donation back that night when it gets dark and there's no more campaigning and canvassing and you give that to your treasurer and say take this $5, it was given to me by this particular person. I know that has happened to me on a number of occasions, where you say you don't have to give me that. That lady said to me, you're going to take that, it's going to help you, and I want to be able to make sure that I can say, when the Liberals and the Tories come to my door, that sign on the lawn is one of the signs that I helped pay for to get the NDP elected in Timberlea-Prospect.

That's called grassroots politics. You can have all the money, you can have all the TV ads, you can have all the flashy signs and the billboards, but that's what works, that's what makes us better politicians, that's what makes us better accountable politicians - and that's what makes us politicians who get re-elected to this Legislature. Not re-elected necessarily just because of the Party brand, you get re-elected because they have faith in the fact that they will take that $5 bill out of their purse and they will give it to you.

[Page 3102]

I have a few more comments, because I know there are some members of my caucus who want to speak. I want to make sure you're going to understand the fact that as I look at these comments, I want to go back and look at a couple of important things.

Members of the Third Party are always concerned about the fact - they don't understand, they really don't understand why they have fallen on such hard times. They just don't get it. What has happened to the legendary Liberal Party when they had those huge majorities, when they were running the show in this province? Let me tell you, I think it's time - not that I have all the answers - that I give my analysis of it while the body still is able to breathe.

The concern that I have about the body politic in this province, the concern I have about the fact is there is a word you can identify the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia with - there are many words I can identify the Progressive Conservatives with, but I think they've had enough rough times this week, so I'll leave them alone - what sticks deeply in my craw is the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia, the Liberal Party of Vince MacLean, the Liberal Party of Al Hollingsworth, the Liberal Party of those old, tainted trust funds. What sticks with me is that it has not been forgotten by Nova Scotians. Old-style politics and the arrogant Liberals - they have taken Nova Scotians for granted for far too long in this province. They've taken them for granted. They have said that particular family, they always vote Liberal, that particular street, we'll have that many Liberal signs on that street.

Well those days are past. Nova Scotians are no longer looking at that and saying that is a Liberal stronghold, because I want you to know in this province after the last election, in this province after the next election, and whatever number of elections, there is no such thing anymore as the Liberal stronghold.

I'm not going to analyze those election results, but I do know there were over 30 members of the Liberal Party who didn't finish second - they finished third in the last election - and there were many of them who didn't even get their deposit back. The Liberal Party of Nova Scotia has to look at itself and say this is broken, what can we do about it? And their answer is we want our hands on the trust fund money - we want our hands on the trust fund money.

Is that the sort of message you want to reinvigorate Nova Scotians with? Is that the sort of message that you want to be able to say we need your confidence back, we want to be the Liberal Party of Angus L. Macdonald, we want to be the Liberal Party of the past? Is that going to happen? Not with this particular piece of legislation because that dirty, stained money is going to continue to be on their hands, and that legacy is going to be there for many, many years to come.

Instead, the wise decision would be what could we possibly do to help Nova Scotians and make that donation of $3-plus million - could we not designate these dollars

[Page 3103]

for the medical system? Could we not say we are going to keep ER rooms open in Glace Bay, we're going to keep emergency rooms open in Shelburne, we're going to look at the Cobequid Medical Centre and have it be open 24 hours, seven days a week? Could we not do that? That would send a tremendous message.

Could we not say there are schools in this province, there are school children in this province who could have a wonderful new lunch program in elementary schools across this province? Administer the money, make sure that your auditors are involved and it's felt that the money is spent correctly, that that money could be used for the lunch program in elementary schools across this province. A tremendous idea, an idea that would show some vision, an idea that would show some leadership, an idea that would not be self-serving, because that's the problem. The problem with the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia is they have been self-serving for far too long. For far too long, they have only thought of themselves and, because of that, they haven't been thinking of Nova Scotians and because of that you see the election results that they have faced and what they're now going to face.

This is a wonderful opportunity, Mr. Speaker, and having been involved in leadership campaigns in this Party before, there is a healthy exchange of ideas when it comes to what goes on in your political Party. Leadership debates tend to bring that out, they tend to bring it out when there is an exchange of ideas.

Now, how novel would it be for one of the leadership candidates to announce this evening to stand in this House to ask for his or her time and say, I'm going to run, make the announcement in here. I can hear the media responding now, guess what, so and so just announced in the Legislature that he or she is going to run for the Liberal leadership and they also announced they want nothing to do with the trust funds, they're not going to run for the trust funds. (Applause)

Here we go, here's the issue, what happens in this House when the bells ring? A question asked rhetorically. People who are going to follow this understand the fact that when the bells ring in this House it's that time where we're calling people back to vote in this House on a clause or an amendment. The bells are rung, the Whips are checked, how long will it be before you're ready to have a vote? If you look at the times that the bells have been rung during the amendments, if you look at the time, and when the time comes tomorrow or Monday when we do this and the bells are rung again, when you look at that particular bell-ringing exercise, where are the potential members of the Third Party who are thinking of running for the Liberal leadership? They make themselves - I shouldn't be designated this way - they run. You hear the bells ring, they run. They will not vote publicly, they do not stand in their place, they do not make it known.

The member for Halifax Clayton Park has not voted on any of these votes. That, myself, Mr. Speaker - I believe I'm aware of the fact that the member for Halifax

[Page 3104]

Clayton Park has voted on one of these but when the bells ring it seems to me that the member for Halifax Clayton Park makes herself very, very absent.

Now let me tell you, I want the member for Glace Bay to understand if he wants to stand in his place, if he wants to describe my speech in that manner, he can go right ahead and put it on the record, because this hurts. I know it hurts deeply. I know I had the opportunity to visit with Vince MacLean a couple of months ago and what did Mr. MacLean say to me? Why didn't you run for us? I sent Al Hollingsworth to talk to you. I said to him, Mr. MacLean, I couldn't run for you because of that dirty trust fund money.

Well, at the time we were at a social event and I didn't think it was a conversation we should continue, but I thought it was important that Mr. MacLean knew that legacy, that stain, that particular decision, when I made it that day or that evening, after a call incidentally to my father who told me what advice to follow, that says to me a signal moment in my life as a politician. I was not interested in running for the Liberals. Let me tell you, the Liberals are going to have as just a difficult a time in this election to get candidates who are going to be able to say, I'm proud to get out there and knock on those doors and say, I'm using this money from the Liberal trust funds, that's how I'm financing this particular campaign.

I warn whoever is going to run in Timberlea-Prospect, heaven forbid if it's said, oh, yes, the NDP, they're getting their money from their unions. Well, they don't knock on a lot of doors anyway, but heaven forbid in their campaign literature they said that particular piece of misinformation and that piece of propaganda.

Why haven't the Liberals participated in this debate? It's a controversial debate. I have said some things today that I'm sure the members opposite and members beside me will be very concerned about, but they are told they must not speak. I know that's extremely frustrating for certain members there. Certain members who are eloquent, well spoken, who have real points of view on controversial legislation such as this, but they have not said a thing.

In particular, the MLA for Glace Bay who, on many occasions, stands in this House and he has his say. Much like the member for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley - he used to stand in his place and speak too. He used to stand in his place and he used to speak passionately on such issues as seniors' fishing licences, teaspoons of pavement which he didn't see on his road - that was when he was the outspoken member for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

Well, he doesn't say anything now about this legislation. He doesn't say anything at all. So where are they? Where are these members? A controversial piece of legislation and they have nothing to say. Nothing to say.

[Page 3105]

As my good friend, the member for Shelburne would know, the response for them to say nothing is shameful. It's outright and it's downright shameful. When these members go back to their constituencies next week and when they say, what was decided in Halifax? And when those constituents say to them, what did you say during the debate? Answer the question truthfully - I said nothing. In fact, I was told not to participate in the debate. I know that must stick deep in the craw of the member for Glace Bay. I was told not to say anything and I did not participate in the debate.

That's disappointing, for sure. It's disappointing for a number of reasons. It's disappointing because of the fact you have a meaningful debate in this Legislature, you need a meaningful exchange of ideas. I know that when it comes to what happens in this House, many times people say, democracy is not perfect, but it takes time to make it work.

Well, democracy will continue to have its flaws, but as long as the NDP members of this caucus are present, it will continue to work. Thank you. (Applause)

[5:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, third reading of a bill is an opportunity to reflect on what has happened over the course of debate. This bill has pursued a most unusual course. It was first introduced in the Fall sitting and then it entered into what turned out to be quite lengthy second reading debate. Debate was then adjourned for a number of weeks and then the government called the House back into a special session to deal with one piece of legislation - namely this one, to continue the remaining stages of the bill, as the member for Timberlea-Prospect has pointed out.

The Law Amendments Committee process was held over the Christmas holiday season - a most unusual way of proceeding - and now we find ourselves sitting 16-hour days in this House, completing the Committee of the Whole House stage, and now third reading. A most unique and unusual history.

So what I would like to do is take some time now to review what has happened and then look forward to the deficiencies of this bill and what it means for the political process in Nova Scotia. I'm going to talk about five things. I'm going to talk about the process that has been followed in bringing this bill forward. I'm going to talk about the fact that one of the main deficiencies of the bill is the fact that it does not harmonize us with the federal system, which has established what you might call the modern standard in Canada for political Party finance legislation.

Then I'm going to talk about the fact that the bill imposes no meaningful limit on corporate donations. I'm going to do that by reviewing donations to the Progressive

[Page 3106]

Conservative Party last year and I think it will surprise some members of this House and members of the public as to who exactly it is that is donating to the Progressive Conservative Party and why it might be that the Progressive Conservative Party does not wish to adopt a limit that would eliminate those donations. I'm then going to talk about the fact that this bill does not apply to Party leadership contests, that an amendment to that effect proposed by the NDP was rejected by the Liberal-Conservative alliance that is in place for this bill. Finally, I will talk about the fact that this bill puts the seal of approval on the Liberal trust funds.

So, Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to start with a question of the process. Now, election legislation is, you may say, the foundation of our democratic process. It sets the rules that determines who it is who will take their place in this House, and the issue of who takes their place in this House then determines what laws get passed and who it is who controls the machinery of government in Nova Scotia. One would expect that those rules would be fair, they would be reasonable, they would pass muster as meeting some form of, you might call it national standard, and that the rules would not be formulated in such a way as to egregiously favour one Party over another.

Indeed, in the past, certainly within recent memory, the way that we have accomplished that is to have a consensus among all the recognized Parties that any changes to election laws and election financing laws should go through the Election Commission, where they are vetted by representatives of all the recognized Parties, and that it is only when a consensus emerges from that commission that legislation then goes forward to this House.

For the first time in memory, Mr. Speaker, that process was not followed in this case and that is the first sign that there is a problem with this bill. What is it about this bill that is so special or necessary, that the government is willing to set aside this well-established process of having a consensus reached within the Election Commission about changes to the foundational rules supporting our democratic system. These ideas should have been referred to that commission, the commission should have been given an opportunity to study them, and this Legislature should have waited for that commission to report before deciding what to do.

It is telling, to say the least, Mr. Speaker, that this bill was presented to this House without ever being given to the Election Commission for review and that's the first problem with procedure. The second one was that the Law Amendments Committee process, which provides for some opportunity for public comment, was held over a relatively short period during the Christmas holiday period at a time when the public knew very little about the contents of the bill because, after all, the bill was introduced in this House without advance notice to the public. Nobody knew it was coming and in an election held less than seven months ago, there was no mention by the now-Premier-then-Premier - or his Party at any time in the platform or otherwise that this would be

[Page 3107]

part of the Conservative Party's program for government less than a year after the election was held. It was never mentioned.

That I think, Mr. Speaker, should be our second sign that there is a problem with the process of this bill. If this bill were as important as the government would claim, as necessary as the government would claim, as urgent as the government would claim, then why was it never mentioned during the election campaign held over May and June 2006? It came out of nowhere, introduced in this House without any advance notice to the public. Apparently there was some advance notice to the Liberal Party. The interim Leader of the Liberal Party has said as much in the media, that they had an opportunity to review the bill and discuss it with the government. I think he might have even used the word, negotiate.

This bill that deals with the foundational rules of our democracy was negotiated in private between two Parties represented in this House, leaving out the third Party, with no notice to the public. Then the public's opportunity to comment on the bill was a couple of weeks over the Christmas holiday season. Of course, as we all know, one of the very serious limitations of the Law Amendments Committee process at any time is that the committee sits only in Halifax and members of the public must find out about the committee hearings and must be willing to appear in Province House at a time of the committee's choosing. That, at any time, on any bill, severely limits the ability of the public to comment on the bill, but it was never more true than in this case.

Then there was the curious incident of the select committee. When the government adjourned debate on the bill and ended the session of the House last November, part of what they did at the time was to propose a select committee on the democratic process to inquire into why it is that the rate of voters who are voting in Nova Scotia has been steadily dropping over a considerable period of time. We, in this Party, had been led to believe that one of the topics that select committee would discuss was, in fact, campaign finance reform. Needless to say, it came as a shock to us when we received notice that the House was being recalled for early January before there had been any discussion about putting that select committee together. So it immediately became clear to us that it was the government's intention to pass the bill before the select committee ever met.

So we're then in the ironic situation that the select committee, which is going to be appointed to inquire into what you might call, for want of a better term, the democratic deficit in Nova Scotia, has been formed in circumstances that will contribute to that democratic deficit. That seems to me, Mr. Speaker, more than a little ironic.

Then we get to the way the bill is being passed. The quotation that I gave last evening attributed to Otto von Bismarck, that anyone who likes laws and sausages should not watch either one being made, is never more true than this week. We are sitting in an unusual early January sitting. We are sitting what, by this House's standards,

[Page 3108]

is very long hours. This week has essentially been 8:00 a.m. to midnight. We're sitting those hours today, we sat until midnight last night, we sat to midnight on Tuesday, and the hours set for the House tomorrow are 8:00 a.m. until midnight again.

So this bill is being pushed through this House by a process, essentially, of exhaustion of the members, I would say, in my opinion. I wonder whether anybody thinks that's a good way to make the laws of Nova Scotia, never mind the fact that the law we're dealing with is one of the foundational laws; this is not just any law, this is one of the foundational laws of our democratic system that will determine who it is that gets to sit in this House.

One would think that if there is any law that would follow a better process that it would be this law, but instead the reverse has happened. This law, which of all of the laws is of fundamental importance to the way our democratic system works, is being pushed through the Legislature with a process that leaves an enormous amount to be desired.

So that's the first problem with this bill, Mr. Speaker, the way it's being pushed through. Even at the most, the longest that we can prevent this bill from being passed is next Tuesday, possibly Wednesday, depending on how many dilatory amendments we move on third reading. But then it will become the law of Nova Scotia. That is not the way this kind of law should be passed.

Then we get to the second broad point that I want to make in my third reading speech, Mr. Speaker, and that has to do with the fact that this bill misses an opportunity to harmonize our election legislation with the federal law. Again, this law abounds with ironies, and one of the ironies is that it is the Conservative Party, federally, that has pushed through the changes in the election law, saying that these changes are absolutely necessary to the continued health of our democratic system.

In the wake of the scandal that beset the Liberal Government, lasting at least a couple of years and longer, typically called the sponsorship scandal, that resulted in a full-blown commission of inquiry, looking into the reasons why the scandal happened, a wide-ranging report with many recommendations of reform, well, the election reforms came out of that. The Conservative Party, federally, campaigned on the need for these specific reforms, eliminating, for example, corporate and union donations to the political process, having a public reporting requirement and campaign donation limits on Party leadership contests, and so on and so on. That is now the standard in Canada. The Province of Quebec, the Province of Manitoba have in their own way approached those laws and have themselves set the standard, but the federal law has been very carefully set out and now is what all the rest of us who don't have such a law should aspire to.

Even with this model set by their own Party federally, this Progressive Conservative Party has chosen to adopt a different course. No member on that side of the

[Page 3109]

House has stood up to explain why it is that the provincial law that they are proposing should be different from the federal law after Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party have invested so much of their political platform in reform of the democratic system federally. I think that the Premier of the province owes it to us in this House, to the people of the province, to explain why it is that he has not adopted the federal standards, and in each case in ways that serve as an advantage to his Party.

Why could we not adopt the federal standards here in Nova Scotia? The simple fact of the matter, Mr. Speaker, as anybody who takes the long view of this issue will know, that these reforms will happen. The day will come in Nova Scotia when corporate and union donations are banned. The day will come when these rules apply to Party leadership contests. The day will come where all of this must be reported to a public official in a timely manner, and all the other federal reforms. It will happen, it's just a question of when. It may be a year from now, two years, five years, maybe even 10 years, but it will happen, so why couldn't we do it now? We have an opportunity, the topic is before the House, there's no reason for us not to harmonize with the federal law, and yet that is not what this government is proposing. What they are proposing, Mr. Chairman - sorry, Mr. Speaker, we spent too long in Committee of the Whole House on Bills - what they are proposing in each case are provisions that give an advantage to their Party.

[5:15 p.m.]

Let me start, then, with my next broad topic, which is the fact that this law proposes no meaningful limits on corporate donations. I'm reminded of the story about the soccer game between a team of elephants and a team of mice. The elephants turn around to the mice and say, what are you complaining about, the rules are the same for everybody. The structure of corporations and unions in Canada are different, and treating them the same way means that they're going to be treated differently. What do I mean by that, Mr. Speaker? Well, everybody knows that unions are organized in a way that they cover more than one company. There are national unions, international unions, one union can represent workers at hundreds or thousands of workplaces. In short, the structure of the union movement in Canada is that there are a relatively few but large unions.

The corporate structure is very different. The corporations are widely dispersed - there may be tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of individual corporations, ranging from the very small to the very large and everything in between. It only stands to reason, Mr. Speaker, that with this structure the pattern of corporate and union donations will be different.

MR. SPEAKER: Order please. The honourable member for Halifax Fairview has the floor.

[Page 3110]

MR. STEELE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It only stands to reason that the structure of corporate and union donations will be different, but because what this bill does is limit the donations to the same amount for corporations and unions, it has a disproportionate effect. What the bill does, and of course the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals know this very well, is it eliminates the relatively few, but relatively large, union donations, while safeguarding almost all of the corporate donations.

Now if this government and the Liberals really wanted to treat the two equally, they would eliminate them both, or eliminate them to some insignificant amount, like $1,000. The facts are, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that by limiting corporate donations to $5,000, the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia, after this bill, will be allowed to keep almost all of its current corporate donations.

What I would like to do now, Mr. Speaker, is run over the Progressive Conservative donation list and give some examples of the kind of donations that would be eliminated had the NDP amendments been adopted, but they will be allowed to continue to be made if this bill passes in its present form. Let me start by making a point that I made last night in Committee of the Whole House on Bills. The donations list starts with numbered companies, some of which are not Nova Scotia companies - and it is a little bit beyond me why it is that we should accept that a numbered company from a different province should be permitted to make donations to Nova Scotian politicians. What possible stake could a numbered company from Alberta have in the Nova Scotia democratic process? The corporation cannot vote in a Nova Scotia election; a numbered company even from Nova Scotia can't vote, never mind the fact that some of these numbered companies are in other provinces.

I pointed out last night in debate, in Committee of the Whole House, that numbered companies from Alberta and Ontario had made donations to the present Premier's leadership campaign.

The next one that I want to draw to the attention of the House is a donation from a large national insurance company. Now, as we all know as a result of reforms passed by this government to the automobile insurance legislation, the corporate profits of the insurance industry were, to say the least, enhanced - and there has been a great deal of debate in this House about whether, in fact, those reforms were well thought through, because even with the benefit of hindsight, now that we have all the figures, we can say that the insurance industry was not in particular danger at the time the bill was passed, and since the auto insurance reforms were passed they have made enormous profits. Why is it that these auto insurance companies, who have benefited so greatly from the work of this government, should be permitted to continue to make donations that will influence the political process in Nova Scotia? More to the point, why is it that the government is on the verge of passing a bill that would eliminate union donations to the NDP, but would not eliminate the corporate donations of those companies?

[Page 3111]

Another one - and I'm still on the letter A, Mr. Speaker - is Acadia University. Now I must confess to having a great deal of difficulty to the idea that publicly funded institutions like universities will then turn around and make donations to the very body that funded them, when the body that authorized the funding is in fact a political Party - and Acadia University is not the only university to make an appearance in this list. I think the students at those universities who are struggling with high tuition fees would also have questions about why it is that their universities are making donations to a political Party.

Let me move on then, Mr. Speaker, to AstraZeneca Canada Incorporated, a very large drug company and Canada's drug companies are well represented in this donation list. If the NDP amendments had been adopted, these donations would be eliminated. Why is it that drug companies, headquartered typically in Ontario, would be making donations to the governing Party of Nova Scotia? Is it because they have an interest in promoting the health of the democratic system in Nova Scotia?

One wonders, Mr. Speaker, and one wonders why the Progressive Conservative Party apparently is not willing to give up those donations. I can flip over and point to all the big banks and their various arms and related entities making large donations to the Progressive Conservative Party and on and on it goes, drug companies, insurance companies, banks, all of which would be eliminated if there were a ban on corporate donations, all of which the Progressive Conservative Party gets to keep under the laws proposed today. There's a whole raft of Nova Scotia companies that receive government money and I have to confess to having some difficulty with the companies receiving taxpayers' money and then turning around and donating some of it back to the Party of government. I just have some difficulty with that. I think the optics of it are terrible.

The taxpayers essentially are funding that donation back to the Progressive Conservative Party because their money is going out to the company and then some of that money is flowing back into the Progressive Conservative Party whose members authorized that donation in the first place. I don't think that's the kind of thing that we need to have and that's why we in this Party were proposing that that kind of donation be eliminated. If that Party really wanted a level playing field, well, then let's have a level playing field.

What about, Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council? The Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council made a donation to the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia last year. This government on the one hand says that it has a firm anti-smoking policy, a no smoking policy, and I think if it really wanted to show that the Party itself was behind that, they simply would reject donations from the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council. Under our amendments that donation would be eliminated. Under the bill that they are going to pass that donation will be retained.

[Page 3112]

When you look at the list of companies, many, many, many companies not based in Nova Scotia, many, many companies that have contracts with the Government of Nova Scotia, many, many companies that make large amounts of money in their dealings with the Nova Scotia Government, not to mention lobby groups like the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, Mr. Speaker, one has to wonder why it is that the Progressive Conservative Party wants to strip the NDP of its union donations but is not willing to give up its access to those corporate donations.

Very simply, Mr. Speaker, it is time for corporate donations to end and, frankly, I think it would come as a relief to a lot of the corporations. I remember, I read a book about the Bob Rae Government in Ontario and about how (Interruptions)

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

MR. STEELE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was saying that I was reading a book about the Bob Rae Government in Ontario and Bob Rae, who was Premier at the time, had a meeting with a securities company that wanted to have a contract to sell the government's securities. Bob Rae remembers that the company was shocked that immediately following the session where they talked about getting the contract to sell bonds on behalf of the province that a Party fundraiser didn't walk in after the Premier had left seeking a donation, because they told Mr. Rae that was the way that business had been done for many years in Ontario. The government officials would be in the room with the bond people, they'd talk about the contract, they'd award the contract. The government officials would walk out, and quite literally, after that door closed, the Party people would come in another door, sit down at the same table and start talking about making donations to the governing Party.

Mr. Rae remarked what a relief it was to these companies that finally they were dealing with a government that didn't expect or didn't put those two events so closely together that the intention was unmistakable. Mr. Rae says in his book that the intention was unmistakable, it was if you want this contract, you should be nice to our Party fundraisers. I thought that was a very interesting insight into the way that fundraising worked in Ontario in the years before the NDP Government.

I believe that an elimination of corporate donations would actually be a relief to many corporations that feel they have to make a donation for one reason or another, even though perhaps they would rather not. I note with some chagrin, Mr. Speaker, that in all the news that has been out this week about the affair that I won't mention because it's not germane to the bill, that one of the daily newspapers here in Halifax ran an item yesterday listing, comparing the companies holding leases for Cabinet Minister's cars and donations to the Progressive Conservative Party. What they found was that many more than half of the car companies who held the lease for a Cabinet Minister's car had also made a donation to the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia.

[Page 3113]

I say that with some chagrin, because if the Progressive Conservatives don't eliminate corporate donations as we're suggesting, then they leave themselves open to that kind of article. To people drawing the links and saying, well, there's the leases on the one hand and the donations on the other hand - maybe there's a connection and maybe there isn't, but that is out there in the public domain now. Of course the clear intent of the article is that the reading public should make that link. Even though nobody in the article actually says there is a link, the clear implication is that there is and if we eliminated corporate donations, none of us would have to deal with that kind of insinuation.

But of course that's not what's going to happen tonight, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me this bill is going to pass. The Progressive Conservatives are going to stay on their steady diet of corporate donations, because they don't want to lose them. What they want to do is eliminate one source of the NDP's funds without eliminating any substantial sources of their own.

[5:30 p.m.]

So then I move on, Mr. Speaker, to the next general area of my remarks tonight. That has to do with the fact that this bill does not apply to Party leadership contests. To a certain extent, I'm going to repeat what I said in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, but I think it's important to do that because Committee of the Whole House on Bills is not transcribed, there's no permanent record. For my own benefit and that of anybody reading these speeches in the future, I want to be very clear about why that's a problem.

In our political system, the Leaders of the political Parties are very powerful. The Leader of the governing Party, of the Party that can command the support in the House is the Premier of the province. That Leader has many very significant constitutional and other authorities, the most significant of which are the power to select a Cabinet and the power to advise the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve the Legislature. Even if it be over the objection of the Premier's own Cabinet, it is the Premier alone, the Leader of that Party who can do that. They can form a government, they can break a government, they control all the levers and buttons of power. They chair the Cabinet and ultimately, in our system, it is the Leaders who have a great deal of authority.

Not only that, but in the modern system where television is the medium by which the majority of people obtain their news, it is necessary for the TV cameras to have a face and a voice to show, expressing the ideas of the various Parties. It's not like newspapers that have more room and can quote more people. They need a face and a voice, and almost always that face and voice is the Leader of the Party. That, all by itself, gives the Leaders a great deal of power. The Leaders have official positions under the legislation of the province. They have extra salary, allowances. Within their own Party, the ultimate power that they wield is the decision about which candidates nomination

[Page 3114]

papers they will sign or not sign. That, as we all know, is the ultimate authority wielded by a Party Leader. Power is given to them not by the Party but by the laws of Nova Scotia. So when you look at all the very significant authorities that our Leaders have, it comes as a bit of a surprise that there are no laws governing leadership contests in Nova Scotia.

I wonder if the members in the House can recall the last time that Nova Scotia had a Premier who did not even hold a seat in the House. Do you remember? The astonishing thing, Mr. Speaker, is that it's very recent, and yet we tend to forget our very recent history. The last time we had a Premier who did not even so much as hold a seat in the House was Russell MacLellan. In 1997, Russell MacLellan won the leadership of the Liberal Party, automatically became the Premier of the province, and wielded all of those powers that I just talked about, and he didn't even hold a seat in this House. Isn't that incredible? He became the Premier without running for a seat in this Legislature, and yet there is no law, there was no law, there still is no law governing the process by which Russell MacLellan obtained that Party leadership and automatically the Premiership.

I also want to remind members of the House that it was very shortly thereafter that Mr. MacLellan ran for office, I believe in Cape Breton North, as a matter of fact, the seat currently held by yourself, Mr. Speaker, and so there wasn't a large gap. It was later in 1998, really just a few short months after that, I believe it was less than six months, he called a general election and was re-elected in the general election and continued as Premier after that. That was less than 10 years ago.

The time before that was, of course, Don Cameron, who, after John Buchanan resigned, ran for and won the Conservative Party leadership and walked into the Premier's chair. Now, of course the difference there is that Mr. Cameron held a seat in the House. My point being, he walked into the Premier's Office without ever having had, or having sought, or having the need of the approval of the people. Yet there was then no law governing the leadership contest, nor is there now any law governing the leadership contest.

So, it's not in the very distant past that these events have happened, and there's no reason to think that they won't happen in the reasonably near future. Now is the time to have public rules governing Leadership contests in this province. This bill represents a missed opportunity. We in this Party proposed that that should happen, but it did not. That amendment was defeated by the combined strength of the Progressive Conservative and Liberal Parties. What we were proposing was very simple. It was that the donations to a leadership campaign be disclosed to a public official, probably the Chief Electoral Officer, and the Chief Electoral Officer in turn would publish those donation lists on a monthly basis, so there was regular and timely disclosure of donations.

[Page 3115]

There is no Party in this province, including our own, who has adopted even those rules. Every Party has disclosure rules. Ours does, the Liberal Party does, the Progressive Conservative Party does, but the rules are whatever the Party chooses them to be. The enforcement of those rules is entirely up to the Parties. Just to give one example, the current Premier released his donation list to the public, but only three months after the leadership convention had ended, which was two and a half months after he became the Premier. So one would think that if this information were to be useful to the members of his own Party, never mind the members of the public, it should have been released before the vote was held. I would suggest that after someone has won the Leadership and stepped into the Premier's Office, it's too late. So our amendment, which was defeated, would have done that. I think the law that is here for third reading tonight is the poorer for lacking that particular provision.

Let me move on then, Mr. Speaker, to the last deficiency of the bill. I do regret that I only have about 20 minutes left to discuss this, because I really could talk about this topic for hours. That is the Liberal trust funds. Again, I did speak about this in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills last night, but that, of course, is a much more informal process; there's transcription, and it is, so to speak, off the record. I do want to go over my objections to those provisions again this evening on the record, so it's in Hansard now and forever, so that I can clearly state my position on behalf of the people that I represent and on behalf of the caucus about why we object to this portion of the bill.

It is, to put it very simply, Mr. Speaker, the worst part of a bad bill. I do not understand how any member of this House who understands the history of these funds could support a bill containing a provision that legitimizes the funds. As was pointed out last night by the Leader of the Opposition, the investigation into the Liberal trust funds actually originated in Quebec with the Lortie Commission on organized crime. If I remember rightly, Brian Mulroney, a young Quebec labour lawyer, was a member of that commission, and to a large extent it helped to build his reputation. Of course, Mr. Mulroney later became a Prime Minister of Canada.

The Lortie Commission discovered a system of kickbacks in Quebec whereby liquor distillers and manufacturers were required to pay to the governing Party, a certain amount of money if their wares were to be stocked on the shelves of the Quebec Liquor Corporation. Of course in Quebec, as in Nova Scotia, the sale of liquor is a government monopoly and was at the time. As a result of those revelations by the Lortie Commission, the RCMP discovered that a similar scheme was in place in Nova Scotia, and they began their investigation.

Now the original investigation covered much more time than just the period of the Liberal Government from 1970 to 1978. But what happened was that when the RCMP looked into what had happened under the Progressive Conservative Government, which, of course, governed Nova Scotia from 1956 to 1970, they discovered that the

[Page 3116]

Progressive Conservative Party fundraising records relevant to the scheme of kickbacks for stocking liquor had been burned. That evidence was given at the trials of the Liberal fundraiser to which I will now turn. The only reason that the RCMP said that their investigation did not extend further back than 1970, when the Liberal Government came into power, was that the Conservatives had burned their records.

The difficulty the Liberals have or had, to their credit, to the Liberal Party credit, their fundraisers kept meticulous records which - when the RCMP got a search warrant and got them from the files - told the RCMP everything they needed to know. It was those records that formed the foundation for the prosecutions of three very prominent Liberal Party fundraisers. One has to wonder, Mr. Speaker, why it was that these fundraisers kept such meticulous records. I would suggest that one of the reasons was that they felt very strongly that there was nothing wrong with what they were doing. It was simply the way that business was done at the time. It's the way business had been done for a very long time. It had been done by the Conservatives, and they simply continued a tradition. So they kept the records because, well, that was just business as usual.

The police had a different opinion, and they investigated these funds. They ended up charging with criminal offences, three very prominent members of the Liberal Party. Mr. Simpson, Mr. MacFadden and Mr. Barrow, who was at the time Senator Barrow. The course of each of these prosecutions went differently, and it's very important to understand why this bill before us on third reading is objectionable - to know what happened in those criminal trials. To give you a peek ahead, Mr. Speaker, the reason it's relevant is because the Liberal Party's official position today is that those funds have been cleansed or purified or purged, whatever word one chooses. In this sitting of the House, I've heard a member of the Liberal Party use the word, cleanse, so that's the one I will choose since it's the one they choose themselves.

It's my very firm position and my argument, Mr. Speaker, that the funds have not been cleansed and in order to understand why, one must understand what happened at the criminal trials. Mr. Simpson pleaded guilty to the charges. He pleaded guilty to this corrupt scheme and influence peddling, he was fined and he went on with his life. Mr. MacFadden and Senator Barrow did not plead guilty, and so there was a trial, what at the time was a very large, very expensive, very sensational trial. What I'd like to do is table a diagram showing, in picture form, the prosecution's case at the trial.

What it showed, Mr. Speaker, was a system of kickbacks from liquor sales totalling almost $4 million. It went in two directions and in turn was then disbursed to three different trust funds.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There's too much noise in the Chamber.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview has the floor.

[Page 3117]

MR. STEELE: Now, this was the prosecution's case. There was an organization called the Cambridge Investment Agency, which received over $2.7 million from these liquor kickbacks; $1 million went to James G. Simpson in trust. Through these two entities, it flowed into three different trust funds.

[5:45 p.m.]

The first one was called the Howmur fund. The purpose of these funds was to support the Liberal Party itself. The prosecution was able to show that $2,590,000 from these liquor kickbacks went into the Howmur fund, the interest from which was paid over to the Liberal Party. There was a second trust fund called the Rushmor fund. The purpose of this fund was to pay the expenses of the Premier, and that fund received $217,300. There was a third trust fund, called the Wibarco fund. This fund received $363,300 from liquor kickbacks, and the purpose of that fund was to support election campaigns.

So, I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that the scheme set up by the fundraisers was very meticulous, it was very precise. There were three different purposes: support the Party, support the Premier, support elections, and each one of those purposes had its own fund.

What was significant about the funds was that the funds were not controlled by the Party, they were controlled by trustees. That's why they were called trust funds. So, much to the Party's chagrin, they could not decide how the money should be disbursed. It was the trustees and the trustees alone who decided that. There's a wonderful quote from Senator Barrow saying that if you give money to Party people, they will tend to spend it. So his idea was that the money men - and they were all men - would hold the money and themselves decide when and for what purpose the Party would get the money.

Now, needless to say, this control over millions of dollars of trust funds gave these few individuals a great deal of influence in the Liberal Party, and the suggestion has even been made, Mr. Speaker, that Earl Urquhart, the member for Richmond, who was the Leader of the Liberal Party for a time in the 1960s, was induced to resign his position as Leader when he was informed by the trustees that they would withdraw the salary supplement if he did not resign. It's impossible to know whether that allegation is true, but it gives a flavour of the kind of influence the trustees could have over the political process.

Now I, for one - I hear the member for Richmond speaking, although he's speaking from his chair and not from his feet. (Interruptions)

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. It's important in this Chamber that members be allowed to speak freely and be allowed to express themselves as they wish, but Mr. Earl Urquhart was a well-respected member of Richmond County,

[Page 3118]

served the people of Richmond well, went to the Senate, and passed away at a very young age. His family is very proud of his legacy, and to hear a member stand, make an allegation against Mr. Urquhart and then say there's no means of proving that allegation, I think it's an absolute disgrace. It's a disservice to a former member of this House, a former Leader of our Party, a former Senator of this country.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you rule as to whether free speech also includes smearing the reputation of former members of this House, only to follow it up by saying there's no means of being able to establish that sort of allegation.

MR. SPEAKER: The point of order to come, as we know - and I can take the point under advisement, but I would also say that lots of statements are made about former members of the House rather than current members who are in this House. However, we are always mindful of those who have served in public office. What I'll do is take it under advisement and report back.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview has the floor.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, what I was about to say was that I do hope that there will shortly be another Liberal Leader from Richmond County. (Interruptions) That's what I was about to say, truly, before the member stood up.

Mr. Speaker, let's return then to the trial. Mr. Simpson pleaded guilty. Mr. MacFadden was convicted at trial, appealed to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, lost, and took it no further. So he paid his fine and went on with his life as best he could. Senator Barrow was convicted at trial, lost his appeal at Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, went to the Supreme Court of Canada with four grounds of appeal, and a majority of the Supreme Court of Canada accepted one of those grounds, having to do with the manner in which the jury in the trial was selected. Senator Barrow was again tried, and the second time was acquitted.

Mr. Speaker, the reason that I'm going over this history is because we now come to this question about whether the funds have been cleansed, to use the words of the Liberal Party itself. Now what's important to understand is that the methodology followed by the Liberal Party to cleanse the funds is fundamentally flawed. What they did in 1992 was, they hired an accounting firm and said, look at the trial transcripts, and then if any money has been directly implicated in the criminal trial, let us know, and whatever that amount of money is, we'll turn it back over to the provincial Treasury.

Well, the accounting firm did that. They did exactly what they were asked to do. They did point out that that did not constitute an audit. They identified some $1.3 million from the trial transcripts, and the Liberal Party paid that over to the provincial Treasury in 1992.

[Page 3119]

Now, there are two fundamental flaws with that argument. First of all, Mr. Speaker, because Mr. Simpson had pleaded guilty, there was no trial transcript in his case. Senator Barrow and Mr. MacFadden argued at their trial that Mr. Simpson had been the key player. In fact, part of their defence was that Mr. Simpson had done it; they were innocent but if anything wrong had been done, it was Mr. Simpson who had done it. There was no trial transcript for Mr. Simpson. At the MacFadden and Barrow trials, the Crown didn't need to bring forward any evidence about Mr. Simpson unless it also implicated Senator Barrow and Mr. MacFadden. That's a pretty fundamental flaw in the cleansing process, I would say.

The second fundamental flaw in the cleansing process is that it is the nature of these complicated financial paper-based trials that the Crown will only pursue the strongest charges. They don't pursue every thread, they don't pursue every avenue, because the trials would take months or years. They take the best charges, the ones that are most easily proven, and that's what they charge the defendants with. So by no means, simply because this particular line of paperwork was followed at trial, does that mean that's the only thing they could have pursued at trial?

That was pointed out some 10 years later by Brian Newton, who had been one of the two prosecutors in the file, who knew the file inside out, a very complicated file. He said the Liberal Party could not legitimately cleanse the funds, simply by identifying the sums that were the subject matter of the charges. He pointed out that was not a legitimate way of proceeding.

Mr. Speaker, now we come to the main point. I've gone over the history of the funds. By the way, just while I'm talking about history, there was another fund, the Hawco fund, named for its original trustee, Senator Hawkins and Frank Covert. Although the origin of that fund is unknown, it arose at a time, it appears, when the Liberal Party was not in power, and it appears that the Hawco funds cannot be traced back to this scheme of liquor kickbacks, but the rest of the Liberal trust funds can. That amounted, at the time, to nearly $4 million.

Now here we come to the crunch, Mr. Speaker, there's a fundamental contradiction in the Liberal position, a fundamental contradiction in the Liberal position. I do not know how it is that they talked themselves out of this fundamental contradiction. The contradiction is this: If there is nothing wrong with those funds, if they have been cleansed, if they consist of legitimate donations, then why on earth is the Liberal Party accepting any restriction on it? This House has no business telling any political Party what to do with money that has been lawfully raised.

If there is nothing wrong with the funds, why is the Liberal Party accepting restrictions on their use? If there is something wrong with the funds, then why are we about to pass a law that says it's okay to use the money for some purposes? If there is something wrong, then this House should not give its seal of approval to funds whose

[Page 3120]

origin is questionable. I cannot see how the Liberals can escape that fundamental contradiction, nor do I understand why the Progressive Conservative Party, by voting for this bill, will help the Liberal Party not to face that contradiction.

The Liberal Party of Nova Scotia must face the facts of where this money came from. It did not fall from the sky. It did not appear under the Christmas tree. This money, with the exception of the money attributable to the Hawco fund whose origin is simply unknown, was raised by a scheme of kickbacks on liquor sales in Nova Scotia in the 1970s while the Liberal Party was in government. That was the evidence at the criminal prosecution, that is the evidence on which convictions were entered. Why are we about to approve the use of those funds for any purpose?

The other problem, of course, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out last night, is that the restrictions themselves cannot be enforced. The Liberal Party can move money around any way that it wants and it's simply not possible to put purple dye on the money and say, oh yes, that money came from the funds and it was used for an election. Whatever purposes are legitimate for the money, the Liberal Party can use the trust funds for; whatever money would otherwise have gone for those purposes can now be used for an election. The Liberal Party's revenue will be the same, the Liberal Party's expenses will be the same and the only thing that has happened is that there is a restriction imposed on them that is, in law and in fact, no restriction at all. That's the worst part of this bill, Mr. Speaker, it's not a happy day for the Nova Scotia Legislature. We are about to use our power, to make laws for the people, to say that it's okay to use money raised in a scheme of kickbacks in the 1970s. Now I think that's a shame.

How did we come to this point? How did this happen? I believe very strongly in democracy in the rule of law. It's not part of my understanding that the rule of law that questionably obtained money can ever be legitimized no matter how much time has passed. For all of those reasons, Mr. Speaker, I cannot support this bill on third reading or at any other time.

We are approaching the hour of adjournment, so I would propose adjournment of debate.

MR. SPEAKER: We've reached the moment of interruption. The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Hants East:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government work in every way possible to ensure that Trenton Works remains a viable entity in Pictou County and an economic engine in the Nova Scotia economy."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

[Page 3121]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

ECON. DEV. - TRENTON WORKS: VIABILITY - ENSURE

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I would like to begin by saying that the 10-minute allotment that is actually available to us in the NDP will be shared with the member for Pictou West.

[6:00 p.m.]

I'm pleased to have an opportunity to speak on the situation at Trenton Works. In the past year and a half, I have been in that plant on seven occasions with three of those occasions involving pretty extensive tours of operations, three walkabouts, talking with the workforce, talking with management, and then again going through the plant when the workforce was reduced and also dealing with reduced management.

In the autumn of 2005, there were between 1,000 and 1,100 employees at Trenton Works. Prior to Christmas of that year, 400 were laid off and a year later another 600 were gone. During 2006, when the 600 were still there, the member for Pictou West and I went through the plant together and of the 600 working there at the time, 333 of them were welders. Since this second mass layoff, many of those welders have gone out west, along with other tradespeople, as the mass migration continues from Nova Scotia.

An electrician is coming to my house on Saturday to put in a few electrical outlets and he is actually - after doing the little job for me, I'm sure it's next week that he is planning to leave for the West as well.

Now, there is some good news. The good news is that 30 employees were called back last week to get the plant ready for a recall of up to 300 employees to work on the order that was discontinued in October. The 300 will include office staff who were not laid off and also there will be 20 in for orientation tomorrow, Mr. Speaker, and they will probably be going back to work on Monday of next week or the Monday of the following week, but at this time we must do all we can to support and promote Trenton Works. We are competing with $2.40 an hour wages in Mexico, high Workers' Compensation rates, and high rail shipping costs to the end operators.

The company that owns Trenton works is Greenbrier Companies of Oregon, U.S.A. They also have a plant in Sahagun, Mexico, and another in the United States. Now, also included in the good news is that there has been a 15 per cent increase in productivity in the plant which I recognized with a resolution in this House in 2006. The Premier has met with union and management and there has been a company trip to the West to see if there are small jobs there for fabrication, for diversification jobs, and certainly looking to the oil patch for perhaps something that will spin off. Unfortunately,

[Page 3122]

the current ramp up will not be completed until mid-February and work will last only until mid-April.

Mr. Speaker, we must support Trenton Works very aggressively in any way we can in the next few weeks and months. We are thankful for the little that has been done, but we hope that more will be done. So with that, I will turn the next five minutes over to the member for Pictou West but, please, see what you can do for Trenton Works. All of us should be looking to support in any way we can and the member for Cape Breton Nova just reminded me before I came in that he is very supportive of what the member for Pictou West and I are trying to do and that he and his family have had 109 years in the steelworks in Sydney. We hope that everyone can be as supportive as his comments were.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to have a few minutes here to speak on a very serious topic for Pictou County and indeed for Nova Scotia. There's a saying in our county that states, as goes Trenton Works, so goes Pictou County, and it's very true because the economy of our county is strongly tied to the fate of Trenton Works. At one time there were more than 2,000 employees there at that plant and in good times there were a lot of dollars in payroll coming into the economy of Pictou County. Even just a little over a year ago, in Fall 2005, there were more than 1,000 men and women employed there at Trenton Works and over $42 million pumped into our economy and the opposite is true, when people are laid off or there's no work, there's very little money being passed at car dealerships or retail stores in the local area.

Just in December of this past year, Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to attend a rally with a number of the Trenton Works employees as they had a march. They travelled down from the fire hall in the Town of Trenton, sort of a rainy morning, but we marched en masse and certainly I was there to show solidarity with my fellow Pictonians and marched right to the plant gate. It was covered well by the media and I think it did make a difference because before that particular day was out, the company announced that they were going to get back to negotiations and sit down with the union leaders and try to negotiate a contract. I understand those negotiations are on right this week, and I wish both sides luck and success in coming to a contract that will be acceptable to both sides.

I know both sides have also been working hard to try to find improvements or how to be more competitive to deal with the competition they have in their own company, in the Greenbrier Company in Oregon and in Mexico. They've been working on things like building more cars per day - they actually increased the number of units they were building from eight to nine rail cars a day, and that shows a commitment on behalf of the skilled workforce to put out a good quality product, but more of the same on a working day. They've been working on WCB rates, which have been extremely

[Page 3123]

high and certainly a deterrent to the company in their struggle to remain competitive. So the company and the workforce both have been working together to try to become more competitive in the global marketplace.

I want to commend the workers at Trenton Works and also the management. They've been very good corporate citizens and the employees also have been great to support any local charities like United Way and other needs within our community, so I say hats off to both the management and union for being very supportive of our Pictou County community.

We do have a very skilled workforce there at Trenton Works and yes, they are competing within their own company, they are competing with National Steel in Hamilton, but they have a quality product and a skilled workforce and I think its incumbent upon government to work with management in particular, and the union also, to try to find a way to get them back to work.

I know our local RDA, the PRDC, has been working hard - Lisa MacDonald and her staff have been working behind the scenes with the company and others to try to find help for them, whether it's contracts or whether it's alternate products they can produce. It was announced just this week that a small contract has been reached with an Alberta firm to produce a component of some type that's being used in that province. I guess, really, that is as important as the rail car industry is - maybe it's also time to look at producing alternate products that are needed in the Alberta oil field or elsewhere.

I know my time is wrapping up, but I would urge the Minister of Economic Development, and the Premier and all government, to work through NSBI and through the Department of Economic Development and work with our local RDA or MP, ourselves, the company and the union, to get Trenton Works back to work. It's an urgent issue and we need to get our men and women back to work now. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to stand here tonight and speak about the Trenton rail car plant. I certainly agree with the members opposite that we have to do anything possible to encourage employment at this rail car plant.

My roots are in Trenton and I'm very familiar with the challenges that the Trenton plant has faced over the decades. I had the opportunity to work at the Trenton plant in 1970; in fact numerous relatives of mine have worked, and others continue to work, at the steel plant. My two brothers were employees at the plant several years ago. My father's grandfather, James Dunn, was a member of the first crew to pour steel in Canada - this occurred in 1883, the year they poured the first ingot. James Dunn worked in the plant until 1947, a working career lasting a total of 64 years, when he officially

[Page 3124]

retired at 84 years of age. My great uncle, Allan Dunn, worked over 50 years and my father, Ernie Dunn, was a machinist at the Trenton plant for a period of 46 years.

Since the resolution is concerned about the viability of the Trenton plant and an economic engine in the Nova Scotia economy, an interesting fact would be in 1905 the steel mills at Trenton were taken out and moved to Sydney. For many years, the plant operated under absentee ownership, based in England.

Mr. Speaker, today there is certainly a lot of talk in Canada to reduce the use of trucks on our highways, perhaps thereby using the railroad as an alternative. Trenton Works is a well-respected employer that produces quality rail cars. The rail car business is highly competitive, and work is performed in the most cost-effective locations. That means Trenton Works must compete with its parent company plants in Mexico, in the United States and in Europe. The rise in the Canadian dollar has put added pressure on manufacturers to reduce costs. The slump in the U.S. housing markets has reduced the demand for flatbed rail cars, and like many industries, globalization is affecting how Trenton Works must compete. It doesn't help that Mexico offers cheaper labour costs, while freight costs continue to increase.

Mr. Speaker, the province has been working with the company, and we are willing to help. However, much of the plant's future depends on the rail car market. Government provided a $10 million loan guarantee to Trenton Works in 2002. They have maintained payment of the fees associated with this guarantee, and the account is in good standing. The current amount is now $8.8 million. This guarantee helped the plant restore operations following a shutdown. Getting the plant up and running again allowed the company to offer employment to about 1,000 people during the following three years.

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, market conditions changed again, and head office shifted productions to more profitable operations in the United States and Mexico. Trenton Works is a private sector company, so the market will continue to play a large part in how profitable the company is. That being said, we are willing to work with them in whatever capacity we can. The reality is that while the company had a profit last year, they are forecasting a loss for this year. From the company standpoint, running a viable operation is questionable.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the recent news of Trenton Works is that while a new contract is good news for the company, a new contract to build 300 rail cars means employment for approximately 300 workers until mid-April. It's not a permanent solution, but it does mean the company is fighting hard to win contracts and bring their employees back to work. Greenbrier, Trenton Works' parent company, realizes there are opportunities for Trenton Works to generate new business with specialty orders. They designated Trenton

[Page 3125]

Works as the facility to handle such orders. This is more positive news. Head office still believes Trenton Works is a viable operation and so does the province.

Mr. Speaker, we have been in contact with management at Trenton Works and we are encouraged that they are actively seeking new contracts. They recently announced they won another contract in the industrial fabrication field. This means more work for the laid-off workers, and the company is hopeful they can continue to bid and win more contracts for the construction of rail cars and other speciality orders.

Mr. Speaker, like many companies, Trenton Works is facing challenges with the cost of labour and availability of cheaper labour elsewhere, like Mexico. The current labour situation is not helping the company, and it's not helping their employees. We are encouraging the company to do what they can to resolve the labour issues with their employees. Trenton Works, like many similar companies, suffers through slowdowns and slumps in production. Their business is very market-driven. The smallest change in market conditions has an effect on how productive and how profitable they are as a company. That is the reality of this type of business.

Mr. Speaker, government will continue to support Trenton Works in whatever way we can. However, we all realize that at the end of the day there must be a viable business case in place for them to continue operations. What's happening at Trenton Works is serious. Government was able to provide support by the way of a loan guarantee back in 2002. At that time, they had new orders and the guarantee helped them finance a return to operations. Another loan guarantee or even the offer of financial assistance is not the solution. To remain a viable operation in Pictou County, Trenton Works needs to win new contracts and expand their fabrication capabilities. In whatever way we can help, we will.

Early in the Fall, Mr. Speaker, I arranged a meeting with Greenbrier Trenton plant General Manager Bob Hickey, with our Premier and his staff. At that particular meeting they discussed the viability of the plant and they continued to look for solutions or alternatives to help the employees who were laid off in the Trenton plant. I have had several discussions with business people in Pictou County, including Mayor Shannon MacInnis of Trenton. Two weeks ago I attended a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the minister responsible for ACOA, Peter MacKay, with business people and mayors in Pictou County discussing what we can do for the Trenton plant.

Trenton Works was invited to participate in the recent trade mission to Alberta. I must tip my hat to the honourable Minister of Economic Development who spearheaded this particular endeavour in Alberta. The Minister of Economic Development made sure that the Trenton business people and management were at the forefront while they were at this endeavour in the Province of Alberta.

[Page 3126]

With government help, Trenton Works was able to get up and running again following 2002. Since then, the province has received about $30 million in indirect and direct taxes. It's important that we do what we can to help Trenton Works remain open for business in Pictou County.

At this time, Mr. Speaker, if I have time remaining, I'll have my honourable colleague, the Minister of Economic Development (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I'd like to thank the members opposite for the applause, thank you very much. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I find myself twice in the same week rising in my place in this House to talk about steelworkers. The other night it was talking about Sydney Steel workers and how the current government were the architects of putting them out of business for good in the Sydney area by closing the Sydney Steel plant back in the days of the Hamm Government as an election platform for the current government. We all know the results of that, promises to steelworkers, and the economy of Cape Breton hasn't been the same, because of the lack of good, solid, long-term paying jobs in the Sydney area. That's what happened with Sydney Steel, and the current government ensured that there wasn't going to be a second kick at that industry, to kick-start it, I should say, with perhaps a modern rail mill doing head-hardened rails in Cape Breton for production both nationally and internationally.

Now Canada finds itself in the position of buying rails offshore and now here I am - you know, there are steelworkers who are still left out of the loop and I hope the same thing doesn't happen in Trenton, that this plant dies a death of 1,000 cuts. This seems to be what's happening here in Trenton at Trenton Works, where it's very uncertain what's going to happen over the long term for that particular plant.

Mr. Speaker, I might say that there are a lot of similarities between the economy of Pictou County and the economy of what was formerly known as industrial Cape Breton which is now fast becoming known as the call centre capital of the world - you know, in industrial Cape Breton. The difference between those jobs and the jobs in the steel industry - I don't have to explain that to members of the House. Certainly there's no similarity at all. One is jobs at very low wages and the other is an industrial job which provided a living for families over the years.

Mr. Speaker, in the case of the operation in Pictou County, I believe that it points out the need for the government to have a strong strategy for rural Nova Scotia in terms of employment and in terms of sustainability. So the government has to use all its

[Page 3127]

resources to try to ensure that high-paying skilled jobs in that industry remain in Pictou County. I lament the fact that those jobs won't be available in Sydney anymore in regards to the steel industry because not only was the steel plant closed by the current government, the equipment of that particular plant was fire-saled so as to make sure that nobody opened up another steel mill in that area. So I hope, again, that the situation is not mirrored in Pictou County regarding the operation of the plant there.

The United Steel Workers have taken quite a few hits in the past number of years and they're taking another hit. As I said earlier, the death of 1,000 cuts, I guess, because we hear, we see what's going on and what's not going on at Trenton Works from time to time. It's very problematic for that community and the families in that community to try to plan their future when they're not sure whether they're going to be working. Actually, Mr. Speaker, they're at the whim of an order, you know, an order here, an order there, and there doesn't seem to be any long-term planning. I think, I know my friend, the Minister of Economic Development, is concerned about it as well because it's not easy and I'll give him credit for that. It's not easy in Nova Scotia to sustain industrial jobs in rural Nova Scotia because of a number of factors - supply and demand, for example - but I think there has to be some kind of rural strategy that makes it easier for these jobs to exist in rural Nova Scotia.

We're talking again about the age-old problem in Nova Scotia where we have two economies. We have the economy of Halifax metro and 50 miles of downtown Halifax, and then we have the rest of Nova Scotia which is more problematic in terms of long-term sustainable jobs. Unfortunately, we see all too often where these jobs are disappearing in rural Nova Scotia and that's a sad situation because people are having to leave these communities that they've grown in, that they've worked in all their lives, and migrate either to Halifax or West. We see that all the time. People are moving out to Fort McMurray, they're moving to Calgary. They're moving to other places - Saskatchewan, for example, British Columbia - where there is industrial work. Friends of mine who used to work in the steel industry are now working out in western Canada.

I would hate to think that those who have toiled and did great service for Trenton Works over the years are facing an uncertain future because of the supply and demand and I just think we all have to work a little bit harder to ensure that we do everything possible to create an atmosphere, to tell the people out there that this company puts out a good product, these workers put out a good product, Mr. Speaker, and that has to be maintained in rural Nova Scotia. It has to be a priority of this government, or the government that comes after this government, and indeed the government that was here before this government that I think didn't do adequate planning to ensure that there would be a stable economy in rural Nova Scotia in the future.

The minister and I have had this discussion about rural Nova Scotia and I know he shares concerns with me, and it's not easy to fix the problems of rural Nova Scotia

[Page 3128]

when it comes to sustainable, long-term industry in that part of Nova Scotia that remains problematic when it comes to sustaining jobs.

I never thought that I'd be standing here and saying that Cape Breton County has now become the call centre capital of the world. There are so many call centres down there, they must be talking to each other. There are thousands of jobs in the call centre industry, and our main industrial base, steel and coal, has gone. I know there's a call centre renaissance, I guess, in Pictou County now, and in Colchester County, there are some jobs there. That's fine, too.

I shudder to think, Mr. Speaker, what might happen should the technology all of a sudden dictate that call centres are no longer required or that technology is no longer viable, and if the local jobs we've become used to, in call centres, are not going to be there any more. If you take that out of the equation, and also you have a serious problem with industrial jobs which are disappearing, then we have a real problem in rural Nova Scotia, a real problem, that we're going to have to get our heads together to try to come up with some kind of a solution that will mean long-term sustainable jobs. That fix is not easy, but we have to attempt to fix that problem in rural Nova Scotia, particularly in areas like Pictou County where Trenton Works is located.

I can remember, Mr. Speaker, having the debate about the shipyard in Pictou County a few years back, when that business was allowed to go down. I don't for one minute blame the current government on that because it happened before the current government, but at that time, the recipe didn't seem to be there to do something with the shipyard, because of the competition of other shipyards in the province.

This is not a competition-type industry that we're talking about today and we're having the problems with, this is an industry that, if we lose it, we're never going to get it back, like the problems at Sydney Steel. I thought I'd never see the day when I'd be standing here talking about the demise forever of an industry, and I hope that perhaps in the future we might be able to come up with a plan that will ensure that we have the type of industry in Nova Scotia that will be sustainable over the long haul.

I just want to say that I would like to be part of any operation that would sit down and discuss that particular problem, and try to come up with a solution. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I want to thank all honourable members for having taken part in tonight's late debate. We will now resume third reading on Bill No. 117.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 3129]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased this evening to rise on Bill No. 117. This is, as you've noted, the third reading debate. This is the last stage in the process before we will have the final vote on this piece of legislation. If it manages to make it through third reading, if the vote is in the affirmative, then I assume that the government will arrange for the Lieutenant Governor to attend, and this piece of legislation will become law in this province.

[6:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I think we all have to acknowledge that we're here to pass this bill. I don't think the members opposite would disagree with me, I think it has been one of the worst possible weeks for the Progressive Conservative Government. They had a session that, rather than being dominated by discussion about the actual content of this bill, the discussion that has dominated political debate in this province has been the actions of the Premier's Office in handling the unfortunate incident associated with the former Minister of Human Resources. That is the backdrop for the debate that people will remember that is associated with this piece of legislation.

Ironically, in my view, it is exactly that debate and the disadvantages that are associated with that debate for the government and the government Party that this bill tries to overwhelm. What this bill does, of course, is it sets up a regime whereby the government Party, that relies most heavily on contributions from businesses, will be able to have an unfair advantage in the way that they raise money and they will do that under the - and I'm not the only one doing that analysis, Mr. Speaker. That analysis has been done independently by anyone who looks at the structure of the manner in which the various political Parties raise money.

As people observed the debate this week, one of the things that I heard most often in my constituency and with the people who I talked to at events like high school basketball games and events around my community is they asked what happened to the Progressive Conservative Government - what happened to the government of openness and honesty, one that they believed had an element of decency to it, what happened to the commitment to fairness?

They are struck by the fundamental difference between the government that would rush back here to have this session to pass this bill, which is a self-serving piece of legislation that's here for the sole purpose of giving one Party, or perhaps more accurately two Parties, a decided advantage with respect to fundraising for the purposes of being able to promote their political agenda over the course of an election campaign.

I must say that I think it's notable that the one ethical scandal that was associated with the former government, with the Hamm Government, also circles around the same

[Page 3130]

individual who is the subject of the scandal that the government had to deal with this week. It seems to me that people out there are saying, and they are pointing their fingers at the members of the Liberal Party and they are saying clearly to people that the government's actions over the past week, not just with respect to the debate on this bill but the backdrop to debate on this bill, has in effect made this bill into a confidence motion on the government. They are wondering, even in these circumstances, if the members of the Liberal Party can still bring themselves to be part of the coalition that will pass this particular piece of legislation, can they still act as part of the axis arrangement that has grown up and try to see to it that this piece of legislation, as unfair as it is, will actually be passed into law in this province.

That is the whole point, Mr. Speaker, political reform, reform of political Party financing should be about levelling the playing field. This piece of legislation is fundamentally not about that; this piece of legislation is about conferring an advantage with respect to political fundraising on the government and it's about conferring an advantage with respect to held assets, trust funds, on the Liberal Party. That's what this piece of legislation is about and it's spelled out clearly in the legislation. No one can deny that that is going to be the effect of this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, a number of years ago I had the opportunity to act as a panelist on an electoral commission with respect to election Party financing and reform. That commission was called the Lortie Commission - in fact, I didn't know until this evening that while I was a panelist on that commission that one of my colleagues, the member for Halifax Citadel, worked in a research capacity and wrote some of the research work with respect to the Lortie Commission. I was interested to find that out this evening.

I remember very clearly the discussions that went on, and this is the way it used to work, Mr. Speaker. The way it would work is that the researchers and the commissions would be off, they would be busy generating materials and ideas about the reform of the process. Then, I think it was once a month or maybe once every six weeks, they would bring together the panel from across Canada, and that panel would represent all the political Parties and the minor Parties. It would be a cross-section of Canadians who came together to review the work of the researchers and of the commission, so that they would have input from the grassroots people on the work that the commission was doing.

I must say it was an extraordinary process. It was an extraordinary experience for me as an interested person, in politics. What I was so absolutely struck by was the commitment of the commission and of the commissioners and of the research staff to the fundamental notion that democracy must be rooted in fairness. That people must have a fair opportunity to be able to run for election, to be able to vote to be able to hear the ideas that are being generated by the people who are offering for office. This was the fundamental tenet of that commission. I know for a long time much of the work that was done by the Lortie Commission sat on a shelf, but over time much of what Lortie talked

[Page 3131]

about in that commission has made its way into the federal law of this country, and in fact I would say that at the time that particular commission was groundbreaking.

I'm going to table - this is actually out of one of the communiques of the Lortie Commission. I'm going to read from it first and then I'm going to table it. I think it kind of sums up, to some degree, that kind of notion that the laws that govern, in a democratic society the laws that govern the electoral process must be fair.

"Electoral laws promote fairness only to the extent that voters have a reasonable opportunity to assess the choices presented to them by those who seek elected office. This condition requires that election discourse not be dominated by those whose resources enable them to overwhelm the efforts of others to present their case to the electorate. If discourse is dominated by those with the greatest resources, the equality of voters and the freedom to make choices about who should govern are impaired."

Mr. Speaker, I want to table that (Applause). I think that it very succinctly sums up what all of us have been saying over the last number of days that we have been here to engage in this debate. We believe that this legislation as it sits on the books now impairs the democracy that we are part of. It does not allow people the fair ability to hear equally from the Parties. It confers, instead, an advantage, as I've noted, on the government Party that raises money disproportionately from business interests, and it confers an advantage on the Liberal Party that has held assets, trust funds that were raised through methods that are unaccounted for. I think that's as generous as we can be, "unaccounted for", and allows them to have a voice that can dominate the discourse of the electoral process.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation should be about fostering the value of this vote, of the individual's vote. Instead, this legislation is about conferring an advantage on individual Parties. I think we would all agree that the government should be prudent in spending additional public money, this is after all about expending public money, about public financing of the Parties, and they should be ensuring that the money that is being spent on behalf of the government to finance the political process in this province should be spent to encourage participation. It should lift up the process. It should empower people. It should bring them into the system. It should bring them out of their homes and out to the ballot stations so that they can take part in their democracy. Does this bill do that? This bill doesn't do that and, in fact, this bill was brought forward to deal only with the narrow interest defined by the government and subsequently by the Third Party, and it doesn't in the absence of the additional information that the government says it so badly wants. So that's what makes it I think so difficult for people to understand.

The pork farmers who were here the other day, Mr. Speaker, are told by the Minister of Agriculture that the cupboard is bare, that there's only so much money, and

[Page 3132]

yet we can sit 16 hours a day, day in, day out, for a week in order to put money into the hands of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Liberal Party, and to some degree to our Party. (Interruption) No, it's not to the same degree and this is the point. This is the point.

So, Mr. Speaker, the Progressive Conservative Party expects to keep its corporate donations but also to get the taxpayers to give it extra financial advantage. That is the result of this bill and they are offended by this, but do you know something? The reality is that they aren't just at odds with the issue of fairness here. What they are doing is held up in comparison to what their federal colleagues are doing in Ottawa. I mean their federal colleagues, the men and women whom they would have supported over the course of the last election campaign, the men and women who got elected under the same Party banner, for the most part, went through a process of political financing reform in Ottawa and what did they do? What did they do, Mr. Speaker. They banned corporate and union donations. They provided for the monthly disclosure of leadership contributions.

[6:45 p.m.]

I believe, and I heard it over and over again during the course of the last election as Mr. Harper and his candidates went from door to door across the country, they said, we must get past the sponsorship scandal. We must get past the recommendations of the Gomery Inquiry. We must set a new standard for this country. We must set a standard that will set the electoral process, will set that process in a way that is fair, that is transparent, that encourages people to participate. This is what we're going to do, we're going to remove the elements of financing of political Parties that gave rise to that sponsorship scandal, and that's why they banned completely corporate and union donations.

You know, Mr. Speaker, the truth of the matter is that there's even a fundamental disparity just on that basis alone because, of course, unions represent many employers and they don't get to donate on the basis of each employer that they represent. So that's one of the fundamental differences.

Mr. Speaker, in this province what this legislation has done is left the door to these scandals wide open so that yet again we will have - as I pointed out in Committee of the Whole House on Bills, it is virtually impossible for the government to actually enforce the legislation around trust funds, because those, whether lines of credit are associated with the operation of an election or the operation of the regular Party function of the Liberal Party will be almost impossible to tell. It will be simply a matter of shifting money around on the balance sheet. So the idea that they won't be able to use it for electoral purposes, I think, is ludicrous.

[Page 3133]

I must say I'm disappointed, I had hoped we would hear from members of the Liberal Party over the course of the debate. We've heard very little from them. I was hoping that in the matter of weeks when they're going to have a leadership race that some of the people who would be interested in taking part in that leadership race would stand up and carve out a position against these trust funds. Make a pledge that if they were elected Leader of that Party that they would do away with these funds, so that never again would their Party be burdened with the notion that they were operating on monies that came from unaccounted sources.

As I pointed out, Mr. Speaker, I'm not really sure where they think the money came from. They can't account for it, they can't say where it came from, they can't do that because I believe they know, like most Nova Scotians know if they've looked into this to any degree, that the money came from a process of tollgating with respect to the liquor distributors back in the 1970s. As I've said, Mr. Speaker, with the Liberals on this matter, it is not the principal, it is the interest. That is the manner in which they have treated this issue.

Bill No. 117 provides for additional public financing through a much richer political tax credit, as well through direct funding of recognized political Parties. Someone who contributes $1,000 will now be eligible for income tax reduced by $750. Mr. Speaker, in fact they will have a tax credit for $750, the actual cost to the individual to contribute is going to be $250. Now this is a provision that I'm not really sure if people accurately understand. Before, when you gave $1,000, your Party got $1,000, and you got, essentially, a tax credit for $450, so the $1,000 that the Party actually received came, $650 from the individual and essentially $450 from the government. It's a form of public financing that was built into the tax credit system. It's a subsidy.

Now, that subsidy will be increased, so that the taxpayer will now have a much greater subsidization of the political Parties through the tax credit system. So the political Parties are not just getting a cheque through the public financing provisions, they're also getting, through the tax credit subsidy, a much greater amount of money. I want you to guess, Mr. Speaker, which one of the political Parties will get the greatest subsidy as a result of that rule. It is the government Party that will get the most. In fact, the Progressive Conservative Party, in 2005, had 130 donations in excess of $1,000. Those donations alone will bring in an additional $39,000 in taxpayers' money to the government, just on the basis of those tax credits alone. That's what the taxpayers will be paying.

Overall, if you look at the three Parties, there will be some $57,600 in extra subsidies for political Parties through the much richer tax credit. And two-thirds of that, Mr. Speaker, will go to the Progressive Conservative Party. The Progressive Conservative Government taxes Nova Scotians, and thanks to Bill No. 117 the Progressive Conservative Party gets the majority of the money. Mr. Speaker, can you imagine? This is the government, this is the Premier, that talks about us as the "taxers

[Page 3134]

and spenders" - they're the ones who are doing the taxing and they're the ones who are doing the spending. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I want you to think about a little example that came to light today in Question Period - just as an example of what will happen. There was a question asked about a fundraising practice in Colchester where the minister was encouraging members of her association to send in $100, and they would get a $75 tax credit and they would get a $25 appreciation certificate for their participation. Now can you imagine? - they called it a turkey draw - can you imagine this now? They'll be able to send out a letter, and I trust it won't be on their constituency letterhead, and they'll be able to say if you donate $1,000, we'll give you a tax credit for $750 and a $250 gift certificate for turkeys. That's a lot of turkey; that's a Colchester turkey if I ever saw one.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's pretty fowl.

MR. DEXTER: As my colleagues are pointing out, that's a pretty "fowl" thing.

Mr. Speaker, all the way through this we tried to point out that we were attempting to be the voice of reason with respect to this legislation. We brought forward a number of amendments that were based on compromises. We asked the government to do away with union and corporate donations on a schedule, over time, so that Nova Scotians would know that we were making progress toward this goal, but the reality is that the government turned down the amendment and the members of the Liberal Party supported the government in a recorded vote. I could tell you which ones of the members of the Liberal Party who voted against each one of those proposed amendments in support of the government Party at the same time that they were standing up and decrying the government as incompetent, unable to conduct the affairs of the Premier's Office, they were standing up here in this Chamber and voting with them in order to pass this legislation. I think Nova Scotians should know that.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that it should be recognized by this Legislature, by the government and by the Third Party that Nova Scotians expect more than narrow, partisan interests to guide legislation. That is not what they are getting in this piece of legislation, and I want you to consider this: the Election Commission was bypassed - the very organization that is set up, the very committee that is set up to deal with these matters was bypassed as a decision of this government - the chief electoral officer was bypassed as a decision of government and, as a result, we have this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, they talked about a select committee, but do you know something? They haven't bothered to strike it, and it has also been bypassed, and at this point we don't know if it will ever come into being. There is a terrible hurry for the PCs and the Liberals to get the money that is afforded by Bill No. 117 as soon as possible. I've been here long enough to remember that the only other time that this House spent this kind of extended hours here was on the matter of Bill No. 68. That's the last time we were

[Page 3135]

here, when the government decided there was an issue that was so important with respect to the lives of the people of Nova Scotia that they were going to sit here in extended hours and ram the bill through.

At least I can say, for the Hamm Government of the day, that was an issue of great public interest on which the government took a stand, a principle stand, one in which we disagreed with, but at least we knew it wasn't being guided by partisan self-interest, as this legislation is, and that is the big difference.

Bill No. 117 is behind the times. It is not a piece of legislation - I'm going to wind up here in a second and I believe that this legislation will then come to a vote, but I want to leave the Legislature and I want to leave the people at home who are watching this debate on television with this thought. This piece of legislation is flawed and it is unfair and it does not represent the best interests of the people of Nova Scotia. It is behind the times, it is behind the very legislation that's introduced in the House of Commons by their Conservative counterparts in Ottawa. It does not reach the basic standard expected by the people of Nova Scotia.

I do not believe that it will stand very long. I believe that a new government, a government that is truly dedicated to the notion of fair participation in the electoral process, will do away with this legislation and will bring forward legislation that truly respects the notions of fairness that should guide our electoral process. I believe a new government will set a better standard, one for the open and honest conduct of elections, and this legislation does not do that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the Government House Leader it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I rise to close debate on third reading of Bill No. 117. It has been quite a debate, and in many ways that is to be expected. I know all members of the House of Assembly feel passionately about our political process. Each and every one of us has a strong opinion about how well that process is working. As we have shown in the House this week, as well as the session last Fall, we can all speak with great conviction about the subject of financing political campaigns.

[7:00 p.m.]

It is obvious that the people can be quite emotional when they face the significant changes represented by the bill. And they are significant changes, Mr. Speaker. I think most Nova Scotians recognize that, as well. They can see that it's high time that we change the rules for financing election campaigns and political Parties in this province.

[Page 3136]

It is not, as the Official Opposition has been suggesting, a good time to not again do the right thing for Nova Scotians. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, reform of election financing and political financing is happening across the country, and I believe everyone here endorses the trend. No one wants any single organization or person to have too much influence over a Party or a candidate, and that is why we are suggesting real low campaign contribution limits.

People seem to understand the reason behind that. Some public funding for political Parties, through an annual grant based upon the votes received, is something I believe Nova Scotians support. I also believe Nova Scotians do not want to do what is fundamentally again being suggested by the Official Opposition, which is to make the entire cost of the political process the cost of the government and the taxpayers. Nova Scotians want a fair balance. That's what this bill provides.

In fact, the amendments we are suggesting in this bill are, in many cases, similar to or the same as the rules in other Canadian provinces. Mr. Speaker, these rules were a carefully selected balance between public financing and contribution from private Nova Scotians who believe in the political process. These rules are the same - you wouldn't understand it to hear it from the Official Opposition, but these rules are the same for every political Party in Nova Scotia. They are not better for one political Party or another.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I think it is very important that we talk about this; these political rules will mean a transition for every political Party in Nova Scotia in how they do their fundraising. Frankly, it is intended to do that because we believe that large contributions from a single source are not the right thing to do. That is why the bill provides for transitional funding for every political Party, under the same rules. So I think it is very important that we understand that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there is something that I would like to talk about and that is the held funds. This bill provides real limitations on the held funds and the way they are used. Those funds cannot be used during an election campaign or prior to an election campaign, to promote a political Party.

Now political Parties in this province all have different histories. Some political Parties have been in office in this province, other political Parties have never been in office in the province. (Applause) According to those in the Official Opposition we should all leave office so that we can all be equal. (Applause). That is because Nova Scotians have not chosen to trust them. I think Nova Scotians have been very wise.

Mr. Speaker, I want, and I think all members of this House, want the rules to be equal and fair to everyone. That is part of our competitive, democratic process. This bill assists that democratic process. It cannot undo history but what it does is ensure that

[Page 3137]

when the next election occurs, whenever that might be in Nova Scotia, the rules are fair. This bill is fair to everyone. (Applause)

Now there are a number of other things that I would like to address and I'll try to be brief because I understand the hour is getting very late on this bill, but one of them is the issue on leadership contests. Mr. Speaker, leadership contests are private affairs of a political Party. They are not designed to hold public office. However, I know that our political Party provided disclosure in the election of our Leader to Nova Scotians. I understand that the same is true of the Third Party and, quite frankly, that the same is true of the Official Opposition. Let us not get captivated. Not every rule needs to be in legislation if everybody is doing it anyway.

So, Mr. Speaker, leaderships are private affairs, the rules for how delegates are selected, how they are financed, are something that are private affairs. It is not about the election campaign that elects members to the House of Assembly which, quite clearly, are a different matter. I wonder if the commitment on this issue would have been the same if there hadn't been one of our political Parties in a leadership process at the present time. I am just wondering.(Interruptions)

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me talk about the Election Commission, and these are members appointed by the Leaders of the three political Parties to provide advice on this, but the key is they are appointed by the three Leaders of the political Parties in Nova Scotia. Do you think that the Election Commission - there is a philosophical difference between the government and the Liberal Party and the Official Opposition on this bill. Whether we have heard from the Election Commission where a majority of the commissioners would be members of the Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party or we did it in the debate in the House, the outcome would be the same. The philosophical difference would be the same. However, there is one difference and I will tell you what the difference is - we would have lost many more months not making the reforms that Nova Scotians want. That's what would have happened.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this bill empowers the people of Nova Scotia. It provides for many, many protections for Nova Scotians. Contributions to election campaigns in Nova Scotia will now be made by Nova Scotians, not by people from other provinces. (Applause) It also provides that in providing services, if the individuals, or corporations or unions provide services to candidates in elections, or to political Parties in elections, that it's transparently disclosed and that there is no ability for money to be flowed indirectly to any political Party and, in fact, we co-operated with an amendment by the Official Opposition, or the principle which was suggested by the Official Opposition, on that matter. We want a transparent process where all contributions are disclosed, where the playing field is level, and where Nova Scotians decide who wins our general elections.

[Page 3138]

I do not disrespect the opinions of any member of this House, but we believe in the government and I understand as well that the Third Party believes the same thing, that this bill provides the correct balance between the interests of political Parties in Nova Scotia, it provides the equality and will ensure that the next election, whenever it's fought in this province, is fair and fundamentally the kind of election Nova Scotians will be proud of, decided by Nova Scotians, decided by the people of Nova Scotia for the people of Nova Scotia. Thank you very much and I move third reading. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 117. Is the House ready for the question?

A recorded vote has been called for. Is the House ready for the question?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[7:10 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Hurlburt Mr. Parker

Mr. Morse Ms. Massey

Mr. Barnett Mr. Steele

Mr. MacIsaac Mr. MacDonell

Mr. Rodney MacDonald Mr. Corbett

Mr. Baker Ms. Maureen MacDonald

Mr. D'Entremont Mr. Dexter

Ms. Bolivar-Getson Mr. Deveaux

Mr. Taylor Ms. More

Mr. Chisholm Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid)

Mr. Dooks Ms. Conrad

Mr. Scott Mr. Paris

Ms. Streatch Ms. Raymond

Mr. Parent Mr. Zinck

Mr. Goucher Mr. Preyra

Ms. Casey Mr. Gosse

Mr. MacLeod Mr. Epstein

Mr. Bain Mr. MacKinnon

Mr. Dunn Mr. Estabrooks

Mr. Porter

Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. Samson

Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Colwell

Ms. Whalen

[Page 3139]

Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

Mr. Glavine

Mr. MacNeil

THE CLERK: For, 28. Against, 19. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Third Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 77.

Bill No. 77 - Atlantic Baptist Churches Convention Act.

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

HON. MARK PARENT: It is my great privilege to move Bill No. 77, an Act Respecting the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches for third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 77. Is the House ready for the question?

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 122, and I so move third reading.

[Page 3140]

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

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 122. Is the House ready for the question?

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

[7:15 p.m.]

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 124, and I so move third reading.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 124. Is the House ready for the question?

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 43.

Bill No. 43 - Student Aid Act.

[Page 3141]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the government for calling Bill No. 43, an Act to Assist in the Retention of Doctors in Nova Scotia. This bill provides that a medical student is not required to begin repayment of a student loan until six months following completion of his or her residency program. We believe that this is an important measure and will go a significant way towards recruiting and retaining medical students in Nova Scotia and improving access to health care here in Nova Scotia. I move second reading. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 43. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, this concludes the government business for this sitting. I know the Lieutenant Governor awaits without.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Members of this House will recall back in the Fall when my actions as Minister of Justice and Attorney General for this province were brought into question. In fact, I believe some accusations were made both inside this House and outside this House that were not only uncalled for, but, I believe, unfair.

I would like to remind members of this House that when you make accusations about other members, although you have protection in this House, it does have an impact on a person's life outside of here and possibly their professional career as well.

At that time I had asked the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to investigate and report to me if he felt I had breached either the Code of Conduct or the Ministerial Code of Conduct. Tonight I would like to table the response from the commissioner and I'd also like to thank the members who personally came to me and encouraged me in this matter. I'd like to thank the Premier for his support and I'd also like to thank the Third Party and the Interim Leader of the Third Party, who at least gave me the benefit of the doubt until the commissioner could investigate and report to this House.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table that at this time. Thank you.

[Page 3142]

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor is without.

MR. SPEAKER: Let Her Honour enter the Chamber, please.

All rise.

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.]

[The Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Mayann Francis, preceded by her escort and by Mr. Ken Greenham, Sergeant-at-Arms, bearing the Mace, entered the House of Assembly Chamber. The Lieutenant Governor then took her seat on the Throne.]

The Sergeant-at-Arms then departed and re-entered the Chamber followed by the Speaker, the Honourable Cecil Clarke; the Chief Clerk of the House, Roderick MacArthur, Q.C.; and Assistant Clerk, Neil Ferguson.

[The Speaker, with the Sergeant-at-Arms on his right and the Clerk on his left, took up his position at the foot of the Speaker's Table.]

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: It is the wish of Her Honour, the Lieutenant Governor, that the ladies and gentleman be seated.

MR. SPEAKER: May it please Your Honour, the General Assembly of the Province has, in its present session, passed certain bills to which, in the name and on behalf of the General Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour's Assent.

THE CLERK:

Bill No. 77 - Atlantic Baptist Churches Convention Act.

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

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

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

THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR:

In Her Majesty's name, I assent to these Bills.

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.]

[Page 3143]

[The Lieutenant Governor left the Chamber.]

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: His Honour, the Speaker.

[The Speaker took the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask that the members remain standing and join me with the singing of our national anthem.

[The national anthem was sung by the members.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Just before my closing line, before we all depart, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year for the remainder of 2007, for all members, and certainly all the best in 2007 to everyone.

Mr. Speaker, and members of the House of Assembly, I move that this General Assembly be adjourned to meet again at the call of the Speaker.

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

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 7:26 p.m.]

[Page 3144]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1643

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas Sophie MacIntyre of the Sacred Heart School has distinguished herself as an excellent debater; and

Whereas Sophie won the individual championships at the 2005 McGill University High School Tournament, along with the 2005 North American High School Tournament held in Montreal; and

Whereas Sacred Heart School has a strong history of student debating, and Sophie has continued the tradition by placing first at the 2006 Queens University High School Tournament;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize Sophie MacIntyre for outstanding debating, and wish her continued success in th future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1644

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas Dennis James Ramsay of Kentville is tenacious in his efforts to improve the lives of Nova Scotians who struggle financially; and

Whereas Mr. Ramsay takes his civic duties very seriously, he is a prolific letter writer bringing his concerns regarding the lack of a telephone; and

Whereas many low-income earners are unable to afford a telephone, which Mr. Ramsay feels is a necessity to safety, and has worked tirelessly to bring this issue to the forefront;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize Mr. Ramsay's commitment to helping those with low income.

RESOLUTION NO. 1645

[Page 3145]

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Seniors)

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

Whereas January is national Alzheimer's Awareness Month, and there are nearly 14,000 Nova Scotians diagnosed with Alzheimer's or other dementias, which occur most commonly in people over 65; and

Whereas Manulife Financial is sponsoring its 3rd annual Awareness Breakfast on Thursday, January 25th, 8:45 a.m. at Pier 1 in Halifax; and

Whereas this year's special guest speakers will be Dr. Ken Rockwood, speaking on Living Healthy with Dementia; Dr. Lee Kirby, speaking about Wheelchair Use in Nursing Homes; and Dr. Steve Burrell, speaking about New Techniques in Brain Imaging;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House and all Nova Scotians recognize January as Alzheimer's Awareness Month and encourage all Nova Scotians to provide help today and hope for tomorrow.

RESOLUTION NO. 1646

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Seniors)

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

Whereas seniors from Ocean View Manor Nursing Home in Eastern Passage are partnering with students at the Eastern Passage Education Centre to bring the generations together through art; and

Whereas the seniors will share their life stories and experiences of living in the nursing home with the students who will then turn these stories into paintings; and

Whereas the seniors and students will work together for several months to complete the final work, to be unveiled this Spring as part of a mural permanently displayed in the manor;

Therefore be it resolved that the seniors and students of Eastern Passage be recognized and commended for their mutual efforts in delivering an historical community message and bridging the generations through art.

[Page 3146]

RESOLUTION NO. 1647

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Seniors)

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

Whereas the Enfield Active Seniors Society has organized a walking program that encourages seniors and younger people to socialize; and

Whereas the society, which is sponsored by the Montgomery Branch 133 of the Royal Canadian Legion, has partnered with the Municipality of East Hants, Hants North Heart Health, Nova Scotia Department of Health, and Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission to offer participants information about exercise, a personal log book to record their progress, and several other incentives to keep them motivated; and

Whereas the Enfield Active Seniors Society is also interested in including frail and isolated seniors by identifying those who would enjoy home visits from society members;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and thank the Enfield Active Seniors Society for their work in creating a supportive community that celebrates positive aging by engaging seniors in a variety of activities that contribute to quality of life, health and well-being.

RESOLUTION NO. 1648

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Seniors)

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

Whereas the Department of Health Promotion and Protection, and Nova Scotia Community Links - recognizing that churches, mosques, or synagogues are the places seniors fall most outside of the home - have developed a program called Preventing Falls Together, which provides information packages along with a Fall-Proof Your Place of Worship check list; and

Whereas falls are one of the leading causes of injury in Nova Scotia, costing more than $160 million each year directly and indirectly, not to mention the human cost of a fall, which can drastically change a person's life; and

Whereas falls are the most preventable health risk to seniors, and targeting churches will impact greatly on increasing awareness around this issue;

[Page 3147]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the good work being done by the Department of Health Promotion and Protection, and Nova Scotia Community Links, for their awareness campaign, Preventing Falls Together.

RESOLUTION NO. 1649

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Seniors)

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

Whereas the Enfield Safe Seniors initiated the first six-week Senior Citizens Police Academy and graduated 27 seniors in the month of November; and

Whereas the six-week program for seniors covers topics such as Alzheimer's disease, EHS, medication awareness, fire safety, self defence, addiction, fraud, scams, elder abuse and safe driving; and

Whereas the Senior Citizens Police Academy benefits seniors by making them more aware of these important issues, while benefiting the entire community - I would like to point out that Dave Forsythe of the RCMP, who helped run the program, sees Senior Citizens Police Academy eventually being available province-wide;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the Enfield Tri-County seniors for their important contribution to the community and to the Province of Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 1650

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Emergency Management)

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

Whereas the Antigonish RCMP should be recognized for teaming up with snowmobile clubs and emergency services to create the Senior Winter Aid volunteer program; and

Whereas the RCMP found that during winter storms many seniors may be left without power and transportation, and may not have emergency plans in place for such incidents; and

[Page 3148]

Whereas the Senior Winter Aid program gives seniors reassurance, support and peace of mind, knowing that someone will provide assistance and that a plan is in place for them in time of need;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and thank the Antigonish RCMP, snowmobile clubs and emergency services for their commitment to seniors.

RESOLUTION NO. 1651

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Seniors)

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

Whereas seniors in River John who were looking to improve their physical fitness approached the River John Recreation Committee to open a fitness centre in the heart of village; and

Whereas the seniors of River John wanted to add to their indoor walking program and now have a fitness centre located in the Lions Club building, which is equipped with treadmills, bikers, rowers, skiers and weights; and

Whereas citizens of River John no longer have to drive 30 kilometres to work out, and the new club has a nominal membership fee, and is open to all at times that suit their personal schedules;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and thank the seniors of River John and the River John Recreation Committee for their initiative and contribution to the health and wellness of their community.

RESOLUTION NO. 1652

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Seniors)

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

[Page 3149]

Whereas Annapolis Valley Health deserves recognition for launching a new seniors team called LINCS, which stands for Living Independently with Community Support; and

Whereas the seniors LINCS team will provide seniors and their families with in-home consultation to determine their needs and connect them with the services they require; and

Whereas LINCS will work in partnership with other seniors' programs already in place to ensure seniors have the information they need to maintain personal dignity and functional independence in their homes, neighbourhoods or communities for as long as possible;

Therefore be it resolved that Annapolis Valley Health be recognized for their dedication and foresight in creating a team approach to helping seniors living independently with community support.

RESOLUTION NO. 1653

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Seniors)

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

Whereas the Green Harbour Seniors, a group of 27 volunteers, respond to the needs of Nova Scotians from Lockport to Jordan; and

Whereas in the month of November alone, the Green Harbour Seniors prepared and delivered 40 hot meals, as well as companionship and a sense of belonging to seniors living alone; and

Whereas the Green Harbour Seniors work diligently throughout the year to improve the quality of life in their community, not only by helping other seniors, but also by fundraising monthly for various charitable causes;

Therefore be it resolved that the honourable members of this House recognized the valued work of these energetic seniors, and encourage all Nova Scotians to support the outstanding work of senior volunteers.

RESOLUTION NO. 1654

By: Mr. Patrick Dunn (Pictou Centre)

[Page 3150]

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

Whereas in December, the Pictou Regional Development Commission celebrated 15 successful years of economic growth in Pictou County; and

Whereas the PRDC has fostered a co-operative and respectful relationship among inspired business leaders, government officials and community advocates, continually evolving initiatives such as strategic planning, branding campaigns and PC Connects; and

Whereas such work has propelled the economic advancement of Pictou County and has been an invaluable player in making both rural and urban areas more vibrant;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their best wishes to the Pictou Regional Development Commission and its Executive Director Lisa MacDonald on 15 successful years in the community. The important work done by community development agencies of all kinds is always commendable, but it is even more important that we recognize those that have been at it for 15 years.

RESOLUTION NO. 1655

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 Westville publican William "Bumper" Hoare has spent the last 11 years hosting charitable events and fundraisers at his pub and lounge, Diamond Jim's; and

Whereas Bumper, as he is commonly known, has raised thousands of dollars to help those who have suffered a tragedy or misfortune with much of the work being completed anonymously; and

Whereas in January of this year, the Pictou County philanthropist sold his landmark establishment and retired, as his own health has limited his work pace, but he has left a legacy of community support that will hopefully survive for years to come;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their best wishes to William "Bumper" Hoare on his recent retirement and his 11 years of caring through his business, Diamond Jim's; selfless members of the community exist in every part of Nova Scotia and their work reminds us of the human spirit that exists in this extraordinary province.

[Page 3151]

RESOLUTION NO. 1656

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 most successful telethon to date was held late last year in Pictou County, with proceeds going towards the Pictou County Christmas Fund; and

Whereas the 32nd installment of the annual event raised $71,284 in pledges and was able to provide funding for more than 1,000 local, needy families; and

Whereas the popular fundraiser was held at the DeCoste Entertainment Centre and is staffed almost entirely by volunteers who do everything from broadcasting the show itself on local cable television, to putting together the entertainment;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all of those involved with the 32nd annual Pictou County Christmas Fund telethon. Such generosity of spirit is always on hand in Nova Scotia, but it is amplified during the holiday season and the people of Pictou County have illustrated that perfectly.

RESOLUTION NO. 1657

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 Ray Moorehead, a fitness and sport instructor at 14-Wing Greenwood, has completed his seventh marathon; and

Whereas his efforts have promoted the benefits of fitness and regular exercise to all citizens; and

Whereas Mr. Moorehead is a role model for the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ray Moorehead on his achievements.

RESOLUTION NO. 1658

By: Hon. Mark Parent (Environment and Labour)

[Page 3152]

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

Whereas the Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College has received a $13 million investment from the Nova Scotia Government; and

Whereas a new strategic plan with enrollment targets as well as plans for expansion of facilities, modernization of infrastructure and articulation agreements between Kingstec and other post-secondary institutions; and

Whereas faculty and students will be encouraged to participate in campus initiatives to build wellness, fitness and a spirit of entrepreneurship;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the contribution made by Kingstec to the changing needs of industry and the economy.

RESOLUTION NO. 1659

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 Eve and John Steenbeck have been operating the Treasure House Soup Kitchen, a non-denominational community outreach organization in Kentville; and

Whereas this marks the 20th year the organization has provided hot, full course meals each week to needy individuals; and

Whereas donations from individuals, churches and businesses support the soup kitchen which has become a source of hope for people facing difficult life circumstances;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the outstanding efforts of the Steenbecks and the wider community that supports the Treasure House Soup Kitchen.

RESOLUTION NO. 1660

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:

[Page 3153]

Whereas the Kentville and Area Christian Women's Club has celebrated its 25th Anniversary in November 2006; and

Whereas the club is affiliated with the Stone Cross Ministries; and

Whereas the group's efforts help support the provision of ministers to places that cannot afford to pay for their salaries;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the valuable contribution of this volunteer group.

RESOLUTION NO. 1661

By: Hon. Karen Casey (Education)

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 20 young women will proudly represent Nova Scotia as members of the Nova Scotia Women's Under 18 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 Robyn Nicholson, a student at North Colchester High School in Tatamagouche, who has earned a well-deserved position on the Nova Scotia Women's Under 18 Hockey Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1662

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 charity begins at home; and

Whereas fundraising is always necessary to help charities and organizations in need; and

[Page 3154]

Whereas the students of Bridgewater Elementary School raised $1,000 in support of the North Queens School;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send a big thank you out to principal Mark MacLeod, the staff and all the students of Bridgewater Elementary School in showing their support in rebuilding of the North Queens Elementary School.

RESOLUTION NO. 1663

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 encouraging our youth to participate on team sports is crucial to having a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas team sports help promote team spirit and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team captured the Provincial Title which was held in Inverness, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Coach Scott Young on his time and dedication to the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1664

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 encouraging our youth to participate on team sports is crucial to having a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas team sports help promote team spirit and friendly competition; and

[Page 3155]

Whereas the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team captured the Provincial Title which was held in Inverness, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate member Brandon Dicks on being part of the Provincial Championship Team of the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1665

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 encouraging our youth to participate on team sports is crucial to having a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas team sports help promote team spirit and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team captured the Provincial Title which was held in Inverness, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate member Garrrett Ramey on being part of the Provincial Championship Team of the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1666

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 encouraging our youth to participate on team sports is crucial to having a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas team sports help promote team spirit and friendly competition; and

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Whereas the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team captured the Provincial Title which was held in Inverness, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate member Mark Young on being part of the Provincial Championship Team of the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1667

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 encouraging our youth to participate on team sports is crucial to having a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas team sports help promote team spirit and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team captured the Provincial Title which was held in Inverness, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate member Dale Peters on being part of the Provincial Championship Team of the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1668

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 encouraging our youth to participate on team sports is crucial to having a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas team sports help promote team spirit and friendly competition; and

[Page 3157]

Whereas the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team captured the Provincial Title which was held in Inverness, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate member Tim Coote on being part of the Provincial Championship Team of the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1669

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 encouraging our youth to participate on team sports is crucial to having a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas team sports help promote team spirit and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team captured the Provincial Title which was held in Inverness, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate member Ian Davidson on being part of the Provincial Championship Team of the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1670

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 encouraging our youth to participate on team sports is crucial to having a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas team sports help promote team spirit and friendly competition; and

[Page 3158]

Whereas the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team captured the Provincial Title which was held in Inverness, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate member Alex Baker on being part of the Provincial Championship Team of the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1671

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 encouraging our youth to participate on team sports is crucial to having a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas team sports help promote team spirit and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team captured the Provincial Title which was held in Inverness, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate member Kyle Zinck on being part of the Provincial Championship Team of the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1672

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 encouraging our youth to participate on team sports is crucial to having a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas team sports help promote team spirit and friendly competition; and

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Whereas the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team captured the Provincial Title which was held in Inverness, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate member Matt Tanner on being part of the Provincial Championship Team of the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1673

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 encouraging our youth to participate on team sports is crucial to having a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas team sports help promote team spirit and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team captured the Provincial Title which was held in Inverness, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate member Jake MacDougall on being part of the Provincial Championship Team of the Bridgewater Senior High School Boys Volleyball Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1674

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Economic Development)

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

Whereas Saeed El-Darahali, at age 27, has already been in the military reserves, owned his own business, received his MBA, and is now employed as a venture capitalist with InNOVAcorp; and

Whereas Saeed, who is a husband and father, also finds time to be a member of St. Mary's University Finance and Management Science Faculty; and

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Whereas Saeed was named one of the top 30 Nova Scotians under 30 by The Daily News;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Saeed El-Darahali on his success and wish him the best of luck with his future ambitions.

RESOLUTION NO. 1675

By: Hon. James Muir (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas Margaret (Muir) Langley, a native of Truro, was recently inducted into the Dalhousie University Sport Hall of Fame in recognition of athletic excellence as a member of the Tiger's women's basketball and field hockey teams; and

Whereas Margaret Langley was named the Female Athlete of the Year for three consecutive years, an achievement that stood unmatched for 36 years; and

Whereas Margaret Langley continued her leadership at Dalhousie after graduation, serving as president of Dalhousie's Black and Gold Club from 1990-92, a member of the university's board of directors from 1994-97, and for 10 years as a member of the Board of Directors of Dalhousie's Alumni Association;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Margaret Langley on her recent induction into the Dalhousie University Sport Hall of Fame and thank her for providing an outstanding example of excellence in sport and for her continuing leadership at her alma mater.

RESOLUTION NO. 1676

By: Hon. James Muir (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas Dr. Bill Stanish was recently inducted into the Dalhousie University Sport Hall of Fame in recognition of athletic excellence as a member of the Tigers' men's football and hockey teams; and

Whereas before he began his impressive 35-year sports medicine career, Dr. Stanish played varsity football as team captain in his last three years, and was the team's

[Page 3161]

MVP in 1964 and CIAU Athlete of the Week due to a five touchdown performance against Acadia in 1965; and

Whereas Dr. Stanish was captain of the Tigers' hockey team for three seasons, the first person to captain both the football and hockey teams in the same session, selected twice as the top male athlete at Dalhousie, the first repeat winner of the Climo Award, and was recognized as Dalhousie's Most Inspirational Athlete in 1967;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Dr. Bill Stanish on his recent induction into the Dalhousie University Sport Hall of Fame and thank him for being a great example of sport and academic excellence at the university level.

RESOLUTION NO. 1677

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas Shaunda Muise-Greene teaches early French Immersion at the Evelyn Richardson Memorial Elementary School (ERMES) in Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Shelburne County teacher has been named French as a Second Language Educator of the Year in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this Acadian native of Morris Island, Yarmouth County, has been teaching early French Immersion for 10 years, the last seven of which have been at the Evelyn Richardson Memorial Elementary School;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and commend Shaunda Muise-Greene on being named French as a Second Language Educator of the Year in Nova Scotia by the Canadian Parents for French Association.

RESOLUTION NO. 1678

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas in August 2006, Michael Blades of Cape Sable Island, Shelburne County, captured the International Skeet Shooting Association Zone 8 Open Men's Overall Championship title; and

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Whereas Zone 8 encompasses all Canada and Europe; and

Whereas the Jack Mayer Memorial was one of numerous satellite shoots held throughout the zone for the championship, and the winner was determined once all the scores were compiled;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Michael Blades on being named the International Skeet Shooting Association Zone 8 Open Men's Overall Champion in August of 2006.

RESOLUTION NO. 1679

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas the Shelburne County Pee Wee B Flames won three games during the busy weekend of December 2nd and 3rd , 2006; and

Whereas Noah Atwood, Matthew Blinkhorn, Pierce Atwood, and Cody Coltreau found the net for the Flames, and Dallas Donaldson made several key saves in the net; and

Whereas at home on Sunday, December 3, 2006, the Flames managed their third win of the weekend after slipping past the visiting Lunenburg Falcons 4-3;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Shelburne County Pee Wee B Flames hockey team on their achievements, and wish each player continued success in their athletic futures.

RESOLUTION NO. 1680

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas in 1988, Kenneth Hatfield of Stoney Island, Nova Scotia, while out on a fishing trip released a note in a bottle which turned up some 18 years later with the note still intact; and

Whereas while out hunting, Barry Russell of Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick, found the bottle and contacted Kenneth Hatfield; and

[Page 3163]

Whereas the well-preserved note left all parties in awe;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend Kenneth Hatfield on this undertaking, and congratulate Kenneth on his initiative of creating a time capsule as part of Nova Scotia's history.

RESOLUTION NO. 1681

By: Mr. Sterling Bellieveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas a long-time resident of Shelburne County, Ruby Bower, 90, bagged a deer during the last hunting season; and

Whereas Ruby is an active great-great- grandmother who raised four children on her own, and continues to hunt every year; and

Whereas Ruby's perseverance paid off this year - allowing her to bag a six-point buck weighing in at 125 pounds;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly, along with Ruby's four children, 18 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild, congratulate Ruby on her determination, perseverance and accomplished hunting skills.

RESOLUTION NO. 1682

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas the annual Bruce Nickerson Memorial Fundraiser was held on November 18, 2006, at the Barrington Lions Hall; and

Whereas this year's variety show featured a long list of local performers such as Sounds of Men, Cecil & Georgie, Pastor Phil Williams, Evan Goreham, Randall Stoddard, and Paul Foster; and

Whereas local cancer patients and the Sea Spray Laundry facility are the beneficiaries of this event, with 60 per cent of the proceeds going to the Rosalin Nickerson Care Fund and 40 per cent to the Sea Spray Laundry sheltered workshop;

[Page 3164]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the organizer of the annual Bruce Nickerson Memorial Fundraiser, Mrs. Sue Bower-Nickerson, on her dedication and hard work for this very worthy cause.

RESOLUTION NO. 1683

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas the Shag Harbour United Baptist Church held its 150th Anniversary celebration on November 2nd to 5th , 2006; and

Whereas this special event viewed pictures and activities of past days and a history of the church; and

Whereas the schedule of events also included an old-fashioned prayer meeting, old-time gospel concert, and supper;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Shag Harbour United Baptist Church on celebrating 150 years of service to its community.

RESOLUTION NO. 1684

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas a tragedy like that of the early Spring fire that consumed the offices of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, destroying much of the archival material collected by the society, draws communities together as one; and

Whereas the support to rebuild is shown from Loyalist friends throughout Nova Scotia and across Canada; and

Whereas local and province-wide support has been steady;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Black Loyalist Heritage Society on its determination and hard work to restore and rebuild this very important piece of Nova Scotia history.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1685

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas budding author Jason Vaters won the 5th Annual National Writing Challenge from Staples in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Jason, a Grade 6 student at Forest Ridge Academy, attended a book signing on May 13, 2006, at Staples in Yarmouth; and

Whereas Jason penned, and named his book, Life Would Be Easy With;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Jason Vaters on his accomplishment and on winning the 5th Annual National Writing Challenge for his book, Life Would Be Easy With.

RESOLUTION NO. 1686

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas lots of music and a bit of comedy filled the Astor Theatre in October 2006 during a benefit concert for the North Queens Elementary School; and

Whereas the organizers pulled everything together in about two weeks, after a former pastor of the United Church in Caledonia, Carol Smith, came up with the idea; and

Whereas the concert raised over $800 and was presented to the music teacher at North Queens Elementary School, Allison Williams;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize event organizers, Gary Dunn and Mary MacRae, the performers South Wind, David Burbine and Traditional Country, Dale Verge Doin' Country and Carol Smith.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1687

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the Liverpool Regional High School Boy's Soccer Team won the Western Regional Title in Division 2 for high schools; and

Whereas this is Liverpool's first regional soccer title in 12 years, which they won with their steely determination to go the distance; and

Whereas the Liverpool Warriors, with their regional win, won the privilege of hosting the provincial tournament;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the Liverpool Regional High School Soccer Team, the Warriors, for their silver medal finish in the provincial finals in November 2006.

RESOLUTION NO. 1688

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the Queens County's medical first-response departments are now the proud owners of five new Lifepak 500's and a Lifepak 500 trainer; and

Whereas these defibrillators have now been delivered to each community, and the medical first responders have been trained in their use and they will greatly decrease the time to defibrillate and increase the chances of surviving; and

Whereas several fundraising initiatives were used to successfully raise the required money;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize David Toogood, Chad Whynot, Karl Carver, Ron Campbell, Sheila Munroe, Nick Von Wahl, Cole Ford Sales, Veniot's Print, Nova Scotia Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, Bowater, McCain's Foods, Blue Wave Sea Food, Lunenburg Queens Health Board, Queens County Kinsmen Club, Queens County Lions Club, The Astor Theatre,

[Page 3167]

Dale Verge & Doin' Country, Dave Burbine & Band, Lillian Know, Sandy Brow, Jacob Huskins, and Wayne Mosher & the Buchmans for their fundraising efforts, and corporate sponsorship, to aid in the purchase of the defibrillators now being used in communities in Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1689

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas Queens County is very fortunate to have had many people from all parts of the world select a community in the county in which to live; and

Whereas upon many of these people returning to the home of their birth, to visit family, they encounter the ravages of war; and

Whereas Joey Nasrallah and his family are very proud to be Canadians and appreciate the overwhelming support of the many residents of Queens County;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Joey, Anna-Marie, Sammy and Nathan Nasrallah and welcome them back safely to their home in Liverpool, Queens County, Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 1690

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas Pam Ackerman from Queens County has chosen to increase her knowledge in a variety of subjects through auditing 17 university courses at Acadia University; and

Whereas Pam has also chosen to volunteer as a mentor to a struggling student; and

Whereas Pam has chosen to share her personal journey, as well as how other seniors can get involved in programs and courses;

[Page 3168]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Pam Ackerman for her dedication to meeting new people and acquiring interesting literature to read through her university courses.

RESOLUTION NO. 1691

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas Music Nova Scotia brought to Liverpool and White Point over 50 musical acts over four days in November; and

Whereas events like this cannot be held without a large cast of volunteers; and

Whereas the 10th annual Nova Scotia Music Awards Show was held at the Astor Theatre which included a video tribute to Hank Snow, and the video tribute, along with an award was presented to the Hank Snow Country Music Centre and is on permanent display at the centre;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize co-chairmen John Wiles and Anne Oakley, and all of the volunteers who made this a most memorable Music Nova Scotia visit to Liverpool and White Point.

RESOLUTION NO. 1692

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas in May 2005, the Black Rattle Bridge in Molega Lake had its footings removed and the main structure drop by a foot and a half below the road level after days of heavy rain; and

Whereas the Greater Molega Lake Lot Owners Association was faced with a daunting challenge to replace the bridge that helped shorten response time for emergency vehicles, reduced maintenance costs and provide easier access for power and phone maintenance; and

Whereas the association was fortunate to have a former marine engineer draft the drawings, design the abutments, and was the main overseer of the project which saw

[Page 3169]

volunteers remove 350 pounds of timber, build forms for the abutments, drill precision- placed holes, and lift and secure the main replacement timbers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognizes Lou St. Clair-Golding and the team of volunteers who showed up to replace the structure rain or shine.

RESOLUTION NO. 1693

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia held their Big Bike for Stroke event in August in Queens County; and

Whereas the 2006 Team Spirit Award recognizes the outstanding enthusiasm and participation of a team in the Big Bike for Stroke; and

Whereas the winner of the award this year was recognized for making the ride a community event, with lots of people turning out to watch them and cheer them, and they raised more than $2,700 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Sheila Dulong, Carla Malay, co-captains of the Kedge Pedalers of Caledonia, Queens County, and all of their team members.

RESOLUTION NO. 1694

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the Camerata Singers of Halifax made a recording of Christmas songs in June 2006; and

Whereas the 19-track CD features Christmas music by Canadian composers, and celebrates the Camerata Singers 20th Anniversary and the quality of music being created in Canada; and

Whereas members of the Camerata Singers come from many Nova Scotian communities for the opportunity to sing interesting repertoire, and the choir is well-known for its high performance standards;

[Page 3170]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Camerata Singers members Kristopher Snarby of Liverpool and Jill Rafuse of Hunts Point.

RESOLUTION NO. 1695

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas Christmas is a time to decorate homes, and a fundraiser for the North Queens Visitor Information Centre opened up the doors of eight properties in North Queens; and

Whereas the community participation in this event provided a chance to visit a stranger's home, enjoy tea and treats, along with a chance to win prizes donated by local businesses; and

Whereas this event provided community involvement and a fundraising opportunity;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Cindy Lewis and her team of volunteers, along with the owners of the properties who opened their doors: Judi and Bill Wamboldt in South Brookfield, Judy Flemming and Peter Rogers in Caledonia, the North Queens Heritage House Museum in Caledonia, Cameron and Cindy Lewis in Caledonia, Terje and Barb Rogers in Caledonia, the Kempt Baptist Church in Kempt, Anna and Howard Ford in Kempt, and the Winston and Lauren Seaton home in Kempt.

RESOLUTION NO. 1696

By: Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the Arthur Irving Academy of the Environment at Acadia University has awarded its first Environmental Leadership Award; and

Whereas several years of research has been done on the Blandings turtles in the Pleasant River, Queens County area; and

Whereas this award recognizes many hours of work and initiatives for species at risk;

[Page 3171]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Brennan Caverhill for his work giving dozens of public presentations, establishing a turtle-nest monitoring program for Pleasant River residents, and organizing environmental fundraisers for species at risk and local causes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1697

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas 2006 was the 60th Anniversary of the Year of the War Bride; and

Whereas a Wall of Remembrance was developed by students at North Queens Rural High School; and

Whereas Jean Mosher and Isabelle Sutherland, two war brides in North Queens, from England and Scotland, respectively, were recognized by the students;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the junior high students at North Queens Rural High School for the development of the Wall of Remembrance at the school.

RESOLUTION NO. 1698

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the 2007 BMO Financial Group Skate Canada Nova Scotia sectional competition was held in November, 2006; and

Whereas a young woman from Milton placed first in the Pee Wee B category; and

Whereas this young woman is a member of the Queens County Blades of Liverpool;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Samantha Hatt of Milton on her skating accomplishments in the Group Skate Canada Nova Scotia sectional competition.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1699

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the South Shore Exhibition held riding competitions in 2006, competitions were also held in the Annapolis Valley; and

Whereas Meadow Ponds Stables' students of Queens County once again made their mark on the Nova Scotia riding circuit; and

Whereas many awards in many classes of riding were won by this team of riding students;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize riders: Jesse Oickle, Liseanne MacPherson, Christina Slaunwhite, Abbie Fisher, Amber Jameson, Mallory Maxwell, Barbara McLeod, Rebecca Kromko, Taylor Oickle, Jordan Haughn, Emma Norman, and their coach, Holly MacDonald.

RESOLUTION NO. 1700

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the North Queens Elementary School was destroyed by fire in 2006; and

Whereas the school was contacted when it was realized by local auto dealerships that the school needed a hand to recover from the devastating fire, and the school was asked what the dealerships could do to help; and

Whereas recognizing that they receive much business from the Caledonia area, the auto dealerships wanted to say thank you and give back to the communities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Carroll Tri-County GM of Liverpool, and Carroll South Shore GM of Bridgewater, for their donation of a complete package of gymnasium equipment to the North Queens School in Caledonia.

RESOLUTION NO. 1701

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By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the Ground Search & Rescue and the Hospital Hustle for Queens Regional Hospital became the recipients of donated handmade guitars; and

Whereas the guitars are built out of locally-produced lumber that is dried for about a year before being planed, shaped and built; and

Whereas tickets were sold, and the over $500 raised will be used by both of the organizations in their everyday operations;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Richard Cole of Milton who made the guitars and donated them to the community organizations to be raffled.

RESOLUTION NO. 1702

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the South Queens Junior High boys volleyball team won the Western Nova Scotia Regional Championship; and

Whereas this was a first-time-ever accomplishment by this team; and

Whereas this was the team's second trip to the finals under the coaching of John Armstrong;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the members of the South Queens boys volleyball team: Jeffrey Murray, Colton Wamboldt, Brendan Rafuse, Logan Kemshed, Tyler Dagley, Isaac Norman, Justin Richards, Bradley Crouse, Nathan Wamboldt, Isaac Comeau, Zach Wamboldt, Ben Sampson, Bryden MacNamara, Jake Nickerson, and Coach John Armstrong.

RESOLUTION NO. 1703

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the First International Ukulele Ceilidh in Nova Scotia was held in Liverpool in 2006; and

Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia recognized Susan Bunten Borgersen with the 2006 Volunteer of the Year for Nova Scotia Festivals and Events; and

Whereas Susan Bunten Borgersen and her team of volunteers put on a wonderful ceilidh and brought people to Queens County from all over the world;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the hard work of Susan Bunten Borgersen and all of the volunteers of the International Ukulele Ceilidh.

RESOLUTION NO. 1704

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas a public speaking competition featuring eight students from Queens was held in December 2006; and

Whereas four of the students came from North Queens High School and four from Liverpool Regional High School; and

Whereas the competition was organized by the Lions Club of Liverpool;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize first-place winner Jennie Uhlman, second-place winner Alyssa Scott, and third-place winner Jason Doucette for their accomplishments in the public speaking competition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1705

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the South Queens Junior High School French immersion classes are on a mission to raise money for their trip to Quebec City in May of this year; and

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Whereas the trip to Quebec will let students see a large francophone community and show them that the language is still alive; and

Whereas students, parents and grandparents cut up apples, made crusts, garnished pies, baked, wrapped, packaged and delivered 600 pies;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the students of South Queens Junior High School French immersion classes and their teachers, Wendy Allan and Sarah Tutty, for their work on this very successful fundraiser.

RESOLUTION NO. 1706

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was in Queens County in December 2006 to recognize the business efforts of the owner of Killam Studio in Liverpool; and

Whereas Kathryn Killam gained this countrywide attention from The National when they came across an article in the New Yorker; and

Whereas the Liverpool business began in the summer of 2006, where Kathryn selects second- hand clothing, fixes them up and sells them on her Web site;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the efforts of Kathryn Killam and her new business which has brought the eyes of North America to Queens County.

RESOLUTION NO. 1707

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas Meals on Wheels participants each received a quilted Christmas placemat which was delivered by a VON Queens volunteer; and

[Page 3176]

Whereas Queens Quilters had intended to make 10 placemats, and received 30. The placemats were a variety of colours, shapes and sizes, but all shared the common holiday theme; and

Whereas the quilters have donated quilts to Victoria's Quilts, an organization which distributes quilts to cancer patients throughout Canada, and will be doing a project in the near future for palliative care patients;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the fellowship and friendship of Queens Quilters, which has been meeting for over 30 years, and members come from all parts of Nova Scotia to gather to work on and complete projects.

RESOLUTION NO. 1708

By: Mr. Gordon Gosse (Cape Breton Nova)

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

Whereas Louisdale teacher, Dianne Kehoe, earned a top spot on the Prime Minister's Annual Awards list for teaching excellence; and

Whereas Ms. Kehoe, who taught Grade 11 and Grade 12 Canadian history, global geography and global history at Richmond Academy in Louisdale, was among 17 teachers from across Canada awarded the Prime Minister's 2006 Certificate of Excellence in December 2006; and

Whereas Ms. Kehoe was honoured for her approach to teaching, including effective use of the Internet as a learning tool, and for engaging her students in hands-on learning using a variety of multimedia technologies;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend Dianne Kehoe on her creativity, dedication, innovation and congratulate Ms. Kehoe on being a recipient of the Prime Minister's 2006 Certificate of Excellence.

RESOLUTION NO. 1709

By: Mr. Gordon Gosse (Cape Breton Nova)

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

Whereas Antigonish County teacher, Lavonah Madden, earned a top spot on the Prime Minister's Annual Awards list for teaching excellence; and

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Whereas Ms. Madden, who taught Primary to Grade 6 at H.M. MacDonald Elementary School in Antigoinish County, was among 17 teachers from across Canada awarded the Prime Minister's 2006 Certificate of Excellence in December 2006; and

Whereas Ms. Madden was honoured for her approach to teaching;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Lavonah Madden on her accomplishments and on being a recipient of the Prime Minister's 2006 Certificate of Excellence Award.

RESOLUTION NO. 1710

By: Mr. Clarrie MacKinnon (Pictou East)

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

Whereas camping experiences include outdoor and fine arts programs and can lead to tremendous self-esteem building among children and teenagers; and

Whereas Brigadoon Children's Camp Society has plans in place to build a camp for chronically ill children beginning in 2009; and

Whereas Nova Scotia Power Inc. donated a 40-hectare site on the shores of Aylesford Lake to Brigadoon Children's Camp Society;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend the visionary action of Nova Scotia Power Inc. and the Brigadoon Children's Camp Society for their commitment to provide camping opportunities to children with mental illnesses and various physical diseases and conditions.

RESOLUTION NO. 1711

By: Mr. Clarrie MacKinnon (Pictou East)

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

Whereas country singer, George Canyon, native of Pictou County, has received five nominations for the 2007 East Coast Music Awards; and

Whereas even though he has already won four East Coast Awards and a Juno, George is still humbled by the honour; and

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Whereas after living in Alberta for 14 years, the tried and true Maritimer has come back to his roots and his native soil;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate George Canyon for being the only Canadian to make it into the Top 20 for 2004's Nashville Star, the USA Network Country Music television show and on his five nominations for the 2007 East Coast Music Awards.

RESOLUTION NO. 1712

By: Ms. Marilyn More (Dartmouth South-Portland Valley)

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

Whereas intimate violence affects one in 12 women in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas female victims of spousal violence are more likely than males to report being injured, suffer lost productivity and work, suffer multiple assaults, fear for their lives and experience negative emotional consequences; and

Whereas 40 per cent of women assaulted in domestic violence reported that their children witnessed the violence and that the violence was often severe;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commit to improving our response as legislators to the issue of violence against women and the thousands of women in this province affected by violence.

RESOLUTION NO. 1713

By: Mr. Leonard Preyra (Halifax Citadel)

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

Whereas Margie Macdonald has had a career as an international development volunteer with Canadian Crossroads International spanning 38 years; and

Whereas Ms. Macdonald's commitment to cross-cultural collaboration and global equality has brought her to Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Slovakia and, most recently, Swaziland, to participate in projects ranging from road building to teaching English; and

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Whereas given federal funding cuts to the Canadian Volunteerism Initiative, a program with a mandate to encourage volunteering among Canadians, fewer people will experience the rewarding challenges and pleasures that a lifetime of volunteerism has brought people like Margie Macdonald;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend Margie Macdonald for her lifelong commitment to volunteerism, recognize the contributions of dedicated volunteers in all our communities, and call for the restoration of funding to the Canadian Volunteerism Initiative.

RESOLUTION NO. 1714

By: Mr. Leonard Preyra (Halifax Citadel)

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

Whereas former Halifax resident, Helen Hill, was shot and killed by an intruder at her home in New Orleans on January 4, 2006; and

Whereas Helen was an award-winning independent filmmaker and animator as well as a community activist who shared her gift for filmmaking as a teacher and mentor with the Atlantic Filmmakers Co-operative and her commitment to social justice through her involvement with the Halifax Chapter of Food Not Bombs; and

Whereas Helen is survived by her husband, Halifax born Dr. Paul Gailiunas, and young son and will be deeply missed by friends in Halifax, many of whom gathered over the weekend to mourn her death and celebrate her life;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly express condolences to the family and friends of Helen Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 1715

By: Mr. Percy Paris (Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank)

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

Whereas Dr. Bridglal Pachai has devoted his life working toward justice and equality in both Canada and Africa; and

Whereas Dr. Pachai has rendered distinguished service in our province as a history professor, head of Saint Mary's University's International Education Centre,

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executive director of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, the Multicultural Education Council, Literacy Nova Scotia, and several other noteworthy and noble organizations; and

Whereas in November 2006, Dr. Pachai received Morehouse College's prestigious Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award for his inspirational work as an academic, author, educator and activist in Canada and Africa;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize and congratulate Dr. Bridglal Pachai on receiving the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award, which is bestowed upon those who contribute to the peace-based work of Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Daisaku Ikeda.

RESOLUTION NO. 1716

By: Ms. Marilyn More (Dartmouth South-Portland Valley)

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

Whereas each year, food bank organizations compile statistics on the use of food banks across Canada; and

Whereas the latest hunger count, released in October 2006, shows that the number of seniors who must rely on food banks has increased 6.8 per cent of all food bank users; and

Whereas this increase in food bank usage indicates that our federal and provincial programs for seniors are failing to provide them with food security;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly resolve to address food insecurity among our senior population by improving provincial programs and lobbying the federal government to improve its programs and services for seniors.

RESOLUTION NO. 1717

By: Hon. James Muir (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas Liquidation World, a national retail sales and liquidation company based in Calgary, will soon be opening their first Nova Scotia retail outlet in the former IGA grocery store on Inglis Place, Truro; and

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Whereas Liquidation World will employ many local residents to professionally solve asset recovery problems for the financial services industry, insurance companies, manufacturers, wholesalers and other organizations; and

Whereas Liquidation World opened its first retail outlet in 1986, and, with more than 1,800 employees, is one of the largest liquidators in North America today and has 114 retail outlets located throughout North America;

Therefore be it resolved that all members welcome Liquidation World to Truro and wish it every success as it enters the Nova Scotia marketplace.

RESOLUTION NO. 1718

By: Hon. James Muir (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union and resident of Bible Hill, received a 2006 Women of Excellence Award in the Health, Sport and Wellness category from the Canadian Progress Club Halifax Cornwallis; and

Whereas Janet Hazelton followed her nursing career at the Colchester Regional Hospital before assuming the presidency of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union in 2002; and

Whereas Janet Hazelton represents nurses and nursing on several committees as an advocate for improved health care and, at the same time, maintains an active interest in the affairs of her community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Janet Hazelton on receiving a 2006 Women of Excellence Award and for her commitment and leadership in nursing, health care and her community.

RESOLUTION NO. 1719

By: Hon. James Muir (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas Graham Dennis, publisher of The ChronicleHerald, was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa, and also delivered the address to the graduates at the 2006 St. Francis Xavier University Fall Convocation; and

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Whereas Graham Dennis, owner and CEO of The Halifax Herald Limited, has been a newspaperman since childhood, taking over the family publishing business on the death of his father; and

Whereas Graham Dennis is recognized locally and provincially for his community contributions, recognized nationally for leadership in journalism through awards such as the Queen's Coronation Medal, Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal and the Order of Canada, and also recognized for his business acumen through induction into the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame, and Business of the Year recognition for The Halifax Herald Ltd. by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce in 2005;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Graham Dennis on receiving an honorary degree from St. Francis Xavier University and thank him for providing a remarkable example of community involvement and journalistic and business excellence in his province and country.

RESOLUTION NO. 1720

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas a not-for-profit organization known as Locks of Love assists less fortunate children, under the age of 18, suffering from long-term medical hair loss; and

Whereas 10-year-old Taylor Turnbull of Falmouth, like many children her age, grew her hair long, but after hearing about Locks of Love decided to get her hair cut and donate it to this exceptionally worthwhile program; and

Whereas Locks of Love plays a significant role in the restoration of the self-esteem and confidence of young children who take sick and lose their hair;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly commend 10-year-old Taylor Turnbull, daughter of Darren and Denise Turnbull, for her sense of compassion in wanting to assist a child she did not know with a wig of hair while also wanting to inspire others to do the same.

RESOLUTION NO. 1721

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By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas a gift of $100 or more entitles a Shriner or non-Shriner to membership and club certificate in the Shriners of North America's $100 Million Club; and

Whereas the Annapolis Valley Radio Network was recently inducted into the Shriners' $100 Million Club for their ongoing commitment to the airing of public service announcements by the Shriners of North America; and

Whereas Shriners Hospitals for Children is a network of 22 pediatric hospitals in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, providing specialized care for orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate at no charge to the patient;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs congratulate and thank the staff of Annapolis Valley Radio for their continued support of the work by Shriners Hospitals for Children.

RESOLUTION NO. 1722

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the Hants County Christmas Angels show recently celebrated their 30th Anniversary with the hosting of their December 3rd show at the Hants County War Memorial Community Centre; and

Whereas more than 20,000 less fortunate families have been assisted during the holiday season since the first show in late November 1977; and

Whereas the Christmas Angels show would not exist without the tremendous volunteer support offered and entertainment provided by many community-minded residents and business leaders in Windsor-West Hants;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs recognize the significance of the 30-year Anniversary of the Hants County Christmas Angels show in 2006, and wish them another 30 years of success.

RESOLUTION NO. 1723

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By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the Hants Community Access Network opened the Yes Café in the Downtown Windsor Mall two years ago; and

Whereas the Yes Café allows disabled and challenged individuals to work, serving items such as beverages, soups, sandwiches, and sweets; and

Whereas the Yes Café is fortunate to be served by a committed board of directors who have created opportunities for individuals who look forward to coming to work every day;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly commend the Hants Community Access Network's board of directors for their work in getting the Yes Café established, and the general public for supporting this worthwhile initiative.

RESOLUTION NO. 1724

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas members of The Gideons International have placed and distributed 63 million scriptures in 181 countries in 82 languages around the world; and

Whereas the Windsor, Nova Scotia Camp of Gideons Chapter, recently celebrated their 50th Anniversary; and

Whereas the Windsor, Nova Scotia Chapter work tirelessly to assist with fundraising initiatives so that scriptures can be distributed locally and elsewhere in Canada and other international locations;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs recognize the significant milestone celebrated by the Windsor Camp of Gideons and for their inspirational work over the past 50 years.

RESOLUTION NO. 1725

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas for the past 13 years, Windsor Elementary school teachers in conjunction with the school's parent support group have served a Christmas dinner; and

Whereas the traditional Christmas dinner is served annually to more than 300 students, teachers and invited guests; and

Whereas this annual Christmas celebration is designed to focus on building a sense of community within the school;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs be inspired, as well as humbled, by the generosity and spirit shown each and every December by Windsor Elementary school teachers along with the school's parent support group in keeping this festive community celebration alive and well.

RESOLUTION NO. 1726

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the Coats for Kids Foundation, operating internationally, strives to ensure that every child who needs a winter coat receives one; and

Whereas Windsor Royal Bank employee, Carol Dee, while living in Edmonton, saw what a success Coats for Kids can really be; and

Whereas Carol, in conjunction with other Royal Bank branches in the Annapolis Valley, initiated a Valley-wide campaign to collect and distribute winter coats for children in need;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly recognize the charitable work of Carol Dee and Royal Bank staff across the Annapolis Valley for their energy and drive in wanting to ensure children stay warm and dry this winter.

RESOLUTION NO. 1727

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas a not-for-profit organization known as Locks of Love assists less fortunate children under the age of 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss; and

Whereas 10-year-old Taylor Turnbull of Falmouth, like many children her age, grew her hair long, but after hearing about Locks of Love decided to get her hair cut and donate it to this exceptionally worthwhile program; and

Whereas Locks of Love plays a significant role in the restoration of the self-esteem and confidence of young children who take sick and lose their hair;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly commend 10-yea-old Taylor Turnbull, daughter of Darren and Denise Turnbull, for her sense of compassion in wanting to assist a child she did not know with a wig of hair while also wanting to inspire others to do the same.

RESOLUTION NO. 1728

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas there are approximately 5,000 small business owners in Nova Scotia of which 74 per cent employ less than five people; and

Whereas master hairstylist, Sandy Peach, who owns Hair Sense Hair Salon in Hantsport, has seen her business double since opening five years ago; and

Whereas Sandy is a member of the Hantsport and Area Business Association and keeps her business in the family with both her mother and her aunt working beside her;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly applaud Sandy Peach on her commitment to business in small-town Nova Scotia while wishing her nothing but continued success.

RESOLUTION NO. 1729

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas members of The Gideons International look to distribute bibles in the human traffic lanes and streams of everyday life; and

Whereas Windsor Forks resident, Ruth Daniels, has been a charter team member of the Windsor Camp of Gideons for the past 50 years; and

Whereas Ruth plays an exceptionally active role with Gideons, as her late husband John did, presently serving as local secretary and also helping out locally in numerous other ways, while also assisting the Gideon movement in the Atlantic region;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs applaud Ruth Daniels of Windsor Forks on her achievement and faithfulness over the past 50 years in serving and helping out in any way she can with the Gideon movement.

RESOLUTION NO. 1730

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the Windsor Rotary Club in the spirit of community generosity donated $3,050 to the local Meals on Wheels Program in December; and

Whereas the funding is being used to replace the old and specialty-made dishes used in the program; and

Whereas the local VON assumed responsibility for Meals on Wheels in 1977 and with the assistance of both Dykeland Lodge and the Hants Community Hospital provides meals five days a week, mainly for senior citizens who might have some difficulty preparing nutritionally balanced meals;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs applaud the ongoing success of the local Meals on Wheels Program while commending local drivers such as Richard (Dick) Taylor as well as the VON and the Windsor Rotary Club for their thoughtful community assistance.

RESOLUTION NO. 1731

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas Alice Stops Time is a Windsor-based rock band consisting of guitarist and lead vocalist, Tyler Dempsey; bass player, Luke Hodgins; drummer, Josh Noiles; guitarist, Myles Lawrence; and keyboardist, Colin Boyd; and

Whereas Alice Stops Time was named the Grand Prize Winner of the Aliant Garage Band Contest and will now play at the POP Montreal Festival 2007; and

Whereas the Aliant Garage Band Contest offers a chance for musicians just starting their careers to play two pieces of original material before a panel of industry experts, with a top band from each Atlantic Province being chosen to compete for an opportunity at the Montreal trip, while also being an opening act for the band Mobile when they visit that bands's home province;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs applaud the success of Alice Stops Time and wish them every success in Montreal and with their future musical endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 1732

By: The Premier

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

Whereas Nova Scotians will be a part of the NASA Phoenix Mission to Mars though Dalhousie's International Phoenix Science Team; and

Whereas in just a few hundred days, the spacecraft will be launched, landing on the Red Planet the following May, with Dalhousie's lidar - or laser radar - heading to Mars to study the distribution of dust in its atmosphere; and

Whereas the university's Dr. Tom Duck, who along with fellow researchers has led the project, said "by studying dust particles in the Martian atmosphere, we will gain insight into the internal dynamics of our own atmosphere";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Dal team for their innovative work and wish them well as they count down to lift-off, awaiting then, unique scientific data from this next frontier of research.

RESOLUTION NO. 1733

By: The Premier

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

Whereas Buddy MacMaster was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame in December 2006, and

Whereas the honour is truly fitting of this Cape Breton master fiddler whose music has not only entertained audiences here and around the globe for decades, but his teachings have ensured future generations will carry on the Cape Breton fiddling traditions; and

Whereas Buddy is both a fiddler's fiddler and a dancer's fiddler, and is more than deserving of this most recent acknowledgement of his incredible talent, achievements and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate this beloved Nova Scotia musician and wish him many more years of sharing his music with the world.

RESOLUTION NO. 1734

By: The Premier

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

Whereas Constable Randy Wood makes a big difference in the lives of young people and families every day as a community relations officer in north-end Dartmouth; and

Whereas Constable Wood, while taking time to volunteer with the food bank outreach program at Stairs Memorial United Church, became aware of a house fire next door; and

Whereas Constable Wood, without thought to his own safety, rushed into the smoke-filled burning home on Hester Street to ascertain that no one was inside;

Therefore be it resolved that this House express our heartfelt gratitude to Constable Wood for his bravery and thank all for our police, firefighters, paramedics, and others who daily put their lives on the line for the well-being of our communities and citizens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1735

By: Mr. Wayne Gaudet (Clare)

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

Whereas the students and staff of École Secondaire de Clare have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1736

By: Mr. Wayne Gaudet (Clare)

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

Whereas the students and staff of École Jean-Marie-Gay have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1737

By: Mr. Wayne Gaudet (Clare)

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

Whereas the students and staff of École Joseph-Dugas have completed the first half of the school year; and

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Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1738

By: Mr. Wayne Gaudet (Clare)

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

Whereas the students and staff of École Saint-Albert have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1739

By: Mr. Wayne Gaudet (Clare)

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

Whereas the students and staff of École Stella-Maris have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3192]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1740

By: Mr. Wayne Gaudet (Clare)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Saint Mary's Bay Academy have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1741

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Dwight Ross Elementary have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3193]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1742

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Rose des Vents have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1743

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Kingston and District Elementary have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3194]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1744

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Pine Ridge Middle School have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1745

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas the students and staff of West Kings District have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3195]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1746

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Saint Mary's Elementary have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1747

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Sommerset Elementary have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

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Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1748

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Berwick and District have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1749

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Central Kings Rural High School have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3197]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1750

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Humber Park Elementary School have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1751

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Nelson Whynder Elementary School have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3198]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1752

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Ross Road Elementary School have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1753

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Bell Park Academic Centre have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3199]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1754

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Graham Creighton Junior High School have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1755

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Cole Harbour High School have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3200]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1756

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Auburn Drive High School have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1757

By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Glace Bay Senior High School have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3201]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1758

By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Bridgeport School have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1759

By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Morrison Junior High have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3202]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1760

By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas the students and staff of John Bernard Croak have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1761

By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Saint Anne School have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3203]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1762

By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Saint Michael Junior High have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1763

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Bridgetown Regional High have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3204]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1764

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Champlain Elementary have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1765

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Lawrencetown Consolidated have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3205]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1766

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Lawrencetown Education Centre have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1767

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Annapolis Royal Regional Academy have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3206]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1768

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Annapolis West Education Centre have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1769

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Bridgetown Regional Elementary have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3207]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1770

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Annapolis East Elementary have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1771

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Duc d'Anville have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3208]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1772

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Park West have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1773

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Rockingham have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3209]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1774

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Clayton Park have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1775

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Halifax West have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3210]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1776

By: Mr. Harold Theriault (Digby-Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Barton Consolidated have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1777

By: Mr. Harold Theriault (Digby-Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Digby Adult High have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3211]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1778

By: Mr. Harold Theriault (Digby-Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Digby Elementary have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1779

By: Mr. Harold Theriault (Digby-Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Digby Neck Consolidated have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3212]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1780

By: Mr. Harold Theriault (Digby-Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Digby Regional High have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1781

By: Mr. Harold Theriault (Digby-Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Islands Consolidated have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3213]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1782

By: Mr. Harold Theriault (Digby-Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Westport Village Elementary have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1783

By: Mr. Harold Theriault (Digby-Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Weymouth Consolidated have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3214]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1784

By: Mr. Harold Theriault (Digby-Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Clark Rutherford Memorial have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1785

By: Mr. Harold Theriault (Digby-Annapolis)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Sandy Cove Elementary have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3215]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1786

By: Mr. Manning MacDonald (Cape Breton South)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Southside Learning Centre have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1787

By: Mr. Manning MacDonald (Cape Breton South)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Shipyard Elementary School have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3216]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1788

By: Mr. Manning MacDonald (Cape Breton South)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Sydney Academy have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1789

By: Mr. Manning MacDonald (Cape Breton South)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Holy Angel School have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3217]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1790

By: Mr. Manning MacDonald (Cape Breton South)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Sherwood Park Education Centre have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1791

By: Mr. Manning MacDonald (Cape Breton South)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Cusack Elementary have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3218]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1792

By: Mr. Manning MacDonald (Cape Breton South)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Ashby Elementary have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1793

By: Mr. Manning MacDonald (Cape Breton South)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Cornwallis Elementary have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3219]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1794

By: Mr. Michel Samson (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas the students and staff of East Richmond Education Centre have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1795

By: Mr. Michel Samson (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Richmond Academy have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3220]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1796

By: Mr. Michel Samson (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas the students and staff of Felix Marchand Education Centre have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1797

By: Mr. Michel Samson (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas the students and staff of West Richmond Education Centre have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

[Page 3221]

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1798

By: Mr. Michel Samson (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas the students and staff of École Beau-Port have completed the first half of the school year; and

Whereas students and staff have worked hard to set and accomplish goals that will help to create a successful second half of the school year; and

Whereas attending school is not only important in creating friendships, it also sets a strong foundation for higher learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish all staff and students a successful and prosperous 2007 school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1799

By: Ms. Michele Raymond (Halifax Atlantic)

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

Whereas the Spryfield Lions Club was established in 1957; and

Whereas the Lions have dedicated extraordinary efforts, out of charity and concern for their neighbours, to fundraising, building and operating the Lions Arena, Lions Recreation Centre, and the Lions Wave Pool (now owned by the Halifax Regional Municipality); and

[Page 3222]

Whereas the Spryfield Lions have now turned over the Lions Arena and Recreation Centre to HRM and have entered into an agreement to manage the facility with a revamped recreation centre and community room;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the Spryfield Lions for their 50 years of unflagging efforts, and commend their generosity in building and operating these recreation facilities for the good of their community.

RESOLUTION NO. 1800

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 I joined my provincial and territorial colleagues and the federal Minister of Public Safety in Vancouver this week; and

Whereas we made progress on several important emergency management issues, including the need for a national public alerting system, a broader, more comprehensive disaster financial assistance program, and future planning for a national disaster mitigation strategy; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has been chosen to host the next annual meeting of provincial, territorial, and federal ministers responsible for emergency management in January 2008;

Therefore be it resolved that members acknowledge Nova Scotia's leadership role in emergency management, and congratulate Chief Executive Officer Craig MacLaughlan for receiving so much prominence at these national meetings.

RESOLUTION NO. 1801

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 Chuck Cartmill of C-Vision, Global Manufacturing Innovators of Amherst, Nova Scotia, has been named Atlantic Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young; and

[Page 3223]

Whereas Mr. Cartmill's personal vision has resulted in the development and implementation of manufacturing processes that eliminate the use of six environmentally hazardous substances; and

Whereas his business venture has, and does, pursue environmental innovation that exceeds consumer expectations while achieving international-scale business success;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join the people of Nova Scotia in commending Chuck Cartmill on his vison for environmentally responsible products, his modelling of successful adoption of progressive environmental policy for manufacturing and the contribution they make to our province's sustainability.

RESOLUTION NO. 1802

By: Hon. Christopher d'Entremont (Health)

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

Whereas nine international medical graduates successfully completed the June 2006 Clinician Assessment for Practice Program; and

Whereas eight of these physicians have chosen to practise in the Province of Nova Scotia, and many will be working in rural areas; and

Whereas Dr. Gloria Velez has begun to practise in Bridgewater, Sarah Brydie in Halifax, Joshy Karivelil in Springhill, Ryve Loshaj in Truro, and Sam Naghibi in New Glasgow;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House from those communities join us in warmly welcoming these physicians to their new practices.

RESOLUTION NO. 1803

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Status of Women)

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

Whereas women with disabilities still face barriers to education and employment; and

Whereas they are more likely than other people to live alone, increasing their need to earn a secure income; and

[Page 3224]

Whereas in November the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, and partners, held a round table discussion in Sydney to bring together women with disabilities and community organizations to talk about achieving financial security;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the Cape Breton County Economic Development Authority, Cape Breton Regional Municipality Human Rights Affirmative Action Committee, Community Involvement of the Disabled, EmployAbility Partnership, Inverness-Richmond Society for Persons with Disabilities, Nova Scotia Disabled Persons Commission, Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunity, and the Society for the Improvement of Accessible Transportation, for their support.

RESOLUTION NO. 1804

By: Hon. Ronald Chisholm (Fisheries and Aquaculture)

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

Whereas Theresa Lauchie MacDonald of Heatherton, Antigonish County, has been a community volunteer for over 50 years; and

Whereas Theresa has been the treasurer for the Heatherton Activity Centre for over 32 years, a member of the Catholic Women's League for over 50 years, and has been supervising the children at the Heatherton School for over 26 years; and

Whereas Theresa is a wonderful, loving mother to five children, and a grandmother of eight, and a good friend to many;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the amazing contribution of Theresa Lauchie MacDonald to her community.

RESOLUTION NO. 1805

By: Hon. Karen Casey (Education)

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

Whereas the number of key directives for serving healthier food in Nova Scotia schools came into effect January 1st ; and

Whereas students who eat nutritious meals and snacks learn more effectively, perform better in class, and attend school more regularly; and

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Whereas some school boards and schools had already recognized the importance of serving healthy foods, and had taken a leadership role and set an example for others;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate our schools and school boards for promoting healthy food and beverage choices, recognizing the positive impact that good nutrition has on a quality education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1806

By: Hon. Karen Casey (Education)

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

Whereas since 2003, 65 Larsen Packers employees have participated in workplace education programs, increasing productivity, job satisfaction and morale; and

Whereas workplace education provides workers with the opportunity to improve essential skills in a safe and enjoyable learning environment; and

Whereas Larsen Packers Ltd., in Berwick, received the Conference Board of Canada's Award for Excellence in Workplace Literacy on December 5, 2006;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Larsen Packers Ltd., its employees and its union, Atlantic Meat Packers United Local 1, on successful workplace literacy initiatives.

RESOLUTION NO. 1807

By: Hon. James Muir (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas Margaret (Muir) Langley, a native of Truro, was recently inducted into the Dalhousie University Sport Hall of Fame in recognition of athletic excellence as a member of the Tigers women's basketball and field hockey teams; and

Whereas Margaret Langley was named the Female Athlete of the Year for three consecutive years, an achievement that stood unmatched for 36 years; and

Whereas Margaret Langley continued her leadership at Dalhousie after graduation, serving as President of Dalhousie's Black and Gold Club from 1990-92, a

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member of the university's Board of Directors from 1994-97 and for 10 years as a member of the Board of Directors of Dalhousie's Alumni Association;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Margaret Langley on her recent induction into the Dalhousie University Sport Hall of Fame and thank her for providing an outstanding example of excellence in sport and for her continuing leadership at her alma mater.

RESOLUTION NO. 1808

By: Hon. James Muir (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas Dr. Bill Stanish was recently inducted into the Dalhousie University Sport Hall of Fame in recognition of athletic excellence as a member of the Tigers men's football and hockey teams; and

Whereas before he began his impressive 35-year sports medicine career, Dr. Stanish played varsity football as team captain in his last three years and was the team's MVP in 1964 and CIAU Athlete of the Week due to a five touchdown performance against Acadia in 1965; and

Whereas Dr. Stanish was captain of the Tigers hockey team for three seasons, the first person to captain both the football and hockey teams in the same season, selected twice as the top male athlete at Dalhousie, the first repeat winner of the Climo Award and was recognized as Dalhousie's Most Inspirational Athlete in 1967;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Dr. Bill Stanish on his recent induction into the Dalhousie University Sport Hall of Fame and thank him for being a great example of sport and academic excellence at the university level.

RESOLUTION NO. 1809

By: Hon. James Muir (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas Graham Dennis, publisher of the ChronicleHerald, received an honorary doctorate degree from St. Francis Xavier University during the 2006 Fall Convocation and also delivered the convocation address; and

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Whereas Graham Dennis, owner and CEO of the Halifax Herald Limited, has been a newspaperman since childhood, taking over the family publishing business on the death of his father; and

Whereas Graham Dennis has also been recognized for his community contributions and recognized nationally for leadership in journalism through awards such as the Queen's Coronation Medal, Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal and the Order of Canada, and recognized for his business acumen through induction into the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame and Business of the Year by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce in 2005;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Graham Dennis on receiving an honorary degree from St. Francis Xavier University and thank him for providing a remarkable example of community involvement and journalistic and business excellence in his province and country.

RESOLUTION NO. 1810

By: Hon. James Muir (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas Janet Hazelton, President of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union and who is also a native of Bible Hill, received a 2006 Women of Excellence Award in the Health, Sport and Wellness category from the Canadian Progress Club Halifax Cornwallis; and

Whereas Janet Hazelton followed her nursing career at the Colchester Regional Hospital before assuming the presidency of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union in 2002; and

Whereas Janet Hazelton represents nurses and nursing on several committees and advocates for improved health care and at the same time maintains an active interest in the affairs of her community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Janet Hazelton on receiving a 2006 Women of Excellence Award and for her commitment, dedication and professionalism.

RESOLUTION NO. 1811

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team Coach Glen Murphy on his time and dedication to the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1812

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 staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team Coach Pat Carroll on his time and dedication to the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1813

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 staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

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Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team Coach Phil Rogers on his time and dedication to the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1814

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 staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team Coach Al McMullin on his time and dedication to the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team.

RESOLUTION NO. 1815

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 staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Corey Hebb of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1816

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 staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Liam Harvie of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.

RESOLUTION NO. 1817

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 staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Patrick Murphy of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.

RESOLUTION NO. 1818

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Mitch Baker of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.

RESOLUTION NO. 1819

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 staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Liam Patterson of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.

RESOLUTION NO. 1820

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Joel Cleveland of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.

RESOLUTION NO. 1821

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 staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Morgan Lunn of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.

RESOLUTION NO. 1822

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Kyle Carroll of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.

RESOLUTION NO. 1823

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 staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Luke Silver of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.

RESOLUTION NO. 1824

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Colby Cullimore of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.

RESOLUTION NO. 1825

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 staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Brennan McMullin of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.

RESOLUTION NO. 1826

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Jamie Whynot of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.

RESOLUTION NO. 1827

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 staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Matt Quigley of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.

RESOLUTION NO. 1828

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Ryan Rhodenizer of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.

RESOLUTION NO. 1829

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 staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Mark Rogers of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.

RESOLUTION NO. 1830

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle; and

Whereas being part of a team sport promotes active living and friendly competition; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team won the gold medal at the Christmas Tournament in Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate team member Danny Ross of the Bridgewater Atom "A" Hockey Team on being part of the team that brought home Gold.