The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 07-7

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Alfie MacLeod

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

Available on INTERNET at http://www.gov.n s.ca/legislature/HOUSE_BUSINESS/hansard.html

____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________

Second Session

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2007

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TIR - Glendale Dr./Estates Rd.: Intersection - Traffic Lights Install,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 591
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 469, Boston Tree Lighting Ceremony: Tradition - People Thank,
The Premier 592
Vote - Affirmative 592
Res. 470, Doiron, Cheryl - Public Service Award,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 593
Vote - Affirmative 593
Res. 471, Agric. - Fed. of Agric.: AGM - Best Wishes,
Hon. B. Taylor 593
Vote - Affirmative 594
Res. 472, Minerals Assoc. of N.S. - Recognize,
Hon. D. Morse 594
Vote - Affirmative 595
Res. 473, Citadel HS: Designers/Contractor/Educ./TIR - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 595
Vote - Affirmative 595
Res. 474, ABCO: Products - Congrats., Hon. J. Parent 596
Vote - Affirmative 596
Res. 475, Com. Serv.: Adoptive Families - Commend,
Hon. J. Streatch 596
Vote - Affirmative 597
Res. 476, MISA - EMO Presentation, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 597
Vote - Affirmative 598
Res. 477, Mining Matters - Public-Private Partners: Role - Acknowledge,
Hon. D. Morse 598
2 -
Res. 478, Gov't. (N.S.)/Trucking Ind.: Safety Efforts - Recognize,
Hon. M. Scott 599
Vote - Affirmative 599
Res. 479, Environ. & Lbr.: N.S. Power-Point Aconi, et al - Workplace -
Health & Safety, Hon. M. Parent 600
Vote - Affirmative 600
Res. 480, Guysborough Mun.: Public Safety Efforts - Acknowledge,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 600
Vote - Affirmative 601
Res. 481, Hum. Res. - Seasonal/Casual Workers: Role - Acknowledge,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 601
Vote - Affirmative 602
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 46, Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Commission Act,
Hon. J. Muir 602
No. 47, Motor Vehicle Act, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 602
No. 48, Petroleum Products Pricing Act, Mr. S. McNeil 602
No. 49, Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 602
No. 50, Employment Support and Income Assistance Act, Mr. T. Zinck 602
No. 51, Education Act, Mr. L. Glavine 603
No. 52, Credit Union Act, Hon. A. MacIsaac 603
No. 53, Motor Vehicle Act, Mr. L. Preyra 603
No. 54, Maintenance Enforcement Act, Mr. W. Estabrooks 603
No. 55, Public Service Superannuation Act, Hon. A. MacIsaac 603
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 482, Yarmouth Reg. Hosp.: Med. Inpatient Unit (3rd Floor) - Thank,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 603
Vote - Affirmative 604
Res. 483, Mancini, Most. Rev. Anthony - Archibishop of Hfx.:
Installation - Congrats., Mr. S. McNeil 604
Vote - Affirmative 604
Res. 484, Gibbons, Larry: Scouting Medal - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 604
Vote - Affirmative 605
Res. 485, Veinot, Cameron: Athletic Achievements - Congrats.,
Ms. V. Conrad 605
Vote - Affirmative 606
Res. 486, Boston Christmas Tree - Significance Recognize/Donors Thank,
Ms. D. Whalen 606
3 -
Res. 487, Sobey, Jana - Fam. Bus.: Involvement - Congrats.,
Mr. P. Dunn 607
Vote - Affirmative 607
Res. 488, MLAs: Hfx. Needham/Hfx. Citadel/Hfx. Chebucto: The Coast
Ratings - Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 608
Vote - Affirmative 608
Res. 489, Premier's Forum on Student Achievement - Invitation:
Omissions - Explain, Mr. L. Glavine 608
Res. 490, MacInnes, Chief Merrill/N. Shore & Dist. Vol. FD -
Anniv. (40th), Mr. K. Bain 609
Vote - Affirmative 610
Res. 491, LeFresne, Ray/Maney Nigel/Richardson, Gordon: Nat'l
Snow Sculpture Comp. - Congrats., Mr. T. Zinck 610
Vote - Affirmative 611
Res. 492, HIV/AIDS: Targets - Meet, Mr. H. Theriault 611
Vote - Affirmative 612
Res. 493, Bedford Days Comm. (2007): Dedication -Congrats.,
Hon. L. Goucher 612
Vote - Affirmative 612
Res. 494, Friends of the Halifax Common: Work - Applaud,
Mr. L. Preyra 613
Vote - Affirmative 613
Res. 495, Christmas Mommies and Daddies Telethon: Vols. Recognize,
Mr. M. Samson 613
Vote - Affirmative 614
Res. 496, Tudor, Jim/Cole Hbr. Parks & Trails Assoc.:
Trail Dev. Efforts - Congrats., Ms. B. Kent 614
Vote - Affirmative 615
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:^
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
Bill No. 11, Civil Forfeiture Act 615
Hon. M. Scott 615
Mr. G. Steele 616
Mr. M. Samson 623
Mr. H. Epstein 627
Hon. M. Scott 632
Vote - Affirmative 632
Bill No. 14, Assets Management and Disposition Act
Hon. M. Scott 632
4 -
Bill No. 15, Small Claims Court Act
Hon. M. Scott 634
Mr. G. Steele 635
Mr. M. Samson 638
Hon. M. Scott 641
Vote - Affirmative 641
Bill No. 19, Class Proceedings Act
Hon. M. Scott 642
Mr. G. Steele 642
Mr. M. Samson 645
Hon. M. Scott 646
Vote - Affirmative 647
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Dec. 3rd , at 7:00 p.m. 647^
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 497, McInnis, Billy-Joe - Bedford Days Comm. (2007):
Dedication - Congrats., Hon. L. Goucher 648
Res. 498, Taylor, Debra - Bedford Days Comm. (2007):
Dedication - Congrats., Hon. L. Goucher 648
Res. 499, Lowther, Don - Bedford Days Comm. (2007):
Dedication - Congrats., Hon. L. Goucher 649
Res. 500, Strathdee, Leanne - Bedford Days Comm. (2007):
Dedication - Congrats., Hon. L. Goucher 649
Res. 501, Hill, Lucy - Bedford Day Comm. (2007):
Dedication - Congrats., Hon. L. Goucher 649
Res. 502, Chaulk, Ron - Bedford Days Comm. (2007):
Dedication - Congrats., Hon. L. Goucher 650
Res. 503, Hill, Quentin - Bedford Days Comm. (2007):
Dedication - Congrats., Hon. L. Goucher 650
Res. 504, MacKenzie, Paul - Bedford Days Comm. (2007):
Dedication - Congrats., Hon. L. Goucher 651
Res. 505, Kenley, Marlene - Bedford Days Comm. (2007):
Dedication - Congrats., Hon. L. Goucher 651
Res. 506, Ellsworth, Darren - IWK Golf Tournament: Success -
Congrats., Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 652
Res. 507, Fraser, Cyril: Nat'l. Firefighters Championships -
Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 652
Res. 508, Barbati, Joe, et al: Nat'l. Firefighters Championships -
Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 653
Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 654
Res. 511, Read, Julie: Nat'l. Firefighters Championships - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 654
- 5 -
Res. 512, Brown, Sherry: Nat'l. Firefighters Championships - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 655
Res. 513, Tessier, Liane: Nat'l. Firefighters Championships - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 655
Res. 514, Mosher, Bruce: Nat'l. Firefighters Championships - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 656
Res. 515, TIR - Staff/Hwy. Workers: Storm Repairs - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 656
Res. 516, O'Connor, John - Lt.-Gov's Award,
Mr. S. Belliveau 657
Res. 517, The Scots, the North British Soc.: Officers/Directors -
Congrats., Hon. A. MacIsaac 657
Res. 518, Ryan, Tom: Artistic/Entrepreneurial Achievement -
Congrats., The Premier 658
Res. 519, MacLean, Shannon - Operation Peace: Fundraising -
Congrats., The Premier 658

[Page 591]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2007

Sixtieth General Assembly

Second Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Alfie MacLeod

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, the operative clause is:

"We the undersigned support the immediate installation of traffic lights at the intersection of Glendale Drive and Estates Road in Lower Sackville and urge the Government of Nova Scotia to take the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of drivers who use this dangerous roadway."

Mr. Speaker, this is signed by employees and customers of many businesses, totalling 841, and I too have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 592]

591

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 469

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

Whereas the Boston Common is aglow with Christmas cheer now that the city has lit the 50-foot, white spruce donated by Nova Scotia for this annual gift-giving tradition to thank Bostonians for their generosity 90 years ago, as a result of the Halifax Explosion; and

Whereas the thousands attending this year's lighting ceremony were entertained by talented Nova Scotians like the MacGillvray family, Mairi Rankin, Christiane Theriault and Scott Long; and

Whereas the event highlights the strong personal and economic connection between our citizens;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the people of Boston for continuing this grand tradition and hope that the prominent novascotialife.com sign encourages many of our neighbours to discover our beautiful province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 593]

The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 594]

RESOLUTION NO. 470

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

Whereas Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 list by Women's Executive Network recognizes leadership and achievements of women in the Canadian workplace; and

Whereas Cheryl Doiron, Nova Scotia's Deputy Minister of Health, was honoured with the Public Sector award, given to women who occupy the most senior positions in government departments and manage significant operating budgets; and

Whereas Ms. Doiron was one of only 12 women recognized under this category;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Deputy Minister Doiron on this well-deserved award, and thank her for her dedication and commitment to the Public Service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 471

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

Whereas the farmers of this province work hard year-round to provide us with healthy and safe food; and

Whereas this fine group of women and men meet once a year to conduct business, participate in discussion, present awards of recognition and to socialize; and

[Page 595]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture will hold its annual meeting in Truro today and tomorrow;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish the producers, the farmers of this province, an excellent annual meeting and best wishes for their future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 472

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 Minerals Association of Nova Scotia succeeds the former Chamber of Mineral Resources in representing more than 150 members from all areas of this province's mining sector, including those involved in exploration, discovery, development, production and reclamation; and

Whereas the association works with government and other parallel organizations to provide a framework and educate Nova Scotians on the value of this industry to society and the economic well-being of the province; and

Whereas the organization's first Executive Director is Michelle Landreville, who brings broad experience in both public and private sectors to bear on the challenges facing the association and industry;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the Minerals Association of Nova Scotia and the appointment of its first executive director as a positive step in ensuring the continued success of this important economic generator to the province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 596]

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 Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

RESOLUTION NO. 473

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

Whereas in the spirit of keeping Nova Scotia green, the new Citadel High School in Halifax was constructed with the latest in energy-saving innovations; and

Whereas the facility's design was fostered through an architectural competition to encourage cutting-edge ideas and creative design; and

Whereas Citadel High School opened this Fall and is serving 1,400 students in the Halifax area;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the designers Fowler, Bauld and Mitchell; the contractor, Pomerleau Construction; the Department of Education; and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal for this welcome addition to the Nova Scotia school system.

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 597]

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 474

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

Whereas ABCO Industries Limited, based out of Lunenburg, is manufacturing state-of-the-art vessels for the Island of Tobago to patrol two protected wilderness islands; and

Whereas ABCO's marine vessels have been servicing the needs of the marine industry here and abroad for over 50 years; and

Whereas in addition, their design and fabrication of equipment for water treatment, solid waste recycling and composting is helping Nova Scotia and the rest of the world achieve their environmental goals;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join the people of Nova Scotia in congratulating ABCO Limited for their world-class products, their commitment to their community and their work on developing solid waste technology that can be used throughout the world.

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 Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 475

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

[Page 598]

Whereas Department of Community Services staff continue to build awareness and encourage Nova Scotians to consider adopting a child who needs a permanent, loving home of their own; and

Whereas there are more than 100 children and youth in Nova Scotia who are waiting to be adopted into a loving home; and

Whereas the act of adoption is one of selfless commitment to improving the life of a young person;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the adoptive families who have taken the step in welcoming a child into their home, be it this year or years past, and encourage Nova Scotians to consider adopting a young person in permanent care into their families and hearts forever.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Emergency Management.

RESOLUTION NO. 476

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 newcomers to Canada, and Nova Scotia in particular, are often not familiar with weather-related emergencies; and

Whereas it is important for all residents to understand the need to be prepared for the first 72 hours in any emergency; and

Whereas the Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association recently hosted a presentation by EMO Nova Scotia to teach basic emergency planning to more than 50 new Nova Scotians;

[Page 599]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the efforts made by MISA to help new Nova Scotians understand the need for emergency preparedness in their new homes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 477

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

Whereas Mining Matters is an annual conference that focuses attention on the exploration, discovery, development, production, reclamation and other geoscience work being undertaken in this province; and

Whereas this year's conference included an investors forum that provided participants with an opportunity to review and better understand some of the escalating levels of exploration and production taking place in Nova Scotia and right across the Atlantic Provinces; and

Whereas the Mining Matters 2007 and Industry Investment Forum attracted a record numbers of participants from right across the country;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House acknowledge the outstanding role that public and private sector partners in Mining Matters played in helping to better inform Nova Scotians about the modern minerals industry.

[9:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 600]

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 Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

RESOLUTION NO. 478

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

Whereas government and the trucking industry are working together to make Maritime highways safer for all; and

Whereas vehicle inspectors, safety officers and mechanics from all three Maritime Provinces were on hand at the Kelly Lake vehicle inspection station on Highway No. 102 in August to provide free brake checks and adjustments for trucks and information about the National Safety Code; and

Whereas by working together with the trucking industry, government can help truckers spot potential problems before they occur;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the efforts of the provincial vehicle compliance officers, safety officers, the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, the Nova Scotia Trucking Human Resource Sector Council, the Nova Scotia Trucking Safety Association, and mechanics from MacKay's Truck and Trailer Centre of Truro and Pennecon Limited of St. John's, Newfoundland, for making provincial roads safer for all motorists.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 601]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 479

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

Whereas Nova Scotia Power - Point Aconi, Michelin Bridgewater, Oxford Frozen Foods, Neenah Paper, Canadian Salt Mine, Crown Fibre and Reinforced Plastics are working with their staff to create a strong health and safety culture; and

Whereas their management teams and members of their joint occupational health and safety committee presented valuable information to me during a summer tour that I conducted that can help create a strong health and safety culture in other workplaces in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas their efforts are going a long way in creating an accident and injury free Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join the people of Nova Scotia in congratulating all the staff at Nova Scotia Power - Point Aconi, Michelin Bridgewater, Oxford Frozen Foods, Neenah Paper, Canadian Salt Mine, Crown Fibre and Reinforced Plastics for their assistance in educating, promoting and creating awareness of the importance of health and safety in the workplace.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Emergency Management.

[Page 602]

RESOLUTION NO. 480

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 Nova Scotia municipalities work to promote the importance of emergency preparedness; and

Whereas the Municipality of Guysborough County took the message to the streets with their municipal parade float: and

Whereas they participated in numerous parades over the summer months distributing emergency preparedness literature and items;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the efforts made by the Municipality of Guysborough in promoting public safety.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 481

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

Whereas the provincial Civil Service depends on skilled professionals and tradespeople to provide a range of important programs and services to Nova Scotians; and

Whereas is it often seasonal workers, casual employees and students who are at the front lines working in our provincial parks and forests within the tourism industry and throughout the province in various government offices; and

[Page 603]

Whereas without these workers, Nova Scotians and visitors could not enjoy some of this province's most important seasonal offerings;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House acknowledge the importance of seasonal and casual workers and the role that they have in the delivery of high-quality public service to our citizens.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 46 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 69 of the Acts of 1992. The Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Commission Act. (Hon. James Muir)

Bill No. 47 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Mr. David Wilson, Sackville-Cobequid)

Bill No. 48 - Entitled an Act to Repeal Chapter 11 of the Acts of 2005. The Petroleum Products Pricing Act. (Mr. Stephen McNeil)

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

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, would you allow me to do an introduction before I introduce the bill?

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: In the east gallery we have Joan Jessome, President of the NSGEU; Linda Power, Executive Director of the NSGEU; Keiren Tompkins, Director of Negotiations; Ian Johnson, Coordinator of Policy and Education; and Robin MacLean, Servicing Coordinator for the NSGEU. I would like to acknowledge their presence here and

[Page 604]

ask for a warm welcome from the House. (Applause) I would also like to thank them for their co-operation on this bill.

Bill No. 49 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 71 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act. (Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson)

Bill No. 50 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 27 of the Acts of 2000. The Employment Support and Income Assistance Act. (Mr. Trevor Zinck)

Bill No. 51 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Education Act. (Mr. Leo Glavine)

Bill No. 52 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1994. The Credit Union Act. (Hon. Angus MacIsaac)

Bill No. 53 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Mr. Leonard Preyra)

Bill No. 54 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 6 of the Acts of 1994-95. The Maintenance Enforcement Act. (Mr. William Estabrooks)

Bill No. 55 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 377 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Public Service Superannuation Act. (Hon. Angus MacIsaac)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 482

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

Whereas our health care professionals across Nova Scotia deliver quality care under often challenging circumstances; and

Whereas the staff of the third floor of the medical in-patient unit at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital are no exception; and

Whereas these hard-working staff are ready and willing to give excellent care to patients requiring a hospital stay at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital;

[Page 605]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank the dedicated health care providers of the third floor medical in-patient unit of the Yarmouth Regional Hospital and all heath care providers and allied professionals in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 483

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

Whereas the Most Reverend Anthony Mancini, an Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal, Quebec, has come to Halifax to serve as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Halifax; and

Whereas on November 29, 2007, the Most Reverend Anthony Mancini was installed as the 12th Archbishop of Halifax at a ceremony at St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica; and

Whereas over 30 bishops, 100 priests and 30 deacons from across the country, as well as many laity, were in attendance at this solemn event presided over by the Pope's Canadian representative, Archbishop Ventura;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly wish the Most Reverend Anthony Mancini all the best in his duties as 12th Archbishop of Halifax.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 606]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 484

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

Whereas Falmouth resident Larry Gibbons has been recognized this year for his dedication and commitment to the Scouting movement; and

Whereas 2007 marks the centennial year for the Scouting movement in Canada and, as a result, a medal has been created to commemorate the past 100 years and to celebrate the beginning of the next 100 years of Scouting in Canada; and

Whereas Larry Gibbons is one of the Nova Scotia volunteers to receive this Scouts Canada Commemorative Centennial Medal;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Larry Gibbons, who has truly made a significant contribution to Scouting and the volunteering of his time for an exceptionally worthwhile group of individuals.

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. 485

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

[Page 607]

Whereas the 31st Royal Canadian Legion Track and Field Championships were held in Oromocto, New Brunswick, this past summer; and

Whereas Cameron Veinot of Caledonia ran a lifetime personal best in the 100-metre final to finish fourth, and a lifetime personal best in the 200-metre final; and

Whereas Cameron is the only athlete in Canada to have finished in the top four in this event for the past three years;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Cameron Veinot of Caledonia on his accomplishments at the Nationals, and congratulate Cameron for having been named to the Core Team for the 2009 Nova Scotia Canada Games Team.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 486

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

Whereas each year, Nova Scotia sends a Christmas tree to the people of Boston, Massachusetts, as a symbol of appreciation for their help in the aftermath of the Halifax Explosion; and

Whereas this year's tree is a 14-metre white spruce which was generously donated by Christopher and Lisa Hamilton of Granville Centre, Annapolis County; and

Whereas the tree was cut on November 14th and was lit in a tree lighting ceremony in Boston on November 29th;

[Page 608]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly recognize the significance of the Boston Christmas tree and thank Christopher and Lisa Hamilton for donating such a beautiful tree.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 487

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

Whereas Sobey's Chief Operating Officer, Jana Sobey, has been pleased to be part of the historic family business for the last five years; and

Whereas the daughter of John Robert and Gail Sobey, Jana has lived and studied all over the world, but she is happy to call Stellarton home again, where she lives with her husband, who is Sobey's chief chef adviser, and their three children; and

Whereas Ms. Sobey has enjoyed working on the 100th Anniversary project and has learned a great deal about her family and ancestors and is looking forward to travelling to the 81 Sobey's stores across Canada to help introduce specialized marketing plans;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their best wishes to Jana Sobey as she leaves her mark on the historic grocery business and passes on the values of hard work and community support to her children as they were passed to her, demonstrating some of the qualities that make the Nova Scotia business such a success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 609]

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. 488

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

Whereas each year The Coast newspaper publishes a Best of Halifax listing in which readers vote for their favourite people, places and things; and

Whereas the 2007 poll was published on November 15th, including the category Best Member of the Legislative Assembly; and

Whereas the honourable member for Halifax Needham was the winner of the best MLA and honourable members for Halifax Citadel and Halifax Chebucto achieved first and second runner-up respectively;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the honourable members of Halifax Needham, Halifax Citadel and Halifax Chebucto for this recognition and thank the Coast for giving its readers the chance to cast their votes outside of election day.

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 610]

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 489

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

Whereas on November 3, 2007, the Premier held a Forum on Student Achievement; and

Whereas invitations to attend this forum were sent out to School Advisory Council chairs, but neglected to invite other parent-school partnership organizations such as Home and Schools, parent/teachers associations and PTSAs; and

Whereas in schools where there is no functioning School Advisory Council, these are the type of groups that provide essential advice to the school community;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier investigate why these important representatives were not invited to the Premier's Forum on Student Achievement and ensure they will be included in future events.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, before I read my resolution, I wonder if I might be permitted to make an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery this morning, there are three residents of Cape Breton West. I'm sure you might be familiar with them. I'd like to introduce Ed Niedzielski, Anthony Niedzielski and Anthony Niedzielski, Jr. I would ask that they please rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 611]

RESOLUTION NO. 490

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

Whereas the North Shore and District Volunteer Fire Department was founded in March 12, 1962; and

Whereas the North Shore and District Volunteer Fire Department held a special ceremony in late June celebrating this important 45 year milestone and anniversary; and

Whereas the North Shore and District Volunteer Fire Department has 25 members and is home to three pumper trucks and a tanker and are now working on raising funds to purchase a brand new truck in 2012, marking their 50th year of operation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly applaud Chief Merrill MacInnes and the North Shore and District Volunteer Fire Department on their 45th Anniversary and thank its members, both past and present, for their dedication and commitment to their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

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.

MR. TREVOR ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, if I may be permitted, I would like to make an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MR. ZINCK: I would like to draw the attention of the House to the west gallery where I am joined today by one of my constituents, Mr. Ray LaFresne, who has brought great pride to this province in 10 years of competition in the national snow sculpture competitions. We can join in giving him a round of applause. (Applause)

[Page 612]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 491

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

Whereas in February 2007, competitors from all of Canada's provinces and territories gathered in the nation's capital region to participate in the national snow sculpture competition; and

Whereas this competition tests the physical ability and brings out the artistry and talent of the competitors by turning a 60-ton, two-storey high block of snow into an amazing work of art; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia team composted of Ray LaFresne, Nigel Maney and Gordon Richardson proudly represented their province and stood out from the rest of the competitors by taking silver in this year's event;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Nova Scotia team of Ray LaFrame, Nigel Maney and Gordon Richardson for winning second place at the 2007 national snow sculpture competition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 492

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

Whereas there are over 39.5 million people living with HIV worldwide; and

[Page 613]

Whereas on December 1, 1988, World AIDS Day was created to help raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education on this disease; and

Whereas the 2007 theme "leadership" highlights the need for innovation, vision, perseverance in the face of the AIDS challenge with the campaign calling on all sectors of society such as families, communities and civil society organizations to take the initiative and provide leadership on AIDS;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly appeal to all levels of government, policy makers and regional health authorities to ensure that they meet the many targets that have been set in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

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. 493

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

Whereas Bedford Days is now a 30-year tradition in Bedford of promoting community and family fun; and

Whereas Bedford Days 2007 drew record crowds, a festival synonymous with incredible fireworks displays and creative events; and

Whereas the members of the 2007 Bedford Days Committee ensured success of this year's festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to the 2007 Bedford Days Committee for their dedication to continuing this community tradition in Bedford.

[Page 614]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

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 for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 494

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

Whereas King George III granted 235 acres of land for the use of the inhabitants of the Town of Halifax, forever, in 1763; and

Whereas less than one-third of this land is still open for use by the general population of Halifax; and

Whereas the Friends of the Halifax Common is an organization dedicated to campaigning to reclaim, preserve and protect the common lands;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly affirm the need for Halifax's Common to be preserved as common land and applaud the work done by the Friends of the Halifax Common to that end.

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 615]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 495

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

Whereas each holiday season CTV holds their annual Christmas Mommies and Daddies Telethon on the first weekend in December; and

Whereas the mandate of the telethon is to provide less fortunate children with gifts at Christmas, including toys, gifts and clothing; and

Whereas to date, CTV's Christmas Mommies and Daddies Telethon has raised over $24 million for less fortunate families in the Maritimes;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize the many volunteers who donate their time to the telethon and encourage all Nova Scotians to give generously to this worthwhile cause.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[9:45 a.m.]

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 496

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

[Page 616]

Whereas Health Canada ranks walking as one of the most popular activities Canadians can choose to keep active, and trails in Nova Scotia are vital to the health and well-being of our citizens; and

Whereas Jim Tudor is a driving force behind the Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association, an association that has been instrumental in the development of the Salt Marsh Trail and the Shearwater Flyer, both part of the Rails to Trails Program; and

Whereas Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association is continuing on the development of the Shearwater Flyer connection to the Dartmouth Harbour Trail;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank and commend Jim Tudor and the Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association for their ongoing efforts in trail development in the Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage 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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, would please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 11.

Bill No. 11 - Civil Forfeiture Act.

[Page 617]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I am presenting this bill on behalf of the Minister of Justice. I am pleased to rise today on second reading of Bill No. 11, the Civil Forfeiture Act.

Civil forfeiture can be an important remedial tool in the criminal justice system. It ensures that wrongfully provided gains to not remain in the hands of a wrongdoer. In other words, it creates a process that allows the province to order the forfeiture of properties used to commit crimes, or the forfeiture of assets gained from unlawful activities. This legislation will allow us to hit criminals where it hurts the most - their wallets.

Specifically, it will create a civil process through the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia for the forfeiture of property acquired through unlawful activities and property used to engage in unlawful activity. This new bill is the latest in a series of new laws and initiatives introduced to fight crime and protect the safety and security of Nova Scotians.

We have also put in place the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act which has shut down more than 20 illegal drug houses. We have created new youth programming supervision, introduced electronic monitoring of offenders and are adding 250 new police officers over four years.

The federal government also recently responded to Nova Scotia's call to strengthen the Youth Criminal Justice Act by introducing amendments that give the courts more flexibility to hold a young person before trial if their behaviour is dangerous. This is another important tool to send a message that crime doesn't pay in Nova Scotia.

I look forward to the support of the other Parties with regard to these amendments and with that, I move second reading of Bill No. 11.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, this really is an extraordinary piece of legislation and I do want to take some time today to speak about it. There's no question that this bill is going to be challenged in court on constitutional and other grounds and I think it's important that we hear in this House, on second reading, put on the record the purpose of the bill and our concerns about the bill because the courts will look at what is said in this House. I hope that perhaps on third reading the Minister of Justice will be able to stand up in the House and put on the record at greater length the purposes of the government in proposing this legislation.

[Page 618]

Let me get out of the way one point which I want to say right off the top so that nobody misunderstands where we're coming from in this and that is that we will support the bill on second reading because the purpose of the bill is stated to be ". . . to provide civil remedies that will assist in (a) preventing persons who engage in unlawful activities and others from keeping property that was acquired as a result of unlawful activity; and (b) preventing property from being used to engage in unlawful activity." - obviously a good purpose, and one which we support.

So the bill in principle, is one that we support but we also note that other provinces in Canada have it. Nova Scotia is not the first province proposing to have such legislation but there are important differences between what is being proposed here in Nova Scotia and what is being done in other provinces. Later in my remarks I would like to sketch what some of the differences are and query the government about why it is that there are these very significant differences between what's being done in other provinces and what's being proposed here in Nova Scotia.

I would also like to point out to the House that there are already proceeds of crime legislation on the books and available through the Criminal Code. The most notable example here in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, was when the Hell's Angels clubhouse on Dutch Village Road in my constituency was shut down and the assets seized and sold so that that criminal organization would no longer have a foothold in the city or the province. So we already know that we have legislation that is capable of doing these things. So what this legislation does is above and beyond the tools that are already available and already being used by police forces here in Nova Scotia and indeed across the country.

Let me then, Mr. Speaker, illustrate what it is that this bill does. What this bill is intended to do is to keep criminals from profiting from their crimes. Nobody could possibly argue with that. As the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has just said, what the government wants to do is to be able to hit criminals in their wallet which is a very important way of fighting crime.

So let me give an example of how this works in practice. This is an actual case from Ontario called the Chatterjee case which went all the way to the Ontario Court of Appeal. Mr. Chatterjee was pulled over by the police who discovered in his trunk $29,000 in cash plus a few lights and other electrical equipment that is typically used for hydroponic marijuana growing operations. In addition to finding this equipment and the $29,000 in cash, everything smelled very strongly of marijuana. Now, the police could not charge Mr. Chatterjee with any crime because all they found was this evidence that a crime may have been committed or had probably been committed, but they didn't actually have the hydroponic growing operation. They never found where this growing operation was. So they didn't have the evidence on which to charge him with a crime so what they did was they seized the money, they seized the equipment, and Mr. Chatterjee challenged the seizure all the way up to the Ontario Court of Appeal.

[Page 619]

Now, I have to say, Mr. Speaker, I don't have a great deal of sympathy for Mr. Chatterjee who ended up losing his case because he was never able to provide any kind of a sensible explanation of where the money came from or why it smelled so strongly of marijuana. So that is the kind of situation that this bill is designed to get at, where in the circumstances there is no criminal charge and can be no criminal charge but it is very, very likely indeed that a crime has been committed and we don't want criminals to profit from their crimes. So that's an example of what this bill is intended to do.

So what is the problem that could possibly arise with a bill like this? Well, the analogy I would use, Mr. Speaker, is that this is like a bill designed to get sharks out of the ocean. Let's suppose that we have deemed sharks to be an evil fish and we want to do everything we can to get the sharks out of the ocean, so we pass a law. But what the law does is it makes it so easy and straightforward to catch sharks and the nets used to catch them are so small that it sweeps up a lot of other fish and sea life besides the sharks. That's the problem. The bill will accomplish its purpose. It will catch the sharks and make it easier to stop the sharks but the problem is that if you are not a shark, you could still get caught up in this net and believe me, if any of us gets caught up in this net by accident, it will be a nightmare because the time and the expense and the anxiety that will be involved in vindicating yourself will be more than most people can bear.

Let met explain why it is that it would be a nightmare for anybody who is not involved in criminal activity but who does get caught up in this net. First of all, Mr. Speaker, the forfeiture to the Crown is not just of things that have been used in a crime, it's things that are likely to be used in a crime. So for the first time that I can remember, this Legislature has a bill before it that proposes punishing people not for what they have done, but for what they might do. Up until now, this has been the territory of the movies, like the move Minority Report with Tom Cruise where the government is able to look into people's brains to decide what crimes they are about to commit and then stops them. So this is getting into movie territory here. It is not crimes that have been committed only, but crimes that may be committed in the future.

Second of all, the unlawful activity that this bill is aimed at is not criminal offences - it is any offence against any Statute, provincial or federal. Any offence against any Statute. Now, it would be a lot easier to understand, Mr. Speaker, if the unlawful activity that the bill talks about is a Criminal Code offence or a controlled substances legislation offence, those kinds of things, but it is any offence against any Statute, provincial or federal.

Third, Mr. Speaker, this bill is fully retroactive, which is something that this Legislature hardly ever does. It reaches into the past and deems the law to have been different than it was at the time. So this bill doesn't only capture crimes that will be committed in the future, or are likely to be committed in the future, it says it applies in the past as well. It applies to any crime that was committed, or is likely to be committed, in the past and deems

[Page 620]

the law to be different and that is a highly unusual thing to do in any circumstance, never mind in a bill that puts together all these worrisome features.

Fourth, Mr. Speaker, it is not necessary that any criminal charge ever be laid. So someone can have their property seized and forfeited to the Crown on the grounds that there has been, or is likely to be, unlawful activity but no charge is required. In fact, the bill stipulates that even if there is an acquittal, that is irrelevant. The property can be forfeited to the Crown, even if a person has been charged and has been acquitted.

Fifth, Mr. Speaker, this bill operates on the balance of probabilities, not on the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. The best illustration of the difference between the two is the O.J. Simpson case, of course, where Mr. Simpson was acquitted of two murders on the criminal standard, which is beyond a reasonable doubt, but he was found liable on the civil standard, which is a balance of probabilities. I know some people find that hard to understand how you could be found innocent as far as the criminal courts are concerned and guilty as far as the civil courts are concerned, but the fundamental difference between the two, of course, is the standard of proof. One is beyond a reasonable doubt and the other one is the balance of probabilities. So even though in this bill we're after people who are accused or are suspected of unlawful activity, it is the civil standard that is being applied, which is whether it's more likely than not. So now you don't have to be guilty of a crime, you don't even have to have committed a crime, it just has to be more likely than not that you have, or that you might, be guilty of a crime. That's pretty scarey, Mr. Speaker.

There are some safeguards in the bill designed to protect innocent people but what, of course, the bill leaves out, as do most discussions about the justice system, is that you may have rights under the law, Mr. Speaker, but it can take a great deal of time, a great deal of money and a great deal of anxiety to vindicate the rights.

Let me give you a practical example. Let's suppose that there's a criminal and he lives at home with his mother and they have joint ownership of the house. Now this criminal could be into any kind of thing, it could be something like fraud, it could be anything really, but it doesn't really matter.

[10:00 a.m.]

Let's suppose that this criminal is caught up in the net of the Civil Forfeiture Act. What's going to happen is that house will be frozen. The mother, who is a completely innocent party, has no idea what her son is up to, has no involvement at all, will suddenly find her interest in the property frozen. In order to protect her interest in the property, she is going to have to hire a lawyer, go to court and prove to the court that she had no involvement in the son's criminal activity.

[Page 621]

In the meantime, she will not be able to deal with her interest in the property. She won't be able to sell the house, she won't be able to mortgage the house, she won't be able to rent the house because it will have been frozen. If anybody in this House thinks that's a far-fetched scenario, Mr. Speaker, I assure them it is not. That is the kind of thing that this bill will do. It will sweep up innocent people in the net and they will find themselves having to vindicate themselves before the courts to prove that they were not involved in the crime. It will sweep up family members, it will sweep up business partners, it will sweep up anybody who is in any way connected with the criminal, and there's going to be a great deal of hardship caused as a result of this legislation, a great deal of hardship to innocent people.

Mr. Speaker, another worrisome feature of the bill is that the whole forfeiture scheme is initiated by somebody who is appointed by the Minister of Justice. Now, Mr. Speaker, I know a lot of politicians, I consort with politicians on a regular basis. Some of my best friends are politicians, but I don't want a politician in charge of this kind of wide-open forfeiture scheme, I just don't. That's why, in this Province of Nova Scotia, we have an independent Director of Public Prosecutions, because history has shown that politicians cannot be trusted with the important function of prosecutions. Just ask Donald Marshal. It was the Donald Marshal Inquiry that recommended that the Minister of Justice be removed from the day-to-day control of the Public Prosecution Service. That's why we have a Public Prosecutions Act, to establish and maintain the independence of the people who prosecute people in the criminal courts.

In this case we're proposing a Civil Forfeiture Bill which goes far beyond the powers of the Public Prosecution Service, and yet their proposal is that it be under the direction of the Minister of Justice.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the government will consider amending the bill so that the person who is initiating these forfeiture proceedings will report to the Director of Public Prosecutions. That would be a positive step, because then at least we would be assured that there was some independence from the day-to-day political work of the province. Instead, the person who's in charge of these forfeiture proceedings is an appointee of the minister and reports to the minister, and the bill says, Bill No. 14, which is the twin bill, or the companion bill, says that the manager of assets can delegate his or her responsibilities to anybody, which opens the door to privatization or contracting out or outsourcing.

So this person with absolutely extraordinary legal powers could be a private corporation bidding for the contract, or it could be a civil servant reporting to the minister. Is that really right, when we know from history that politicians can't be trusted to direct the prosecution service, that we want to give the Minister of Justice back even broader powers? I don't think so, Mr. Speaker. It's not clear, also from the bill, where the money will go, all this money that's forfeited to the Crown. It's a very important question.

[Page 622]

In the American jurisdictions that have legislation like this, this has become the crucial issue because in many of those jurisdictions the money goes to the police departments. There are many examples in the United States of this power being abused. Because, of course, when the police have the power to seize assets, then they have an interest in seizing as much as possible, because the more they seize, the bigger their budgets.

In Manitoba, for example, which has similar, not identical legislation, but similar legislation, they have avoided this problem that I've been outlining. They do it in two ways. First of all, Mr. Speaker, they don't have a civil servant doing the forfeitures. The people who apply for the forfeitures are the chiefs of police. They are people who are well-versed and well-trained in the criminal law, so there's a direct connection between the criminal law and civil forfeiture. The applications to the court are made by the police chief. Of course, the police chiefs are independent of the day-to-day political operations of the province or the municipality concerned.

The other thing they do in Manitoba, is it stipulates that all of the proceeds go to support victims of crime, all of the proceeds. All of the proceeds go to support victims of crime because that removes any incentive the police departments might have to seize more than they should because it doesn't go then to their budgets, it goes to the victims of crime.

I would commend to the government's attention this model that has been adopted in Manitoba. If we must have legislation like this in order to try to suppress criminal activity, and as I said, we agree with this in principle, then let's get it right, let's get the details right.

I have to assume, Mr. Speaker, that the government is aware of what has been done in other provinces in Canada, they would be aware of what's being done in Manitoba, so it must have been a deliberate choice on this government's part not to follow the Manitoba legislation. Why has this government chosen to put these extraordinary powers in the hands of an appointee of the Minister of Justice instead of in the hands of police chiefs or instead of the hands of the Director of Public Prosecutions. That's where it belongs.

Why has this government deliberately chosen not to have the proceeds directed exclusively to victims of crime? Why is it that Bill No. 14, which is the companion piece to Bill No. 11, says that it can go to victims of crime, but it can also go to law enforcement, it can go to defray the expenses of law enforcement, it can go to the police departments and it can go to anything else the government deems, heck, it can go into the general revenues of the government. In Manitoba they say it goes to one thing and one thing only - it goes to victims of crime. It seems like a very good idea to us that that should be the case.

There is another impact of this bill - and we have to be careful about that in this House, sometimes when we jump on the wagon train of popular opinion we don't sometimes realize that bills that we propose or pass in this House end up, in the real world, having the opposite effect of what is intended and this could very well be one of these bills. Remember,

[Page 623]

what this is likely to do, is it's going to lead to fewer people pleading guilty, because it stipulates that if you plead guilty to an offence, it is conclusive proof that you have committed the crime and therefore you remove any burden of proof on the government to seize your assets.

Once the criminals know that there is this great big hammer waiting in the background to hit anybody who pleads guilty, you know what the natural implication is, fewer people are going to plead guilty. That is particular true in the complex cases that take so long and take up so much of the Prosecution Service's resources - I'm thinking in particular of the fraud trials.

Fraud investigations, as we know from many examples, take years typically. They are very complex, very labour intensive, very paper intensive - the trials can take months. It takes an enormous amount of resources from the investigation system, from the prosecution system, resources that could be better spent elsewhere within the system. One of the things that saves us all is the fact that there is an incentive for the criminals to plead guilty, but what this bill will do will take away that incentive, or take away a large amount of that incentive, and it's something that we just have to take into account.

Now when lawyers are advising their clients about whether to plead guilty or not plead guilty, they're going to have to take this bill into account and more lawyers will be advising their clients not to plead guilty, fewer of the criminals, particularly in the complex cases, will want to plead guilty.

Mr. Speaker, that is our concern in a nutshell. These are the things that will work their way through the courts. Mr. Chatterjee, who I referred to earlier, was probably not the best case for a constitutional challenge because frankly, he elicited no sympathy from the court or from anybody else. He had no reasonable explanation of where he got the money or why it smelled so strongly of marijuana. He had no explanation for why he had the equipment used for hydroponic growing operations in the trunk of his car. He couldn't explain any of this and yet he was the one who challenged the constitutionality of these provisions. Mr. Chatterjee's circumstances probably influenced the Ontario courts in which way they were going to come down on whether this legislation was constitutional or not.

What's going to happen in the future, in Nova Scotia and elsewhere, is other innocent people are going to come forward and they're going to challenge this legislation, because they will have been caught up in the net of the Civil Forfeiture Act and they will have had their assets seized or frozen, sometimes for years, their lives will have been ruined and they will have done nothing wrong, but they still fit in with the terms of this extraordinarily broad Act.

The fact is that the world is not divided up into the good people and the bad people, the white hats and the black hats, the evildoers and the good people. The world is a lot more

[Page 624]

complicated than that; there are many more shades of grey. Even if you're not a shark, you might know a shark, you might hang around sharks, you might have seen sharks, you might find yourself in the company of sharks by accident, you might be related to a shark, but you haven't done anything wrong yourself. Anybody who opposes this legislation will probably be accused of being pro-shark, but that's not what I'm saying at all.

This bill will catch the sharks and that's a good thing, and that's why we're going to support the bill, in principle. The problem is, an awful lot of people who aren't sharks are going to get caught up in this extraordinarily broad piece of legislation. So as we go forward what we will say to the government is this, the bill is good in principle, but let's talk about how to make it better. Some of the practical ways to make it better are to have the person initiating these proceedings independent of the Minister of Justice. Let's have that person report to the Director of Public Prosecutions or let's follow the Manitoba model and say that it is the chiefs of police who will initiate these forfeiture proceedings, Mr. Speaker.

The other suggestion that we have to make this bill better is to stipulate that the goods and property that are forfeited to the Crown will go exclusively to support the victims of crime because then there could be no suggestion of any ulterior motives on anybody's part which is what is so controversial in the American jurisdictions that have similar legislation.

So those are my thoughts on the bill, Mr. Speaker. Those are the amendments that we will be taking forward to the government as this bill moves through and we earnestly and sincerely ask the government to take those suggestions as they are intended as positive and constructive ways to make really an extraordinary bill a little bit better.

[10:15 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as the Justice Critic for the Liberal Caucus, I am pleased to rise and make a number of comments regarding Bill No. 11, the Civil Forfeiture Act and its accompanying piece of legislation, Bill No. 14 which is the Assets Management and Disposition Act. The bills go together, in essence. While they are presented as two separate bills. Bill No. 11, first, is the legislative arm of this new program whereas Bill No. 14 is more the administrative side of how this new program would be administered.

Mr. Speaker, as has been mentioned by the member for Halifax Fairview, this is a significant piece of legislation in that it allows the government to take action against an individual who may not have been found guilty of a crime and, in fact, in some cases, may not have even been charged with a crime. Our entire justice system is on the basis of innocence until proven guilty and that is the foundation that we have used in our province since its inception. To now be moving to legislation which says that the Crown has the ability to seek punishment against you in seizing some of your assets or some of your belongings

[Page 625]

without ever having found you guilty or as mentioned, in some cases without you ever having been charged, is quite a significant departure from our traditional justice principles here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

As has been mentioned, Mr. Speaker, we are not the first province to adopt this type of legislation. This exists in British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Manitoba. It is important, once again, with other pieces of legislation which have been brought forward that we once again be mindful of the fact that this is reactionary legislation. This is after the fact legislation that the government is bringing forward, very similar to the legislation we saw last evening which dealt with the Gunshot and Stab Wounds Mandatory Reporting Act. The crime has already taken place when the government is bringing legislation to try to deal with the issue of crime and we would once again reiterate our concern that the government needs to focus on crime prevention rather than dealing with crime that has already taken place.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Bill No. 11 is to create a mechanism to seize, hold and sell property acquired or used in an illegal activity. As I have mentioned, other provinces do have this legislation but I do note that in British Columbia, for example, civil liberties groups have attacked the legislation as an infringement of rights. Obviously that legislation is starting to have difficulty in that province but similar to other provinces, the legislation that is being proposed here in our province, does not require any conviction or actual proof that criminal activity has taken place. I also note this legislation does exist in the United States, Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom as well.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, Bill No. 14, which will be coming up next, will be the actual administrative arm which will allow government to be able to administer this bill and the Assets Management and Disposition Act is going to create the body or person who will manage the property and accounts created under the Civil Forfeiture Act.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned last night, with the Gunshot and Stab Wounds Mandatory Reporting Act, we need to make sure that this bill is actually achieving what the government says it wants it to achieve. The government keeps saying this is a bill meant to get at criminals.

As I believe the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal said on introducing the bill, it's intended to show that crime doesn't pay. As was mentioned by the member for Halifax Fairview and as I mentioned last night, with the gunshot and stab wounds bill, we need to make sure that innocent Nova Scotians aren't suddenly being made the victims of suspicion here in our province.

I was concerned with the bill last night that innocent people may suddenly have the police showing up and questioning them as to whether they were part of criminal activity, whereas they were simply innocent individuals showing up at our hospitals or medical

[Page 626]

facilities. The question here again is, will innocent Nova Scotians somehow fall under the suspicion of the government and even though they have never been charged with anything, even though they have never been found guilty of anything, they could still find themselves having to deal with the suspicion of government?

Mr. Speaker, when I was first briefed on this bill by representatives of the Department of Justice, the first thing that came to my mind when I heard about this bill and civil forfeiture, I said this is the government coming in with seizing johns' cars again. Now we know they've tried it twice and it has failed in this House and when I saw this I said, here's the third kick at the can, suspected johns, once again the government is looking for the ability to be able to seize their vehicles. That's the question, will this bill allow the government to do such a thing? Maybe the Minister of Justice will be able to clarify that in his comments, either at the end of second reading or when the bill comes back from Law Amendments Committee. And we, as well, Mr. Speaker, will be supporting this bill going to Law Amendments Committee because we're curious to hear from Nova Scotians as to what their views are on this.

I'm curious to hear what the Nova Scotia Bar Society and different members of the Bar and different individuals involved with civil liberties have to say about this legislation. Once again there is no one in the House of Assembly or in Nova Scotia who doesn't want to see our province take a hardline stance on criminal activity. More importantly, I think they want to see us take a hardline stance on criminal prevention, which we've yet to see during this sitting. It's all reactionary, as I've mentioned before.

Do we have the safeguards in this legislation to be able to say, as elected representatives, that innocent Nova Scotians are not going to become the victims of government and suddenly be put under suspicion? I believe, as the member for Halifax Fairview did mention, the unfortunate, innocent Nova Scotians who could fall under the suspicion are in for great misery. That is not what the bill is supposed to do, if we are to believe exactly what the government has told us.

There is a tremendous amount of regulatory power in this bill as well, along with so many other pieces of legislation we have seen from this government. We are once again being asked to give our approval to a concept and to an approach which, at the end of the day, this House will have absolutely no control as to what the final product will look like because Cabinet will go back, they will meet behind closed doors and they will determine what the regulations are going to be. Mr. Speaker, that again is of great concern to me.

One of the issues as well that was brought to our attention in reviewing the bill is the fact that there is a 10-year limit on this legislation, that from the time there is a suspected criminal activity, 10 years later the government can take action. Now. Mr. Speaker, one of our concerns is that 10 years is a long period of time to talk about assets and to talk about property. What will this bill do for the individual who buys a piece of property, in good faith,

[Page 627]

has done the necessary checks to make sure that they have good title, only to find out later that the government is going to come and try to seize it because they are alleging that it may have been from the proceeds of crime or it may have been as a result of illegal criminal activity - or illegal activity, I should say, because as has been pointed out, it doesn't necessarily have to be criminal, as long as it violates the provincial or federal Statutes.

Mr. Speaker, 10 years is a long time and again we question whether innocent Nova Scotians who bought property in good faith are suddenly going to have that property seized through no fault of their own but through the activities of another, disinterested party.

Mr. Speaker, I did note the comments that were made by the member for Halifax Fairview as to who will administer this specific piece of legislation and who will be the manager of assets management. Mr. Speaker, I did take note of his comments and I have no issues with the suggestion that he has made. If this truly is meant to be an element of dealing with criminal activity and illegal activity here in this province, let's put it in the hands of a clearly impartial party. I note that the member for Halifax Fairview suggested that the reporting take place, possibly to the Director of Public Prosecutions. What he did not mention though, was who should make that appointment to start off with and maybe that's something that we should discuss further as to how can we give the message to Nova Scotians that the individual who will be responsible for this program- not only are we making sure that they are reporting to an impartial body but who is going to be responsible for determining who that individual might be.

That might be something that we could look at further and strengthen in the legislation so that there is no political interference in the system and that Nova Scotians can have a sense of confidence that this is clearly a power that the government is not going to try to use at will, that the individual who will be responsible will be impartial, will be clearly qualified to undertake this new responsibility, but will clearly understand that this is a significant infringement on rights here in our province and should only be used when the case has clearly been made. To go outside of our regular justice principles of innocence until proven guilty is a significant departure for us here in our province and something which should not be used lightly.

During the briefings and during the discussions, the minister has said that this is for high-end criminals, that this is where the focus was going to be, and that in Ontario they've dealt with the really high-end criminals, that this has not been down to the smaller criminals or that innocent people haven't been being caught up in this. Only time will tell, Mr. Speaker, and I question whether the legislation provides the necessary protections to ensure that will take place.

Mr. Speaker, I did note as well the comments from the member for Halifax Fairview about strengthening exactly where the proceeds from this legislation should go. I tend to agree that it should go to the victims of crime, but let's make sure that we put the right

[Page 628]

safeguards in doing that because you'll recall a few years ago, when this same government got caught taking the victim impact fee, which is imposed on people found guilty in our court system, and that money which was supposed to be set aside for victims, this government had found a way to put its hands on it and spend it somewhere else. Once they got caught, they had to stop doing it. We need to make sure, if we're going to make that amendment, we put the safeguards in to make sure that if it's supposed to go to victims, that that is exactly where it goes and that government doesn't have the ability to divert that money to other areas, or to other pet projects. So that, again, is an amendment that we would certainly be more than interested in discussing further.

Mr. Speaker, again, being that this legislation does exist in other jurisdictions, I'm at a loss as to why the government continually fails to bring forward a regulatory package when they're introducing these bills. If this was the first time this was ever tried in the province, then I could understand where they say we need some time to put forward the regulations. We are the fifth or sixth province to adopt this. Why can't the government at least show the Opposition, here's the regulatory package we intend to use, here's the full package for you to see and for you to go over. I'm at a loss to understand why that happens and why we continue to allow it to happen. I guess we need to accept responsibility in Opposition that we've not forced them more on that, but I think it's time, with this bill and with so many other bills, that when we're simply catching up to other provinces, let's see the entire package, let's not get caught with Cabinet making decisions on regulations which does not meet exactly the spirit of what was discussed here in this House of Assembly.

There's one way to avoid that suspicion that we have, show us the regulations up front. This is a bill where this could have been done and I'm at a loss to understand why the government is not doing it, but with that, Mr. Speaker, I do hope the government will take its time in calling this bill to the Law Amendments Committee. I do hope that the Nova Scotia Bar Society and other interested parties will be coming forward to present us their views on this bill and any possible changes that could be made as a result. With that, I will end my comments and look forward to seeing this bill move through second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to put on record several concerns about this extraordinary piece of legislation. As indicated by my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, indeed we will support the bill at second reading, but primarily for the purpose of allowing more time for discussion and hearing what submissions we will get at the Law Amendments Committee and to try to take the opportunity to talk with the government about the ways in which it might refine its intentions over this bill.

Let's start by observing at large that this is an extraordinary intrusion by government into private property. I have heard the Premier make comments recently in this House and

[Page 629]

outside the House, as it happens, directed at our Party and perhaps, in some measure, at me personally, suggesting that we have no respect for the private sector and for business.

[10:30 a.m.]

I want to assure the Premier and all members of this House that, in fact, we are quite prepared to work with the private sector in the appropriate realm and indeed, we have great respect for the institution of private property. Private property is historically one of the main bulwarks that individuals have against any chance of abusive powers by the state. I believe so strongly in private property, I think everyone should have a lot of it. But, it seems to me that this bill has to be seen in the context of being an extraordinary potential intrusion on private property. If that's going to be the case - first I'm surprised this government brings it forward, but second, we have to be very careful, very measured, very targeted if steps are going to be taken along those lines.

Let me start by looking at what it is that this bill purports to do. This bill purports to allow the possibilities of forfeiture of private property in three distinct sets of circumstances. The first is when it comes to offences that are federal offences, the second is when it comes to provincial offences and the third is when it comes to anticipated offences.

We've already heard the criticism about anticipated offences, that just seems to me so dubious a proposition that some extraordinary justification would have to brought forward before one could consent to that. Let's look at the other two aspects of it. Let's look at first the proposal that for any federal offence and for any provincial offence, there could be forfeiture of associated property.

Let's start first by thinking of federal offences. There is already, as has been noted, a provision in the Federal Criminal Code that allows for forfeiture of property associated with certain crimes. I emphasize that it's associated with certain crimes only. It's not all federal offences because, of course, there is a huge amount of federal legislation that sets up penalties of one sort or another for violation of one statute or another. But this is essentially a Criminal Code matter dealt with by the federal Parliament under Part 12.2 of the federal Criminal Code where they have taken a very focussed view of what it is that property associated with the commission of a crime - not any federal offence, but a crime and particular crimes can be invoked. It's not all Criminal Code offences even, it's indictable offences and it's drug offences and those are the crimes the federal Parliament in its wisdom, which has prime jurisdiction over criminal matters, has decided that forfeiture is appropriate.

They took a targeted approach when they looked at the whole panoply of federal offences. They didn't make it forfeiture for all federal offences, what this bill purports to do is to say, let's go one better than the federal government with respect to federal offences. Let's take all federal offences and expose malefactors and associated people to the possibility of seizure of their property.

[Page 630]

Why should we do that? Why should we take it upon ourselves to go beyond what it is that the federal government has decided should be a narrow, restricted, carefully used, carefully structured power. Why should we go beyond that?

I want to remind the members opposite that there are a huge number of federal offences, many of them regulatory. Is it the case that when there's a violation of the federal Fisheries Act, as for example, an environmental offence of dumping deleterious materials into water frequented by fish, which sometimes happens in forestry operations, that this government believes that a bulldozer or a feller-buncher should automatically be subject to forfeiture by the person who might have committed that offence on top of the fine or other penalty that their exposed to under the federal Fisheries Act? If that is what they believe, they ought to explicitly stand up and say to the forestry workers, to the owners of woodlots in this province, that that is what their standing up for. That they are saying a $300,000, $500,000 feller-buncher is going to be forfeit to the Crown because they might have put some debris into a creek.

Well, I'm not in favour of violations of the federal Fisheries Act - of course not. People should be stopped, there should be stop-work orders, there should be penalties, there should be prosecutions and, if there are, people will be fined, judges will make decisions about what the appropriate penalty is. But this government wants to expose people to the possibility of much more severe offences.

Mr. Speaker, I understand one of my colleagues wishes to make an introduction and I will yield for a moment.

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

MS. MARILYN MORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate my colleague allowing his response to be interrupted. I would like to introduce a class from Dartmouth High School. Donald Houle is their teacher, and I'm very pleased to welcome them here. They are sitting in the west gallery, and I ask them to stand and be recognized by the House of Assembly. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, again, I want to be clear that the federal government has already chosen the appropriate range of federal offences for which forfeiture of property associated with the commission of crimes ought to be available as a step in the process. If we're being invited to go beyond that, we have to be given a very good reason and we have to be told which particular offences the government has in mind. So far, all this legislation tells us is that it's all federal offences. Now, that's an extraordinarily large number of potential activities for which property forfeiture could come into play.

[Page 631]

On the face of it, I find this implausible as good public policy. We also have to ask ourselves whether it would survive charter scrutiny. My colleague, the honourable member for Halifax Fairview, pointed out that there was a decision this year by the Ontario Court of Appeal in the case of Chatterjee. In that decision, the Ontario Court of Appeal deflected the constitutionally-based attack on the Ontario equivalent or similar piece of legislation, but there was a reservation in the decision.

The Ontario Court of Appeal said something in the middle of that decision which it would be, as well, for us to note. If this government is assuming that its bill will survive a constitutional attack that is far from clear, all the Chatterjee case says, although this is important for the validity of this kind of legislation, is that when it comes to division of powers under the constitution, there can be a plausible reason for the province to enact legislation like the bill in front of us. That is a plausible, constitutional, law reason.

Let me read to you Paragraph 36 of the judgment of the court. "We note, finally, that no issue arises on the facts of this case as to any conflict between the CRA and federal legislation such as the Criminal Code's forfeiture provisions. Accordingly, we leave, for another day, the question of the application and operation of the federal paramountcy doctrine to resolve any such conflicts." What that means is that it is still open for litigants, for those who might lose their property, to challenge our legislation, or similar legislation, on paramountcy grounds. That would have to do with a conflict between the operation of the federal and provincial legislation. Essentially, it is predictable that we are buying ourselves a law suit, if this goes forward. Probably, it is predictable that some such law suit will arise elsewhere in the country.

Do we wish to get involved in that? I am suggesting that if there is a possibility of a conflict, that this bill should be examined with that question in mind. When I look at it, I worry about that.

The next aspect has to do with the provision in the bill that essentially says that property can be forfeited for any provincial offence and the same objection arises. The same point has to be made. The ambit of provincial offences is very wide. Many of them have to do, for example, with the regulation of professions. Many of them have to do with environmental issues. To take a similar example, if there is an offence committed under the Provincial Environment Act, is all property associated with that offence going to be forfeit in addition to the fine and other penalty assessed by a judge in that case? Is it the case that if a pulp and paper plant, or any other business, commits an effluent offence that all of a sudden the whole of that plant is going to be forfeit to the province? Is it the case that any business that commits an environmental offence, by putting out into the environment at large a pollutant, will find itself no longer the owner of its land and buildings and equipment? That's a fine state of affairs.

[Page 632]

Is it the case that perhaps someone practicing a profession who violates the regulatory rules of that profession, as set out in provincial legislation, is not only going to be disciplined by their professional body, not only perhaps fined, but in fact, is their office and their office equipment going to be seized and sold? What if this person is a professional who works from home? Is their home, in which their family lives elsewhere, going to be seized and sold? This is my point, Mr. Speaker, that this is way too broad as legislation. This legislation has the potential to intrude on private property in ways that this government does not seem to have contemplated.

The consequences of this are potentially enormous and I think the government has simply not thought it through, they have simply not asked themselves, what is the worst case scenario? That is a sensible question to ask yourself when you are bringing forward a piece of legislation like this. You say to yourself, what is the worse that could happen to people under this law. Well, let me assure you, Mr. Speaker, and assure the members opposite, that citizens at large are going to be asking themselves, what is the worst that could happen?

We recently heard of a case in the newspaper in which a gentleman took a bulldozer and opened up a path through a protected area part of the province in order to reach his hunting camp and was stopped by provincial officials. Now, if that person has committed an offence, as I believe they probably have under provincial legislation, is their bulldozer going to be subject to be seized? It sounds like it under this bill.

I think it's reasonable the government should take steps to stop someone who's doing that. They should post notices, they should put up barriers, they should tell the person they can't do it, they should, in fact, prosecute, if that's appropriate. When, in due course, the matter comes in front of a judge, the judge will assign some kind of penalty - perhaps a fine, perhaps something else, but they're not going to seize and sell the bulldozer. That would only arise if the person couldn't pay the fine. That would be an adjunct, a follow on and it wouldn't have to be the bulldozer, it would be something else.

[10:45 a.m.]

But, this proposed statute draws a direct connection between the commission of a provincial offence and the private property used in the commission. The government may decide that's its policy, but if so, it had better stand up and let Nova Scotians know in no uncertain terms exactly the way they intend to potentially intrude into their ownership of private property and all the many ways in which Nova Scotians will stand exposed to this extraordinary measure.

Let me point out two other features. It's already been noted this bill is linked with Bill No. 14. Bill No. 14 is a companion piece of legislation that sets up an administrative mechanism to move forward with this. It talks about who will administer it, it talks about what might happen to the funds. It's already been noted that in the United States, law

[Page 633]

enforcement agencies are able to benefit directly from the seizure of assets in these circumstances. This is a very poor public policy.

It has been widely criticized in the United States. It has been alleged that there are any number of abuses and it's obvious that if a local law enforcement agency is going to be able to benefit directly and exclusively from the forfeiture of property in these circumstances, they are going to be very tempted to use the law in full measure and with very little exercise of discretion. Because, they've become an interested party.

The legislation in the United States, and so far as I can see, these bills invite the police not to be disinterested, not to be neutral upholders of the law, but to become an interested party in the outcome. That is not the traditional conception of justice that has formed the foundation for how we structure our police forces and the administration of justice. That is wrong. It should simply not occur.

It is also the case that it is possible for the Crown to move explicitly to recover its costs in the proceedings. I've looked at the Ontario regulations, under their equivalent Act and, believe me, the numbers of dollars as a percentage of assets seized is quite extraordinarily high as allowed for in the regulations under the Ontario Act. I wouldn't want to see that in place here. I'm not convinced that, in fact, there should be a specific provision that allows for recovery of costs in the same way as if this were a civil trial in which the Crown were involved. That, I think, is not the model. The costs of the Crown should probably simply be borne out of general revenues, not set up with the kind of table that we see in the Ontario regulations.

Mr. Speaker, I suggested that when this bill moves ahead to the Law Amendments stage, we would have the opportunity to hear public input. I hope there is public input, but it seems to me that there's also an alternative.

This seems to me exactly the kind of legislation, or set of ideas represented by legislation, that ought to go forward to the Law Commission for examination. This is the kind of proposal that should be sent out for a thorough going inspection, by those whose job it is to think about the law and public policy. So I would commend that final thought to the government when it rethinks, as I hope it will, what it is that it's going to do with this Bill No. 11 and the associated Bill No. 14. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, it will be to close debate on Bill No. 11.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member's opposite for their comments and I'm sure that the minister and his department will take all this into consideration and I will now move second reading of Bill No. 11.

[Page 634]

MR. SPEAKER: The question has been called for second reading of Bill No. 11. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 14.

Bill No. 14 - Assets Management and Disposition Act. (Hon. C. Clarke)

MR. SPEAKER: The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, on the behalf of the Minister of Justice, I'm pleased to rise and speak on Bill No. 14, the Assets Management and Disposition Act. This Act will allow the province to manage and dispose of assets forfeited to the province under either the Criminal Code process or the civil forfeiture process. Also, this Act will ensure that the illicit profits of criminal activity are funneled back into the community through crime prevention initiatives.

To implement this Act, the Department of Justice will establish a proceeds of crime unit, which will investigate and seize proceeds of crime through court order. Taking the profit out of these crimes will send a strong message that crime doesn't pay in Nova Scotia. At the same time this legislation will create a new source of funding for crime prevention activities. Taken together with the Civil Forfeiture Act, these pieces of legislation send a strong message to criminals that they are not welcome in Nova Scotia.

I look forward to the support of the other Parties with regard to these important amendments and with that I move second reading of Bill No 14.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 14 is a companion piece to Bill No. 11 - they really belong together. They're twins, they're two sides of the same coin, as it were, so I certainly don't need to repeat the comments that I made with respect to Bill No. 11. I will point out that this is the bill that gives the Minister of Justice the authority to appoint this manager of assets, who is the person who would actually initiate forfeiture proceedings. So this is the bill that we will propose to amend so that it is not the Minister of Justice making the appointment, but rather the Director of Public Prosecution Services, or to stipulate that these forfeiture proceedings will be brought by Chiefs of Police and not by a civil servant.

[Page 635]

I would also like to point out that it is this bill - Bill No. 14 - that stipulates where the money goes and just for the benefit of the House, I would like to list where the money can go. It can go, according to Section 5 of the bill, to expenses and costs incurred in administering the Act - quite reasonable, you can defray the cost of the forfeiture proceedings out of the proceeds. Second, compensation of eligible victims; C, prevention of criminal or unlawful activities; D, remediation of the effect of criminal or unlawful activities; E, law enforcement; and F, other purposes prescribed by the regulation.

Although it permits the money to go to victims of crime, it doesn't require it. In fact, because of the last provision saying it's whatever purposes that are set out by regulation, the money can go anywhere - the money can go into general revenue. I would like to point out to the government, a fact that I know that it is already aware of, and that is in other jurisdictions that have this kind of legislation, they specifically prohibit the money being used for law enforcement. They do that in order to avoid the precise problem that is established proven in the United States, that when you give a police department the money that results from these seizures, they have an incentive to seize as much as possible. The more they seize, the bigger their budget and that has led to predictable abuses in the United States. That is why some of the Canadian legislation prohibits, specifically prohibits, the money gained by forfeiture from being used for that purpose. We just have to assume that because the government is aware that other legislation says that they have made a deliberate choice to include that in the legislation.

In our view, Mr. Speaker, the money gained from criminal assets should not go into general government revenue, it should not be used to increase the budgets of the police departments that seize the assets. It should go to victims of crime and exclusively to victims of crime and to support services for victims of crime, just as is done in Manitoba and other Canadian provinces. So it is this bill that we will be proposing to amend as the bill goes through the legislative process.

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

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his comments and with that, I will move second reading of Bill No. 14.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 14. 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.

[Page 636]

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 15.

Bill No. 15 - Small Claims Court Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, I am pleased to rise today on the second reading of Bill No. 15, amendments to the Small Claims Court Act. The importance of Small Claims Court, the effective administration of justice in Nova Scotia cannot be overstated. Small Claims Court provides a quick, informal and cost-effective method for deciding claims. For example, it is not necessary for the participants to hire lawyers. Proceedings are less formal than in other courts and cases are heard by adjudicators, not necessarily the lawyers.

Currently, Mr. Speaker, Small Claims Court can decide cases with claims up to $25,000. Indeed, Nova Scotia's Small Claims Court is admired across the country for the speed in which matters are heard. However, we must ensure that our Small Claims Court remains effective and responsive to the needs of our citizens. That is why we are introducing amendments that will increase to $2,500 the amount that a plaintiff can claim for general damages. Currently a plaintiff in Small Claims Court cannot seek general damages of more than $100. In order for a plaintiff to claim more than $100 in general damages, the action must be commenced in the Supreme Court. This places a tremendous and unwanted burden on the plaintiffs in Small Claims Court.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, the amendments introduced today give small claims adjudicators the discretion to consider expert reports, even if the experts in question are unavailable for cross examination. To sum up, the amendments introduced today are meant to streamline the Small Claims Court process here in Nova Scotia. In doing so, they will improve the court system and the effect of administration of justice in our province. I look forward to the support of other Parties in relation to this bill and with that, I move second reading of Bill No. 15.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, our Justice Critic has asked me to address these various pieces of Justice legislation before the House today so I am pleased to rise again to address the Small Claims Court Act amendments. Now I have to say that I agree with the minister that the Small Claims Court is an important part of the judicial system here in Nova Scotia and provides for, allows for, the quick resolution of disputes. But I have to say that that is far from being the whole story of Small Claims Court.

[Page 637]

I have some experience in Small Claims Court. I was in there a couple of months ago on behalf of a client on a residential, I am sorry, on behalf of a constituent on a residential tenancies matter and I'm glad to say that we were successful. The reality of the Small Claims Court is considerably different than one would suspect from the remarks of the former Minister of Justice there, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. Small Claims Court really is the Wild West of the Nova Scotia justice system. It allows for quick resolution of claims but you don't know who the witnesses are going to be. You don't know what they're going to say. You don't know what documents they're going to produce. You're going in blind and hoping things turn out for the best and you hope you're prepared for anything that might happen.

Mr. Speaker, if anybody thinks there are no lawyers in Small Claims Court, they're kidding themselves. They are absolutely kidding themselves because when I was a young lawyer, or should I say a younger lawyer, when I was starting out in law, the limit in Small Claims Court when I started out in law in the early1990s was $5,000. There weren't an awful lot of lawyers in Small Claims Court because for any kind of a serious dispute your legal fees were going to amount to that much or more and that was when it was informal and you didn't see a lot of lawyers, but this Legislature over the last 15 years has bumped up the limit in Small Claims Court to $25,000.

[11:00 a.m.]

Now, Mr. Speaker, if you consider that most Canadians, the biggest assets they have are their house and their car and everything else they have is worth less than $25,000 and for most people their car is worth less than $25,000. Just about every asset every Nova Scotian owns is potentially subject to Smalls Claims Court - $25,000 is a heck of a lot of money and, believe me, there are lawyers in Small Claims Court.

Not only that, Mr. Speaker, what the Small Claims Court has become is something that goes far beyond resolving small disputes between two individuals. You go to Small Claims Court and the people on the plaintiff side are, generally speaking, corporations, large corporations, and they'll have a long list of cases that they have on the docket that night because they can afford to have a lawyer if the lawyer has two or three, or four, or five claims on at the same time. So you have a corporation represented by a big law firm lawyer up against individuals who don't have a lawyer. So you have people going to court and facing this on the other side, having no idea what the other side is going to say and, generally speaking, having no idea how the law works.

Mr. Speaker, that is the reality of Small Claims Court in Nova Scotia today and any member of the House who doesn't believe me just has to go down to the Spring Garden Road Court House, or the Small Claims Court in their local jurisdiction, and see what it actually looks like in practice.

[Page 638]

Now, what the government is proposing to do now, Mr. Speaker, is give the Small Claims Court even more authority, even more jurisdiction than it already has. One of the few things that reins in Small Claims Court and keeps it to some level of groundedness is the fact that it only has the ability to award general damages of $100 and that has been the case for a very long time. So while the upper monetary limit was being pumped up and up and up, the general damages stayed the same.

Now, what are general damages a member might ask, Mr. Speaker, general damages as opposed to monetary damages. If you can measure something in money, then it's called special damages. If you can't measure something in money, then it's general damages and the most common examples of general damages are hurt feelings and pain and suffering. There are others but those are the most common, the kind of things that can't be measured in money but what the court does is it does try and measure it in money and awards an approximate amount.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it's difficult enough in the Wild West of Small Claims Court to confine things to things that can actually be measured by money. For example, if a tenant damages an apartment, the landlord can go to court for the amount it costs to fix up the apartment or if a landlord has expended money and the landlord has refused to pay them back, they can go to court and what happens is the person brings in their invoice or their bill and proves that they spent the money and the court says okay, there's your judgment for this amount of money.

On top of that, we are now proposing to allow the court to award $2,500 which, for most people, is a lot of money, for things like pain and suffering or hurt feelings. Now it is impossible to know how this is going to work out, Mr. Speaker, it could work out well or it could work out very badly, it's impossible to say.

General damages are difficult enough for lawyers to deal with because, by definition, they are things that can't be measured in money. So just imagine if you are a unrepresented litigant, somebody is making a claim against you for hurt feelings, how are you supposed to deal with that? You have trouble enough with the evidence and witnesses as it is, and suddenly something is being thrown at you that, by definition, can't be measured by money.

Just to give you an example, Mr. Speaker, of what I mean by the Wild West that is the Small Claims Court. The bill also adds a provision that says an adjudicator is not bound by the rules of evidence applicable to a judicial proceeding. Now, of course, it also says for greater certainty, because that has always been the case, and what I suspect is that there have probably been some appeals to the Supreme Court in which the litigants are complaining that the rules of evidence weren't followed. It has always been the case that the Small Claims Court is not bound by the rules of evidence, but just think about the implication of that. The rules of evidence are there for a reason, they are not there just for the sake of having rules. You have rules of evidence in order to make sure that the evidence that is brought forward

[Page 639]

tends to be reliable. That's why, for example, in a regular court that hearsay is not allowed, because what somebody told somebody tends not to be reliable.

So if you go down to Lower Water Street to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court you can't introduce hearsay, but if you go less than a kilometre away to the Spring Garden Road Court House to Small Claims Court you can do anything - hearsay, it doesn't matter, somebody who told somebody who told somebody who wrote to somebody who told somebody, that's admissible, Mr. Speaker, because the regular rules of evidence don't apply.

So I acknowledge that the bill says for greater certainty, because it recognizes something that has always been the case, but it's an indication to the House of what actually goes on in Small Claims Court, and we're seriously proposing that in this court we're going to allow them to award general damages, damages that can't be measured in money, of up to $2,500. Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure how this is going to work out.

The other thing is, I've heard that figure before, $2,500. Where have I heard $2,500 before? I remember, Mr. Speaker, that is (Interruption) A suggestion has just been made on that side which actually wasn't too far from the truth up until yesterday, and the members will know why that changed yesterday.

Mr. Speaker, $2,500 is the cap imposed by this government on pain and suffering in motor vehicle accidents. That's where I've heard the $2,500 figure before. I don't think it's a coincidence that now the Small Claims Court will have jurisdiction over general damage claims of $2,500. What I can't quite work out is what the implications of this are.

Now it may be that this will work out to the benefit of plaintiffs because, up until now, they haven't been able to go to court, plaintiffs, that is the people who are injured, haven't been able to go to the Small Claims Court for motor vehicle injuries unless they were willing to forgo any claim for pain and suffering, except for $100. Now they can go to Small Claims Court and collect the full amount.

What I think is really going on here, Mr. Speaker - and I don't think it's a coincidence that the figure picked here is $2,500 - is that now the motor vehicle insurers can deal with all of their claims quickly and simply get rid of all the $2,500 cap claims without having to worry about going through the regular court system. I rather suspect that this will ultimately work to the benefit of motor vehicle insurers and not to the benefit of plaintiffs, because, Mr. Speaker, of all the numbers that they could have picked for the limit on general damages, I can't think of any other reason why the number this government would have plucked out of the air was $2,500. I would be less suspicious if it was $500, $1,000, $2,000, $5,000, but it happens to match precisely the cap on general damages imposed by this government on people injured in motor vehicle accidents in Nova Scotia.

[Page 640]

Those are my thoughts on the Small Claims Court Act. It doesn't work quite the way the former Minister of Justice would have us believe. We all have to have a deep think about what's going on in the Small Claims Court. It is not working the way the government would like to believe that it is and this Legislature is being asked one more time to increase the jurisdiction of that court. As I've said on previous occasions and I'll say again today, I'm not the least bit convinced that's a good idea. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as the Justice Critic for the Liberal caucus, I'm pleased to rise and make a few comments on Bill No. 15, amendments to the Small Claims Court Act.

Over the last couple of sessions, on a number of occasions, I've had the opportunity to speak on the Small Claims Court because of some of the changes that have taken place. This government, as has been mentioned, has changed the upper limit on awards in Small Claims and its jurisdiction, on at least two occasions, first moving it up to $10,000 and then moving it up to $25,000.

When that change was made, I called upon the then Minister of Justice, after a year, to commit to undertaking a review of the changes having been implemented, to ask the adjudicators, the people who are there hearing these cases, who, in Small Claims Court, are lawyers, are members of the Nova Scotia Bar, they are not judges, but they are there as lawyers and they are called adjudicators. These are the people who have to make decisions that, just a number of years ago had a limit of $5,000, which now has a limit of $25,000.

My question to the minister was, would he commit to undertake a review after a year and ask these adjudicators, is $25,000 the right limit? Is it too high? Can we go higher? How is this working? Unfortunately, from the information I've been given, no such review has taken place. So, after such a significant change, with no review being done, we're now being presented with further changes to the Small Claims Court Act. Again, not to have been given any indication whether this is something the adjudicators have given their support for, whether the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society has been involved in the discussions on these changes, we have not been given any indication of that.

The member for Halifax Fairview, in his comments, spoke about having been at Small Claims Court. I've not been at Small Claims Court here in Halifax, but I've attended Small Claims Court at the Arichat Court House, the historic Arichat Court House, I might add, on a number of occasions both with constituents and with clients. It's a very interesting procedure, to say the least. When it was first created, it was meant to be able to settle disputes outside of having lawyers present, relatively minor disputes that did not meet the test of being in Provincial Court and it was certainly a means of removing some of the strain from the Provincial Court system.

[Page 641]

But, as we continue to increase the awards in Small Claims Court, these are no longer minor disputes, $25,000 is a lot of money. I can tell you, $25,000 is more than the average income of many households in the riding I represent. That was my concern when the government first made that change of bringing it up as high as $25,000. Unfortunately, we have no information, no statistics and no review has been done to indicate to us, as the elected members of this House, whether that change has been positive, negative or whether the court is working as well as it should.

There are two significant changes that are being proposed here in this bill. I know the member for Halifax Fairview did touch on some of those changes. Let me talk about the change, which I don't believe he touched on too much. What was explained to us is that right now, in your traditional court system, if you're going to come in with an expert report - let's say it's a medical report that comes from a specialist - and you're going to present that as evidence, in a traditional court system, you need to make the doctor who wrote the report available so they can be cross-examined by the other party. If you don't do that, the report is inadmissible because of the fact it doesn't allow the other party to be able to ask questions to the author of the report.

What is being suggested in these changes is that in Small Claims Court, you would be allowed to enter the report of an expert and not make that expert available for cross examination. Mr. Speaker, that is a significant departure from our traditional justice system here in the province and the way it was explained to me was that it would be up to the adjudicator to determine, upon receiving this expert report, just how much weight they were going to give the report without the author being made available for cross examination.

I am not sure why that change is being put in and why we are diverting away from our normal justice principles in our existing court system. My fear is that now that we have moved to $25,000, lawyers, who may be showing up there against an unrepresented party, are going to come forward with expert reports knowing that the other party probably does not have the means to provide similar reports and yet is going to be able to introduce them without ever making the author available for cross examination. Again, I am at a bit of a loss to understand the justification for making this move for Small Claims Court where it would apply there but it doesn't apply in the rest of our court system.

[11:15 a.m.]

So I do look forward to the presentations we may or may not receive from the Law Amendments Committee and, again, these are the types of changes, Mr. Speaker, that I am at a loss to understand. Why the government - in bringing them forward - would not have done some form of consultation with the Nova Scotia Bar Society, for example, which is the body that represents lawyers throughout our province. If they were coming forward with these changes to say, we have the stamp of approval from the Bar Society and they agree that these are changes that are going to strengthen our Small Claims Court, I would have much

[Page 642]

more confidence in this legislation than being asked on my own to determine, is this going to be a positive move for the Small Claims Court. I look forward to further debate on that specific amendment, to allow expert reports without having the author of the report present for cross examination.

The member for Halifax Fairview spoke as well about moving general damages from $100 to $2,500 and I know he has indicated that he has suspicions of that figure. Let me help him in saying, he should be suspicious no longer. During the briefing that his Justice Critic would have attended with me, it was made clear that the $2,500 was put there because it is to match the cap on general damages made available for motor vehicle accidents here in this province. So there is no need to be suspicious. It's a reality. It's the government's intention to see those cases move from provincial court into our Small Claims Court.

What are going to be the results of that, Mr. Speaker? That is what is unclear. That is, again, where we are being asked on our own to determine, is this going to be a good move for Small Claims Court? We have no indication from the Nova Scotia Bar Society whether they feel this is going to be a positive move, because when you talk to the Bar Society about this, you are going to have lawyers who both represent insurance companies that will tell you what their feelings are and you have lawyers who represent plaintiffs and injured parties who will tell you if they believe this is going to be a good decision or not, because these are the people who deal with these cases on a daily basis. We don't. I know I don't and I don't think the member for Halifax Fairview does and it would be nice if we would have the Bar Society and these experts, in essence, be able to tell us whether this is going to be a positive move or a negative move.

Mr. Speaker, again, when such legislation comes forward and we have no idea who is pushing for this- is this the Department of Justice? Is this something the adjudicators or the Small Claims Court have indicated that they support? Is it something the Bar Society has given its endorsement to? We have absolutely no idea. We are left to wonder. I have to remind the government as well, and remind the former Minister of Justice, that last session, he brought forward a piece of legislation that would have abandoned the Family Court and would have merged it back with the Supreme Court. At that time, I asked the same question, who is pushing for this change? Is it the Bar Society? Is it the Supreme Court? Is it the Family Court? Who is it?

Mr. Speaker, lo and behold, when further discussions took place, it was unclear who had been pushing for this change and the government, in its wisdom, withdrew the legislation immediately. I note that it has not been brought forward in this session. So that concerns me. How did a bill, which would have significantly changed our court system in this province- and we are still trying to figure out who was pushing for the change to start off with.

That's not the way our Legislature is supposed to work, and I would submit to you it's not the way government is supposed to work. If we're bringing forward these changes, the government has a responsibility to clearly tell the members of this House, who is pushing

[Page 643]

for the change, why is the change going to be positive, and what affected organizations are giving their support for the change. That is not being done. It wasn't done in that bill that was withdrawn, and apparently it doesn't seem to be the approach being used for these changes to the Small Claims Court Act. So, Mr. Speaker, I remain concerned about these changes.

I expressed my concerns and my reservations when the cap was moved up to $25,000, and I remain concerned about these changes to suddenly increase general damages from $100 to $2,500, to all of a sudden invite insurance claims into Small Claims Court where they've never been and now, as well, to change the rules of evidence in the Small Claims Court to suddenly allow expert reports when the authors do not have to be present for cross-examination.

Mr. Speaker, I would be more comfortable with these changes if we were to get an assurance from the Minister of Justice that a review will take place one year from the time that these changes have been implemented, and that the review would be brought back to this House for consideration by the members to fully understand the impact of the changes and whether they have been positive or negative, or whether there is further review that needs to take place as a result.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I do hope the Minister of Justice will take into consideration the concerns I've raised, the requests that I've made to commit to that type of a review, and we will wait to see what discussions are going to take place at the Law Amendments Committee on this piece of legislation, and we'll make our determinations on how we move forward from there. But we will certainly be supporting it moving on second reading to the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

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

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the members opposite for their comments. I am sure the Minister of Justice will take into consideration your comments and suggestions. With that, I will move second reading of Bill No. 15.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 15. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

[Page 644]

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 19.

Bill No. 19 - Class Proceedings Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, I am pleased to rise today on second reading of Bill No. 19, the Class Proceedings Act.

In recent years, Mr. Speaker, class proceedings have become a much more common phenomenon both in Canada and the United States. This legislation will formally allow class action lawsuits to be filed in Nova Scotia. I want to be clear that Nova Scotians have always had the ability to launch and participate in class action lawsuits. Indeed, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed years ago that even in the absence of legislation that the courts had the jurisdiction to enable class proceedings to be brought forward.

This legislation, however, responds to requests from the legal community to clarify the rules surrounding class action lawsuits in Nova Scotia. I believe that this legislation will also make it easier and more cost effective for plaintiffs to bring such proceedings forward. This legislation addresses such matters as the process of certifying a class proceeding, the court's powers to establish classes and subclasses, and to appoint representative parties, the ability of class members to opt out of a proceeding, and the conduct of class proceedings and the court's power to make powers necessary to ensure the fair and expeditious determination of common issues, and the content of orders and the making of aggregate monetary awards in the omission of statistical evidence.

As I mentioned earlier, Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society has expressed its support for this legislation, as has the Nova Scotia judiciary. In fact, most provinces in Canada already have class action proceedings legislation, and this legislation is modelled on what already exists in other provinces. This legislation establishes a more effective court process and will enhance the administration of justice in Nova Scotia. I look forward to the support of the other Parties with relation to this bill, and on that I move second reading of Bill No. 19.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, this is a good bill that has a potential to make life better for Nova Scotians. Even though it is highly technical, this could be one of the most significant things this House does in this sitting that will have a real impact on real people across the province. I will explain, briefly, why. When I was a younger lawyer, there were no class proceedings in Nova Scotia. Although the term 'class action suit' gets thrown around a lot, in fact in Nova Scotia we did not have the ability to file class action law suits.

[Page 645]

The minister is quite correct that a few years ago, it wasn't a long time ago, but a few years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada decided that there was something called the common law class action suit. So in Nova Scotia, we have had class action suits now but it has never been exactly clear exactly what the rules were because it hadn't been legislated; the courts were kind of making up the rules as they went along. Making it up is the wrong word but they were shaping the rules as cases unfolded. So the great benefit of this bill, of course, is it makes it statutory and makes clear to everybody exactly what the rules are.

Now class action law suits are a powerful tool for ordinary people, Mr. Speaker, because the whole essence of them is that each individual in the class doesn't have enough of a financial interest to carry the law suit on their own. For example, the class action law suits have been used quite widely in the United States for consumer protection and one of the reasons why American consumers are so well protected is because of the widespread use of class action law suits there where, for example, if somebody invests perhaps $15 in a piece of software that not only doesn't work but maybe damages their computer, you might have 1 million people with a $15 loss and, of course, it is not worth taking even to a Small Claims Court but when you put everybody together in a class, suddenly you have a case that is worth taking forward.

So in the consumer protection area, that is where I expect to see the main benefit for Nova Scotians, is that now it is going to be a lot easier for them to complain about when things go wrong with products and services that they have been sold.

Now I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that the other group that is most often on the receiving end of a class action law suit is governments because when their citizens have a complaint that individually is not worth a lot of money but collectively is worth a lot of money, a class action law suit is very powerful. So our government is in a position here where they want to pass a good bill to set the rules for class action law suits but at the same time, within the Department of Justice, they know that they are going to be on the receiving end of a lot of these class action law suits. So they kind of have an interest in making it difficult for people to actually file a suit so that their right to file a class action law suit is more theoretical than real.

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, after consulting with some of the lawyers around town who actually do this stuff, it turns out there is an important difference between this bill and the uniform legislation in Canada. There is a body called the Uniform Law Conference who do a lot of good work and what they do is they develop a model bill and they look at all the issues, they do a lot of research, they do great work, and then they recommend to the provinces that this is a good model if you are all going to pass the same kind of legislation.

Now if there is going to be a difference between the uniform bill and what the government is proposing, then I think it is incumbent on the government to explain why they have made that choice. It has been pointed out to me by one of the lawyers in town who

[Page 646]

actually does class action law suits and can be expected to take more in future, that there is one piece of advice that the lawyers have given to the government that the government has not taken and that has to do with the criteria that have to be met in order for a class action law suit to be certified. It has to do with whether the class action suit can deal with the whole issue or only sometimes parts of it. Clearly, it's better for the plaintiffs if you can use a class action to resolve not only the whole law suit but sometimes parts of it. For example, there are different pieces of a law suit. There is causation of damages, there is responsibility for damages, there is the amount of damages, there is the amount of damages, and it has been pointed out to me that there is a very significant difference in this bill, from the uniform bill, which would make it harder to certify a class action lawsuit.

Those same lawyers have told me that they have registered with the Office of Legislative Counsel to appear before the Law Amendments Committee, so I do look forward to them having the opportunity to explain to all of us what the significance of these differences are, because if this bill passes in such a way that makes it actually too difficult to file a class action lawsuit, then the bill won't be worth the paper it's written on and Nova Scotia citizens won't get the benefit that they should from this bill.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians have always had the opportunity to participate in class actions, it's just that they've had to sign on to class actions launched in other jurisdictions. When I was a younger lawyer, I actually got involved in one of these class action lawsuits. When I was a lawyer for the Workers' Compensation Board, we signed on to a class action lawsuit in the United States dealing with asbestos because many, many Nova Scotians were injured on the job by working with and breathing in asbestos - there are some dreadful diseases caused by asbestos, the worst one being mesothelioma, but there are many others as well. Many Nova Scotians died or were very badly injured because they had to work around asbestos, and the best way we could get money to those workers and their families was to sign on to that American lawsuit which had been going on for a number of years.

[11:30 a.m.]

I am pleased to say, Mr. Speaker, that as a lawyer for the Workers' Compensation Board, I was able to bring into this province several million dollars, several million dollars, which was distributed to injured Nova Scotians and their families - and the reason we were able to do that is because of a well-functioning class action system in the United States.

So what I earnestly hope is that here in Nova Scotia we, too, will have a well-functioning class action system because it is a good way to get compensation for people who have been injured by defective products, injured by dangerous products, and consumers who have been ripped off, frankly, Mr. Speaker. It's also a mechanism by which citizens can hold their government accountable.

[Page 647]

As the bill moves through the stages, particularly the Law Amendments Committee, I think we need to explore the idea of why this government has departed from the uniform bill which is recommended to all provinces, and has departed from it in a way that will make it more difficult for Nova Scotians to file class action lawsuits, and indeed will make it more difficult for citizens to hold their government accountable. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise on Bill No. 19, an Act Respecting Class Proceedings. How refreshing it was to hear a minister introduce a Justice bill and use the words Bar Society, judiciary - all these organizations that deal with the justice system in this province actually having been signing off on this piece of legislation.

I commend the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal - I believe he may have repeated himself on a few occasions to emphasize the point which he says just for me, but it is not just for me, it is for all Nova Scotians, for the people to know that the bill is coming forward not just as a Progressive Conservative bill, not just as a government bill, but one which clearly has had the consultation and has had the discussions, and obviously has been given the endorsement to be brought forward here to this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, I would have had much greater confidence in the other Justice bills which were brought forward had the minister introducing them been able to give the same type of introduction as was given for this specific piece of legislation, and I would hope in my comments to encourage the Minister of Justice, and for his colleagues to give the message clearly to the Minister of Justice, that in the future the responsible approach would be to bring legislation forwardwhich has clearly been vetted through the Bar Society, through the judiciary, and is being endorsed when it is tabled here in the House. I don't think it was too difficult to do and it didn't seem to cause the minister any discomfort in saying it, so I do hope it's something we will get again in the future.

As has been said, our Civil Procedure Rules did allow for class action lawsuits in our province, but the rules of procedure were not clear as to how to get a class action started, what the parameters around that were, and our understanding from when the Minister of Justice did provide his bill briefing was that we were the only province left in Canada that did not have specific rules for class proceedings - so, obviously, this is an important step for our province.

Some of the discussions have taken place, the member for Halifax Fairview, for example, has indicated that class action lawsuits are not a new concept. They may be relatively new to us here in Nova Scotia, but we're certainly well aware of some of the class action lawsuits which have taken place in the United States. As has been mentioned, it has gone a long way to providing consumer protection and it has clearly sent the message to

[Page 648]

companies and to providers that if they are going to have a defective product, or a defective service, there's going to be a price to pay.

As has been mentioned, what class action lawsuits allow is that rather than expecting that one individual can bear the legal costs of bringing a proceeding forward, by grouping everyone together it allows them to share the costs while at the same time being able to bring forward a much stronger case when pursuing an action against another individual or company. As well, as has been mentioned, it has helped to settle suits with the government and to hold government accountable for current decisions and even decisions which have been made in the past.

One of the interesting points in the legislation, as we reviewed what was being proposed, is that advertising and notice of a class action lawsuit, while in the past would have been done traditionally through paper ads, letters, et cetera, we note this legislation will also allow it to take place as a form of advertising by having, creating and maintaining an Internet site indicating the class action lawsuit is being pursued. Obviously, I think we're moving ahead in light of the technology that exists today in allowing this new medium to be a means of posting class action lawsuits as well.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I do look forward to the Law Amendments Committee. It has been suggested by the member for Halifax Fairview that there may be some presentations suggesting some changes that might take place - and I may as well say I do hope, for the sake of my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, that the Justice Critic, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, may be sharing part of his salary with the member for Halifax Fairview in light of the work that he has undertaken today on behalf of the Justice Critic, but certainly I hope he'll take that under consideration.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I again look forward to this bill moving to second reading and I hope the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal will give the message loud and clear to the Justice Minister of the pleasure of the Liberal Justice Critic at hearing the support and the endorsement that was given to this bill prior to it being tabled here in the House today. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close debate on Bill No. 19.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the critics opposite for their considerations and the issues they have around this bill, and for their co-operation. With that, I move second reading of Bill No. 19.

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

[Page 649]

The motion is carried.

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

The Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government's business for today. I move that we now do rise, to meet again on Monday at 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. After the daily routine, the government business will be Public Bills for Second Reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to meet on Monday at 7:00 p.m. Would all those in favour of the motion, please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 11:38 a.m]

[Page 650]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 497

By: Hon. Leonard Goucher (Immigration)

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

Whereas Bedford Days is now a 30-year tradition in Bedford of promoting community and family fun; and

Whereas Bedford Days 2007 drew record crowds, a festival synonymous with incredible fireworks displays and creative events; and

Whereas Billy-Joe McInnis, a committee member of the 2007 Bedford Days Committee, ensured success of this year's festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Billy-Joe for his dedication to continuing this community tradition in Bedford.

RESOLUTION NO. 498

By: Hon. Leonard Goucher (Immigration)

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

Whereas Bedford Days is now a 30-year tradition in Bedford of promoting community and family fun; and

Whereas Bedford Days 2007 drew record crowds, a festival synonymous with incredible fireworks displays and creative events; and

Whereas Debra Taylor, a committee member of the 2007 Bedford Days Committee, ensured success of this year's festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Debra for her dedication to continuing this community tradition in Bedford.

[Page 651]

RESOLUTION NO. 499

By: Hon. Leonard Goucher (Immigration)

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

Whereas Bedford Days is now a 30-year tradition in Bedford of promoting community and family fun; and

Whereas Bedford Days 2007 drew record crowds, a festival synonymous with incredible fireworks displays and creative events; and

Whereas Don Lowther, a committee member of the 2007 Bedford Days Committee, ensured success of this year's festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Don for his dedication to continuing this community tradition in Bedford.

RESOLUTION NO. 500

By: Hon. Leonard Goucher (Immigration)

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

Whereas Bedford Days is now a 30-year tradition in Bedford of promoting community and family fun; and

Whereas Bedford Days 2007 drew record crowds, a festival synonymous with incredible fireworks displays and creative events; and

Whereas Leanne Strathdee, a committee member of the 2007 Bedford Days Committee, ensured success of this year's festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Leanne for her dedication to continuing this community tradition in Bedford.

RESOLUTION NO. 501

By: Hon. Leonard Goucher (Immigration)

[Page 652]

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

Whereas Bedford Days is now a 30-year tradition in Bedford of promoting community and family fun; and

Whereas Bedford Days 2007 drew record crowds, a festival synonymous with incredible fireworks displays and creative events; and

Whereas Lucy Hill, a committee member of the 2007 Bedford Days Committee, ensured success of this year's festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Lucy for her dedication to continuing this community tradition in Bedford.

RESOLUTION NO. 502

By: Hon. Leonard Goucher (Immigration)

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

Whereas Bedford Days is now a 30-year tradition in Bedford of promoting community and family fun; and

Whereas Bedford Days 2007 drew record crowds, a festival synonymous with incredible fireworks displays and creative events; and

Whereas Ron Chaulk, a committee member of the 2007 Bedford Days Committee, ensured success of this year's festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Ron for his dedication to continuing this community tradition in Bedford.

RESOLUTION NO. 503

By: Hon. Leonard Goucher (Immigration)

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

[Page 653]

Whereas Bedford Days is now a 30-year tradition in Bedford of promoting community and family fun; and

Whereas Bedford Days 2007 drew record crowds, a festival synonymous with incredible fireworks displays and creative events; and

Whereas Quentin Hill, a committee member of the 2007 Bedford Days Committee, ensured success of this year's festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Quentin for his dedication to continuing this community tradition in Bedford.

RESOLUTION NO. 504

By: Hon. Leonard Goucher (Immigration)

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

Whereas Bedford Days is now a 30-year tradition in Bedford of promoting community and family fun; and

Whereas Bedford Days 2007 drew record crowds, a festival synonymous with incredible fireworks displays and creative events; and

Whereas Paul MacKenzie, a committee member of the 2007 Bedford Days Committee, ensured success of this year's festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Paul for his dedication to continuing this community tradition in Bedford.

RESOLUTION NO. 505

By: Hon. Leonard Goucher (Immigration)

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

Whereas Bedford Days is now a 30-year tradition in Bedford of promoting community and family fun; and

Whereas Bedford Days 2007 drew record crowds, a festival synonymous with incredible fireworks displays and creative events; and

[Page 654]

Whereas Marlene Kenley, a committee member of the 2007 Bedford Days Committee, ensured success of this year's festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Marlene for her dedication to continuing this community tradition in Bedford.

RESOLUTION NO. 506

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 Darren Ellsworth, greens keeper at the Passchendale Golf Course organized the 4th annual IWK Golf Tournament; and

Whereas Darren Ellsworth has been organizing this event for the past four years as a way of saying thank you for saving his son Markus' life; and

Whereas this year the tournament raised $4,400 for the IWK;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate Darren Ellsworth on the success of this annual event and thank him for his continuing support to the IWK.

RESOLUTION NO. 507

By: Mr. Darrell Dexter (Leader of the Opposition)

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

Whereas firefighting is a challenging profession demanding a high level of commitment to training and fitness; and

Whereas from August 30th to September 2nd, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service hosted the 2007 Scott Firefit National Championships at Bishops Landing in Halifax where 300 of the fittest firefighters from across Canada competed for top honours; and

Whereas Halifax Regional Municipality firefighters demonstrated the highest level of fitness, competition and training by placing first to win gold medals in many categories;

[Page 655]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend congratulations to Cyril Fraser for his outstanding performance finishing 2nd in the over 50 male category representing Team Halifax at the National Firefighters Championships held this Fall in Halifax.

RESOLUTION NO. 508

By: Mr. Darrell Dexter (Leader of the Opposition)

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

Whereas firefighting is a challenging profession demanding a high level of commitment to training and fitness; and

Whereas from August 30th to September 2nd, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service hosted the 2007 Scott Firefit National Championships at Bishops Landing in Halifax where 300 of the fittest firefighters from across Canada competed for top honours; and

Whereas Halifax Regional Municipality firefighters demonstrated the highest level of fitness, competition and training by placing first to win gold medals in many categories;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend congratulations to Joe Barbati, Richard Hynes, Bruce Mosher, Cyril Fraser and Jeff Clarke for their outstanding performance in the Overall Team competitions in the National Firefighters Championships.

RESOLUTION NO. 509

By: Mr. Darrell Dexter (Leader of the Opposition)

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

Whereas firefighting is a challenging profession demanding a high level of commitment to training and fitness; and

Whereas from August 30th to September 2nd, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service hosted the 2007 Scott Firefit National Championships at Bishops Landing in Halifax where 300 of the fittest firefighters from across Canada competed for top honours; and

[Page 656]

Whereas Halifax Regional Municipality firefighters demonstrated the highest level of fitness, competition and training by placing first to win gold medals in many categories;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend congratulations to Andrew Foote, Joe Triff, Bruce Mosher, Adam MacNeil and Mike Sears for an outstanding performance in winning the gold medal for placing first in the relay team competition in the National Firefighters Championships.

RESOLUTION NO. 510

By: Mr. Darrell Dexter (Leader of the Opposition)

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

Whereas firefighting is a challenging profession demanding a high level of commitment to training and fitness; and

Whereas from August 30th to September 2nd, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service hosted the 2007 Scott Firefit National Championships at Bishops Landing in Halifax where 300 of the fittest firefighters from across Canada competed for top honours; and

Whereas Halifax Regional Municipality firefighters demonstrated the highest level of fitness, competition and training by placing first to win gold medals in many categories;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend congratulations to Joe Triff, Andrew Foote, Bob Hebb, Adam MacNeil and Mike Sears for an outstanding performance in winning the gold medal for placing 1st 2nd in the Overall Team Competition in the National Firefighters Championships.

RESOLUTION NO. 511

By: Mr. Darrell Dexter (Leader of the Opposition)

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

Whereas firefighting is a challenging profession demanding a high level of commitment to training and fitness; and

[Page 657]

Whereas from August 30th to September 2nd, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service hosted the 2007 Scott Firefit National Championships at Bishops Landing in Halifax where 300 of the fittest firefighters from across Canada competed for top honours; and

Whereas Halifax Regional Municipality firefighters demonstrated the highest level of fitness, competition and training by placing first to win gold medals in many categories;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend congratulations to Julie Read, Andrea Speranza, Sherry Brown and Liane Tessier for an outstanding performance in winning the gold medal for placing 1st in the Women's Relay in the National Firefighters Championships.

RESOLUTION NO. 512

By: Mr. Darrell Dexter (Leader of the Opposition)

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

Whereas firefighting is a challenging profession demanding a high level of commitment to training and fitness; and

Whereas from August 30th to September 2nd, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service hosted the 2007 Scott Firefit National Championships at Bishops Landing in Halifax where 300 of the fittest firefighters from across Canada competed for top honours; and

Whereas Halifax Regional Municipality firefighters demonstrated the highest level of fitness, competition and training by placing first to win gold medals in many categories;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend congratulations to Sherry Brown for her outstanding performance in the over 40 female category competition representing Team Halifax at the National Firefighters Championships held this Fall in Halifax.

RESOLUTION NO. 513

By: Mr. Darrell Dexter (Leader of the Opposition)

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

Whereas firefighting is a challenging profession demanding a high level of commitment to training and fitness; and

[Page 658]

Whereas from August 30th to September 2nd, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service hosted the 2007 Scott Firefit National Championships at Bishops Landing in Halifax where 300 of the fittest firefighters from across Canada competed for top honours; and

Whereas Halifax Regional Municipality firefighters demonstrated the highest level of fitness, competition and training by placing first to win gold medals in many categories;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend congratulations to Liane Tessier for an outstanding performance finishing 2nd in the over 40 female category competition representing Team Halifax at the National Firefighters Championships held this Fall in Halifax.

RESOLUTION NO. 514

By: Mr. Darrell Dexter (Leader of the Opposition)

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

Whereas firefighting is a challenging profession demanding a high level of commitment to training and fitness; and

Whereas from August 30th to September 2nd, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service hosted the 2007 Scott Firefit National Championships at Bishops Landing in Halifax where 300 of the fittest firefighters from across Canada competed for top honours; and

Whereas Halifax Regional Municipality firefighters demonstrated the highest level of fitness, competition and training by placing first to win gold medals in many categories;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend congratulations to Bruce Mosher for his outstanding performance in the over 40 male category competition representing Team Halifax at the National Firefighters Championships held this Fall in Halifax.

RESOLUTION NO. 515

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

[Page 659]

Whereas November's post-tropical story Noel and severe flooding in seven counties throughout the province in early September caused severe damage to provincial roads and bridges; and

Whereas these roads and bridges serve as vital transportation links to many communities across the province; and

Whereas Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal crews worked swiftly, professionally and efficiently to repair the damage and provide safe passage to residents and communities throughout the province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize department staff and highway workers for their tremendous efforts in repairing the damage left in the wake of these storms.

RESOLUTION NO. 516

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas John O'Connor, who attends the Barrington Municipal High School, was a recipient of the Lieutenant Governor's Medal presented by the Honourable Mayann E. Francis on May 34, 2007; and

Whereas John has maintained a 90-plus average throughout his high school years. John volunteers as a coach for youth soccer and hockey teams and he enjoys automotive and electronic work; and

Whereas John has been a member of three provincial championship school and community hockey teams and an All Star defenseman for the Barrington Municipal High School team. John also plays baseball, soccer and track and field and is a member of the Youth Action Team;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate John O'Connor for being named the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor's Medal and wish him continued success in all his future sports endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 517

By: Hon. Angus MacIsaac (Gaelic Affairs)

[Page 660]

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

Whereas today, St. Andrew's Day, will mark the 240th investiture of Officers and Directors of the Scots, The North British Society; and

Whereas the Scots, The North British Society is the longest continuing Scottish charitable and cultural society in North America, founded in 1768; and

Whereas the mission of The Scots, North British Society is to promote and preserve the traditions of Scottish heritage through charitable and cultural activities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Officers and Directors of The Scots, the North British Society on their many accomplishments and good works and on this the anniversary of their 1st investiture as a society.

RESOLUTION NO. 518

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (The Premier)

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

Whereas Inverness County's own A Cape Breton Ghost Story was recently screened at the Atlantic Film Festival; and

Whereas many Toronto-based distribution companies have expressed interest in the 22 minute stop-motion, animated film; and

Whereas Inverness born writer and director, Tom Ryan, will have his film broadcasted on CBC in spring 2008;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Tom Ryan for his outstanding artistic and entrepreneurial achievement and wish him all the best with his future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 519

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (The Premier)

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

[Page 661]

Whereas Shannon MacLean of Dartmouth has been working with children and youth in the community in many different capacities for the last 15 years; and

Whereas thanks to the idea of a group of young girls with whom she worked, she co-ordinated an effort known as Operation Peace to fundraise for an orphanage in Santa Cruz, Bolivia; and

Whereas thanks to Ms. MacLean's leadership, this small group of youth has not only raised awareness and some $10,000 to assist with the work of the orphanage and its 90 children, it has also helped teach the community what a positive difference a small group of dedicated youth can make to change the world;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ms. Shannon MacLean for her leadership in this and so many other initiatives in our local and greater community and thank her for making a difference in the lives of the youth here and around the globe through her tireless efforts.