The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 03-19

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

Available on INTERNET at http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Energy - Electricity Marketplace Governance Committee, Hon. C. Clarke 1551
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Commun. Serv. - Seniors: Comfort Allowance - Increase,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1552
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 563, Energy - Electricity Marketplace Governance Comm.:
Members - Commitment Recognize, Hon. C. Clarke 1553
Vote - Affirmative 1553
Res. 564, Wal-Mart Can. - Red Cross: Support - Recognize,
Hon. D. Morse 1554
Vote - Affirmative 1554
Res. 565, Environ. & Lbr. - N.S. Recycles Day: Schools -
Participation - Congrats., Hon. K. Morash 1554
Vote - Affirmative 1555
Res. 566, Econ. Dev.:Small-Bus. Owners - Recognize, Hon. E. Fage 1555
Vote - Affirmative 1556
Res. 567, Hfx.-Cornwallis Progress Club - Women of Excellence
Awards: Recipients - Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1556
Vote - Affirmative 1557
Res. 568, Justice - Web Site: Contributors - Congrats.,
(by Hon. J. Muir), Hon. M. Baker 1557
Vote - Affirmative 1557
Res. 569, NSAC - Grads.: Scholarship/Awards - Congrats.,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1557
Vote - Affirmative 1558
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 25, Protection of Public Participation Act, Mr. H. Epstein 1558
No. 26, Health Protection Act, Hon. C. d'Entremont 1558
No. 27, Municipal Government Act, Mr. D. Dexter 1558
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 570, RCL: Poppy Campaign - Support,
(by Mr. K. Deveaux), Mr. D. Dexter 1559
Vote - Affirmative 1559
Res. 571, Prem. - Rd. To Damascus: Roughness - Admit,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1560
Res. 572, RCL: Poppy Campaign - Support, Mr. W. Langille 1560
Vote - Affirmative 1561
Res. 573, Gosse Bridge Observation Deck - S. Maitland Hist. Assoc.:
Efforts - Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 1561
Vote - Affirmative 1562
Res. 574, Gunn, Dr. Jim: Cdn. Assoc. of Sch. Administrators Award -
Congrats., Mr. L. Glavine 1562
Vote - Affirmative 1562
Res. 575, Newcombe, Don - Atl. Agricultural Hall of Fame: Induction -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 1563
Vote - Affirmative 1563
Res. 576, Lighthouse Preservation Soc. (N.S.): Work - Commend,
Ms. M. Raymond 1563
Vote - Affirmative 1564
Res. 577, Health - Min.: Southwest Nova DHA - Apologies Offer,
(by Mr. Gerald Sampson), Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1564
Res. 578, MADD - Lunenburg-Queens Chap.: Launch - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1565
Vote - Affirmative 1566
Res. 579, Vincent Massey IODE: Art Show (Sydney) - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Gosse 1566
Vote - Affirmative 1566
Res. 580, N.S. Sport Hall of Fame: Inductees (10/24/03) - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 1567
Vote - Affirmative 1567
Res. 581, A'Court, Charlie: Award-Winning Yr. - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 1567
Vote - Affirmative 1568
Res. 582, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Timberlea-Prospect:
Rd. Improvement List - Table, Mr. W. Estabrooks 1568
Res. 583, Agric. & Fish. - Digby Fed. of Agric.: Importance - Recognize,
Mr. S. McNeil 1569
Vote - Affirmative 1569
Res. 584, Sports: C.B. Selects U-16 Girls Soccer Team - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Gosse 1569
Vote - Affirmative 1570
Res. 585, Chipman, Frank - Tax Cuts: Stance - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1570
Res. 586, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Timberlea-Prospect:
Rd. Improvement List - Table, Mr. W. Estabrooks 1571
SPEAKER'S RULING: Admissibility of discussion in Legislature of civil
matters before the courts. (Pt. of order by Mr. Manning MacDonald.
[Hansard p.1501, 10/22/03]) 1571
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 202, Health: Budget Cutting - Explain, Mr. J. MacDonell 1572
No. 203, Human Rights Comm'n. - Digby Neck Quarry: Opponents -
Protect, Mr. H. Theriault 1574
No. 204, Justice - Digby Neck Quarry: Opponents - Protect,
Mr. K. Deveaux 1575
No. 205, Educ. - Budget Cuts: Sch. Bds. - Exclude, Mr. L. Glavine 1576
No. 206, Educ. - Small Schs.: Funding Formula - Develop,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1577
No. 207, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Vehicle Damage Claims:
Increase - Explain, Mr. R. MacKinnon 1579
No. 208, Educ. - Schools: Buy N.S. First Policy - Lack Explain,
Mr. F. Corbett 1580
No. 209, Energy - Budget Cuts: Min. - Request Confirm,
Mr. Michel Samson 1581
No. 210, Tourism & Culture - Doers' & Dreamers' Guide:
Bluenose II Image - Omission Explain,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1582
No. 211, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Northumerland Ferry:
Early Shutdown - Prevent, Mr. C. Parker 1583
No. 212, Tourism & Culture - Dept.: Budget Cuts - Details,
Mr. S. McNeil 1584
No. 213, Health - Commun.-Based Seniors Homes: Study Group -
Details, Ms. M. More 1585
No. 214, Commun. Serv. - Budget Cuts: Social Housing Agreement -
Effects, Mr. R. MacKinnon 1586
No. 215, Commun. Serv. - Shannon Pk.: Gov't. (Can.) - Discussions,
Mr. J. Pye 1587
No. 216, Econ. Dev. - Pt. Tupper Gypsum Site: Operator Search -
Details, Mr. Michel Samson 1588
No. 217, Econ. Dev. - Crossley Carpet Mills: Funds - Status,
Mr. H. Epstein 1590
No. 218, Sysco - Cleanup: Info - Lack Explain, Mr. Manning MacDonald 1591
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 1:41 P.M. 1593
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 5:12 P.M. 1594
CWH REPORTS 1594
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Transport (Can.) - Northumberland Ferries: Subsidy Improvement -
Lobby:
Mr. C. Parker 1595
Mr. J. DeWolfe 1597
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1600
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Oct. 24th at 9:00 a.m. 1603
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 587, Gunn, Dr. Jim: EXL Award - Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 1604
Res. 588, Bridgewater Fireman's Band - Christmas CD: Release -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1604
Res. 589, MacDonald, Joan & Hub - Cancer Soc.: Support - Recognize,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1605
Res. 590, Mills-Clements, Frances: Contributions - Acknowledge,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1605
Res. 591, Educ.: Park View Educ. Ctr./Bridgewater HS - IB/AP Progs.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1606
Res. 592, Woodworth, Mike - Ph.D.: Success - Wish, Mr. B. Taylor 1606
Res. 593, Be Your Own Boss: Supporters - Congrats., Hon. C. Clarke 1607
Res. 594, Cdn. Nat'l. Griot Awards: N.S. Recipients - Congrats.,
Hon. B. Barnet 1607
Res. 595, Springhill Commun. Ctr. - Vols./Supporters: Efforts -
Recognize, The Speaker 1608
Res. 596, Patriquin, Lyle: Centennial Club Championship - Congrats.,
The Speaker 1608

[Page 1551]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2003

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. James DeWolfe, Ms. Joan Massey, Mr. Russell MacKinnon

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

Therefore be it resolved that this government join with Prince Edward Island to lobby the federal Minister of Transport for an improved subsidy for the Northumberland Ferry.

This will be debated this evening at 6:00 p.m.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Final Report of Nova Scotia's Electricity Marketplace Governance Committee.

1551

[Page 1552]

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

Order, please. There has been a request to revert to the order of business, Presenting and Reading Petitions.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to table a petition in the House today from Mrs. Eleanor MacLeod and 35 residents of the Harbourstone Guest Home in Sydney. Mrs. MacLeod is the chairman of the residents' council there. The operative clauses in the petition deal with the amount of comfort allowance that the residents are presently getting in Harbourstone and there is a request here of the government to increase that by way of petition. My signature is certainly affixed to this petition in support of their petition. I would hope that the government would act on this as soon as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, with the indulgence of the House, I would like to make an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: By all means.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce today three Nova Scotians joining us in your gallery this afternoon, Dr. Robert Fournier, Professor of Oceanography at Dalhousie University and Chairman of the Electricity Marketplace Governance Committee. He is joined by two officials from the Department of Energy, Allan Crandlemire, Manager of Energy Transportation and Utilization Division and Scott McCoombs, Energy Engineer for Energy Transportation and Utilization. I would ask the gentlemen if they would rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 1553]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 563

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

Whereas the Electricity Marketplace Governance Committee report covers more than a dozen substantive issues, making 89 recommendations and highlighting opening up of the transmission system to facilitate limited competition, mandating a renewable energy component, promoting cogeneration and energy efficiency, and initiating a competitive bid process for new capacity; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's electricity consumers can expect more renewables, competition for new generation capacity, and more emphasis on generation alternatives with reduced emissions, while maintaining a secure, reliable reasonably priced supply in the province's future electricity market; and

Whereas this report represents a tremendous effort on the part of the committee's participants, with hundreds of hours spent exploring these complex issues over the past 14 months, under the leadership of the committee Chairman Dr. Robert Fournier;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the commitment, dedication and significant effort made by the committee members and observers in undertaking of this project.

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.

[Page 1554]

RESOLUTION NO. 564

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

Whereas following Hurricane Juan, many people and organizations came together to help those in need, providing food, clothing and shelter, as well as meeting the personal and emotional needs of people displaced by emergencies; and

Whereas in April 2000, Nova Scotia was proud to become the first province to sign a formal agreement to partner with the Canadian Red Cross to supply staff and volunteer resources in response to large-scale emergencies or disasters in our province; and

Whereas today Wal-Mart Canada announced a $300,000 donation to the Red Cross, which will help ensure these services are there the next time disaster strikes;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the generosity of Wal-Mart Canada and their support to the work of the Red Cross in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 565

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

Whereas October 20th to October 26th is Waste Reduction Week in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas our schools play an important role in helping our children understand how reducing waste leads to a cleaner, healthier environment; and

[Page 1555]

Whereas as part of Waste Reduction Week, our schools are recognizing today as Nova Scotia Recycles Day, a friendly competition to teach good recycling habits;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all schools that are participating in Nova Scotia Recycles Day, and wish them every success in the competition.

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 Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 566

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

Whereas October 19th to October 25th is national Small Business Week; and

Whereas during this week, many organizations and businesses are participating in public displays that showcase small business across the province; and

Whereas regional development authorities, credit unions, co-operatives and other organizations that assist small business have been acknowledged and applauded in this House recently;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize and celebrate the dynamic people who operate small businesses in a sector that forms the backbone of Nova Scotia's economy on an ongoing basis, not just this week, but year after year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1556]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 567

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 October 22nd marked the 14th annual presentation by the Halifax-Cornwallis Progress Club of the Women of Excellence Awards, which recognizes high-achieving women in the fields of communications and public affairs; entrepreneur/innovator; health, sport and fitness; arts and culture; education/research; and corporate management and the professions; and

Whereas six highly-accomplished women from our community were recognized for their hard work, innovation, creativity and extensive contributions to community life; and

Whereas not only do both the award winners and nominees contribute greatly to our community by their actions, but the awards dinner itself supports the invaluable work of Phoenix Youth Programs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge and applaud the Halifax-Cornwallis Progress Club for its ongoing support of Phoenix Youth Programs, and recognize and congratulate the winners of this year's Women of Excellence Awards: Ann Power, education and research; Lucy Kanary, corporate management and professions; Dr. Teresa MacNeil, communications and public affairs; Wendy Bedingfield, health, sport and fitness; Ann MacKenzie, arts and culture; and Willa Magee, entrepreneurship and innovation.

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 1557]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 568

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

Whereas to mark the occasion of the commencement of the 250th Anniversary of the Supreme Court, the Courts of Nova Scotia have redesigned and revised a 400-page Web site and a virtual courtroom; and

Whereas members of the public, journalists, teachers, lawyers, librarians and students will find this excellent new Web site at www.lawcourts.ca or www.courts.ns.ca; and

Whereas various commemorative events are planned for October 2004;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Executive Office of the Nova Scotia Judiciary and all staff members who contributed to this new Web site.

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 and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 569

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 last evening, during the Autumn Assembly of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, scholarships and awards were given to deserving students; and

[Page 1558]

Whereas the scholarships and awards program of NSAC has received tremendous support throughout the years from such organizations as Co-Op Atlantic, the Farm Credit Corporation, Shur Gain and Atlantic Fertilizer, to name a few; and

Whereas some 258 scholarships and awards, recognizing academic achievement and need, totalling $790,000 were presented, including $110,000 from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the recipients of these scholarships and awards and thank the participating sponsors for supporting such a worthwhile endeavour.

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.

[12:15 p.m.]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 25 - Entitled an Act to Encourage Public Participation and Dissuade Persons From Bringing or Maintaining Legal Proceedings or Claims for an Improper Purpose and to Preserve Access to the Courts. (Mr. Howard Epstein.)

Bill No. 26 - Entitled an Act to Provide For the Protection of Health. (Hon. Christopher d'Entremont.)

Bill No. 27 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 18 of the Acts of 1998. The Municipal Government Act. (Mr. Darrell Dexter.)

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

[Page 1559]

NOTICES OF MOTION

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 570

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

Whereas on October 31st the Legion's annual Remembrance Day Poppy Campaign will officially begin and members of the sub-executive committee of the Royal Canadian Legion, Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command presented poppies to the members of this House at a ceremony this morning in the Red Room; and

Whereas funds raised by Legion members from the sale of poppies are used to provide assistance to veterans, ex-service members and their families and to support community based programs; and

Whereas the poppy has been the symbol of remembrance for more than 80 years to honour those Canadians who have served in wars and military operations around the world and is recognized by young and old alike;

Therefore be it resolved that all Members of the Legislative Assembly honour those Canadians who have served in wars and military operations and lead by the example of observing the 80-year old tradition of proudly wearing their poppy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 1560]

RESOLUTION NO. 571

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

Whereas on Tuesday, October 21, 2003, in the Chronicle-Herald Voice of the People, the ghost of Tories past have returned to haunt Premier John Hamm's Government in the name of Frank Chipman; and

Whereas it wasn't until Frank Chipman was soundly defeated in the last provincial election that he developed the intestinal fortitude to come forward and admit how ill-fated the Tories $147 million tax scheme was; and

Whereas in this article Mr. Chipman outlines how low income earners and the working poor will see no benefit from this tax scheme;

Therefore be it resolved that Premier John Hamm now admit that his road to Damascus will be as rough as the "poor sap who has just ruined tire and rim from a pothole, and has to pay $50 an hour plus taxes to have repairs done."

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 Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 572

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

Whereas the poppy is the symbol individuals use to show they remember those who were killed serving Canada in the wars and in peacekeeping operations; and

Whereas the distribution of poppies and the sale of wreaths raise the funds necessary for the Legion to operate Service Bureaux - which acts as advocates for veterans, ex-service people and their dependants; and

[Page 1561]

Whereas money collected as a result of the annual Poppy Campaign is also used for direct assistance for ex-service people and their dependants in financial distress;

Therefore be it resolved that every member of this House join me in wearing a poppy as a sign of deep respect and appreciation for all those men and women who lost their lives valiantly serving this country so that we can enjoy the freedom we have today.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 573

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

Whereas the Fundy tidal bore is a natural phenomenon that attracts scores of sightseers as it roars up the Shubenacadie River; and

Whereas sightseers frequently choose the Gosse Bridge in South Maitland to observe the bore, often creating a traffic danger to themselves and others; and

Whereas after much hard work by local residents, ACOA and the Department of Tourism and Culture will contribute funds to construct a safe alternative observation deck and parking lot nearby the bridge;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the members of the South Maitland Historical Association for the realization of their hard work and vision, and to the contributing government agencies in responding to a rural need and initiative.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1562]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 574

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

Whereas Dr. Jim Gunn, Superintendent of the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board, received the EXL Award in Ottawa on October 18th; and

Whereas the EXL Award Program is sponsored by the Canadian Association of School Administrators and Xerox Canada Limited which recognizes excellence among members of the superintendency; and

Whereas Jim is the only Nova Scotia superintendent to receive the award this year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dr. Jim Gunn on receipt of his award for his leadership and continued professionalism shown towards staff, students and parents of the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 1563]

RESOLUTION NO. 575

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

Whereas Kings County was blessed to have the agricultural expertise of Port Williams resident, the late Don Newcombe; and

Whereas Don, over his lengthy time in the agricultural industry, was a long-time member of the Kings County Federation of Agriculture, Chairman of the Nova Scotia Egg and Pullet Producers Marketing Board, and Director of the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency; and

Whereas at the time of his death on January 21, 2000, Don was serving as a member of the Nova Scotia Natural Products Marketing Council;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House recognize the significant attributes of the late Don Newcombe for everything he did for agriculture in Nova Scotia and for his induction into the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 576

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

Whereas most of the Nova Scotia coast is dangerous to mariners and has been guarded for more than two centuries by a system of lighthouses, all of which have now been automated, while the federal government is divesting itself of the remaining properties; and

[Page 1564]

Whereas each of the 150 lighthouses along our shores is a moving and instantly recognizable symbol of the history of this province; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society works with community groups to help them preserve and reuse these distinctive structures and is holding a workshop this weekend for this purpose at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Preservation Society on its valuable work in protecting the lighthouses which have so long protected others along our coast.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 577

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Glace Bay, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas yesterday in Question Period, the honourable Minister of Health questioned my assertion that there are challenges with obstetric services in the Yarmouth area by stating that things are "back to normal"; and

Whereas the Minister of Health knows full well that there are services in place only until the end of next week, and that the Southwest Nova District Health Authority is still working on a plan for November; and

Whereas not knowing when or if obstetrical services will be available in a region is far from normal;

[Page 1565]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health apologize to the residents of the Southwest Nova District Health Authority when he states that announcements from month-to-month or week-to-week coverage should be considered the norm in the provision of health care services.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 578

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 war against impaired driving has hit the streets of Lunenburg and Queens Counties with the formation of a new chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada; and

Whereas the launch committee is chaired by Bridgewater resident Marie Wyman who lost her 19-year-old daughter Cara as a result of an accident involving a drunk driver; and

Whereas 15 people have joined the Lunenburg-Queens County chapter of MADD so far, many who have lost family members because of drunk drivers;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Marie Wyman and all the members of the newly established Lunenburg-Queens County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and extend to them our best wishes in their efforts to eliminate drunk driving.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1566]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 579

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

Whereas on Tuesday, October 21, 2003, at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 12, Sydney, the Rt. Hon. Vincent Massey IODE commenced their annual art show and sale; and

Whereas this year's show will feature an array of local artwork including featured artist Mary Yurchesyn; and

Whereas this year all proceeds will be donated to the neonatal intensive care unit at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislative Assembly congratulate the Rt. Hon. Vincent Massey IODE for their dedication and hard work as part of the local artistic community by hosting the annual art show and sale at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 12 in Sydney.

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 Annapolis.

[Page 1567]

RESOLUTION NO. 580

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 Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame has been honouring athletes and teams who have made outstanding contributions to Nova Scotia's sport heritage and culture since 1980; and

Whereas the tradition continues tomorrow when Rick Anderson, Jim Beckman, Malcolm Davis, Graham MacIntyre, Clyde Roy, Barry Shakespeare, Jerome Bruhm, Leo Fahey, Hugh Townsend, and the 1963 St. Francis Xavier University football team are honoured as the 2003 Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame inductees; and

Whereas in holding these annual events, the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame continues its commitment to the sport history and athletic achievements of Nova Scotia's outstanding athletes and teams;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame and these 10 inductees on this momentous occasion.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 581

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

Whereas Charlie A'Court was recognized as Entertainer of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Jazz/Blues Artist of the Year, and he won the award for having the Album of the Year, by his peers at the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia 2003 ceremony; and

[Page 1568]

Whereas in 2002 Charlie A'Court would earn the Galaxy Rising Star Award from the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Charlie A'Court was influenced by outstanding Nova Scotia entertainers like Dutch Mason, Theresa Malenfant and The Lincolns;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Charlie A'Court on his award-winning year and wish him continued success in his musical career.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 582

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

Whereas the need for a clear plan to road improvements in Timberlea-Prospect is evident; and

Whereas the road to Terence Bay over the notorious Porcupine Hill needs attention immediately; and

Whereas Nova Scotians deserve to drive on safe, well-maintained roads;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works list the priorities for road improvements in the growing provincial constituency of Timberlea-Prospect.

[12:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 1569]

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 583

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 Digby County Federation of Agriculture held their annual meeting on Tuesday, October 21, 2003; and

Whereas their meeting was held in the Weymouth Legion; and

Whereas the local Federations of Agriculture and commodity groups are the backbone of the Nova Scotia agricultural community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the importance of the Digby Federation of Agriculture.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 584

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

Whereas the Cape Breton Selects under 16 girls soccer team finished with a record of two wins and two losses at the Canadian Nationals held in Surrey, B.C.; and

Whereas the team proved Cape Breton soccer is a force to be reckoned with; and

Whereas the team was presented with the Fair Play Award;

[Page 1570]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislative Assembly congratulate the Cape Breton Selects under 16 girls soccer team on their tremendous effort, being awarded the Fair Play Award at the Canadian Nationals and on being true ambassadors of our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 585

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

Whereas the former Tory member for Annapolis, Frank Chipman, has written to Nova Scotia newspapers condemning the Tory tax cut because it will not benefit low-income Nova Scotians; and

Whereas like most Nova Scotians, Mr. Chipman is concerned about issues like our road conditions which are damaging cars throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas it is admirable that the former Tory member is now more concerned about low-income Nova Scotians than anyone in the NDP;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Frank Chipman for having the courage to oppose a tax cut which does not benefit low-income Nova Scotians, a message which the NDP has forgotten.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1571]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 586

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

Whereas the need for a clear plan to road improvements in Timberlea-Prospect is evident; and

Whereas the road to the historic Village of Prospect through the growing community of Prospect Bay needs attention; and

Whereas Nova Scotians deserve to drive on safe, well-maintained roads;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works list the priorities for road improvements in the growing provincial constituency of Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

SPEAKER'S RULING: Admissibility of discussion in Legislature of civil matters before the courts. (Pt. of order by Mr. Manning MacDonald. [Hansard p.1501, 10/22/03])

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Just before we go to Question Period, I want to give a ruling in regard to an issue that was brought before the House yesterday.

A matter rose for my consideration on Wednesday, October 22, 2003, following a question posed by the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis during Question Period. A question was placed to the honourable Premier as to what he would do to ensure that persons named in a law suit brought by Global Quarry Products would have the right to free speech. The Speaker ruled the question out of order and following Question Period submissions were made by several members following a point of order raised by the honourable member for Cape Breton South on this very same matter. I undertook to get back to the House following some research on my part.

The principle involved in all of this is known as the sub judice convention. There is no express rule of our House dealing with this situation. The fact that it is a convention indicates that it is based on usage. The convention is discussed in Beauchesne and in

[Page 1572]

Marleau. While it is clear that it applies in criminal cases, there is some question as to whether discussion of civil matters before the courts is to be prohibited in the House. It is abundantly clear that the convention, where it does apply, is for the protection of the parties to a lawsuit or case and to ensure that the interests of justice and fair play are protected.

In this particular situation, there is an originating notice and statement of claim issued out of the Supreme Court at Truro, by a partnership known as Global Quarry Products against two individuals and a newspaper publisher. The action, in essence, is one of defamation and the plaintiff relies on the Defamation Act of Nova Scotia. I might also point out that the Chief Law Officer of Nova Scotia, the honourable Minister of Justice, advised the House that defamation actions in Nova Scotia are jury trials.

Marleau and Beauchesne reference the report of the Special Committee on the Rights and Immunities of Members dated April 29, 1977; this being a special committee of the federal House of Commons, which looked in depth at the sub judice convention. To briefly summarize the report in relation to civil matters, I think it is fair to say that the Speaker should intervene only in exceptional cases and in doubtful cases should rule in favour of debate and against the convention. The special committee did quote former U.K. Speaker Selwyn Lloyd, who gave the opinion that only certain types of civil cases, such as an action for defamation of character, should be subject to the convention which applies in criminal cases. The special committee, in the very last sentence of its report, concluded, "In the view of your Committee prejudice is most likely to occur in respect of criminal cases and civil cases of defamation where juries are involved."

In the view of the Chair, based on the facts as I have been able to determine them, including the fact that this is a civil matter of defamation where a jury will be involved, I must advise the members that questions or discussion dealing with this particular case are sub judice, and that my decision of October 22, 2003, therefore, shall stand. I thank the members for their submissions. If anyone would like a copy of the decision or the ruling, it's for the members' information.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:37 p.m. and end at 1:37 p.m.

The honourable member for Hants East.

HEALTH: BUDGET CUTTING - EXPLAIN

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Acting Minister of Health. We have known for some time of a hiring freeze at the IWK Health

[Page 1573]

Centre, but today I want to table a memo from Peter MacKinnon, CEO of the Colchester-East Hants Health Authority, in which he outlines budget reduction measures including a spending-and-hiring freeze, measures which he says are due to a funding shortfall. In the previous State of the Province Address last October, he said that we are securing our funding to the province's health authorities for three years. For nearly a decade, nobody in health care knew how much money they were getting from year to year. This led to annual funding battles that created fear and anxiety throughout the province. This memo states that the provincial funding formula is needed to ensure that Health dollars are fairly distributed. That doesn't sound like secure funding to me.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Acting Minister of Health is, given that the cuts at the Aberdeen Hospital prompted one nurse to say the mood is very dark, will he tell this House why, after one year after his government's commitment to stable, long-term funding, they have broken that commitment and have put health authorities into a budget-cutting situation that is creating fear and anxiety throughout the province?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the government has not put the health authorities into a budget-cutting position. What happened, as the honourable member knows, is the health authorities, the DHAs, and the IWK got 7 per cent in their operating expenses, and they also got the increase in wages. They, like all other agencies in the province, have a budget, and they're expected to manage within it.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I think the minister is trying to say that the Department of Health has no role in all the budget that is given to health authorities. This memo indicates that there will be a utilization review of selected, high-cost, high-volume service areas to identify immediate cost-saving opportunities. We know that the Aberdeen Hospital closed pediatric beds to save money. Mr. MacKinnon's memo indicates that cancer care and drug costs are just two high-cost examples. My question for the Acting Minister of Health is, what services and treatments will be eliminated to save money under his government's budget reduction exercise?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the review to which the honourable member refers wasn't done to save money, the review is to find out, like in good management practises, if there are areas that can be improved administratively and clinically that would improve the bottom line for the district health authority.

In the case of the Aberdeen, the minister thoroughly answered this question yesterday - it was a better utilization of resources. There were not people laid off, rather people being redeployed, and that's reasonable.

MR. MACDONELL: Just the Acting Minister is unreasonable. If this has nothing to do with budgets, why is he talking about the bottom line? I'm going to table a list of vacancies that are posted at the Colchester-East Hants Web site, positions including critical

[Page 1574]

care and emergency department nurses. Nurses at the Aberdeen Hospital say that the cuts there will force already stressed nurses to cover off other nurses elsewhere in the hospital and it will back up emergency department wait times and increase overtime costs. My question is again to the Acting Minister, given that his government promised that front-line health care would not be affected by their budget cutting exercises, will he explain to this House why front-line positions like emergency room nurses are under review?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, according to the member for Hants East, anytime the word "review" is used, it has a negative connotation. Review is a normal part of good management in any organization, and I do know that probably the organization which that particular member represents, when he was leader of that organization, I know for a fact that they reviewed their organization on a regular basis, so he knows that review is good.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

HUMAN RIGHTS COMM'N. - DIGBY NECK QUARRY:

OPPONENTS - PROTECT

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Acting Premier. Yesterday I raised the issue of people being bullied by a large American company, and now they are afraid to speak out. Evelyn Dickinson, who is in our gallery today, is one of these people. She has spent her life in Little River and her family has lived on the Digby Neck for generations and was only doing what she felt was right. I don't think Evelyn would mind if I told you she is very upset and is afraid of what is going to happen. My question to the Acting Premier is, what is your government prepared to do to ensure people on Digby Neck are not intimidated?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have a very adequate court system and we have a very adequate department of human rights, and I would suggest that they have the proper authorities to look at those matters.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question again is to the Acting Premier. Companies in the United States abuse the court system to intimidate free speech. This is sometimes known as a strategic lawsuit against public participation, also known as a slap suit. Others on Digby Neck have been threatened with these types of suits. Residents of Digby Neck may be intimidated to present their views at the up-and-coming joint review panel, and this simply cannot be allowed to happen. The people of Digby Neck and all Nova Scotians have the right to present their views to this panel. My question to the Acting Premier is, will the Premier guarantee that people like Evelyn will be able to present their views to the joint review panel without fear of intimidation by this company?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to refer that question to the minister responsible for the Human Rights Commission.

[Page 1575]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I appreciate the honourable member's concern on behalf of his constituents. I can assure the honourable member that we have a good justice system here in Nova Scotia. We have a very good Human Rights Commission here in Nova Scotia and that the public is protected by virtue of those institutions.

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my final question is to the Minister of Justice. The minister should be the defender of free speech for all Nova Scotians. Will the minister then protect Nova Scotians from large multi-national corporations who use the court system to stifle free speech?

MR. BAKER: Again to the honourable member, I think all members of this House, on both sides of the House, are equally committed to free speech in the home of Joe Howe. Mr. Speaker, I don't think there is any question about that, and I believe that our system of freedom has protected free speech in this province for many years now.

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

JUSTICE - DIGBY NECK QUARRY: OPPONENTS - PROTECT

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to the Minister of Justice on this very same point. I think it is important to note that sometimes freedom of speech has to be re-evaluated and has to be improved, given circumstances as times change. We have news coming out of Digby recently that is quite disturbing. Blatant intimidation tactics have put a chill on the debate in the community and has resulted in the community trying to struggle to determine how or what they can and cannot say. Two years ago we introduced a plan that would have allowed for the elimination of slap suits and would have ensured that companies would not be allowed to use these tactics against residents in Nova Scotia. So my question to the Minister of Justice is, why hasn't the government ensured that residents would be protected from these types of strong-arm tactics?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: As was indicated by the Speaker in the ruling, I'm not going to talk about a specific case. I can tell the honourable member though that I believe in Nova Scotia, our court system and our laws amply protect, as does our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the right of free speech.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Obviously I am allowing these questions because they are more of a general type than specifically related to a particular case.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage on your first supplementary.

[Page 1576]

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that, and I think this Minister of Justice must have his head buried in the sand, because he isn't paying attention to what is happening in this province with the proliferation of slap suits and how it is impacting political debate not only in Nova Scotia but, quite frankly, in this House as well. Governments like this one prove that residents must have the right to speak out about their concerns, because they are the only people who appear to be thinking long term. My question again to the Minister of Justice is, what will it take for the government to show forethought and support anti-intimidation legislation?

MR. BAKER: Quite frankly, to the honourable member, the honourable member is quite aware of the fact that not only do our laws in Nova Scotia, but our constitution protects the right of free speech, Mr. Speaker. Our laws in Nova Scotia, the defamation legislation of Nova Scotia is subject to that same Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantee the right to every Canadian of free speech.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I guess it's important to put on the record that justice delayed is justice denied. When you are talking about having to go through a prolonged court case and a Charter challenge, that really isn't a right that is going to allow you to ensure that your political right to free speech in debate on an issue is going to be protected when you have to spend months or years in court trying to prevent that law suit from occurring. That is why we need anti-intimidation legislation. So my question to the Minister of Justice is, why does your government have to be pressured into protecting the rights of Nova Scotians against the large companies with deep pockets who want to silence Nova Scotians?

MR. BAKER: Quite simply, Mr. Speaker, the answer is very simple, we believe that the current system protects the rights of individuals in Nova Scotia to free speech and to allow them to express those opinions in public.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

EDUC. - BUDGET CUTS: SCH. BDS. - EXCLUDE

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. Five weeks ago, on September 19th, the Finance Minister said he had to reduce spending by $32 million in order to balance the budget. That number has now risen to $54 million. He also indicated that the spending reductions would not affect P-12 education or front-line health care. Therefore, some departments will obviously have to cut programs and services. My question to the minister is, will the minister guarantee that school boards across the province are not going to have to find ways to cut their spending for this budget year?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance in response to a question the other day indicated that front-line Primary to Grade 12 education would not be affected.

[Page 1577]

MR. GLAVINE: This government can talk about its commitment to students and education, but students in this province know all too well that this government is going to have to reduce spending by $54 million in order to balance the budget. If the cuts are not at the Primary to Grade 12 level, which seems unlikely, then the cuts will have to be at post-secondary level. So the question to the minister is, can the minister please confirm for this House that there will not be any cuts to the operating funding provided to the universities in the years ahead?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this government has increased the operating money for education to both the public school education and the post-secondary, universities and community colleges, for the last four years. The previous government had left the situation for higher education funding in desperate shape. We have begun to remedy that and thus the increases.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, the students of this province deserve more information from this government than we are reviewing the opportunities that departments have put in. Nova Scotian students know further funding cuts do nothing to help the students, the universities, or the future of the province. This minister is more concerned about not answering questions that students and parents want answers to than in telling Nova Scotian students where the education cuts will be. My question to the minister, if this government is so committed to students from Primary to university graduation day, will the minister guarantee that Nova Scotian students will not be affected by any cuts?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the program of studies, the classes and all of those things in public schools have been made up since September, and perhaps August or July, and that will continue. University students have paid their tuition. Their classes will continue. Community college students are enrolled in their programs. Those programs will continue. The education that was promised will be delivered.

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

EDUC. - SMALL SCHS.: FUNDING FORMULA - DEVELOP

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Mr. Minister, this province's education formula for funding isn't working. Funding based on enrolments is leading to school closures. School boards don't like the formula. They continue to argue for a new way to determine funding. We've learned that five schools in the Chignecto-Central region could be closed and two schools in the Valley could also be closed. Small schools, like the Havelock School with 27 students in Yarmouth, could be in danger. My question to the Minister of Education is, what will it take for you and your department to develop a better funding formula to save our small schools?

[Page 1578]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the issue of small schools in smaller communities is a very sensitive topic for the citizens and one which I have personally a lot of time for. In the case of most of those, they aren't closures, they are consolidations and, as the honourable member knows, there is a process that is year long that has to be gone through which involves community consultation and consultation in municipalities with municipal officials if they wish to participate in that debate. There is lots of opportunity for that to occur.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, this is no time for semantics and explaining to me the difference between closings and consolidations. Our local schools and our local small schools are the backbones of rural communities. When they close a school of this size, communities struggle to attract businesses and residents. Last week, councillors at the UNSM Conference recognized that this government had no economic development plan in rural Nova Scotia when hospitals and schools are closing. The situation for rural schools is not getting any better and the Minister of Economic Development should know that. Sensitivity aside, I would like to ask the Minister of Economic Development, when is your government going to recognize the fact that keeping small schools in rural communities is important and a vital part of economic development in this province?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Coming from rural Nova Scotia, I really feel that I do understand the difficulties involved in keeping key pieces of infrastructure in communities such as schools that have been mentioned, certainly ensuring that there are hospital and medical services, issues that rural members well understand and work very hard on. The Department of Economic Development has a number of programs for rural Nova Scotia. When we've seen the success in certain communities and certainly there's more to do - 27,000 more people working ensure tax dollars go toward the maintaining of infrastructure in our province. Thank you.

MR. ESTABROOKS: So, we'll go back to the Minister of Education if I may. Rural Nova Scotia is becoming its very own have-not area. Communities across this province are struggling with school closures. Since 1996, Cape Breton has had at least 25 schools closed. That is a problem, an economic development problem and an education problem. My question to the Minister of Education is, when is your government going to re-evaluate its funding formula and introduce a plan that works for all Nova Scotians in small schools across this province?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the government in conjunction with its partners is continually reviewing how funding is allocated to public education in Nova Scotia as well as reviewing funding and how it's distributed to post-secondary education. To be perfectly honest, I don't know - I've played around with funding formulas for quite some period of time in my previous life. I'm not sure it is possible to come up with a funding formula that's going to make everybody happy.

[Page 1579]

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - VEHICLE DAMAGE CLAIMS:

INCREASE - EXPLAIN

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. A recent inquiry into the Department of Transportation and Public Works shows that the number of claims filed for damage to vehicles has nearly doubled and in some cases more than doubled since this government came to office. My question to the minister is, would the minister please explain to Nova Scotians why the number of claims has increased substantially?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the number of claims may have increased, but however, I doubt that is so. I would point out to the honourable member that the policy for payment of claims has not changed.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, since this government came to power, there have been 1,248 claims made against the department. In fact, I'll even table the minister's own departmental evidence that will show that the number of claims have ballooned and increased quite substantially since the minister does not have that. Out of that 1,248 claims, this government has only reimbursed Nova Scotians for 81 - only 6 per cent of all the claims that have been made in the province. It would seem that though the government is (Interruption) It would appear that the government is suggesting that over 1,100 Nova Scotians have not been very forthright with their claims. My question to the minister is, will the minister commit to reviewing all the claims that have been filed to ensure that Nova Scotians who get their cars damaged due to road conditions are being treated fairly instead of the ongoing activity within the department which seems to impute that claimants are being fraudulent?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as I said previously, there's been no change in policy in the department since - I believe it - was about 1988 when the policy first came forward. That policy is fair and every claim is examined and if people appeal it, it's examined again.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I will table a claim here by a Joseph Campbell from Main-à-Dieu with his permission, which suggests that he received over $1,648 damage to his vehicle when he entered into a rather massive pothole between Main-à-dieu and Lorraine, something that was identified by the department for a considerable period of time before this damage occurred. The department officials indicated quite clearly that it was his own fault, and that it was of no responsibility to the department. I would ask the minister if he would investigate the situation of Mr. Joe Campbell from Main-à-Dieu, so that the damage to his car is paid for by the department that caused the damage due to the neglect of our roads in rural Nova Scotia?

[Page 1580]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would simply like to reiterate that every claim is examined in light of the present policy, which is unchanged. However, if the honourable member wants to give me a copy of that letter, I will have staff take a look at it again.

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

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: BUY N.S. FIRST POLICY - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Deputy Premier. I want to quote from this government's first Throne Speech. It says, "This government will meet its commitment to demonstrate leadership in supporting Nova Scotia's entrepreneurial spirit by developing Nova Scotia Brand and Buy Nova Scotia programs, which will extend and enhance our image in the market place." I will table that. Now this just appears to be another broken Tory promise. This is a blow to companies like Nova Scotia Textiles, which has been operating in the Windsor area since 1916. They have been battered by Tory free trade agreements and they've been shut out of things like the T-shirt market. Recently, the new Avonview High School, which is located in Windsor received an order of 900 T-shirts. Guess where those T-shirts came from, south of the border, down Mexico way. Will the minister tell this House, why doesn't his government have a Buy Nova Scotia first policy in support of schools and school boards?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have a very aggressive policy of buying Nova Scotia. I would indicate to the honourable member that, unfortunately, Windsor Wear is not in production at the present time.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, that's exactly the point I'm making. The Deputy Premier doesn't get it. This is a symbolic one. Nova Scotia Textiles say that the T-shirt market makes up only a marginal portion of their business, so they're diversifying into the offshore and other markets. But as a result of these changes, they are in the process of layoff after layoff, and are working at less than half-strength. This government has a pretty shoddy record when it comes to such things as the offshore. I want to ask the Minister of Energy, why doesn't your government have a strategy to promote and assist Nova Scotia companies that provide textiles and other products to the offshore?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member from the New Democratic Party that when it comes to the offshore, this government has this province well covered, whether it's garments, whether it's economic opportunities, and we will continue to do so.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, if this is the case, the offshore workers, the minister and the emperor have no clothes, because we don't get them. There are other businesses, like Britex, that will fail if this government doesn't intervene. I think many people in these communities are quite rightly asking, where is their government when they need it? I think

[Page 1581]

it's only fair that people expect their government to be the primary promoter of Nova Scotia businesses and Nova Scotian goods. Again I want to ask the Deputy Premier, when will you deliver on your promise of ensuring that the Nova Scotia Government buys and promotes government products from Nova Scotia for Nova Scotian workers?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the Minister responsible for the Buy Nova Scotia program.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, I can certainly say one thing to him, I don't notice that he's wearing Nova Scotia Windsor Wear himself, it's a slight colour of pink. But I will tell the member opposite, there are textile plants in this province, such as Stanfields, that are employing people across this province, in rural communities, ensuring that there's jobs in rural Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

ENERGY - BUDGET CUTS: MIN. - REQUEST CONFIRM

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, five weeks ago, on September 19th, the Minister of Finance said he had to reduce spending by $32 million in order to balance the budget. That number has now risen to $54 million and counting. The minister went on to indicate that these spending reductions would not affect Primary to Grade 12 education or front-line health care, but we certainly learned different, at least for health care, yesterday.

Therefore it's clear that other government departments will obviously have to cut programs and services in order to achieve the reductions necessary. Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians know that the Department of Energy has the smallest departmental budget in government at $7.6 million annually. Nova Scotians also realize that this is a critical time for the energy industry here in Nova Scotia. My question to the Minister of Energy is, could the minister tell this House whether he has been requested to make budget cuts in his department due to his government's fiscal mismanagement?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the member opposite that our portfolio within Energy is on target to meet all of our objectives as set out in the corporate plan for this year. We, no different than all other components of government, must be sharing in the responsibilities that we've committed through the Minister of Finance to Nova Scotians.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm not quite sure what the objectives were in that corporate plan because yesterday the minister told the Canadian Press that the slow-down in the offshore was not serious and that this was a "repositioning year to take stock of where things are". It looks like the minister is taking one from professional sports when a team excuses its poor performance by saying that are in a rebuilding year. It is one thing to

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miss the Stanley Cup playoffs, it is another to see the major decline of an industry here in this province. My question to the minister is, what is the minister and his department going to do to help revitalize the offshore in light of looming budget cuts to his department?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, to that point I want to assure the member, as he knows in recent announcements, two significant drilling activities that will be going on our offshore, we continue to work on that, the advancement of the compression deck project that we're working with ExxonMobil on; there is activity in the offshore. But what he recognizes in the statement that was brought forward, we talked about repositioning within the Canadian context and that's why we've been working so closely with the Government of Canada and will be following up with the roundtable later next week.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, while I am sure everyone in the House appreciates the minister's enthusiasm, the reality is that there are significant problems taking place in the industry. In fact, the Broadcast News story goes on to say that a number of dry holes off Sable Island, the sudden abandonment of a seismic program near Amherst, the postponement of seismic offshore Cape Breton and lack of activity in the Laurentian Basin seem to indicate a cooling of interests by petroleum exploration companies.

Mr. Speaker, this is cause for concern regardless of how much the minister tries to take small announcements and make them sound like positive news. My question again is what assurances can the minister give Nova Scotians that the Department of Energy will continue to promote and grow the offshore in light of the facing budget cuts to his department?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member and all members of this House and all Nova Scotians that the energy strategy for Nova Scotia is well on course and we're advancing, we're moving forward and I assure that member, since he seeks assurance, that we indeed will deliver and we will exceed expectations. I encourage him to follow the results of the Atlantic roundtable next week, where our competitiveness will continue to grow.

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

TOURISM & CULTURE - DOERS' & DREAMERS' GUIDE:

BLUENOSE II IMAGE - OMISSION EXPLAIN

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Tourism and Culture. When you look back at the Doers' & Dreamers' Guide dating back to 1996, you can't help but notice what's missing. The image of the Bluenose II is a significant part of Nova Scotia heritage and is seldom used. My question through you to the minister is, why is the image most synonymous with Nova Scotia was left out of the guide for several years?

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HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in fact during the time of our government we did have the Bluenose II on the front cover of the Doers' & Dreamers' Guide.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): That was several years ago, Mr. Speaker, a retired Department of Tourism senior official says he has received a letter from the Bluenose Preservation Trust demanding that the government pay to use the image and obtain permission. The government owns the Bluenose II, but instead of seeking legal advice regarding the trademark claim, they ignored it. Well, they almost ignored it, they stopped using the picture of the Bluenose II except on two occasions where it states on the photo that it's used with permission of the society with all rights reserved.

So I ask, Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Tourism and Culture, why would the province acknowledge the right of the society without seeking legal opinion at this time?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for bringing the issue forward. The fact of the matter is we used the image of the Bluenose II on the front cover of the 2002 Doers' & Dreamers' Guide. As with any picture, that particular picture was taken through the Trust and we would acknowledge the right of any organization, or individual, who had the rights to that particular photo. Otherwise, there are issues in front of the courts right now and I think it would not be wise to continue down that path.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): The deadline for the 2004 Doers' & Dreamers' Guide is October 31st. My question through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Tourism and Culture, will your Department of Tourism and Culture print one of your own photographs of your own tall ship in your own tourist guides without the permission of anyone?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would have no problem in doing so. We have done so in the past and we will do so in the future. It is this government that is standing up for the rights of Nova Scotians to ensure that the image of the Bluenose II is protected. It is this government that will take the steps necessary to ensure the rights of Nova Scotians are protected.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - NORTHUMBERLAND FERRY:

EARLY SHUTDOWN - PREVENT

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. There is news out of Pictou County that the Northumberland ferry may close down one month earlier than usual. That will have a

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significant impact on the Pictou County economy and certainly in the province. It will affect employment for workers on the ferry as well. It certainly will adversely affect the tourism industry that now stretches well into November and relies on the Northumberland ferry to deliver tourists to and from P.E.I. I understand the decision is not yet final, the okay has not been yet given by the federal Transport Department. So my question is, Mr. Minister, what action have you taken to ensure the Northumberland ferry does not shut down a month early?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I believe my staff has been in consultation with Northumberland Ferries as well as the federal Department of Transport.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question again, through you, is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Certainly the Northumberland ferry is an important transportation link and part of the economic engine in the Pictou area - an area of the province that I am pleased to call home and I'm sure the Premier also is pleased to call home, but yet we've heard nothing from the Premier, we've heard nothing from this government on what they're going to do about this issue. The Premier of P.E.I., on the other hand, understands the importance of the ferry and he calls the possible early closure of the service very troubling. So my question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, what action will he commit to today to ensure the Northumberland ferry does not shut down early?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as I understand the matter, there is a request for a subsidy to the ferry company to maintain service and P.E.I. is pushing for that, and it is possible and probable that we will be joining Prince Edward Island in that effort.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, it's certainly good to know that P.E.I. is pushing for it, but I'm wondering what this government is going to do about it. The subsidy is very important to maintain that ferry. For several years, the amount of the subsidy has been in decline and what we really need is a proper subsidy and a long-range plan for the future of the Northumberland ferry. The P.E.I. Government certainly understands that. So my question to the minister, this weekend, or coming up shortly, the federal-provincial Transportation Ministers are going to be meeting right here in Halifax and I'm wondering if you might join with P.E.I. and lobby the federal minister for an improved subsidy for Northumberland Ferries?

MR. RUSSELL: As I said, Mr. Speaker, that is very probable.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

TOURISM & CULTURE - DEPT.: BUDGET CUTS - DETAILS

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Tourism and Culture. Five weeks ago, on September 19th, the Minister of Finance said he would reduce spending by $32 million in order to balance the budget. That number has now risen

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to $54 million. He also indicated that these spending reductions would not affect P-12 education and front-line health care; therefore some departments will obviously have to cut programs and services. Yesterday, thankfully, the Minister of Tourism and Culture admitted cuts were coming to the Department of Tourism and Culture. Could the minister tell the House where in his department these cuts will be coming from?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, our department received a $1.9 million increase this year, but we will be playing our part with respect to making sure the finances of the province are in order.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the minister has admitted there will be cuts, but I think Nova Scotians need to know where and by how much. Can the minister tell this House whether or not his budget will be cut by $800,000 and, if not, then by how much?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, our department received an additional $1.9 million, taking our budget to slightly over $40 million.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, tourism is declining, should we be cutting Tourism spending? I think not. Could you imagine how much $147 million would have done for marketing in Tourism? Could the minister tell this House if the cuts in his department will exclude the marketing part of Tourism?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we make a significant investment, not only in marketing but also in product development. We will continue to make a strong investment with regard to that. As we put forward our plan next month for next year, that plan will be strong, it will tie into things like the Congres Mondial Acadien, along with many other initiatives, and we will continue to make a strong investment in tourism in our province?

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

HEALTH - COMMUN.-BASED SENIORS HOMES:

STUDY GROUP - DETAILS

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Acting Minister of Health. Last week, the Minister of Health was asked about the inclusion of community-based seniors homes in the continuum of care. The minister stated a working group was in place to address the issue, however, a member of my staff was told by a senior continuing care staff member that week that there is no committee looking at the issue. I ask the Acting Minister, through you, which is it? Could he provide some clarification on the existence of a working group examining unlicensed homes for seniors?

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HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my colleague responded to that the other day and said that there was a committee looking at that matter. I guess the only thing I can do - you're questioning the response - is I will have to check with staff to see if there has been a change.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, operators of these homes certainly aren't aware of any committee or working group. They are frustrated at the lack of response to this important issue, which has been ongoing for 10 to 12 years. If there is a working group, it certainly isn't involving any of the stakeholders that I've spoken with. I'm sure the minister would agree that involving care providers in the decision-making process is important. I'm asking the Acting Minister, why are these community-based homes not involved in the process, informed of the process, or even aware that the working group exists?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will take that question under advisement.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, operators of these homes want to be recognized and included in the planning for the continuum of care. My question to the acting minister is, will you ensure that a mandate and terms of reference will be tabled in this House for the working group, as well as a list of members?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will - consistent with my first response and my second response - take that matter under advisement.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - BUDGET CUTS:

SOCIAL HOUSING AGREEMENT - EFFECTS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, five weeks ago, on September 19th, the Minister of Finance said that he had to reduce spending by $32 million in order to balance the budget. Now that number appears to have grown to $54 million. He also indicated that these spending reductions would not affect P to 12 education and our front-line health care, so obviously some departments will have to cut programs and services. My obvious area of concern is that of social housing and the recent agreement signed with the federal government. My question to the minister is, will the minister please confirm whether he plans to reduce the investment of provincial dollars into the social housing agreement as a way to save money in his department?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question. We are very concerned about social housing in Nova Scotia. Indeed, it's a problem right across the country and we look forward to making many new announcements over the ensuing months under this new social housing initiative with the federal government.

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MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the minister did not answer the question so obviously it's a side-stepping of the issue because he knows full well that there's an attempt by himself and his department to reduce the provincial government's commitment in social housing. My question to the minister is, will the minister please indicate how much money he plans to remove from the provincial share of the social housing agreement this year as part of his department's contribution to the $54 million in cuts of programs and services?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to say that while every department will roll up its sleeves and do its share to protect the future service delivery of all government programs, the primary focus will be protecting front-line service delivery in the Department of Community Services and that includes housing services.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Community Services has no problem supporting the cutbacks as announced by the Minister of Finance, but what he refuses to do is to state clearly and unequivocally where those cuts are in his department. So my question to the minister is, will the minister please table in this House where in this province he plans to spend this social housing agreement money so that all Nova Scotians can see the serious impact of this government's fiscal mismanagement?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, of course, what the honourable member is looking for me to point out is that we as a government actually have a hallmark of bringing this province back to living within its means. Of course, we will continue to do so. I look forward to making an announcement in the near future about how we are going to be implementing the new national affordable housing program here in Nova Scotia. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - SHANNON PK.:

GOV'T. (CAN.) - DISCUSSIONS

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the minister responsible for housing. This summer Shannon Park marked the official closure of this former military community. Housing once used for military families sits vacant while hundreds of families in HRM cannot afford appropriate and affordable housing. This House passed a resolution calling on the minister responsible for housing to enter discussions with the federal government regarding the future of that housing. Mr. Speaker, I will table that resolution, although it not need be, but for the formalities of the House I will pass it through. My question to the minister responsible for housing is, I would like to ask the minister, when will this discussion take place?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, we certainly, as a government, welcomed that resolution because in fact the discussions had already begun prior to the resolution being tabled in the House. Thank you.

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MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable minister, I'm pleased to hear that because the amenities that come with that base - such as the elementary school, the rec centre, the rink, the resource facility - will accommodate a beautiful residential community. But, Mr. Speaker, Shannon Park is not the only military housing facing the wrecking ball. While families live in terrible conditions, in Greenwood many former housing units have already been torn down and more are being stripped of their hardwood floors and fixtures while they wait to be demolished. Meanwhile, 500 families in the Annapolis Valley are on the list for public housing. I ask the minister responsible for housing, will you add the Greenwood situation to your discussion with the federal government and retaining the units of public housing?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, that's a fair question. It is not something that I believe the department has discussed with the federal government and, indeed, the discussions thus far with Secretary of State Mahoney have been confined to the Dartmouth site, but I would make an inquiry of staff as to whether there is a need in the Greenwood area that would perhaps be met by these facilities.

MR. PYE: I'm pleased to see the minister is moving and maybe he will address my final supplementary. With hundreds of families in these parts of the province facing a daily struggle to keep a roof over their heads, it is critical to use every option available to address this need. I ask the minister responsible for housing, Mr. Speaker, through you, will he commit to reporting the results of any discussions regarding former military housing back to this Legislature as soon as possible? (Interruptions)

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member had a little bit of competition on this side of the House and the minister was just assisting me in hearing his question. I look forward to moving forward on these suggestions and when we have some sort of resolution to them, I would be pleased to be prepared to share that with the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

ECON. DEV. - PT. TUPPER GYPSUM SITE:

OPERATOR SEARCH - DETAILS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, in November 2002, U.S. Gypsum shut down its wallboard plant in Point Tupper, Richmond County, putting over 80 skilled employees out of work due to the high cost of transportation to the U.S. market. This modern facility has access to natural gas and a modern wharf facility. Local residents have been told that Nova Scotia Business Inc. officials have been working to find a new operator. Therefore, my question to the Minister of Economic Development is, could the minister advise this House as to what progress has been made by NSBI staff to identify a new operator for this facility?

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HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, could the honourable member repeat the last part of the question? There was too much noise, I didn't hear.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Richmond on the question, please.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, could the Minister of Economic Development advise this House as to what progress has been made by Nova Scotia Business Inc. staff to find a new operator for the former U.S. Gypsum wallboard plant, in Point Tupper?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to you and the House and the honourable member, currently NSBI is in discussions with two proponents who are interested in acquiring the facility and those discussions are continuous and underway now.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, while I'm sure local residents are pleased to hear discussions are underway, they have been hearing that same line for over a year now and they've been told there have been two proponents. We don't know who they are. We don't know where the discussions are at. We're not sure what they're proposing, but we're just told there are discussions underway. While discussions are always a good thing, these 80 skilled employees have been forced to either look for other work or to leave our area due to the lack of available work for their particular trade. This simply just cannot continue or I fear that we are going to lose even more residents from the Strait area, more specifically, skilled employees in this case. My question, therefore, to the minister is, what time frame has he, his department and his government established to finding a new operator for this facility?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member asks a good question. As we're all aware, NSBI is a Crown Corporation and they are working with both proponents who would like to acquire those assets for a future operation and they will continue those discussions. We feel that there's a good opportunity that they will be concluded in a positive manner.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, there's no doubt that all the residents of the Strait area hope that the talks are concluded in a positive manner, but the longer that facility remains empty, it certainly doesn't bode well for the growth of the Strait area and the growth of the Point Tupper Industrial Park. I can't encourage the minister enough to make sure that he has the appropriate amount of staff that are working on this file and therefore my final supplementary would be, could the minister please advise this House and residents in the Strait area just how many of his officials in his department are actually working on finding a new operator for this former USG wallboard plant facility?

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MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the House, again NSBI is a Crown Corporation but I can assure the House that getting this facility up and running with a proper sustainable owner is a very high priority with NSBI.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ECON. DEV. - CROSSLEY CARPET MILLS: FUNDS - STATUS

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I also have a question for the Minister of Economic Development. We heard today of yet another questionable job creation measure undertaken by this Tory Government. Last May - that is to say just prior to the election call - the government announced $700,000 in support for Crossley Carpet Mills in Truro. This money, paid from the Cabinet's slush fund, was supposed to help create 57 full-time jobs and bring $2.3 million in wages to the area. Instead, we hear today that 30 people have been recently laid off. This is just like Orenda and it calls into question how the government makes this kind of deal . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It's very hard to hear the honourable member who has the floor.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto has the floor.

MR. EPSTEIN: Will the minister explain to this House what his government intends to do now that his government's handout has actually bought fewer jobs?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I think there were two questions there. The answer to the first, the honourable member is where the slush is coming from; secondly, the government has paid no funds to this company under this program.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister has now compounded the number of questions we asked. It seems to imply that the announcement last Spring, pre-election, wasn't accurate. I wonder if the people who have just been laid off from Crossley Carpet Mills would share what I think must be the minister's optimistic view about how things are going to go. We have seen examples of the government announcing the creation of jobs with great fanfare and yet companies routinely fail to meet the requirements of the provincial support and nothing happens. What I would like to know from the minister is, what are the consequences that companies like this one face when they fail to meet the requirements of contracts for provincial funding support?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member would hopefully know and his research would have shown, this particular program that was assigned with Crossley Carpets last Spring is a payroll rebate program which means this government is responsible for taxpayers' money - it's performance based. By being performance based, Crossley has to

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meet their increased number of employee targets. Those people would have to be employed for a year and then payroll rebates would be made. We are hopeful and so is the company that they will be able to rehire these people, continue on and increase their employment numbers and therefore would be eligible for the payroll program. Again, the key here is understanding this is performance based, it's taking care of taxpayers' money responsibly. Nova Scotians have demanded that and this government has delivered.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, thank you. I think that it's incumbent upon the government to make that clear and I think it's appropriate now that they have made it clear to the taxpayers in Truro that what was announced last May has not actually been the real deal. So, what I'm wondering is what the government now intends to do to ensure that their announced investment and their promise of these jobs will actually go forward. What is the government now going to do to help ensure that these jobs will be created?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, again to the honourable member in the House, the payroll

rebate program is a performance-based program, which really means that the company or industry has to produce those increased job numbers before the government funds would allow for a payroll rebate. This particular company has entered into that contract in good faith. They are currently experiencing market difficulties. We're hopeful that these people will be rehired, that additional employees will be hired to meet their targets and, if they do, the contract will then be honoured.

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

SYSCO - CLEANUP: INFO - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question again today is to the Minister responsible for Sydney Steel. Ernst & Young have been managing the cleanup of Sydney Steel with about 15 managers, when they were originally brought in to liquidate assets only. Philips Environmental, which has gone bankrupt, was charged with the actual demolition. That contract was then flipped over, without a tender, to a new company, run by former Philips employees, called Murray Demolition, which just recently registered with Joint Stock Companies, probably for the purpose that it was set up to do. My question to the minister is, why is this government failing to inform Nova Scotians of exactly what's going on with the $250 million worth of public funds that are being spent at Sydney Steel on the cleanup?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the original plan for cleaning up the former site of Sydney Steel is progressing, and it's progressing extremely well.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, another question, I would like to know and Nova Scotians would like to know, why is Ernst & Young duplicating a payroll effort by Sydney Environmental, and charging the government for the fees to do that?

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MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired.

Before we go to Government Business, I have several requests for introductions.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, in fact, during Question Period, the school group that I was going to introduce actually left about three-quarters of the way through. They've left. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Merci, M. le Président. Ca me donne grande plaisir aujourd'hui de vous introduire qui sont siègé dans votre section. Cinq etudiants étudiantes du conseil scloaire acadien provinciale. Ses étudiants étudiantes viennent des écoles du conseil Acadien provinciale à Dartmouth, Cheticamp, Sydney et Greenwood l'école Rose des Vents qui situe dans le circonscription de mon collègue de Kings West. Aussi, je dois pointé que ses étudiants sont de la grade douze et ils sont traite de suivent une cours des science politiques cette année. Ils nous trouvent ici à l'assemblé pour suive les procédures qui prends passent aujourd'hui et je suis certains qu'ils ont trouvés que la période de question est très intéressant. Accompagnant avec eux aujourd'hui c'est une de leur enseignants M. Louis Cormier et aussi avec eux c'est M. Darrell Samson garçon de George et Clara-Mae Samson du Petit-de-Grat qui se trouve au coté de Richmond qui est directeur de la région centrale avec la conseil scolaire Acadien provinciale et je demandrai maintenant à mon collègue de Kings West d'introduire nos invités en anglais pour tous l'assemblé. Merci. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, it's certainly a great pleasure today to draw the attention of the House to the Speaker's Gallery to introduce a class that is actually getting together for the first time. This is a teleconferencing class. I spoke with them by way of teleconferencing last Friday, invited them to the House, thought it would be a great addition to their class, their political science course, this year. They're here today. Unfortunately I did have to communicate in English only. We have a student from Dartmouth, one from Cheticamp, one student from Sydney and two from Rose des Vents in Greenwood, and their teacher, also Principal of Rose des Vents, Louis Cormier, and also with them is Darrell Samson, who is a director with the school board. A warm welcome of the House to this group today. (Applause)

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

MR. GARY HINES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to turn the members' attention to the gallery opposite, to recognize Peter Whalen, a gentleman who is certainly interested in democracy and visits this House on a regular basis, as well as the house down the street. It's nice to see he followed us up here - the good member for Halifax Clayton Park, as well as myself - to see us in action. Thanks, Peter, for coming in. Let's give him a warm round of applause. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: And, finally, the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis on an introduction.

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce two guests in the west gallery, two very good friends of mine - Evelyn Dickinson and Reverend John Dickinson. They've come a long way today to be here in this House to hear some of the proceedings. I've asked Mrs. Dickinson to be here today, to be the face of the people intimidated by the American company but, more importantly, I've asked her here today to ensure that she is not silenced, to ensure that she will not lose confidence in her voice which will have a positive effect on the community back home.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the members of this House to give my friends, the Dickinsons, a very warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome all our special guests to the gallery today and hope they enjoy the proceedings.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[1:41 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Ms. Joan Massey in the Chair.]

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[5:12 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

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

Bill No. 1 - Automobile Insurance Reform Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

Also, that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 6 - Public Service Superannuation Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. The House will consider, under Government Business, Public Bills for Second Reading, Bill No. 20, the Workers' Compensation Act/Occupational Health and Safety Act. When we conclude second reading of that bill, that will be the completion of business for Friday.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is the House adjourn until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Dartmouth East.

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ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

TRANSPORT (CAN.) - NORTHUMBERLAND FERRIES:

SUBSIDY IMPROVEMENT - LOBBY

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to rise and talk about this important issue concerning Northumberland Ferries. It's an important issue for Pictou County, and it's certainly an important issue for Nova Scotia, and it's an important issue, certainly, for Prince Edward Island, and probably beyond those three areas. I think there's news coming out of Pictou County this past couple of days that the Northumberland Ferries link might be closed down early. It normally runs right through until December 20th, and the indication is that it will close as early as December 1st. That's three weeks short of the regular season, and we feel it's important that we lobby and continue to push for this important link to continue.

The resolution reads: "Therefore be it resolved that this government join with Prince Edward Island to lobby the federal Minister of Transport for an improved subsidy for the Northumberland Ferry."

Coming from Pictou County, I know the importance of the ferry service to our county and to our whole province, and certainly to most of Prince Edward Island. Thousands of people use that service on a continual basis from May until December 20th. It's estimated there's 0.5 million people who cross over on the Northumberland link every year and that would be thousands of cars, trucks, recreational vehicles, buses and so on. All that movement of traffic and people really contributes importantly to the economy on both sides of the Northumberland Strait and certainly I know on our shore, in Pictou County, there are a lot of small and larger businesses that benefit from the importance of the link across the Northumberland Strait.

[5:15 p.m.]

There are tourists who come here from all over the world and travel around the Maritimes who use our restaurants, our bed and breakfasts, hotels, garages to gas up their vehicles, antique shops, gift shops and just a whole variety of service industries and retail businesses that benefit from this important link. As well, there are a number of businesses that rely on the ferry crossing to get their goods back and forth across the Strait. There is certainly gravel and sand going from Nova Scotia to P.E.I. There is pulpwood being shipped off the Island coming over to the Kimberly-Clark mill. There are logs as well that travel across the water. Certainly, fruits and vegetables, especially potatoes is a very big industry

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on the Island and they are shipped over to local stores throughout Pictou County and beyond, even into Cape Breton and Newfoundland. So it is a vital link for commerce, it's important to tourists and absolutely to local people from across Pictou County and across Nova Scotia and elsewhere who use this particular link.

The Pictou County Tourist Association has promoted the importance of the link with the ferry and they have had, in conjunction with the PRDC, a joint marketing effort right to the point of radio and TV advertising and even an entertainment event on the ferry at lunchtime to help attract tourists and just make it a little more interesting to them. When the ferry shuts down, normally on December 20th, it's an extra 117 kilometres to travel around through Amherst and to the fixed link across at Borden-Carleton on P.E.I. So it's a long extra distance and it means very much an inconvenience, a greater cost to businesses. During the months of January, February, March and April and the end of each year, that is the extra inconvenience that people have to put up with.

The Government of Prince Edward Island, Mr. Speaker, has come out loud and clear and has said yes, it is an important link between our provinces and the Premier over there, Premier Binns, has come out emphatically stating that it's not right to do this. In fact, he has described it as very troubling to see this ferry service perhaps lose three weeks on the tail end of the service. Lawrence MacAulay, MP, has also spoken out firmly that this would be a loss to Prince Edward Island. Yet, here in Nova Scotia, we have not heard too much at this point. I think it is important that this government and this Premier show some leadership and seriously look at supporting our ferry, the link that is there that is so vital and show that it does remain an important link between our two provinces.

There are also quite a few jobs that depend on this. There are a lot of Pictonians who are employed, as well as Prince Edward Islanders. There are people who work on the ferries, the watchmen, the deckhands, stewards, waitresses and so on. So the employment aspect of it is also very important to our local economy.

Earlier in the day I had the opportunity to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works what this government had been doing to show support for our ferries, for the vital link and keeping it open right up to December 20th. I didn't really get a very satisfactory answer but I did mention to him that at the upcoming conference of the federal and provincial Transportation Ministers, it would be an ideal opportunity for him, as minister, to lobby the federal Minister of Transportation, and show that we need this vital link, it must be maintained, it is just so important here to the economy of our provinces.

I have not heard anything as of yet on this matter either from our Premier, who is also from Pictou County, and hopefully he will take the lead from Premier Binns and stand up and fight to see that our important ferry service is continued. So we need somebody to stand up for Pictou County, to stand up for Nova Scotia, and to show that this service remains in place and remains an important link between Nova Scotia and P.E.I.

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One of our concerns, I guess, is if they cut three weeks off the service and nobody stands up and says anything about it, maybe the federal government will say, perhaps it wasn't really needed, perhaps you can get away with not having that extra three weeks of service in December, at the end of the season. I think that is really setting a very dangerous precedent and we're going down a slippery slope. Who knows, if the end justifies the means, they'll find out that we've done without it and before you know it it will be cut ever further.

We need to stand up and fight and maintain this subsidy for Pictonians, for Nova Scotians, for Prince Edward Islanders and really, for all of Atlantic Canada. It's an important link between our provinces and it's vital that our economies remain strong and remain with us. So I think early shutdown is unacceptable and we need to make sure that the service is there. We need a long-term plan that will include ferry service right up to December 20th, and we don't want to lose any more of our vital infrastructure. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today, to speak on this matter. I would like to say that I share the honourable member's concerns regarding the Government of Canada's commitment to the ferry service in the Northumberland Strait.

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to refer to some documents here and what I have done is put a package together which I will table, to cover all the ones I have in my hand. I will start by way of some background, the Wood Islands, P.E.I., Caribou, Nova Scotia ferry service is run by Northumberland Ferries Limited. It travels between Wood Islands, P.E.I., and Caribou, Nova Scotia on a seasonal basis, under contract with Transport Canada.

The normal season is from May 1st to December 20th but it varies from year to year and depends a lot on weather conditions. If you get easterlies blowing in the winter and Fall up the Northumberland Strait, it gets pretty rough and hard to navigate. Northumberland Ferries is in a discussion stage and doing some negotiations with Transport Canada, regarding the ferry service's desire to terminate this year's service, as of November 30th. That is three weeks early, which really is not acceptable.

The Wood Islands/Caribou service provides an essential and longstanding link between our province and Prince Edward Island. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, I can hear the ferry blowing its horn from my home, because as the crow flies, I probably only live about four miles from there. I would certainly miss the sound of that ferry blowing its horn when it departs and arrives at Caribou. It is always nice to hear it in the Spring, because you know that summer is around the corner when you hear that fog horn going.

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It is a crucial alternative to the New Brunswick-P.E.I fixed link. The ferry provides the Atlantic Region with tourism benefits. There are obvious benefits to the passenger and commercial traffic between P.E.I. and Caribou and area. Just one week ago, our Transportation and Public Works Minister sent a letter to the Minister of Transport Canada, the Honourable David Collenette, to express a strong message. His letter added support to the letter that was already sent in by the Premier of P.E.I., Premier Binns, on or about October 1st, and I have that particular letter on file. But I would like to read our minister's letter for the record, Mr. Speaker. It was dated October 16th and it is to Minister Collenette:

"On behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia, I am writing in support of the October 1, 2003 letter to you from the Hon. Gail Shea, P.E.I. Minister of Transportation and Public Works, urging you to renew the Government of Canada's commitment to this vital P.E.I./Nova Scotia ferry service by entering into a long-term agreement with Northumberland Ferries.

The Wood Islands-Caribou service provides an essential and long-standing link between the two provinces, greatly facilitating Atlantic region tourism, passenger and commercial traffic between eastern P.E.I. and Pictou County and area, and providing a crucial alternative to the P.E.I.-New Brunswick fixed link.

As Minister Shea points out, the recent short-term contracts have caused uncertainty about the future of this service and may be affecting economic development opportunities.

I look forward to the Government of Canada's continued commitment to this ferry service.

With personal regards, Hon. Ronald S. Russell, CD."

So you can see, Mr. Speaker, our government has been on this very important case and getting their message across to the federal government with regard to the importance of this ferry link and the continued service that it provides to our area of Pictou County. Both Nova Scotia and P.E.I. have reminded Mr. Collenette about the short-term agreements, as I've said and how the cutting of that service could affect our economic development opportunities in the area. I was involved, personally, with some joint projects between the P.E.I. Government and Nova Scotia and we had meetings on the ferry going over and coming back with the two groups in a joint Strait area economic development initiative. We're making great strides in that direction, because what's good for one side is good for the other.

At any rate, Mr. Speaker, one area that I would like to focus on and it's very important to Pictou County and that is the matter of the impact the ferry has on tourism in Pictou County. It is really the gateway to Nova Scotia, thanks to Northumberland ferry

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services. The ferry service provides a significant reason for many tourists to visit our communities in Pictou County and the towns. It seems that there was always this big worry when the fixed link went in that we wouldn't have the traffic but it wasn't the case because people drive on to P.E.I. from New Brunswick, they travel the length of P.E.I. and enjoy all that beautiful province has to offer before they come to Nova Scotia to enjoy ours. So the traffic is quite steady. If you walk around the picturesque towns in Pictou County, it is easy to see that the economy is centred around tourism and the industry has been able to grow and prosper in many ways thanks to Northumberland Ferries and the travels between Nova Scotia and P.E.I.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is safe to say that at least 50 per cent of the businesses in Pictou County are reliant on the tourist market. The success of motels, bed and breakfasts, souvenir shops, museums, restaurants are affected by visitors who travel to the area mostly because of the ferry. It is safe to say that 50 per cent of the people who live in the area are employed in one way or another in the tourist industry.

Mr. Speaker, let me take a minute to give you a little idea of the impact the ferry has on the economy of Pictou County. When the ferry was on strike this summer, the visits to the provincial visitor information centre decreased by 75 per cent. In fact, many of the operators of tourism businesses in the area were calling the VIC, asking them if they knew when the strike would end. They were worried because they had seen such a dip in the business. It was just incredible.

[5:30 p.m.]

Here's another example of the effect the ferry has on the tourism industry in Pictou County. This Fall, 12 tour buses cancelled their trips to the area because of changes to the ferry schedule. Some of these tour buses have as many as 50 people on-board. Hundreds of visitors didn't come to Pictou County because of these changes; hundreds of people didn't stay in our hotels, they didn't eat in our restaurants or shop in our shops or visit our attractions. Our own Department of Tourism and Culture, as well as the Tourism Partnership Council, recognized the impact the ferry has on the Town of Pictou and Pictou County. The visitors information centres' season is decided based on the ferry. When the ferry stops running, the visitor centres close.

You might be surprised to learn that even this late in October, there are still tourists around. Today, the visitor information centre was making hotel reservations for visitors to the province. Tourists like the ferry. It's quite simple. They can get a spectacular view of our province and the beautiful Northumberland Strait, and they truly get the feeling that they are travelling to and from an island. I guess you would say that the ferry is part of the island experience. Tourists like the fact that they get a 75-minute break from driving when they take the ferry. In the summertime, there are extra programs on-board for travellers.

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Mr. Speaker, I know my time is drawing near, but I believe all in this House are united in the belief that the level of funding that has been radically reduced for the ferry, over the past 10 years, by the federal government is completely unacceptable. There may have been some minor increases in the federal subsidy over the past few years, but nowhere near the level of $8 million that was in place a decade ago.

I would like to close by saying that I sincerely hope that Transport Canada does not give in to Northumberland Ferries Limited's request to shut down its Wood Islands to Caribou service on November 30th, and I hope that we will once again see multi-year contracts with Transport Canada for the Northumberland ferry service. Thank you.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the honourable member who brought this particular motion forward for debate today, because I think it's a very important resolution that measures a number of factors here in Nova Scotia, one being the rather historical and somewhat rustic environment that we've become accustomed to over the years in rural Nova Scotia, particularly in communities such as the Town of Pictou and many of the small towns and villages throughout Pictou County, and I'm sure through other parts of Nova Scotia.

What we also see is that measured against progress. As we all know, in recent years there was quite a boom in the construction industry because of the construction of the bridge linking Prince Edward Island to the Province of Nova Scotia. I could be wrong on the figures, but I would estimate somewhere in the vicinity of $2.6 billion, maybe even higher, I'm not sure, for the construction of that bridge.

What we're seeing is a bit of a transitional period here, where, historically, there's always been a commitment from the federal government, financially, to maintain that vital link between the Province of Nova Scotia and the Province of Prince Edward Island, perhaps somehow embedded through our arrangement through Confederation and through some of our constitutional obligations. Bearing in mind now, Mr. Speaker, the fact that you can drive to Prince Edward Island much cheaper than you can if you were taking the ferry, that's one factor I'm sure is factored into the equation. A further issue being the fact that once more people start using the bridge - and just in the last day or so I have had discussion with individuals who indicated that they truly enjoy taking the ferry from Pictou to Wood Islands in Prince Edward Island. What they are finding is that not as many people are doing it. So the demand is not making the issue as competitively viable as it once was.

I'm sure the members for Pictou East and Pictou West would certainly agree with the general philosophy of some of their predecessors who have come before them from Pictou County, they are not really great fans of subsidies. In fact, the former Premier, the member for Pictou East, he was a great champion of getting the government out of the subsidy

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business. He was very strong about that, he was very adamant about that, not only when he was Minister of Economic Development but also when he became Premier for the province.

There is another aspect to this as well and that is the new National Transportation Bill that is before Parliament. One of the clauses in that, or a proposed change, is to alleviate the federal government's obligation from tying economic development into the transportation system, particularly in Atlantic Canada. Well, I am, for the record, opposed to that. I believe that this transportation bill should have that component maintained so that economic development is a vital component to the national transportation system of Canada, as the federal government, vis-à-vis the respective provinces, exist. Any alleviation of that link is an obligation or an opportunity for the federal government to weaken its commitment to Atlantic Canada. So I want to go on the record in supporting both members in that general sense.

Mr. Speaker, as well, as I raised in the House earlier today, the provincial government has been rather harsh on many of its citizens here just on the deteriorating state of the roads and their claims when they go for looking for compensation for damages. Since this government came to power, and I even had to table the evidence for the minister today because he didn't even know that the total number of claims for damages for vehicles in the province had doubled within two years of this government coming to power. He didn't know that. The figures are quite clear. But lo and behold, out of some 1,246 claims that were put into the Department of Transportation and Public Works during that time period, right up from the time the government came to power until present day, as of last month, they only paid out 6 per cent of all the claims. So 94 per cent of all the claims in this province were given a deaf ear and they were cast away.

So it would be incumbent on the Minister of Transportation and Public Works from Nova Scotia, in particular, as much as it is for the Minister of Transportation in Prince Edward Island, to consider their obligation to the ferry service going between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island because historically that relationship has changed by virtue of the construction of the new bridge. Perhaps it's an opportunity for the Minister of Economic Development in the province, with the support of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, and indeed both members, in fact all three members from Pictou County, because one is the Premier, to get together and sit down and come up with some kind of a comprehensive strategy or a plan where all stakeholders can buy into maintaining this ferry service if at all possible because as both members have pointed out, the benefits from tourism, the local hospitality industry, the local jobs that are created, all the spin-off factors that are there, they can't be just blindly cast aside because the bridge is there and now the federal government is saying well, no, we have no more obligation.

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It appears as if what is happening is some kind of a phasing down of its financial commitment, because they're saying they've already done that. So, equally so, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for this province, the provincial Ministers of Economic Development, and Tourism and Culture, and the Premier, who comes from Pictou County, should state quite clearly what their financial commitment is to the people in Pictou County.

I recall at one time, Mr. Speaker, you came into this House and there were three members from Pictou County and all three of them were senior members in the government. They were all Cabinet Ministers. Now, you have two backbenchers and a lame-duck Premier. The people of Pictou County - the member for Pictou East and the member for Pictou West (Interruptions) Opposition member, he wants to disassociate himself with the government, and that's fine. But the reality is the people in that county are looking for a co-operative will to bring the various stakeholders together, and they're looking for some leadership.

The federal government isn't going to look after the local tourism problems, singlehandedly, in Pictou County. They're not going to look after the local transportation issues. They're not going to look after the economic development issues, per se, that are a provincial responsibility, or a whole lot of other issues with all the other different ministries. Obviously it's going to have an impact on Community Services, Education, the Department of Health. It's the domino theory. That domino effect is there.

My question would be, where's the provincial government? When is it going to ante up and put something on the table for the members for Pictou East and Pictou West, rather than let them out here, dangling, to their own devices, to take on the federal government? Yes, maybe collectively the Premier, with all the support he has in government, can exercise that weight of government to secure some type of a collective will from the federal government, the provincial government here and, indeed, the Province of Prince Edward Island. They should not be left off the hook, financially.

It's great to go and say, we want you to give money to a third party, but we're not going to do anything about it. It's great to be a cheerleader. We see that all the time at municipal councils, where they're always passing motions that the provincial government does this or the federal government spend money on that. But, yet, they won't spend any themselves on those issues. It's easy to pass motions and rules and regulations and support initiatives, if somebody else is going to pay the cost.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I want to congratulate the member for bringing the motion forth here. It's an opportunity to speak about some economic development issues in rural Nova Scotia, which haven't been attended to by this government since it came to power. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank the honourable members for taking part in the debate this evening.

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The House is adjourned until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 5:43 p.m.]

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RESOLUTION NO. 587

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the EXL Award is presented to Canadian Association of School Administrators' members who have exhibited exemplary leadership abilities and have enhanced school administration by setting high standards for staff and students; and

Whereas winners of the EXL Award assume active roles in their communities as leaders in civic or humanitarian activities; and

Whereas Dr. Jim Gunn, Superintendent of Schools for the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board, is this year's recipient for Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Dr. Jim Gunn on winning the EXL Award and express our appreciation for his commitment to education in the Annapolis Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 588

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Human Resources)

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

Whereas volunteer firefighters make contributions to our communities that go far beyond fighting fires; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Firemen's Band has released their first-ever Christmas CD; and

Whereas the talented band is led by bandmaster Scott Patterson, and band president Rod Hyslop;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Scott Patterson, Rod Hyslop, and all members of the Bridgewater Firemen's Band on the release of their first Christmas CD.

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RESOLUTION NO. 589

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Human Resources)

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

Whereas a Bridgewater couple, Hub and Joan MacDonald, together have spent countless hours devoted to helping people living with cancer; and

Whereas Mr. MacDonald serves as President of the Canadian Cancer Society - Nova Scotia Division; and

Whereas Mrs. MacDonald is the convener for the Canadian Cancer Society's Support Program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in recognizing Joan and Hub MacDonald for their dedication to supporting those who are living with cancer.

RESOLUTION NO. 590

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Human Resources)

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

Whereas an evening of musical tribute to honour Frances Mills-Clements, a leader in the African-Nova Scotian community, is being held at the Bridgetown Baptist Church on October 25, 2003; and

Whereas Frances Mills-Clements has dedicated her life to helping others, particularly women and their children, through both her professional and volunteer work; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, in partnership with the Western Area Women's Coalition, has planned the musical tribute to honour Frances Mills-Clements and to initiate the establishment of a foundation to provide post-secondary bursaries to African-Nova Scotian women;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the many lifelong contributions made by Frances Mills-Clements and commend the Advisory Council and the Women's Coalition on their initiative to encourage post-secondary education for African-Nova Scotian women.

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RESOLUTION NO. 591

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Human Resources)

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

Whereas the International Baccalaureate Program is designed for highly-motivated students aged 16 to 19 and has earned a reputation for rigorous assessment, giving IB diploma holders access to the world's leading universities; and

Whereas the Advanced Placement Program is an educational partnership between high school and universities that provides motivated high school students with the opportunity to take university-level courses in a high school setting; and

Whereas Bridgewater High School and Parkview Education Centre offer these internationally recognized and prestigious programs for hard-working and talented students;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing the teachers and staff at Parkview Education Centre and Bridgewater High School for their dedication to providing programs such as the International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement Programs which challenge our highly-gifted and committed students.

RESOLUTION NO. 592

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

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

Whereas Dalhousie University student Mike Woodworth recently captured one of the most prestigious awards - the Brain Star Award - presented by the Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addictions, part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; and

Whereas Mike won his award after doing his master's degree thesis on the minds of psychopathic killers; and

Whereas the research undertaken by Mike, with Dal professor Steve Porter, discovered psychopaths often do their killings after careful planning and are less likely to do anything on the spur of the moment;

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Therefore be it resolved that MLAs wish Mike every success as he works on his Ph.D interviewing convicted killers, while interning at the East Coast Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Burnside and at the Nova Scotia Hospital in Dartmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 593

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Energy)

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

Whereas small businesses are the engine of vibrant communities in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the YMCA Entrepreneur Centre in Glace Bay and 14 Glace Bay area organizations are coming together tonight to hold a Be Your Own Boss event as part of Small Business Week; and

Whereas information on how to plan a new business, how to search out industry information and training, and where to seek financing will be available at the Be Your Own Boss event;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the YMCA Entrepreneur Centre in Glace Bay and the 14 organizations that are supporting local entrepreneurs through their Be Your Own Boss event.

RESOLUTION NO. 594

By: Hon. Barry Barnet (African Nova Scotian Affairs)

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

Whereas the Canadian National Griot Awards, recognizing outstanding members of Canada's Black community, were recently held in Edmonton, Alberta; and

Whereas 12 Black Nova Scotians were nominated for this prestigious award this year; and

Whereas four of the winners do hail from Nova Scotia;

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Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature extend its congratulations to our award winners: Brooke Buckland, sports and recreation, youth category; Craig Smith, community services category; Monetta James, performing arts, adult category; and Humanitarian Award winner, Edward Matwawana.

RESOLUTION NO. 595

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the initiative to build a new community centre in Springhill has taken another big step forward; and

Whereas tenders have been called for the first phase of the facility's structural steel for the $6.1 million project that includes an 800-seat arena with an NHL-size surface and a walking track; and

Whereas the tender for site preparation has already been awarded to Ray McCormick and Sons Ltd. and the tender for concrete is expected to be announced soon;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the efforts of the many volunteers who are working so hard to make this project possible and acknowledge the financial support for the project through the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Program, the Office of Health Promotion, the Town of Springhill, and the thousands of dollars already raised through the private sector and personal donations.

RESOLUTION NO. 596

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Lyle Patriquin was the 2nd Division winner at the annual Springhill Centennial Club Championship in Springhill, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the tournament sponsored by D & J Home Hardware is a major event in the Springhill area and was held on August 23 and 24, 2003; and

Whereas Lyle gave it his all and it paid off when he finished the tournament first in his division;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Lyle Patriquin on this prestigious win and wish him continued success in the future.