The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 03/04-51

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, SEPTEMBER 23, 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health - North of Smokey: Ambulance (Second) - Locate,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 4331
MADD Canada - Gov't. (Can.): Conditional Sentences - Eliminate,
Mr. W. Langille 4332
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 4332
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2232, McCleave, Robert: Death of - Tribute, The Premier 4333
Vote - Affirmative 4333
Res. 2233, Murray Commun. Ctr.: Opening - Congrats.,
The Speaker (by The Premier) 4334
Vote - Affirmative 4334
Res. 2234, Spence, Norman: Death of - Tribute, Hon. R. Russell 4334
Vote - Affirmative 4335
Res. 2335, Econ. Dev.: "Open for Business" Flag - Replace,
Hon. E. Fage 4335
Vote - Affirmative 4336
Res. 2236, UNSM: Annual Conf. (99th) - Congrats., Hon. B. Barnet 4336
Vote - Affirmative 4337
Res. 2237, Parks Can.: Dispute - Resolve, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 4337
Vote - Affirmative 4338
Res. 2238, Aliant Strike: Mediation - Applaud, Hon. K. Morash 4338
Vote - Affirmative 4338
Res. 2239, UNSM: Women's Pol. Participation - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 4339
Vote - Affirmative 4339
Res. 2240, Parade of Sail: Organizers/Participants - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 4339
Vote - Affirmative 4340
Res. 2241, Dartmouth North MLA - Well Wishes, Hon. A. MacIsaac 4340
Vote - Affirmative 4341
Res. 2242, Beals, Gary: Album Release - Congrats., Hon. B. Barnet 4342
Vote - Affirmative 4342
Res. 2243, Hurricane Juan: Assistance - Thank, Hon. E. Fage 4342
Vote - Affirmative 4343
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 87, Electricity Act, Hon. C. Clarke 4343
No. 88, Protection from Quarries Act, Mr. Manning MacDonald 4343
No. 89, Insurance Act, Mr. D. Dexter 4343
No. 90, Highway 104 Western Alignment Act, Hon. R. Russell 4343
No. 91, Trade Union Act, Mr. R. MacKinnon 4343
No. 92, Motor Vehicle Act, Hon. R. Russell 4344
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2244, Educ.: Funding Formula - Change, Mr. D. Dexter 4344
Vote - Affirmative 4344
Res. 2245, Commun. Serv.: Affordable Housing Prog. - Failure,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 4345
Res. 2246, WCB - Premiums: Banking Ind. - Pay, Mr. R. MacKinnon 4345
Res. 2247, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Residential Tenancies Act - Amend,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 4346
Res. 2248, Canyon, George: Achievements - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 4347
Vote - Affirmative 4347
Res. 2249, Smith Fam. (Preston): History - Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 4348
Vote - Affirmative 4349
Res. 2250, Health: Care Agreement - Usage, Mr. F. Corbett 4349
Res. 2251, Lomas, Aleah: Sherbrooke Heritage Award - Congrats.,
Mr. R. Chisholm 4350
Vote - Affirmative 4350
Res. 2252, Nat. Res.: Crown Lands - Spraying Ban, Mr. J. MacDonell 4350
Res. 2253, Dwight Ross Elem. Sch.: Achievement - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 4351
Vote - Affirmative 4352
Res. 2254, Nat. Res.: Vision - Spraying Discontinue, Ms. J. Massey 4352
Res. 2255, Bavarian Soc.: Tatamagouche Oktoberfest - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Langille 4353
Vote - Affirmative 4353
Res. 2256, Sports - RCL Track & Field Comp.: Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 4353
Vote - Affirmative 4354
Res. 2257, Petroleum Prod. Pricing Select Comm.: Recommendations -
Implement, Mr. H. Epstein 4354
Res. 2258, Sports: Anna. Valley Int'l. Children's Games Assoc. -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent (by Mr. J. Chataway) 4355
Vote - Affirmative 4355
Res. 2259, Sports: Dartmouth Lions Head Labatt Blues - Congrats.,
Ms. D. Whalen 4356
Vote - Affirmative 4356
Res. 2260, Econ. Dev.: Secondary Roads - Repair Prioritize,
Mr. C. Parker 4356
Res. 2261, Chester United Baptist Church: Fundraising - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Chataway 4357
Vote - Affirmative 4357
Res. 2262, Brydon, Beth: Scholarship - Congrats., Mr. L. Glavine 4358
Vote - Affirmative 4358
Res. 2263, Woodside Daycare Ctr. - Reopening Efforts: Participants -
Thank, Ms. M. More 4358
Vote - Affirmative 4359
Res. 2264, Pictou-North Colchester Ex. (2004): Organizers - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Langille 4359
Vote - Affirmative 4360
Res. 2265, Const. Battalion (No. 2): Members - Honour, Mr. K. Colwell 4360
Vote - Affirmative 4361
Res. 2266, Mun. Election (2004): Candidates - Thank, Mr. J. Pye 4361
Vote - Affirmative 4361
Res. 2267, Boyce, Doug: History of Bible Hill - Book Launch,
Hon. J. Muir 4361
Vote - Affirmative 4362
Res. 2268, MacKay, Duncan Roderick: Gov.-Gen's Award - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Gosse 4362
Vote - Affirmative 4363
Res. 2269, Health: Care Agreement - Usage, Mr. David Wilson
(Sackville-Cobequid) 4363
Res. 2270, Sarto, Condo: Commun. Serv. - Thank, Mr. D. Dexter 4364
Vote - Affirmative 4364
Res. 2271, Hum. Res. - Whistleblower Provisions:
Lbr.-Management Group - Create, Mr. F. Corbett 4365
Res. 2272, Fraser, Edith & Johnnie: Commun. Serv. - Thank,
Mr. C. Parker 4365
Vote - Affirmative 4366
Res. 2273, Energy - Outdoor Wood Burning Appliances: Usage -
Review, Mr. J. Pye 4366
Res. 2274, Cdn. Merchant Navy: Veterans - Congrats., Mr. G. Gosse 4367
Vote - Affirmative 4367
Res. 2275, Ulrich, Caitlin: Estabrooks Award - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks (by Mr. David Wilson [Sackville-Cobequid]) 4368
Vote - Affirmative 4368
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 527, Educ.: Quality/Funding - Relationship, Mr. D. Dexter 4368
No. 528, Health - Care System: Premier - Stance, Mr. D. Graham 4369
No. 529, Energy - Home Heating Oil Prices: Gov't. (N.S.) - Assist,
Mr. D. Dexter 4371
No. 530, Health: Computerized Prescription Drug Monitoring Prog. -
Status, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 4372
No. 531, C.B. & CNS Railway: Gov't. (N.S.) - Protect, Mr. D. Dexter 4374
No. 532, Prem.: Min. Code of Conduct - Conflict of Interest,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 4375
No. 533, Health - Funding: Orthopaedic Wait Times - Reduction,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 4377
No. 534, Educ.: Multi-Year Funding - Negotiations, Mr. L. Glavine 4378
No. 535, Nat. Res.: Vision Spray Prog. - Stop, Mr. J. MacDonell 4379
No. 536, TPW: Contracting Out - Cost-Efficiency Safeguards,
Mr. C. Parker 4381
No. 537, Environ. & Lbr.: Coxheath Quarry - Residents Protect,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 4382
No. 538, Commun. Serv.: Affordable Housing Prog. - Status,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 4383
No. 539, Educ.: MPHEC Report - Address, Mr. L. Glavine 4385
No. 540, Environ. & Lbr.: Inglewood Farms - Biosolid Tests Results,
Ms. J. Massey 4386
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 64, Capital Region Transportation Authority Act 4388
Ms. J. Massey 4388
Ms. D. Whalen 4392
Mr. D. Dexter 4399
Adjourned debate 4403
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
TPW: Rural Roads - Neglect:
Mr. R. MacKinnon 4403
Mr. L. Glavine 4405
Mr. C. Parker ^^^Hon. R. Russell ~ 4409 4406
Mr. Gerald Sampson 4410
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Sept. 24th at 9:00 a.m. 4411
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 2276, Old Barns Progressive Conservatives: Anniv. (60th) -
Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 4412
Res. 2277, Springhill/Oxford Kidney Fdn.: Anniv. (25th) - Congrats.,
The Speaker 4412

[Page 4331]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2004

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

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 Victoria-The Lakes:

Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government has neglected rural roads.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the people North of Smokey. The petition calls for a second ambulance to be located North of Smokey and the petition contains 1,931 names. I have affixed my signature to make the official number 1,932 names on the petition. I beg leave to table that now.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

4331

[Page 4332]

The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from the Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The operative clause reads as follows:

"Canada's justice system currently allows for conditional sentences for violent crimes where a person has been killed or seriously injured. These conditional sentences are in place of jail time and could include prohibitions, house-arrest, and/or community service. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada) strongly believes that for violent crimes in which persons have been killed and/or injured, a conditional sentence of any kind does not adequately address the severity of the crime. Therefore, MADD Canada supporters and concerned Canadians are petitioning the Federal Government to amend the Criminal Code in cases involving violent impaired driving crimes. The Federal Parliament should eliminate the availability of conditional sentences for those convicted of impaired driving causing death or impaired driving causing bodily harm."

Mr. Speaker, there are 500 names on this petition and I have affixed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 84 - Motor Vehicle Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

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

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

[Page 4333]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 2232

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

Whereas earlier this month, former Nova Scotia Member of Parliament, Robert McCleave, passed away at the age of 81; and

Whereas first elected Member of Parliament for Halifax in 1957, Mr. McCleave was re-elected in 1958 and 1962 and returned as MP in 1965 and served as the member for Halifax East Hants continuously from 1968 through to 1977; and

Whereas after leaving Parliament in 1977, Bob McCleave moved to the bench to serve as a judge until his retirement;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House stand for a moment of silence to remember the lasting contributions made by Bob McCleave in his many years of public service in Parliament, through his service on the bench, through his career as both a journalist and lawyer, as well as his contributions through his volunteer work and, through the Speaker, have our condolences sent to his family.

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.

I would ask all members to rise for a moment of silence, please.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

[Page 4334]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 2233

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for Cumberland South, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre officially opened its doors on September 15, 2004; and

Whereas the event commenced at the centre with an open skate party, which included members of the Junior B hockey teams and local mascots, followed by the official opening ceremony with people from all over Cumberland County joining in the festivities; and

Whereas the grand opening was dedicated to the residents of Cumberland County and to all the funding partners who made the dream a reality, with invitations being extended to all local schools and youth organizations throughout Cumberland County;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the people of Springhill and Cumberland County, and all those who worked so hard in many different ways to make this community centre a reality, and wish the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre many years of enjoyment for many generations to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:15 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 2234

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

[Page 4335]

Whereas long-time entrepreneur, farm leader, community volunteer and former MLA Norman Tremaine Spence passed away August 15th at the age of 93; and

Whereas Norman Spence's service in the Nova Scotia Legislature as MLA for Hants West from 1963 to 1970 benefited many, and a great many of his constituents; and

Whereas, moreover, he will always be remembered as a dedicated family man and community leader, a man who accomplished a great deal during his lifetime - he will long be remembered for all that he did for the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature, through the Office of the Speaker, send their condolences to the family of Mr. Norman Spence, this former MLA and great friend to the House.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne on an introduction.

MR. CECIL O'DONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct the attention of all members of the House to the gallery opposite where we have, visiting with us from the Lockeport area, Roy MacLeod and Elmer Stuart. I would ask that they rise and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 2235

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

[Page 4336]

Whereas the Dutch tricolour is the national flag of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with the flag consisting of red, white and blue horizontal stripes; and

Whereas a flag similar in design and colour to the national flag of the Netherlands is currently used with businesses around the province, indicating that the enterprise is open for business; and

Whereas the people of Dutch descent residing in Nova Scotia or visiting Nova Scotia find this commercial use of their flag to be disrespectful;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature express their concern of the use of this style of flag for business in our province, and urge those businesses currently using the flag to adopt a new way of alerting customers, visitors and bypassers that they are open for business.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 2236

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

Whereas the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities is currently holding its 99th annual conference in Truro, Nova Scotia until September 24th; and

Whereas the UNSM was established on August 15, 1906 during the convention of the Union of Canadian Municipalities right here in Halifax; and

Whereas countless hours of preparation went into organizing the 99th Annual Conference of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities;

[Page 4337]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our best wishes to the members of the UNSM on their 99th Annual Conference and wish them well as they deliberate over important issues that affect all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2237

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

Whereas Parks Canada facilities throughout the province are key motivators for the millions of tourists who visit Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the current labour disruption at Parks Canada has the real potential of having a long-term negative impact on Nova Scotia's $1 billion-plus tourism industry; and

Whereas many tourists, especially those who have traveled great distances are leaving with memories of disappointment, frustration and even anger;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House urge both the federal government and the Public Service Alliance of Canada to do everything possible to resolve this dispute as quickly as possible.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 4338]

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. 2238

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

Whereas for almost five months some 4,300 Aliant workers were off the job, making things difficult for the employees and their families, Aliant and its customers; and

Whereas with the help of Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services and with co-operation from both the striking employees and management of Aliant Inc., a deal was secured, thus ending the strike; and

Whereas this meant that employees were able to begin work again in all Atlantic Provinces this past Monday;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the work of the federal mediators as well as thank both sides for coming back to the table and making some difficult decisions to ensure a successful outcome for what was a very tough situation for all.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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

[Page 4339]

RESOLUTION NO. 2239

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 women's participation in politics is essential to democracy; and

Whereas encouraging women's articulation in politics at the federal, provincial, First Nations and local levels allows us to draw upon the full talent pool in this province; and

Whereas the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities voted last night in favour of a resolution from the Town of Windsor to study how to remove barriers to women's participation in municipal politics;

Therefore be it resolved that this House and all Nova Scotians congratulate Windsor Mayor Anna Allen and the UNSM on taking an important step in including women in the leadership of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2240

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

Whereas some 400,000 people strolled the Halifax waterfront during the 5-day Tall Ships event this summer - bringing in an estimated $14 million in spending; and

Whereas the parade took place during the 2004 World Acadian Congress and was appropriately entitled "A Salute to l'Acadie"; and

[Page 4340]

Whereas Waterfront Development Corporation President Fred Were has said preliminary talks began immediately to see about bringing the ships back to Halifax as early as 2007 or 2008;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature salute the efforts of the organizers and participants of this year's memorable Parade of Sail which not only highlighted our port's great marine heritage, but also paid tribute to the Acadian culture.

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 on an introduction.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to introduce in the east gallery two special women in my life. One of them, of course, my wife, and it's good to see her in the House as she comes to partake in today's excitement and another person who is very important to the life in Argyle, and she was a member of the organizing committee of the Congrès Mondial Acadian, Madame Pauline D'Entremont. So Anne and Pauline, would you mind standing and taking the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome our guests to the gallery today.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2241

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

Whereas instead of finding time for a vacation this summer, the MLA for Dartmouth North spent the last several weeks recuperating from serious surgery; and

[Page 4341]

Whereas the member, while anticipating back surgery, found himself going through a triple-bypass instead; and

Whereas the Dartmouth North MLA, who noted how fortunate he was that doctors discovered the heart problems and need for bypass surgery before suffering a heart attack, now appears rested and ready for battle or another session of the Legislature;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature give a warm welcome to our colleague and wish him well and good health in the years ahead.

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. (Applause)

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I do know that the resolution doesn't warrant debate, but at your pleasure I would like to make a few comments if you don't mind.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable Minister of Health for bringing the resolution forward and also the professional staff at the QE II Hospital which in fact did the excellent performance of the heart surgery. I also want to thank all the members of the Legislature who sent cards, kind notes and also fruit baskets, as well as flowers I must say and I have to tell you all of that contributed to my well-being and my health and brought me here today. For those of you who thought that I did not have a heart, you were in fact in good company. The surgeon, first of all, couldn't find the heart. He did after awhile find the heart. We will move it back into its position, he said, so that you can be a kinder, gentler person when you enter the Legislature. (Applause) But before you applaud too loudly, I told him that's not likely to happen. So thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I want to thank the honourable member for that and, on behalf of all members, welcome back. We truly hope that that operation was successful.

The honourable Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs.

[Page 4342]

RESOLUTION NO. 2242

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

Whereas on August 17, 2004, Cherry Brook singer, Gary Beals, Nova Scotia's Canadian Idol and runner-up in the 2003 Canadian Idol competition released his self-titled album; and

Whereas over 800 fans greeted Gary during his appearance at Dartmouth's MicMac Mall to watch his performance, wait to buy CDs or get an autograph or get their photo taken with Gary; and

Whereas this talented young man's self-titled album continues to have brisk sales in the record stores;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to Gary Beals and wish him continued success as he moves his rising stardom to even greater levels.

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. 2243

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

Whereas almost a year ago Nova Scotians awoke to the devastation following Hurricane Juan; and

[Page 4343]

Whereas dealing with the aftermath of what was one of the most powerful and damaging hurricanes to ever affect Canada was an uphill battle, from returning power to customers to removing thousands of downed trees from homes and streets and public areas; and

Whereas while the task was immense, it was a task that Nova Scotians rose to meet and did, with hard work and with the generosity and help from our neighbours here in the province and across our borders;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House salute the efforts and kindness of all Nova Scotians and those who came to our aid, and welcome, almost a year later, a province which has not only survived but has thrived, with treasures like our Public Gardens and Point Pleasant Park revitalized and open again for all to enjoy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 87 - Entitled an Act Respecting Electricity. (Hon. Cecil Clarke)

Bill No. 88 - Entitled an Act to Protect Residential Communities from Quarries. (Mr. Manning MacDonald)

Bill No. 89 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 231 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Insurance Act. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

Bill No. 90 - Entitled An Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1995. The Highway 104 Western Alignment Act. (Hon. Ronald Russell)

Bill No. 91 - Entitled An Act to Amend Chapter 475 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Trade Union Act. (Mr. Russell MacKinnon)

[Page 4344]

Bill No. 92 - Entitled An Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Hon. Ronald Russell)

[2:30 p.m.]

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2244

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's post-secondary education system is strapped for funding, forcing tuition up and accessibility down; and

Whereas one of the key reasons for this is the federal funding formula which hurts provinces like Nova Scotia that are net importers of students; and

Whereas the tremendous benefits that a strong post-secondary education system has for the entire country are obvious;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House call on the federal government to change the funding formula to address the inequities facing provinces like Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

[Page 4345]

RESOLUTION NO. 2245

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

Whereas in the first two years of the five-year Affordable Housing Program, only 51 of the 1,500 promised units have been completed; and

Whereas on the eve of this sitting, the minister participated in announcements of four proposed housing projects, all of which will be funded primarily by the federal government and other community partners with only minimal participation of this government; and

Whereas each of the four projects announced yesterday are located in ridings held by he and his caucus colleagues;

Therefore be it resolved the Minister of Community Services be admonished by this House for failing to live up to his mandate and for playing politics in the provision of safe, affordable shelter to low-income Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2246

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

Whereas there are 30,000 small businesses throughout Nova Scotia highlighting that small business is the backbone of Nova Scotia's economy; and

Whereas the cost of doing business in Nova Scotia is about to rise with the average rate of Workers' Compensation premiums rising from $2.57 to $2.65 per $100 of assessment, effective January 1, 2005; and

[Page 4346]

Whereas despite repeated pleas to level the playing field, the Nova Scotia Government refuses to compel the banking industry in Nova Scotia to pay Workers' Compensation premiums and assume its fair share of the cost of doing business in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved the Nova Scotia Government stop downloading on small business, establish a user-friendly business environment and order the banking industry to pay Workers' Compensation premiums in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2247

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

Whereas in the past few weeks media accounts have focused on a rooming house on Cogswell Street following the brutal assaults and deaths of two men; and

Whereas recently this rooming house was closed due to multiple infractions of the municipal bylaws; and

Whereas the displaced residents of this rooming house are being further victimized by the city and provincial officials who argue over whose responsibility it is to ensure that these tenants are not homeless and on the street; and

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature show some leadership and act to amend the Residential Tenancies Act so that any landlord whose failure to maintain a rental property to minimum standards, resulting in its closing, will be required by law to assume financial responsibility for housing displaced tenants for the duration of the month in which a residential premises is ordered vacated and for an additional 30 days.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4347]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2248

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

Whereas born and raised in Hopewell, Pictou County, country music sensation George Canyon's star power continues to rise;

Whereas at this year's Canadian Country Music Awards the singer was named rising star of the year in addition to a nomination for male country singer of the year;

Whereas this is of course on top of George's previous second-place finish in the U.S.A. network's Nashville Star Talent Search and his new record deal with Universal South;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House applaud the incredible attention finally being afforded to George Canyon, recognizing his amazing talent and years of hard work in the industry that is often unforgiving, wish George and his family the best of luck with their newfound fame and their new place of residence and hope that their visits home will be frequent.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 4348]

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations on an introduction.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of members of the House that today in the west gallery we have visiting us Dwayne Provo who is the Executive Director of the Black Educators Association and along with Dwayne is Steve Benson. I would ask members to give them the usual welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel on an introduction.

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery we have the Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations, the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the Student Associations for Acadia, St. Francis Xavier and Dalhousie Universities. I would ask that they rise and I recognize that they are here to express their concerns about the rising cost of tuition and the low support that they are receiving in this regard. Thank you, if they could please rise. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly appreciate the attendance today and we hope that the guests enjoy the proceedings.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 2249

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

Whereas the forefathers of the Demos and Susan Smith Family arrived in Preston in 1784; and

Whereas they are one of the oldest and largest families in North Preston having settled in this province 83 years before Confederation; and

Whereas the Demos and Susan Smith family held a large family reunion from July 15 to July 18, 2004 where they celebrated having six surviving generations in the family;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate the Demos and Susan Smith family and honour their long and rich history in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4349]

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 Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 2250

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

Whereas the province and the federal government have recently signed a new health care agreement; and

Whereas this agreement will see new monies in the system to provide better health care for our citizens; and

Whereas many communities in our province have an aging population and their citizens must have access to 24-hour emergency care;

Therefore be it resolved that some of the money given to the province under the new health care agreement be used to keep hospital emergency rooms such as New Waterford Consolidated Hospital open 24 hours, seven days a week.

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 Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

[Page 4350]

RESOLUTION NO. 2251

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

Whereas Aleah Lomas, of Sherbrooke was awarded the 2004's Sir John Coape Sherbrooke Heritage Award at the What Cheer Tea Room in Sherbrooke Village; and

Whereas Lieutenant Governor Myra Freeman presented the award designed to recognize persons who have made a significant contribution to the preservation and promotion of the historic Sherbrooke Village, Guysborough County and Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Aleah Lomas has been a long-time advocate of the Sherbrooke Village restoration project and served as Chairman of the Sherbrooke Village Restoration Commission from 1973 to 1975;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Aleah Lomas on her award and thank her for her time and efforts to preserve and protect the Sherbrooke community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2252

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

Whereas herbicide sprayed on Crown lands has the potential to drift onto land where it is, in all cases, unwanted; and

[Page 4351]

Whereas many people in Nova Scotia have requested that the government listen to their concerns regarding the practice of herbicide spraying; and

Whereas this government has chosen to ignore the people and continues to endorse the use of spraying herbicides as a legitimate forestry practice;

Therefore be it resolved that this government get the drift from the people of Nova Scotia and ban spraying on Crown land.

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 member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2253

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

Whereas all Nova Scotians appreciate the value of providing our children with great education; and

Whereas Dwight Ross Elementary School in Greenwood has been recognized by Today's Parent magazine as one of the Top 40 great schools in Canada; and

Whereas students and staff go far beyond academics with their contributions to the local food bank, community clean-up projects and successful fundraising for a freshwater well in India;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge and congratulate both students and staff at Dwight Ross Elementary School for their great achievement. Their school is a fine example of the great combination of academics and community mindedness we would like to see in schools across Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4352]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2254

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

Whereas Denmark banned the herbicide Vision in 2003 after finding that it didn't break down before reaching groundwater; and

Whereas Sweden banned the substance after two scientists linked it to the rapidly increasing incidence of non-Hodgkins lymphoma; and

Whereas the Ontario College of Family Physicians published a pesticide literature review that found consistent evidence of health risks to patients with exposure to pesticides;

Therefore be it resolved that this government err on the side of prevention and discontinue the spraying of Vision in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

[Page 4353]

RESOLUTION NO. 2255

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

Whereas Tatamagouche hosts the 25th Annual Oktoberfest celebration on September 24th and 25th ; and

Whereas the Bavarian Society will officially open the ceremonies, billed as the largest Oktoberfest celebration east of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario; and

Whereas the Bavarian Society is a non-profit, multicultural group of volunteers who organized the event;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Bavarian Society, the volunteers and the local businesses involved in organizing this fantastic Oktoberfest celebration.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 2256

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

Whereas on August 5, 2004, 35 track and field athletes representing Nova Scotia competed in the Royal Canadian Legion under-17 track and field competition in Sudbury, Ontario; and

Whereas Rebecca Coady of Annapolis Royal won two medals: a bronze in the 3,000 metre, with a personal best time of 10:40; and a silver with the sprint medley team; and

[Page 4354]

Whereas the team from Nova Scotia finished fourth overall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Rebecca Coady and all members of the Nova Scotia team, and thank them for representing our province with pride and skill.

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 Chebucto.

[2:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2257

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

Whereas the Legislature created the Select Committee on Petroleum Product Pricing in May 2004; and

Whereas the Select Committee on Petroleum Product Pricing reported on August 31, 2004; and

Whereas a significant focus of the report was to emphasize that government take the lead in promoting energy efficiency in all sectors;

Therefore be it resolved that the government take immediate steps to implement the environmental and energy efficiency recommendations of the Select Committee on Petroleum Product Pricing.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4355]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 2258

MR. JOHN CHATAWAY: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Kings North, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Annapolis Valley International Children's Games Association participated in the 2004 International Children's Games held this August in Cleveland, Ohio; and

Whereas the International Children's Games are an alliance of cities, organizations and individuals who pursue the common goal of forming nation-linking friendships through exercise and sport; and

Whereas the Annapolis Valley team participated in the event with support from parents, coaches, board members and their communities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Annapolis Valley team on their participation and commitment to making this a successful event.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

[Page 4356]

RESOLUTION NO. 2259

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

Whereas the Dartmouth Lions Head Labatt Blues Intermediate Men's C Fast-Pitch team has recently completed a successful season with Softball Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the weekend of August 20th to 22nd ended in a first-place finish at the Nova Scotia Provincial Fast-Pitch Championships held in Antigonish; and

Whereas in early September, the team represented Nova Scotia at the Eastern Canadians Championships, placing fourth;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Dartmouth Lions Head Labatt Blues for their accomplishments.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2260

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

Whereas citizens in the community of River John and area have established a Strategic Planning Committee to encourage economic development along the North Shore; and

Whereas various strengths and opportunities have been identified, as well as several weaknesses and threats; and

[Page 4357]

Whereas the largest weakness that has been identified is the poor condition of our secondary roads;

Therefore be it resolved that this government start prioritizing improvements for secondary roads in this province so communities will know when their roads will be repaired, so that economic development can occur.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 2261

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

Whereas the fundraising committee working toward renovations at the 90-year-old Chester United Baptist Church is doing a great job; and

Whereas the committee began their work last Fall and hope to eventually raise more than $300,000 for renovations, such as expanded office space, an enlarged kitchen and new wheelchair accessible washrooms; and

Whereas the theme of this campaign is "Angels are the bridge between heaven and earth";

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly commend Pastor Daniel Green, fundraising committee members and the church's congregation, who are all working so diligently on this significant 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 member for Kings West.

[Page 4358]

RESOLUTION NO. 2262

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

Whereas Beth Brydon's career goal is to help individuals with physical disabilities become more mobile and independent by becoming a conductor, a specialist in this field; and

Whereas Beth has become the first Nova Scotian to receive the Transamerica Life Canada Conductive Education Award; and

Whereas this award is valued at $50,000 and will allow Beth to attend a three-year program in this field at the University of Wolverhampton in England;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge and congratulate Beth Brydon on her achievement, and hope she returns to Nova Scotia proudly upon completion of her studies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South Portland -Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2263

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

Whereas the Woodside Daycare Centre provided excellent child care services to many low-income families in Dartmouth, but was forced, due to a lack of adequate provincial operational funding, to stop providing those services on February 27, 2004; and

[Page 4359]

Whereas the volunteer spirit of the community of Dartmouth was evident when numerous persons stepped forward to join the daycare's board of directors to attempt to reopen the daycare; and

Whereas their efforts were unsuccessful and the daycare permanently closed on September 7, 2004;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature thank Marianne Feetham, Jane Templeton, Philip Brown, Brandi Brown, Edward Keddy, Reginald Melvin, Maureen Rankin, Elaine Robinson and Hali Babin for all their time, energy and work trying to reopen the Woodside Daycare Centre.

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 Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2264

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 Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition recently wrapped up another successful event on September 11th; and

Whereas more than 200 children from local elementary schools visited the fair on Friday, September 10th, learning about where food comes from; and

Whereas other highlights included egg incubation and the arrival of so many large draft show horses that officials were left without stalls to put them in;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs commend the organizers of the 2004 Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition for another tremendous agricultural display and wish them continued success with all future plans.

[Page 4360]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 2265

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

Whereas the No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.) was authorized on July 5, 1916, in Pictou, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the No. 2 Construction Battalion, C.E.F., was the first and only Black battalion in Canadian military history; and

Whereas on July 10, 2004, the 11th Annual Commemorative Ceremony of the No. 2 Construction Battalion, C.E.F., was held in Pictou to honour the brave members of the battalion;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House honour the No. 2 Construction Battalion, C.E.F., and pay tribute to all the Black Canadians who faithfully served "King and Country" in the Great War.

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 4361]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2266

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

Whereas municipal government is considered to be the level of government which is closest to the people; and

Whereas municipal elections will be held on October 16, 2004, throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas hundreds of Nova Scotians will offer themselves as candidates for municipal office, demonstrating their willingness to be actively involved in the democratic process.

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature thank all candidates who put their names forward for municipal office in the October 2004 municipal election.

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. 2267

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

Whereas on September 8, 2004, Doug Boyce of Bible Hill held the official launch of his book, The History of Bible Hill, 1760 to 1991; and

[Page 4362]

Whereas Doug Boyce, the Bible Hill Clerk-Treasurer from 1953-1987 and Commission Chairman from 1955 to 1956, has dedicated the past 20 years to painstaking research for his 1,000-page book about the largest village in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Doug Boyce has donated a copy of The History of Bible Hill, 1760 to 1991, to each village school, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, the Colchester Historical Society, the Colchester-East Hants Regional Library, and the first run of 100 copies is now sold out;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank Doug Boyce for the outstanding contribution he has made to the written history of Bible Hill and 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 member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2268

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

Whereas on Sunday, August 6, 2004, at Burchell United Church, New Campbellton, Duncan Roderick MacKay received the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award; and

Whereas this award is presented to individuals whose unpaid voluntary contributions provide extraordinary help or care to people in the community; and

Whereas Duncan MacKay has devoted many years of service to his community, contributing 50 years of service to the Masonic Order, more than 60 years to Scouts Canada, raising funds as a Shriner for children's hospitals, and last but not least, his many years of dedicated service to the Whitney Pier Community Rink;

[Page 4363]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislative Assembly recognize Duncan Roderick MacKay for his many years of dedicated and meritorious service to his community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 2269

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

Whereas the Premiers from across the country recently met with Prime Minister Martin to talk about the importance of health care and the need to have an agreement with the provinces to ensure that the crisis in health care can be addressed; and

Whereas our Premier, Dr. John Hamm, knows the importance of addressing the issues concerning many Nova Scotians, including surgical wait times, the number of long-term care beds, and the long waits seen in our emergency waiting rooms; and

Whereas the Cobequid Community Health Center plays an important role in delivering quality health care to a catchment area of nearly 100,000 residents and the construction of the new facility can play a major role in addressing the crisis seen in the Dartmouth General and QE II emergency rooms;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature urge the government to invest some of the new monies from the federal government for health care in operating a 24-hour emergency room at the new Cobequid Community Health Center when it opens its new doors.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4364]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2270

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

Whereas Condo Sarto was elected as alderman to the former City of Dartmouth Council in November 1979 and served as deputy mayor in 1984; and

Whereas he was elected to the Halifax Regional Municipality Council in December of 1995; and

Whereas Condo Sarto has served the people of Dartmouth unselfishly and tirelessly for almost 25 years in municipal politics;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature thank Condo Sarto for his commitment and faithful service and congratulate him for his efforts during his 25 years of service representing the people of Dartmouth.

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 Centre.

[Page 4365]

RESOLUTION NO. 2271

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

Whereas this government was awarded last year's Cone of Silence Award by the Canadian Association of Journalists as the most secretive government in Canada; and

Whereas more than 25 per cent of government employees said they had witnessed wrongdoing in a recent survey; and

Whereas this government recently brought in regulations that will actually prevent and punish many so-called whistle-blowers from coming forward;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Human Resources create a labour-management group to review whistle-blower provisions and bring forward legislation - not regulations - to this House.

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 member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2272

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

Whereas corner stores are an important gathering place and often the heart and soul of many communities; and

Whereas Fraser's Grocery in Durham, Pictou County, is closing its doors on September 25th after 43 years in business; and

Whereas this family-run business has been a convenience centre to literally thousands of local residents during that time;

[Page 4366]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature thank Edith and Johnnie Fraser for their service to the community and wish them well in their retirement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[3:00 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2273

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

Whereas some outdoor solid wood-burning appliances are notoriously inefficient because of their method of operation, which creates a slow-burning or smoldering fire that results in large amounts of combustion by-products being released; and

Whereas many of these by-products are hazardous or toxic, causing a worsening of existing heart and respiratory conditions, eye, nose and throat irritation, and headaches; and

Whereas some of these outdoor solid wood-burning appliances are used for heating facilities and are burning construction debris without regard for the surrounding neighbourhood;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Environment and Labour, in consultation with the Minister of Energy, consider reviewing the use of outdoor solid wood-burning appliances and their effect on the environment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4367]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2274

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 Friday, September 3, 2004, in the Port of Sydney, Nova Scotia, those who served and died in the Canadian Merchant Navy were honoured; and

Whereas years ago, convoy ships lined up in the Sydney Harbour, preparing for their long voyage overseas; and

Whereas the Merchant Navy was an essential service during the war, transporting much-needed fuel, equipment and other goods and personnel to Europe and other locations;

Therefore be it resolved that Members of the Legislative Assembly congratulate the Merchant Navy veterans for their incredible bravery on the ocean battlefield, and remember the sacrifices and achievements of those men and women who served their country in times of war and peace.

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 4368]

RESOLUTION NO. 2275

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

Whereas Caitlin Ulrich of Brookside was named this year's winner of the Bill Estabrooks Award at Brookside Junior High School; and

Whereas this award recognizes a student who has made a significant contribution to school spirit and extracurricular activities; and

Whereas Caitlin is now attending Halifax West High School;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Caitlin Ulrich on her selection as the winner of the Bill Estabrooks Award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 3:03 p.m. and end at 4:03 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

EDUC.: QUALITY/FUNDING - RELATIONSHIP

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago Statistics Canada reported that Nova Scotia is dead last in education funding. The province invests the least per capita and per student in the country. In response to this news, the Deputy Minister of Education said, well, you know, there's no evidence between funding and the quality of education, that

[Page 4369]

they are linked. My question for the Minister of Education is, does he agree with the deputy that the quality of education is not related to funding?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, just in starting my response I would like to indicate that the remarks to which the honourable member refers, as initially reported, were certainly taken out of context. My own answer is - and I've said it many times before - you cannot have quality education without money, but money does not guarantee quality education.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure if that means he agrees or disagrees, perhaps it's both. The minister is trying to have it both ways. I'll tell you something, the president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Home and School Associations says no one is taking responsibility for the problems that parents see. Bev Mullins says that there are not enough textbooks to go around, that parents are now required to fundraise for necessities, the parents, in fact, have to raise money in order to open school libraries. My question to the Minister of Education is this, when will the education of the province's children become a priority?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the education of this province's children is a priority for this government and if the honourable member would care to review the accomplishments and the advancements that have been made in education /education funding over the last four years, I think he would probably rethink that question.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, quite to the contrary. Last year thousands of students sat on waiting lists unable to see the specialist they need. Students are failing math tests, they are failing science tests, spelling and grammar are not considered essential for Grade 6 literacy tests, so my question for the minister is this, after a disastrous five years in administering education, when will parents see the investment in education their children need?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there has been remarkable investment in education by this government and even more this year. Clearly, we would like to have more money to invest, as long as we used it wisely. But I want to tell you, again I refer to an announcement that was released today by our department about the amount of money and the effort we put into the improvement of mathematics performance for our students through things that will help teachers do their job better.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

HEALTH - CARE SYSTEM: PREMIER - STANCE

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier in the wake of the recent First Ministers' Conference on Health. Before the 1999 election the Premier said he couldn't promise a tax cut because people wouldn't believe that it was doable. At that

[Page 4370]

time, fixing health care was his number one priority. Then, he promised a tax cut and made a commitment that he could still fix the health care system for $46 million in the first year. He then raised taxes, then cut taxes and then raised taxes again when he cut the tax cut. To finally clarify matters on April 21, 2004, the Premier stated to the media, "the tax cut will come for all taxpayers when Ottawa comes through with more equalization and health funding." But to undo the matter again, on September 17, 2004, he stated that the health care money was not, is not and will not be the way we initiate the tax cut.

My question to the Premier, could the Premier finally, finally, indicate to Nova Scotians where he stands on this issue by stating whether he is, today, sticking with his comments of April 21st or September 17, 2004?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can say to the member opposite is that I'm sticking to my commitments to Nova Scotians that we will have a better health care system than we inherited in 1999. I'm keeping my commitment that Nova Scotians will have a better education system than we inherited in 1999 and I'm going to keep my commitment to Nova Scotians that will guarantee them a competitive level of taxation that compares favourably with taxation across the country.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, what the Premier failed to acknowledge is that his number one priority is an unmet commitment five years later. On January 30th this year in complaining about the level of health funding from Ottawa, the Premier is quoted in the media as saying, we want to bridge the Romanow gap and get to the 25 per cent level of funding Romanow called for. The Romanow gap has now been exceeded by $3.68 billion from Ottawa and Mr. Romanow has strongly warned that we may be wasting new health money unless the provinces have a plan to reform the health care system.

For five long years blaming Ottawa has diverted attention from the Premier's number one promise to assemble a real plan to fix health care, something more than just a statement of priorities. My question to the Premier, where is your plan and what will it cost?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the question because it gives me an opportunity to say some of the things to the members of the House that I was able to relay both to the Prime Minister and to my colleagues from across the country. We are acknowledged in Canada as leaders in health promotion. We are acknowledged in the country as among the leaders in improvements in primary health care. I was able to report that we are one of the few provinces with nurse practitioners being integrated in our primary health care delivery system. I was able, as well, to tout the efforts of our Office of Health Promotion which actually is receiving attention from all other provinces that are interested in the leadership we are showing in this particular endeavour.

[Page 4371]

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, the commitment of this government to those priorities is well known. It has been a day late and a dollar short consistently. As the so-called plan continues to muddle along, the question that arises is whether new money is going to be used to cover old promises. Today the Premier is referenced in the paper as saying $8 million of the new money will go to his often-mentioned low-income diabetes program - a worthy cause - neglecting, however, to point out that this was a $3.2 million promise in last year's Conservative platform. The money pit grows and the plan gets muddled. My question to the Premier is whether he can assure Nova Scotians that every cent of the new money will go to a new plan and not old plans that he should already have costed.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, a number of questions, all worthy of attention. Number one, all the money that we are receiving from Ottawa as a result of the health care negotiations will go to health. It is not what we required to do all of the things that we would like to do but it will help immensely. I would point out to the member opposite that the percentages do not come up to the Romanow 25 per cent number and I could provide him with that documentation but what I can say is we did better with our negotiations with Ottawa than at any other previous time since I occupied this particular bench in the Legislature. It was a good negotiation. We didn't get as far as we would have liked but we did reasonably well and we will do the very best we can with the money that is made available and it will be spent on health.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

ENERGY: HOME HEATING OIL PRICES: GOV'T. (N.S.) ASSIST

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Fall in Nova Scotia means that the leaves are turning orange and Nova Scotians are turning up their thermostats. Most people are putting that off as long as possible. Home heating oil prices are already 25 per cent higher than at this time last year. Analysts say that prices this winter will surpass the sky-high levels that were reached in March 2003. In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says that Atlantic Canada can expect the same thing as the northeastern states, the highest prices ever recorded will be in the months to come. My question to the Premier is, what will the government do to help Nova Scotia families deal with record high prices?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome that question from the Leader of the Opposition. It's true, furnace oil prices are higher than last year. As a matter of fact, I checked this morning. At the current level that the product is available across the province, it is over 10 cents higher today than it was a year ago. The government will be looking at the issue as the weeks follow. We will not expose Nova Scotians to levels that will prevent them from keeping warm.

[Page 4372]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier and this government, of course, are not powerless to change the situation. There are a number of things that they could do to help Nova Scotia families. They once promised tax relief and taking the HST from home heating fuel would be a welcome measure of relief to families. The Liberals have called for tax relief on gasoline and certainly if anything is more important, home heating oil is certainly more essential. So before the situation becomes either unbearable or untenable for pensioners, for low-income Nova Scotians and for those just barely scraping by, I would ask the Premier if he will tell us, if you are not taking the HST off home heating fuel, then what are you going to do?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I must remind members of the House, and I think the majority of the members of the House understand that the agreement that the province is in, the HST agreement, an agreement with three provincial governments and Ottawa, is a cumbersome arrangement and if we are going to help people this Winter, it won't be renegotiating an HST arrangement with the other governments. It'll be a very cold Winter if all the government is prepared to do is to enter into a negotiation.

[3:15 p.m.]

What I am prepared to do is to monitor the situation, which I do every single week. If action is required, action will be forthcoming.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier knows that as prices rise, families will pay more tax on every single litre. Pensioners, those on fixed incomes and many seasonal employees will find that it is difficult to fill their oil tanks. In previous years, this government has introduced a $50 rebate in the middle of heating season - if you could get it. Most oil companies wouldn't even deliver oil in that small an amount. My question is straightforward to the Premier, explain to us what plan your government has to help pensioners and those in need now before there is a crisis?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I hope that the premonition of crisis turns out to be inaccurate, but the government will do what it has to do to protect Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH: COMPUTERIZED PRESCRIPTION

DRUG MONITORING PROG. - STATUS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. In the last 24 hours, confusion has arisen with respect to the government's plan to bring in legislation to introduce a computerized prescription drug monitoring system. In fact, a phone call that I placed to the office yesterday, the Premier indicated that the mention of computerization of that system perhaps had been a mistake. My question to the Premier is,

[Page 4373]

was your commitment yesterday to introduce a computerized prescription drug monitoring program a mistake or will it actually become a reality?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, maybe the member opposite should have called the Department of Health where this issue is being handled and I would refer the question to the Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable gentleman that in fact, legislation will be brought forward. In addition to legislation, we will be bringing forward the technology component that would accompany the legislation in terms of assisting the legislation to achieve its objectives and that will be done in the near future.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, yesterday's media reports included some positive comments as a result of the Premier's comments. Those comments came from the police chief in Cape Breton, from the chairman of the Cape Breton advisory council on addiction. Unfortunately, all of their excitement has to be somewhat tempered now if you're looking at the comments being viewed as a mistake. Again, my question to the Premier is, given the real need for a computerized prescription drug monitoring program, could the Premier please indicate when specifically the computerized prescription drug monitoring program will be up and running and how much it's going to cost?

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

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, again I want to assure the honourable member that we are at this moment finalizing the cost figures with respect to the technology component of the prescription monitoring program. We are also reaching the final stages with respect to identifying timelines relative to its implementation.

Having said that, I want to say to the honourable member and all members of the House that it is our intention to proceed as quickly as possible with the implementation of the technology component of the prescription monitoring program.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, in reply to what the minister is answering on behalf of the Premier, it means nothing - absolutely nothing - if that program isn't computerized. The Premier knows that and the minister knows that. But the specific mention made yesterday by the Premier was that there would be a computerized prescription drug monitoring program and left the impression that would be done immediately - not wait until next year's budget, that that would be done immediately - as the groups in Cape Breton are calling for.

Mr. Speaker, this government has raised expectations and now I'm calling on them to deliver. They have to deliver definitive, measurable improvements to the health care system as a result of those federal health care dollars that they have now, and they have to honour

[Page 4374]

the Premier's words that were uttered yesterday. So my final question again, to the Premier, yes or no, Mr. Premier, will we see an official announcement of a computerized prescription drug monitoring program during this session of the Legislature?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in response to the honourable member for Glace Bay, this is a very serious issue. It is a very serious issue in his community and the surrounding communities. It's a very serious issue in many communities in our province. The government plans to move ahead. One of the instruments in moving ahead will be the legislation and I would hope that the member opposite and the member of his caucus are prepared to support the legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

C.B. & CNS RAILWAY: GOV'T. (N.S.) - PROTECT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Premier and his Progressive Conservative colleagues protest whenever we point out the shabby treatment of Cape Breton. Yet this government has decided to use confrontation instead of co-operation. Industrial Cape Breton is one of Nova Scotia's two metropolitan areas and yet today its economic future remains very uncertain with a fresh application to close the railway and a reduction in its air transport services.

If allowed to go ahead, these represent initiatives that will do long-term and devastating damage to the Island's economic prospects. So my question is this, will the Premier make it clear today that he and his Cabinet will protect this fundamental infrastructure and tell us how he's going to do it?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, yes and the infrastructure in Cape Breton is very important and one of the key pieces of infrastructure is the railroad, and we have worked diligently, and I say we, and I'm referring particularly to the Minister of Energy to preserve the railroad, and again, the railroad is in jeopardy, but we have not abandoned our efforts to preserve that particular piece of infrastructure.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, those words won't be very reassuring. Is the Premier going to wait until they pull the tracks back across the Causeway before there's a statement that says this is not going to be allowed to go ahead? The lack of leadership from senior governments to Cape Breton growth strategy is evident in Glace Bay, where nearly 100 jobs at Highland Fisheries were lost this week. This comes on top of the terrible uncertainty of reduced jobs and lower wages at Stream International, Glace Bay's largest employer. The unemployment rate in Cape Breton, is a miserable 49.5 per cent, one of the worst in the country. The Premier is always quick to dismiss calls for urgent action on the Cape Breton economy, so my question is this, why does this government refuse to develop, release and undertake an economic revival strategy for Cape Breton?

[Page 4375]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government has been involved in many efforts in job creation in Cape Breton. In the call centres and in Tesma, for example, the government has been involved in significant infrastructure projects to improve the economic prospects in Cape Breton. We have demonstrated our commitment to the Island of Cape Breton and its economy, and we will continue to demonstrate that kind of commitment.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I don't think the Premier is hearing what the people of Cape Breton are saying, so I'm going to try another angle to see if the Premier and his colleagues will listen to Cape Bretoners. In August, the Premier met Coxheath residents who are concerned about the economic and social impact of an expected quarry in the Coxheath

Hills. The Premier's office has been silent on this issue, while Coxheath residents worry about the future of their community. So my question is this, when can Coxheath residents hear a response from the Premier which indicates that he is listening to Cape Bretoners and acting in their best interests?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I think we need to point out that we've had visits down to that area. Certainly I visited the area of Coxheath and so has the Premier. We've talked with residents. We've talked with individuals. We've listened to their concerns, and as has been pointed out several times but probably should be pointed out once again, there has not been an application come forward for us to look at or to process with regard to that quarry.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

PREM.: MIN. CODE OF CONDUCT - CONFLICT OF INTEREST

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. I'm very disturbed by what I'm asking here today. In the Fall of 1999, a number of embarrassing incidents forced the Premier to finally patch together his promised Ministerial Code of Conduct.

Mr. Speaker, I quote from the code, "Ministers must avoid situations where a conflict of interest or a reasonable perception of such a conflict of interest could arise . . .". My question to the Premier is would the Premier agree that a reasonable perception of a conflict of interest exists if a member of his Cabinet is being paid rent money by a provincial government department?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the specific that I can refer to, because it's the only detail really that I have any knowledge of, is the reference to the Code of Conduct and the government is pleased to have brought forward a Code of Conduct that is to be followed by

[Page 4376]

all members of the Executive Council. It is expected that all members will follow that Code of Conduct.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, maybe my first supplementary will clarify it a little bit more. The Minister of Natural Resources, the MLA for Yarmouth, is the President and director of a company called, Trico Holdings. This company owns office space which was recently rented to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. I will table the tender document and the Registry of Joint Stock Companies' document indicating the minister is the President of Trico Holdings and also a copy of the Ministerial Code of Conduct. This looks bad. It smells bad and it is a possible violation of the Premier's own Code of Conduct. My question to the Premier is what is the Premier going to do about it?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has provided some information. He made mention to a possible breach of the Code of Conduct. If there would be such a possible breach, we have an avenue which we will follow to determine that. But I want to make it perfectly clear and ask the member, because he could inform us in his supplementary, was there anything wrong with the tender? Was the tender handled properly? If the member has suggestion or evidence that there was something inappropriate about the tender, I think he should disclose it.

AN HON. MEMBER: He shouldn't be allowed to tender in the first place.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, from my knowledge, the tender was awarded by government people to the minister involved.

My final supplementary, it looks like the Minister of Natural Resources has been caught with his hand in the taxpayers' cookie jar and it is strongly felt that the Premier should investigate. Mr. Speaker, will the Premier conduct an investigation into this lease in order to restore the public trust?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. All members in this House are considered honourable members and to suggest otherwise, I would suggest, at this time, is not proper. The honourable member asked a question and I will certainly allow the Premier to answer but I want to reinforce that members in this House are considered honourable members unless something comes forward to show otherwise. I think to suggest something otherwise is disrespectful to the House and to the members.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I will say to the member opposite is, if he has any evidence or is suggesting that the tendering process was in any way inappropriate, I would be very pleased to accept that information and to have it investigated. But I would hardly think that the member of the House is suggesting that Members of the Legislative Assembly cannot be involved in legal processes in this province without fear of recrimination.

[Page 4377]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - FUNDING: ORTHOPAEDIC WAIT TIMES - REDUCTION

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Health. Health care is an issue that is often foremost in people's minds. It's a particular concern of people who are on a waiting list. Before the recent federal-provincial health care meeting, the Premier was quoted in a media report - and I would like to table that report - where he states, "We need Ottawa to come to the table with a sincere commitment to do its fair share to reduce wait times . . ." Well, there are few wait lists in the Province of Nova Scotia that are as long as those for orthopaedic surgery, particularly hip and knee replacements and in the Capital District we know that the average wait of 18 months is a long one for 3,000 patients.

So my question to the Minister of Health is simply this, now that Ottawa indeed has come to the table, what is your plan to utilize additional federal monies for reducing orthopaedic wait times in this province?

[3:30 p.m.]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. Indeed, the wait times for orthopaedic surgery is a considerable challenge, not just for this province but for all jurisdictions in Canada. We took an initial step last year with the Capital District to invest money to address that problem. The progress that has been made to date is not exactly what I would like to have seen, but nevertheless progress is being made. We will be in consultation with the Capital District with respect to addressing wait times as we move forward. It is certainly a priority of the government, and we want to work with all the district health authorities involved in providing this service.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there has been very little progress since the last time we raised this important issue. Mrs. Phyllis Forhan is a senior in my constituency, and she has patiently waited for knee surgery for in excess of a year now - considerably more than a year. Her surgeon told her that she would be a priority because of her age. She is of the young age of 84 years, and she continues to wait, and it doesn't look like her surgery is going to happen any time soon. My question to the minister is, how can you possibly expect the Capital District Health Authority to address wait times in this area when that district still doesn't know what its budget is six months into the fiscal year?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that the money that is targeted for orthopaedic surgery to the Capital Health is clearly spelled out in the budget, and that money is available. Obviously, we want to continue talking with them with respect to future initiatives that can be undertaken to address the problems of wait times for orthopaedic surgery.

[Page 4378]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it was the 27th of January when that minister announced 25 additional beds and additional OR time to shorten the orthopaedic wait list. The plan was to be fully implemented by September 2004. Well guess what? It hasn't happened. I want to ask the Minister of Health, it's been eight months since you said you would address the wait times and there's now a staggering waiting list of Nova Scotians, 7,000 in all, waiting for orthopaedic procedures in the Capital District - so I want to know, how can the people of this province trust that you will live up to your commitment when your eight-month plan hasn't resulted in any movement in the district?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I share the frustration of the honourable member with respect to the delay in the implementation of the program. The fact is that the money has been identified, it has been made available. It has not progressed as quickly as we would like. I am determined to ensure that there is progress made with respect to this matter and that the progress is as rapid as we can make it so that we can move forward. The wait times for orthopaedic surgery are our number-one priority and I'm going to work to ensure that that priority is achieved.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

EDUC.: MULTI-YEAR FUNDING - NEGOTIATIONS

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. The government and Nova Scotia universities are currently negotiating a memorandum of understanding to guarantee multi-year funding for universities. The result of these negotiations will have an immediate significant impact on students in the province. Many of the province's university leaders are in the gallery today. My question is, can the Premier tell Nova Scotians the status of these negotiations to date?

THE PREMIER: A good question. I refer it to the Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there was a meeting as recently as last week among the partners. We are at the stage now where we're going to set up a subcommittee to try to nail down the details.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, this government consistently speaks about the importance of consultation. The government has recently asked for consultation on gambling and immigration policies. University and college students have the largest stake in the results of the consultation that is taking place between the government and the universities. Student tuition and fees represent a large and growing percentage of the revenues generated by the universities. Post-secondary students contribute greatly to the province. These students have valuable contributions to make and student leaders are working hard on behalf of those they represent. My question to the Premier is, are students involved in negotiations surrounding the MOU?

[Page 4379]

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

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, an interesting question. They are not directly at the table but I do know that in all universities in the province and all subcommittees, including Finance, that student input is very important and I'm sure their input is represented at the table.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my final question is also to the Premier. Will the Premier, right here, right now, assure Nova Scotia's students - including those in the gallery - that they will be immediately asked to participate in the negotiations for the MOU.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I was quite comfortable with the answer given by the Minister of Education that there is considerable input from students. They are now representatives on the boards of universities, something that was unheard of in my day. But the whole issue is being driven by the concerns that we have and certainly the concerns that students have that university education in Nova Scotia is becoming too expensive and it's becoming too expensive too rapidly. We have returned university funding from a low of $175 million in 1996-97 which was - unfortunately, I have to remind the member opposite that it was his Party's government that reduced that funding. We have now brought it back to $207 million and we anticipate over the ensuing years of the memorandum of understanding, it will continue to increase substantially.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

NAT. RES.: VISION SPRAY PROG. - STOP

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Last month, DNR announced via tender that it intended to spray the herbicide, Vision, over 354 hectares of Crown land in Kings, Colchester and Cumberland Counties. Many people, myself included, had concerns regarding the product safety and have raised concerns for health of families and communities.

Mr. Speaker, the pro spray areas are Crown land and that means they belong to the people of Nova Scotia. Since this program was announced, Nova Scotians have tried to send this government a message and that message has been loud and clear. Use some common sense and stop the spray program on Crown land. My question, Mr. Speaker, is, why is this government not listening to the people of Nova Scotia?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. I feel that Nova Scotians do deserve to hear my comments on this issue, and my comments are very loud and very clear. I am listening to all the people of Nova Scotia, and my department has asked the regulatory bodies, Health Canada to reinvestigate this. He assured us that this is a safe product. I asked the Department of Health in the province to investigate this. They tell me that there is no harm to the health and well-being of human

[Page 4380]

beings. We have excellent forest management practices in this province, and we are going to maintain them.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker. I don't know if the minister is listening to everyone, but certainly he does have some comments and I'll table this article from the Chronicle Herald September 9th, in which the minister is quoted in reference to the safety of Vision and saying that he is not a specialist in that field, but that he is listening to the specialists. I'd like to table this, and also I would like to table a letter from Dr. Roy Fox who is a specialist in environmental health issues. In his opinion there are dangers related to Vision's key ingredient, glyphosate. He asked the minister to protect our health and the health of our environment. My question for the minister is, if the minister is listening to experts, why is he not listening to this one?

MR. HURLBURT: I thank the member for his question. I have listened, and I have listened to Dr. Jeffrey Scott. The health specialist for this province. I've listened to Health Canada for our nation. I've listened to other ministers. I just left a national minister's conference, and this product is being used across our nation and it has been proven to be safe. We have excellent forest management practices in this province and we will continue that.

MR. MACDONELL: I guess that the debate about how excellent our forest practice is will have to wait for another day, but the minister should be aware that DDT was supposedly proven to be safe, and where is it today? It is not being used. Trees have been growing in Nova Scotia for millions of years without the use of Vision. The fact that many of the trees we are harvesting have never been treated with any herbicide. We don't have to spray and there are alternatives. My question for the minister is, will the minister apply the precautionary principle that says that if there is any doubt, err on the side of caution and ban the spraying of herbicides on Nova Scotia's Crown lands.

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, we have 75 per cent of the land mass in the Province of Nova Scotia is owned by private land owners. We have an industry that is the second largest industry in this province. We have to protect that industry. We have to protect Nova Scotians and we have to protect our environment. We are doing that. We are staying on track to make sure that there is a sustainable forest in this province for years to come and for generations to come.

We are also looking out for the industry in this province, and we are going to make sure that that industry can survive. We've had enough heart aches in the past few years with the soft wood lumber dispute. We are working to make sure that that industry will be here for years to come. That is rural industries in this province.

[Page 4381]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

TPW: CONTRACTING OUT - COST-EFFICIENCY SAFEGUARDS

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The RIM program was created by the Department of Transportation and Public Works to provide needed funding for maintenance on our rural highway system. It is no great mystery to you or to any of the members of this House that many of our rural roads in this province are in a sorry state. In the government's own 10-year plan for roads, it says that there is a $3.5 billion deficit on our secondary infrastructure.

My fear and the fear of many others is that contracting out of roadwork may be costing taxpayers more money in the long run than would have if the department had done the work themselves. My question, Mr. Speaker, with more and more money being spent on these private contractors, what safeguards are in place to ensure that taxpayers in Nova Scotia are getting real value for their money?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Pictou West just mentioned that we have a $3.5 million deficit in the Department of Transportation and Public Works. I wish it were so, actually it's about $3.5 billion is our deficit. With reference to the RIM program it has been the most successful program in the history of the Department of Transportation and Public Works. We have increased the funding for that program consistently year after year and we are getting a better bang for our buck than we do from any other expenditure.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, gravelling with type "m" rock was recently done on the West Black Rock Road in Kings County. The work was completed and in total a private contractor was paid $146,720 and shortly thereafter people in the area began complaining about flying gravel, chipped windows and punctured tires. Substandard work done by a private contractor had to be repaired by the department staff and I understand it's not the first time this has happened in the Province of Nova Scotia. So the issue here is in the long run privatization is costing Nova Scotians extra money. My question is, why not have the department staff do the work in the first place and get the job done right the first time?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the staff of the Department of Transportation and Public Works does excellent work and I'm not arguing about that at all but, however, the fact of the matter is that we can get more work done through the private sector for less a cost to the department and the most important thing for the Department of Transportation and Public Works, I would suggest, is paved roads throughout this province and the maintenance of the existing gravel roads.

[Page 4382]

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, the problem really arises with all this privatization, it's increasing more and more every month. This present Progressive Conservative Government was not elected on a mandate of privatized roads in Nova Scotia. They didn't campaign, it was not in the blue book to privatize the Department of Transportation and Public Works. So my question is, why is this government so hell-bent on privatizing the Department of Transportation and Public Works in Nova Scotia?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we are not privatizing the Department of Transportation and Public Works in Nova Scotia. What we're doing is where an occasion occurs that we can put out a contract to a private contractor and get the same value for our dollar or better than we get from the Department of Transportation and Public Works, we will do so. Nobody has been laid off in the Department of Transportation and Public Works because we've gone out to private contractors.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR.: COXHEATH QUARRY - RESIDENTS PROTECT

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Premier. J & T Van Zutphen Construction owns 240 hectares of land in the Coxheath Hills and there are plans to build a rock quarry on this property in this residential area. The residents of the area have come out in strong opposition to a quarry in their community. The residents are concerned what the quarry will do to the quality of life in their community including the safety of residents, community recreation, children's health issues. The quarry will be running 8 to 12 hours a day, six days a week, and Coxheath is a well-known water supply and area residents are fearful of well contamination.

Mr. Speaker, the residents have received a letter of support from a minister of the government and I would like to congratulate the Honourable Cecil Clarke for sending a letter in support of the concerns of the residents and I would table this letter for the House today and again thank the minister for his interests. My question, however, to the Premier is, will the Premier show leadership and help the residents of Coxheath bring an end to the construction of this quarry?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in a recent trip to Cape Breton Island I had an opportunity to drive through the Coxheath neighbourhood, wanting to see first-hand what the issue was all about, and it was readily apparent to me. Following that visit to the Coxheath neighbourhood, I met with representatives from the Coxheath area who are concerned about what is presumed to be a quarry initiative in their area and what I can say is that I was impressed with the arguments that were brought forward by the members of the community.

[Page 4383]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Let me say, Mr. Speaker, that it's not a presumed quarry. The Van Zutphen brothers are constructing a road up the mountain as we speak that would rival the Trans-Canada Highway. Now, they're not doing that to engage in moose hunting in Coxheath, they're doing it for the express purpose of eventually applying for a permit for a quarry and all I'm asking the Premier is if the Van Zutphen brothers ask for a permit to construct a quarry in this residential area, will his government deny that permit?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, we certainly, as has been earlier stated here, at this point in time do not have an application. There is speculation that one will come forward - certainly by the member opposite - and when and if that application comes forward, we will use the process that's in place to evaluate the validity of that and make a decision accordingly.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: As you know, Mr. Speaker, we introduced a bill in the House today dealing with this matter, and if the government is serious in its intentions to stop a quarry in a residential area - and the minister keeps saying he's waiting for the application - I would hope that the government would see fit to allow this bill to go through the House this Fall, and that will end the matter once and for all.

My supplementary is, quarries don't belong in a residential area, be it in Coxheath or any other residential area in Nova Scotia. All I'm asking is for the Premier and his government to protect the residents who live in residential areas in Nova Scotia from the infusion of industrial quarries next door to their homes.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite makes a good argument.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I just want to remind all honourable members to refer to other members either by their portfolio or their constituency, please.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

COMMUN. SERV.: AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROG. - STATUS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the minister responsible for housing. Finally the minister has announced a handful of affordable housing projects, 68 units in four communities. Thousands of people are living in deplorable conditions and many more are at risk of homelessness as the government slowly announces 24 units here and four units there. Eighty-nine housing units in two years is an embarrassment considering what other provinces have been able to accomplish with the federal-provincial agreement. My question for the minister responsible for housing is, why

[Page 4384]

aren't you modelling programs of other provinces of similar size who have built circles around this government's housing program in the same time frame?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a great thing to finally be able to get up and start to make announcements about the new housing initiatives that are coming out under the Affordable Housing Program. As the member opposite has pointed out, there is a dire need for affordable housing in this province. Given that there was certainly limited funding for this program, we had to be very careful that we got it right. Even the federal Secretary of State for Central Mortgage and Housing agreed that we got it right when we went out and we did our homework so that we're making the right announcements. I thank the member opposite for giving me the chance to point that out.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, the minister could stand up and tell everyone all about the proposed development we can look forward to, but as I stand here today the government has only built 21 new units in this two-year agreement with the federal government. Yesterday's announcement will help residents in rural Nova Scotia, and that's very important; however, none of these projects add any affordable housing stock to the HRM where the need is the highest in the province. Out of these four new projects, three involve private-for-profit companies, and this is a real concern. After 10 years the housing belongs to them, and they have no further obligation to keep it affordable for the people who are living in them. My question to the minister responsible for housing is, why is your department favouring private-for-profit companies under this agreement?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for giving me the chance to point out that the people we favour are those people who are in greatest need of affordable housing in this province. We will absolutely do whatever we can to stretch those dollars to help the greatest number of those in greatest need in the province, and that is what we're doing.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, this is nothing but a P3 agreement in sheep's clothing. For a bargain-basement price, these private developers will own the affordable housing just after 10 years, and they can do whatever they want with it, they can charge whatever they want. And we'll be back to square one in 10 years. The question for the minister is, will your department commit that no further funding will go to line the pockets of private developers and all remaining projects will go to not-for-profit organizations that will ensure the housing stays affordable for all Nova Scotians?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, it's my great pleasure to provide the member opposite with some information about what has actually been done to date, so that when he gets up in the House he'll be better informed when he launches his questions.

[Page 4385]

Actually, Mr. Speaker, as long as the member opposite is being critical of how we're making the choices as to which projects go forward and in what order, he might be interested to know that, before we made these most recent announcements for the 68 units, we went to Angela Bishop of the Community Action on Homelessness group and also Paul Pettipas from the Nova Scotia Home Builders' Association and we asked them whether they agreed with the method that we had gone through to come up with these decisions.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would just correct one minor thing - the member opposite is citing a number that is much lower than the actual numbers. Actually, to date, it's been 203 units in the province and $10.8 million. I table this and I happen to have brought a few extra copies for all the members of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

EDUC.: MPHEC REPORT - ADDRESS

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Recently the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission released its report on the impact of family educational backgrounds on graduate outcomes. The results are alarming, but not surprising, under this government. The commission has significant concerns over the future of access to proposed secondary education. Reports show that students from lower-income households were less likely to continue their education and more likely to have high debt loads and financial burdens after graduation.

The Premier stated recently that once health care is under our belt, the next objective should be to make the province the best educator in Canada. Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier is, now that the province has received health care funding, what is the minister's plan to address the dismal facts in this report?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brings a serious question to the attention of the House. The whole issue of access is one that has the full attention of the government. We are looking at the memorandum of understanding, which was described earlier by the minister, in which we hope to halt the rapid escalation of tuition fees. I also would like to point out to the member opposite that we have a debt forgiveness program in the Province of Nova Scotia which, when all of the elements are in place, will allow 50 per cent of the loan to be forgiven.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia students face the highest tuition in Canada, no grant-based funding program, an inadequate debt relief program, and the highest dept burden in the country. Now, thanks to this report, we know students have even more challenges facing them. A research report entitled Changes in Tuition Policy: Natural Policy Experiments in Five Countries - from the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation -

[Page 4386]

showed that access to university depends on tuition, debt levels, available student financial assistance, and government support to institutions.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier is, when is this province going to make access to post-secondary education available to all Nova Scotia students?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite does indicate a number of areas of concern, but we anticipate that we are acting expeditiously because I can point out that in Nova Scotia we have the highest percentage of high school graduates going to universities in the country. So, in fact, Nova Scotians are availing themselves of the wonderful universities we have here, and they are doing so in very high numbers.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the Premier is an easy one. When is this government going to realize that access to post-secondary education is key to Nova Scotia's future economic success and not a financial burden?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government has acknowledged that as a challenge on assuming office in 1999.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

ENVIRON. & LBR.:

INGLEWOOD FARMS - BIOSOLID TESTS RESULTS

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Recently the Department of Environment and Labour agreed to test the biosolids in the lagoons at Inglewood Farms, in Lower Truro, for POPs, persistent organic pollutants. Residents of the surrounding area want to know exactly what is being spread there. They would like to be assured that such persistent organic pollutants such as chlordane and DDT are indeed not present or are at safe levels at the very least. It's been almost a month since the tests were taken. Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is, when can this community expect to see the test results?

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. KERRY MORASH: Within a two-week period we should have those results available.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I'll put that in my agenda and get back to you.

Bio-solids can contain volatile petroleum products - heavy metals and antibiotics. Since the material has been spread, the residents have told me personally that they've been experiencing burning in their eyes, chest, tongue and lips. This is only the beginning, Mr. Speaker. More problems are on the way unless we get this right the first time. My question

[Page 4387]

to the minister is, will you at the very least rethink the testing parameters contained in your guidelines?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I think it's good to point out that this process where the biosolids are being spread has become a pilot project of sorts where we have people who are doing extensive testing, doing additional testing and building up a database so that we have more information to be able to answer the questions that are put forward.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I don't think the residents in the Truro area or the surrounding vicinity want to be used as guinea pigs in some kind of a test that the province is doing on a very controversial issue right across Canada, the United States and Europe. It's controversial for a good reason - the residents just simply want to make sure the substance is safe. They want to see the comprehensive test results and they want their health concerns to be addressed. My question is, will you place a moratorium on the process until you revise your rules to include better source controls and better testing?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that we did a North American and a global review of procedures and regulations with regard to the spreading of biosolids. This is not something that was taken lightly by any means. A tremendous amount of hours and time was put into this to come up with the new guidelines which we know are more comprehensive than the majority of places that spread this material. Also, I think we need to point out that the testing regime is also more comprehensive and is there to ensure that we protect the people who are associated with this product and to protect the environment.

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. In response to the first question from the Leader of the Official Opposition, I referred to a press release. I had said that it had gone out today, it did not.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 64.

[Page 4388]

Bill No. 64 - Capital Region Transportation Authority Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East. You have approximately 36 minutes left.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I did have an opportunity in the last sitting to speak on this issue for about 20 minutes or so. What I'd like to do today is first make a few comments on the bill itself.

It's supposed to look at the strategic transportation planning and coordinating of the various transportation responsibilities between the province and HRM. In essence, joining the province and HRM together to form this new transportation authority for the capital region.

In the bill there's talk of a board of directors. The regulations would come after the bill and they would determine the composition of the board of directors. I do find that the document is lacking in substance and it's quite thin. I did have the opportunity to be sitting in for one of my colleagues when the Standing Committee on Economic Development heard some representatives from HRM speak on the capital transportation authority and some of their current transportation challenges. I'm going to go through some of those so that perhaps people watching or listening or reading might be interested to know some of the challenges that HRM faces and why they were looking forward to seeing something being done with this issue.

The population in HRM is upwards of 400,000 people. There are different aspects of transportation that are controlled by different agencies which make this a little bit hard for you to get a handle on. The population has grown in the last 20 years by 20 per cent and they're not expecting anything to change drastically from here on in. The size of their fleet has actually stayed static and even though we're going to be seeing an additional 75,000 to 100,000 people over the next 20 years, they don't really have any long-range plans for seeing more infrastructure.

Even though there's been some twinning of highways and a new lane on the bridge, as I said, there's not been a lot of infrastructure going on in HRM. They continue to address traffic issues and the lack of funding is coming from all levels of government. They have a declining ability to maintain the roads. They apparently used to be able to maintain around 80 kilometres a year and that's down to 30 kilometres. The state of the roads does have an impact on our tourist industry and our economy and they did talk a fair amount about our ferry service and how our ferries were actually 20 years to 25 years old now and that the cost to just replace those ferries would be upwards around $30 million. The ferry terminals are 30 years old now and that's something to look at in the future.

[Page 4389]

At the point of amalgamation, apparently there was a plan in place and there was supposed to be funding from the provincial government to try to replace one-tenth of those buses. Apparently the funding fell away, it was cut in half, the program has now been cut in half. They did address land use and transportation planning and how those two things connect and the issue of the regional plan and that we needed to manage our growth in a more appropriate way. They talked about the issues of, you know, when you're putting in roads, you also, therefore, have to follow that with infrastructure such as sewer and water and then you talk about recreation.

From what I could understand, what they were saying was that, in the past and up until now, the government has actually not had a real plan as far as infrastructure goes. So it was more like the roads were put in and then whatever followed, followed. I think we've all seen what has happened with the sprawl and then you've got huge housing developments - no school for the children to go to. We've got the whole issue of what's happening with our school system so they did touch on that issue.

So who does what and what's in the mix here? We're talking about HRM and HRM has its bus fleet, the ferry fleet, Metro Transit, Public Works, and Planning & Development. We've got the provincial Department of Transportation and Public Works whose responsibility is with the key corridors that lead into HRM. So we've got the Halifax Regional Bridge Commission, which is a provincial agency that reports directly through the Department of Finance I believe, the Halifax International Airport Authority, the Halifax Port Authority, and CNR. There's an issue that they touched upon as far as control of parking that's, right now, done provincially by HRM and by private ownership. So there was a small discussion on how that impacted transportation in HRM and the surrounding areas.

They tried to address the challenges and although we didn't have, you know, you only have a small period of time to discuss these things. What they want to see is an integrated, interactive, inter-module transportation network under one umbrella and that's what they were looking for and hoping for. They think this would enable them to offer a more efficient transportation network that would also implement the regional growth strategy, the regional plan, and move people and goods more efficiently and which would also support the environmental objectives.

There was talk and discussion on rail systems, talk about perhaps assisting coming in from Windsor Junction, Sackville, Bedford, Timberlea. They did talk about the ferry system, and that they consider that to be the cheapest and most effective asset that we have, and that they thought that was a great thing that we should take advantage of. So they did see some options there of running a ferry to Bedford, Purcells Cove, Shannon Park, with that land now coming up. These could be boarding points to a new terminal in HRM.

[Page 4390]

So, when they talked to us, actually, Mr. Speaker, I think they did have an issue with perhaps the misunderstanding. When they, apparently, had first brought their vision and their goals to the provincial government, I think they were under the understanding that they would control whatever this mix was going to look like, and they were hoping to have a set up of 11 directors, three of which would be councillors, three citizens, three city staffers and three members appointed by the province. As I pointed out earlier, the bill is stating that the board of directors would be determined through the regulations. So that's sort of up in the air. We might not see any members of the public on that. I'm not sure what it's going to look like, so I think that's an issue.

Mr. Speaker, some of the other points that we need to consider are, when we're talking about transportation, the spending of millions and millions of dollars on building new roads and widening existing roads to get from point a to point b a few minutes faster. We all agree that money needs to be spent to maintain and upkeep the existing system, at the very least, but I think the province and HRM need to take a long hard look before they start jumping in and building new roads, new highways. An example of that is the proposed Highway No. 113. This is going to put a beautiful area of the province under immediate threat if that goes through.

My understanding is that the province has sold off parcels of public land to private developers, and they're planning on putting a four-lane highway right through the heart of Blue Mountain, Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area. Mr. Speaker, we should really be protecting these areas and linking more together, and not dividing them and cutting through the heart of these areas. We're going to do that to save eight minutes of driving? That's like $1 million a minute that we're going to spend to save a minute. We have to really think about these things, long and hard, before we go forward on them.

This is publicly-owned Crown land. People need to understand that Crown land is the land of the people of Nova Scotia. That's our land. It's held in trust, the government holds it in trust for us and is supposed to maintain that and sustain that for us, for our children and into the future. When people in communities talk about issues that are dear to their heart, I think the government has to really listen to these concerns. This area of land is between Kingswood Subdivision and Timberlea. The area of land contains some of Nova Scotia's endangered mainland moose, Mr. Speaker.

It's a beautiful area. There are loons, beavers, ospreys, and I could go on, 22 undeveloped lakes, and this is just a mere bus drive from an urban centre. This is something that we should be protecting. There's not many cities - we're becoming a bigger city all the time, and we need to protect these wilderness areas that are right there for all of us to enjoy. If you cut into them, piece by piece, it's so easy to put a road through and then the next thing, well, the road is there, how about a subdivision, or how about this, and the next thing you know, you've got all these lots there and the infrastructure is not there to support them and

[Page 4391]

the schools aren't there. So it's just that you're creating this huge loop of things that are really hurting our landscape and our wilderness areas.

[4:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we need to think about becoming a more sustainable kind of Halifax - HRM - and in fact the whole province. We need to encourage a move towards transit-oriented development. We can do things here like clustering our housing and our commercial development areas around public transit modes. Wouldn't it be nice if you had a community that you could go to work in the community, you could come home, your schools were there, you could do a bit of shopping. There could be some entertainment. There could be parks/recreation areas, you know, your sons and daughters could hold down a job, jump on a bus to get to work - all these things that really keep a community close-knit. I mean some of these subdivisions we're building nowadays, you can't walk out of them. I mean you have to literally own a car to get out of these subdivisions.

We need to design streets that can accommodate walking and cycling in a pedestrian-friendly way. I'm not sure how many of us have been on a bicycle recently, but one of us has been anyway. It can be a dangerous thing right now in the HRM. Bike lanes aren't there. We're not making it easy for people to bike in the city. We need a network of bike lanes that interconnect with our trail systems. We need to extend our trail systems. We need to make sure that all of our buses become bike accessible. We need the bike racks on them. We need streets that have enclosed bus shelters. Again, we need to really encourage walking and safe pedestrian facilities. This is something that we can do for our health, our environment, you know, there are so many things that could interconnect here.

I think that's something that government has to really think about when they're going forward on any issue, is that it's one department, and I know when you're a minister of a department, it must be hard just keeping a handle on that one department let alone trying to think, okay, how is this affecting the health of Nova Scotians, how is this affecting all those other issues that surround your department?

We need to bring attention to the areas around our schools and our public places, especially the downtown. Downtown Dartmouth is making a comeback. We've seen some condominiums, we've got some development down there, and this is a great time for the HRM and this new authority to jump in, build us some nice bus shelters, get the sidewalks going, some benches. If you've got a vision and you've got some kind of a purpose, I think we can create all kinds of great things with this. We could even have some car-free streets in the downtown area.

Mr. Speaker, one thing I would like to touch on for a minute is the Access-A-Bus - I believe there are 17 Access-A-Buses, I could be wrong - and right now there is something like a two-week waiting period to access one of those and now on top of that, you know,

[Page 4392]

you've got persons with disabilities of various degrees who have to book that two weeks in advance. So, you know, it doesn't really make for a spontaneous kind of lifestyle, does it? Then to top it off, if they have to for some reason cancel that, then they have to start all over again. So, I'm hoping to see some more detail in the regulations here.

Mr. Speaker, I think I would like to just end with saying I think we can improve the way we supply transportation here. We can make services more accessible and reliable and convenient and comfortable for all users, including persons with disabilities. In fact, you probably saw the story in one of the papers today about a couple who could not access one of the public transit buses because their wheelchair, I believe, was not of the proper type to be tied down once it got on the bus.

Mr. Speaker, there are things we can do. I know if we all work together, these things can be done. So, thank you for your time.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it's with great pleasure that I rise to talk about Bill No. 64, an Act to Establish a Transportation Authority for the Capital Region. The first thing that has to be said about this bill that's before us is how extremely vague it is in terms of detail. The section that outlines the purpose of the bill is very clear, and I think we would support that, it's talking about strategic transportation planning that's clearly needed in the municipality and, in fact, for the province, since this is the capital of our province and home to 40 per cent of the people who live in Nova Scotia.

We'd also be in favour of coordinating the transportation responsibilities of those two groups, the HRM and the Province of Nova Scotia, as they relate to Halifax and the HRM, but the difficulty is that beyond that stating of the purpose and a reference to a board of directors to run or be responsible for this authority, very little else is known about it. It's very shy on details, and I think that this House needs to be alert and concerned when so little detail is provided to us when we're about to move forward and endorse a new entity like this. This entity could have widespread impacts, some good and maybe some not so good. We don't know who the winners are, or whether there's a cost to the province, whether we're abdicating some responsibility by doing this, or whether, in fact, it's downloading on HRM.

None of those questions has been answered in this, and the government hasn't provided any detail that would give some level of assurance to members of the Opposition and to metro members of the House who care about the city and the way it functions. We have had, in the past, some good examples of the province and HRM tackling transportation issues that are of joint concern to them. I refer to a few years ago when I was councillor for District 16, the Clayton Park West-Rockingham area. I inherited a situation where the Bayers Lake interchange was an absolute gridlock situation much of the week, not just on Saturdays.

[Page 4393]

It was impacting the business community very negatively in Bayers Lake, and, in fact, causing a lot of trouble for the shoppers and the people who needed to access that area.

It was really horrendous, and when I investigated to see what the issue was and how it had come to be, it turned out that neither the city, HRM, nor the province took responsibility for the situation that had unfolded. The province owned the land in that area completely, and so the city felt that meant they could wash their hands of the whole situation, that in fact it was a provincial issue. Needless to say the province found that it was not in their best interests to spend money on this interchange because the major concern of the province is the flow of traffic on the 100-Series Highway which was above it.

So the traffic and the problem which impacted all of the people that we represent jointly, whether you be in HRM or a provincial representative, was left unresolved. It's terrible to let a situation occur like that, but we were, in fact, able to sit together and come up with a joint program where the cost was shared between the province and the municipality. That area has now been opened with eight lanes flowing beneath the interchange, and the traffic is moving well. It was done in two stages, the most recent of which was finished last Fall.

So there are some really good examples of working jointly when the problems can be identified and the public's concern reaches a point where it cannot be ignored, and neither should we ignore it. I think that we need to do more of that. I'm not sure that the Capital Region Transportation Authority is the answer to these problems; whether an authority like that could take this and create the workable solutions that are needed for the people of HRM. The area that I represent, the Clayton Park area, is the fastest growing community in Nova Scotia, at the moment anyway. I think there are a few other very fast growing areas in HRM.

We've seen how quickly traffic can overtake the existing road network, and how often the government or the transportation area of HRM is slow to respond in giving the needed improvements. So I think there's a challenge to keep abreast of that, and I think that for the province the challenge is to balance those needs of the growing Capital District with the declining state of the roads throughout rural Nova Scotia, which I know you're very well aware of.

Mr. Speaker, I think there are a number of things that need to be addressed before we move forward with this bill. I feel that there is an onus or an obligation for the government to give more information and I hope that when we hear from the minister and from the government side, we'll get more information to go along with this because frankly, I am uncomfortable endorsing a bill that leaves all of the detail to regulation, and those regulations can be changed at whim, constantly, any time a person or the executive feels like it, and I just don't think that shows due respect to the Legislature here.

[Page 4394]

I think all members of metro should have the opportunity, well, all members of the House, but particularly the metro members who number about 17, I think in this House, should have a chance to fully understand the implications of this legislation. I'm very disheartened when I read through a bill that is so light on detail. Of course we can endorse the idea of strategic transportation planning. That's a motherhood. Of course, it's wonderful, but let's get some detail on the table. Let's be more frank and honest with each other because it doesn't build any level of trust whatsoever when we don't know the details and you're asking us to blindly sign off on this kind of an initiative.

Again, we look at the structure of the board. It's unclear where the real control will lie within this board that's going to be responsible for the Capital Region Transportation Authority. Will that in fact be provincially controlled? Will it be equal? Will members of the public be able to speak up? Will they have a significant voice on that board? I know from earlier media reports, there was certainly some dispute about HRM's vision of the board and the provincial vision, and I think we all need to know exactly how that would be structured because the governance model is extremely important. It will dictate what kind of voice all of us, as either elected representatives or as members of our communities, will have when that comes into being.

I think there has been some concern raised about whether or not a transportation authority like this would be vested with powers that would allow it to introduce new or innovative methods of paying for our road networks, and I'm referring specifically to the possibility that there might be toll roads introduced as a result of this and I'm not the first to have mentioned that. So I think it's important, just for the record, to ask again for some assurance about whether that might be a direction to go, because an authority like this will divorce our Legislature and the government, in fact, from making a decision like that. The authority would then rest with this board and with this new entity. I think we need to know whether that can be a possibility and whether that's something we want to allow that entity to have the power to do. Perhaps it's something this Legislature would like to discuss and maybe that would be an amendment to the bill. I think it should be looked at squarely as one possibility. It doesn't mean that there might not be a proper answer, but let's have the debate, is what I'm saying. It's not that I'm opposed entirely to the idea, it's just that it has an impact and primarily an impact on the residents of HRM, because they'd be using any of those roads.

I wanted to mention, as well, bike paths and those sort of initiatives in relation to the improvement that was made at the Bayers Lake Interchange. There was a very short bike path put in place. I think if we get with the program, essentially, and start to expand the use of bike paths on all of our roadways, all the corridors leading into the city, we'll be a lot further ahead.

I've heard that bike path criticized for being so short that the sign that announces it's there, is very quickly followed by the sign that says the bike path is now gone, but I think what's important is, it may be a short segment, but it's not short-sighted. I think all of the

[Page 4395]

road works we're doing within HRM, within our municipalities, in fact, because there are other thriving municipalities, they should have bike paths included in their plans. I believe that short bike path is a sign of things that could come and could follow if there's a bit of thought, because really if we start to put them in where we're doing road work, eventually those pieces will be connected and they'll be an impetus to get the connections in place.

[4:30 p.m.]

Further to the issue of bike paths, there's a new group in our area which is pushing to have the shoulder of the road paved all the way along the Bedford Highway so that cars could come in from Bedford and they wouldn't be impeded by bikes, they would be able to have the bikes on the shoulder of the road and cars would be able to move more safely. The traffic has increased exponentially on the Bedford Highway - only this afternoon I was at a ribbon-cutting for a brand new subdivision that's unfolding in that Bedford South area, so we know there are thousands more residents coming in the corridor between Bedford and Halifax. That highway really needs to have something that would alleviate the pressure on it, and I think bike paths are the way to go. So I'd like to put a plug in for that today as well, by saying that any work the province has some control over or some influence in, bike paths should be considered because they are a longer range plan.

If we can do anything at all to alleviate traffic within HRM, certainly that will make it unnecessary for a lot of new road building. It was mentioned earlier today about the proposed Highway No. 113, and again that highway has become back into the public awareness in the last short while because there's been an addendum to the environmental assessment that's being done for that proposed highway. That was Addendum No. 2 - the first addendum was in 2001 and the original environmental assessment was done in the Spring of 2000. Now we're at the second addendum which, hopefully, was going to answer more questions about the impact of this proposed highway.

The highway is planned to cut across from Highway No. 103, from the road in from the South Shore and the Tantallon area on that side, across to Highway No. 102. It in fact saves 13 kilometres of travel time and, as was mentioned by the member for Dartmouth, it also shaves off eight or nine minutes of travel time. When you read through the environmental assessment and information about the highway, it seems this is largely in relation to truck traffic.

I had the opportunity to speak to a number of people from the Department of Transportation and Public Works and asked them what the original rationale was for this proposed highway, because in fact it's something that's been considered for more than 10 years now - it was hard to put an inception date to it, but it was said to be in the planning stages before 1991. It's definitely been in the province's sight for a number of years - a dozen years or more - and yet the rationale, in my opinion, seems very weak for this highway.

[Page 4396]

If, in fact, it's 13 kilometres and a savings of eight or nine minutes, it suggests to me that we're talking about an economic imperative or rationale for doing this highway. I think that when you measure the economic benefit against the destruction of the natural environment and, I think, the inappropriate use in this case of Crown lands and public lands, I think the damage far outweighs any benefit that I've heard of. I know it will impact a number of areas - it would certainly impact the Bedford riding, as well Hammonds Plains and others.

I think it needs to be very clearly studied and looked at - the rationale is very weak and I challenge the government to have a closer look at making a case for it. Explain to the public why it's needed. If there's a strong case, you'll get somewhere, but right now the way it's defined it can be so easily dismissed as eight or nine minutes of travel time. It's not very compelling.

Again, the members of the public have been very concerned about this highway for a number of years, and over those years - since 1991 until now - there has been a number of different alignments proposed. The reason for that is development has been overtaking the alignments as they're planned and the land was never secured, so we keep moving the site. At the moment, it's a 9.9 kilometre highway, as proposed - if it goes to 10 kilometres it becomes the length at which you would have to go to a Class 2 environmental assessment, and that means a more thorough environmental assessment would be required; in fact it would allow more time for consideration and more opportunity for input.

Although I raised this issue with members of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, they said that's honestly just the way it's laid out. However, it leaves questions in the minds of the public because it just looks too convenient that the highway measures 9.9 kilometres, when in fact an extra tenth of a kilometre would kick into place another level of environmental assessment. Again, it's part of good communication with the public to explain why exactly this is because it leads to questions and it leads to a level of distrust and, as members of the House are well aware, if there isn't good communication then people definitely reach their own conclusions.

In this case, without a doubt, the public has taken a keen interest in the Birch Cove and Blue Mountain area. It is one of our last remaining pieces of Crown land that is not encumbered by logging and mineral rights. A great vast majority of our Crown land is really not available for public use and since that piece of land has no encumbrances on it since it's allowed to remain natural, it becomes tremendously valuable to the people of HRM. Within a very short distance, in fact, it was mentioned that perhaps this is within a bus ride of many people - I would suggest it's within walking distance of thousands of people because all of the residents in Clayton Park West need only walk through this wonderful new interchange at Bayers Lake, which has a sidewalk now, and reach Kent Building Supplies and you can walk into that natural land from there.

[Page 4397]

All the lands behind Bayers Lake Business Park are part of this natural land. Now, within that there are some parcels that are privately held, no question about it, but what we feel is that the Crown lands in that area need to be preserved and taking a corridor of the size that would be required to build a four-lane highway and allow for future growth on that highway is just not reasonable in the context of the growth that all of these areas surrounding the Blue Mountain/Birch Cove Lakes area have currently experienced. They've certainly been stressed by rapid growth.

In the case of Clayton Park West, we're very pleased with the community that has developed, but it is a densely populated community and the biggest issue I hear over and over again is let's show some foresight and let's preserve the public lands that are around us for future use. I would challenge you to think back 200 years ago when they laid out the Halifax peninsula. Who had the good foresight to leave so much land where Point Pleasant Park is today? Somebody did that when there seemed to be ample land available. There was no question of there being ample land and yet they took a large portion of it and said this will remain wild and remain public.

I'm saying now we're in a whole new stage of development in Halifax and in HRM and we're seeing tremendous development in the Bedford area, in Hammonds Plains, in Timberlea. I've sat on council when large new developments have been approved for those areas and continue to be unfolding and I believe that we need to look ahead to the lands that are available to us, those public and Crown lands that are on the doorstep of these very big subdivisions and places where thousands of people dwell and leave the natural land in place, showing a vision and some leadership really for the future because future generations will look back and say that that was an amazing thing that people actually had the foresight to stop this massive, rapid development and hold a piece in trust.

I think that's what the community is just saying, is measuring that passion for the environment and looking at that area with its lakes and waterways, you know, it's certainly a very sensitive area. It has been identified as that in the regional plan - as an environmentally sensitive area. It has beautiful vistas and it has a lot of wildlife and, again, it has been said that there are mainland moose in that area, that's written in the environmental assessment. I have to say that in the plan for this Highway 113, it is proposed that they'll put a tunnel in under the highway so that the moose can continue to travel between the Crown lands on either side of the highway, but that seems to me to be counter intuitive because, in fact, Mr. Speaker, moose are very reclusive creatures, as those of you who live in the country know. They're rare to be seen and they're not going to be taking regular trips between any corridor that goes under a highway. You know, in fact, this will drive them out of that land because it will become too noisy and too populated and too polluted.

So really it's not a solution. I think it pays lip service to the need to address how we might make this land liveable for them, but it flies in the face of their natural habitat and the natural way that these animals live. So I really don't think that the tunnel under the highway

[Page 4398]

is the answer and I hope that a lot of people have said so in their reply to the environmental assessment.

This area, the Birch Cove Lakes/Blue Mountain area, has been proposed in previous years as a possible provincial park and there are a number of documents that have touched on that or looked at it as a possible area for protection under our Wilderness Areas Protection Act as well. So I think that before we consider any highway there, that needs to be considered and, again, the wishes and concerns of those thousands of people who live on the doorstep of this land need to be taken into consideration. As long as we're talking about that Highway 113 as a corridor or an avenue in or out of the city, it has to be said as well that because it's cutting between two of the 100-Series Highways, I don't see this working to direct any traffic off our existing road network. (Interruption)

There may be one proposed entrance. I understand there could be an interchange at

Kingswood, but I still believe that the traffic we're talking about, principally, is the truck traffic, and truck traffic isn't on the Hammonds Plains Road today.

The provincial park idea, I think, needs to definitely be given a lot more consideration. I would really call on both the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and the Minister of Environment and Labour to look again at that entire highway. I understand it's still proposed for some time well out in the future, but I just think that there would be a collective sigh of relief and, in fact, the $30 million that it's proposed at today, we know that that figure was coined at least five years ago so if that road were to be built today, I'm sure it would be double that, from what I've seen with the increases in paving that we're finding from all of the roads in the HRM. In fact, it could be a toll road, although I doubt that, but you never know.

Again, if this transportation authority comes into play, it could very well be. That could be an opportunity for that authority to take charge of this project. But I think that it's very important to leave these decisions in the hands of the Legislature and in the hands of government. I'm not sure that it's a good idea to allow ourselves to divest the control to a separate authority that has very little accountability to government. I think that we should all be concerned about that, unless we understand fully what the intent is. I go back to the fact that you don't build trust by presenting bills with very little meat on them. I just think that they don't give us any sense of the mission, we don't know who's responsible, we don't know if the province stands to gain or lose. We know that the bridges, currently, are very lucrative, and we don't know who's going to reap those benefits once this authority steps into place.

So, the questions remain unanswered in every area, in busing, ferries, transit. Just how much would come under this authority? I would like to raise those issues and really appeal to the government to become much more visionary in terms of what they're doing, and let us know. Where's the leadership, where's the vision for this new road? In terms of other new initiatives, I think that we should be told what the bigger intent is of this bill, before it goes

[Page 4399]

forward. I don't know whether I have any hope in hell of seeing such a thing, Mr. Speaker. I am asking if it couldn't be provided to the members of this House, so that we can all have a clearer understanding. With that, I think I will take my seat.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate this evening on this important piece of legislation. I have a few things I want to say about it. I have to say that I will begin by saying that I found myself nodding in agreement as the previous member was speaking, more specifically on the pieces of legislation that really are just absent, they don't exist within the bill. There's so little in this bill that it's hard to tell exactly what it is that this body, this mechanism is going to be responsible for if this piece of legislation should ever, in fact, pass through the House of Assembly.

I am hopeful that the government will see the error of its ways and withdraw this piece of legislation. It's badly in need of significant work. I don't think that it behooves anyone - I suppose we could say that there can be work done on it in committee and that some of those imperfections can be worked out, I suppose that's true, but it would take a lot of work, Mr. Speaker. Indeed, the entire authority, with respect to this organization, is not included in the bill. We have no idea what they're going to be . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if you would agree to an introduction?

MR. DEXTER: Absolutely.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries on an introduction.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to bring attention, again, to the east gallery and to two visitors we have in the House today, my brother and his wife, Kevin and Theresa, who are off on vacation, on their way home by the look of it. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of this House. (Applause)

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, and indeed welcome to all members in the gallery today.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'll also extend our welcome to the House this evening. We are engaged in Bill No. 64, the Capital Region Transportation Authority Act; potentially a very important piece of legislation. I'm sure you'll enjoy the debate.

[Page 4400]

I think I was engaged in saying that, for example, Mr. Speaker, that one of the sections of this bill, specifically provides that after consultation with the municipality, the government will enact regulations with respect to the role and power of the authority. Well, as you can imagine, Mr. Speaker, that has the potential to be incredibly expansive kinds of regulations, and I worry about it. I worry about it because this is going to be looking after, potentially, the future infrastructure needs of the regional municipality. That, of course, potentially includes, the bridges; the bridge commission would be rolled in. I see the minister shaking his head. I wonder about that, because the bridge commission, after many years of struggling, has reached the point where it is above break-even. It's making money. Its performance has improved considerably. I know Mr. Smith quite well, in fact many would know he used to be the Clerk over at the Dartmouth City Council, when I served on council there. He's an individual who has certainly my confidence. Mr. Snider who was there happens to live down the street from me. So I know these individuals quite well, and I know that Nova Scotians can feel quite confident in their administration of the bridge commission just simply by virtue of their past performance.

So I worry when I see what's going on around the world with pieces of infrastructure like the bridges. I'm led to believe that in some places governments that have been strapped for money, have fallen prey to the siren song of quick cash, and large financing companies have come in and they have bought up the bridges. They have paid out the provinces or the jurisdictions and have taken control of the bridges and in return, of course, they control the tolls that go on those pieces of infrastructure. That's something that would be, I believe, wholly unacceptable to this Legislature, wholly unacceptable to the people of Nova Scotia, and not something that I would like to cede the power to anyone else to do, Mr. Speaker. I'm not saying that the municipality has that intention, I'm simply saying that when you cede responsibility for pieces of infrastructure to other bodies, then you open up the potential for that kind of activity.

I believe that the real onus here should be on the Department of Transportation and Public Works. I think there should be a comprehensive transportation plan, not just for HRM, but, indeed, for the entire province. The people of Nova Scotia ought to have the opportunity in advance, instead of just seeing a piece of pavement show up in their neighbourhood; they ought to know, in advance, what the plans of the Department of Transportation and Public Works are, so that they can have a fair opportunity for input. As you know, Mr. Speaker, one of the positions that this Party has taken now for some considerable time, is that there would be an open, transparent list of the projects that are going to go ahead from the Department of Transportation and Public Works, that the criteria on which that list would be generated, would be known, would be open to public scrutiny and to public input. That's the kind of transparent kind of plan for transportation in this province that the government would do well to come ahead with rather than simply transferring the responsibility for that - whether it's in the Capital Region or elsewhere - to some other body.

[Page 4401]

That's at a very fundamental level, one of the difficulties that I have with this piece of legislation. I had an opportunity to review the transcript of the appearance of municipal officials before the Economic Development Committee. You may know, Mr. Speaker, there was an appearance there to talk about the Capital District Transportation Authority and its intent and I found that really it was not what I would consider to be a particularly strong performance in terms of outlining what the expectations of that authority would be, what kind of planning mechanism for it would be in place. Many of us who have been around for a while in Metropolitan Halifax-Dartmouth in active and political life know there have been other regional planning bodies that have been in place far before the present regional municipality, some of which have dealt with transportation issues.

I think of the Metropolitan Authority when it was in place. Granted, that dealt more with things like public transit and those kinds of issues, but I think we saw some of the in-fighting that took place there primarily around the regional interests as represented by the various municipalities. I'm not sure, but I think the Finance Minister would certainly remember the Metropolitan Authority. I don't know if he ever served on it or not, but it had some fairly significant problems. I can certainly remember - not as a member of the authority because I never had that position, but as an interested councillor - attending those meetings and being just amazed at how the smallest of things could get bogged down in the bureaucracy of the way it operated.

I think, to be fair, the municipality will say we don't have those interests at stake anymore. That was the point of amalgamation, we no longer have those kinds of internal fights going on because what's at stake here is the overall benefit of the municipality as a whole and that's why we're asking for this mechanism as an adjunct to the other planning processes that take place on a regional basis.

I understand that argument. I guess what I'm saying is that before we go about and before members of the Legislature are asked to give their assent to a piece of legislation that is going to cede authority to another body, I think we have to have a pretty clear idea of just exactly what that would encompass. Frankly, I think that to do otherwise would be irresponsible and certainly not to raise these questions about it would be a dereliction of our duty to our constituents.

Mr. Speaker, I have a list - as I'm sure many other MLAs do - of pieces of infrastructure that I would like to see in place in this region. I believe it is absolutely the case that another piece of significant infrastructure will be needed in and around this municipality, and soon. I have no doubt the municipality is going to be calling on the province to either jointly fund it or to completely fund it or they will be looking for some mechanism.

You only have to think about the discussion that's taking place with respect to the proposed toll road that would go from the Sackville area in through Burnside into Dartmouth. I'm sure the minister is aware and I know the Speaker is likely aware that's an item that has

[Page 4402]

been proposed by one of the construction companies here in the province. Essentially, as I understand it, they threw the idea out there - they said this is just an idea, we haven't moved beyond that, we're not looking for approvals, we're not doing this, we're just simply saying this is an idea.

What they know is that road is already planned. In fact, there's already a plan for it. It was indeed planned at the time that Burnside Industrial Park was planned because through the planning process they saw the long-term need in this region of the area. So this is not going to be a surprise to anyone that this is a need that's going to arise.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West on a question.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Yes, Mr. Speaker. Would the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition accept a question?

MR. DEXTER: Yes.

MR. MACKINNON: Well, I'm just very interested in what the honourable member has been saying because what he's saying leads me to believe that there has been absolutely no detail forthcoming, obviously from the province on the significant issues that he has referred to but, more importantly, there doesn't appear to be any detail coming from HRM. My question to the honourable member is, has he had any discussion or any detail provided by any officials from HRM, elected or otherwise, that would give us some greater insight into this legislation that, hopefully, he could provide?

MR. DEXTER: Well, I would just refer the member to the transcript from the Economic Development Committee where municipal officials appeared. As I said, I didn't find it particularly enlightening as to kind of the overall scope so I'm like him, I'm following that debate as I see it show up in the newspapers and as I run into members of council. I talk to them about where they see it going and the reality is that different people have different impressions of where ultimately this authority would go and that's not unusual or unlikely. I would like to make the point that I'm in no way trying to be critical of the municipality.

The municipality is seeing what they consider to be a void in terms of transportation planning and they are simply looking to move into an area of authority that they feel is important to the citizenry of the metropolitan Halifax-Dartmouth area. That's a perfectly reasonable thing for them to do, but the broader question is, does the Legislature feel comfortable ceding that kind of authority to the municipality without understanding exactly what it is that we're being asked to do? I say, frankly, no. It's not that I distrust the members of council. I know many of them. I served with many of them. I also know that on October 16th some of them potentially will change and I know less about who will be on the council after October 16th.

[Page 4403]

So those are the kinds of questions that I'm trying to raise, Mr. Speaker, and I'm hoping I'm going to have a bit more time to do this. I know that for today we're looking at winding up, but I still have some other things I wanted to talk about in terms of overall transportation planning. So I realize instead of launching into a new part of that, if it's okay, I would move to adjourn debate at this point and pick it up tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed to adjourn debate?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. and the House will sit from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading and I know that honourable members don't know the numbers of the bills that were introduced today so I will name the bills rather than give the bills' numbers. We will move into the Electricity Bill, the Highway No. 104 Bill, and the Motor Vehicle Act. There are amendments to the latter two and the first one is a new bill. With that I move the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

Is it agreed?

[It is agreed.]

We've reached the moment of interruption. The subject for late debate was presented by the member for Victoria-The Lakes:

"Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government has neglected rural roads."

[5:00 p.m.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

TPW: RURAL ROADS - NEGLECT

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, just for the sake of clarity I will reiterate the resolution:

[Page 4404]

"Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government has neglected rural roads."

Well, Mr. Speaker, there are no two ways about it that the rural parts of this province have been neglected in terms of road maintenance and upkeep and there's considerable evidence to support that the fact that the province is now moving towards a considerable privatization mode in many areas of the province, particularly in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, in Victoria County, in Kings County. By the way, Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the member for Kings West, will share my time because he would like to enlighten some members of the House as to some of the concerns in his area as well.

Mr. Speaker, in fairness to the minister there have been some general improvements in areas that we haven't seen in perhaps a more uniform fashion than we've seen in previous days. So I will put that there for the minister. I think, all things considered, fair is fair.

There is a general philosophy and there is a general direction that this government is moving towards which will lead toward the further deterioration of the maintenance and the quality of roads in rural Nova Scotia. Earlier today the minister made reference to the RIM program and the fact that the government is able to now provide the same high-quality service, using the RIM program, at a lesser cost to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

Well, perhaps there are some cases where that's true - and I would certainly submit that even in my own constituency that's been the case - however, Mr. Speaker, I think the minister would have to agree that the staff within the Department of Transportation and Public Works, the different union locals in different divisions across the province who are prevented from allowing to put a tender in or bid on certain segments of work within the department or across Nova Scotia is actually kind of precluding any opportunity for the government to realize the fact that maybe they are or maybe they aren't getting full value for their dollar. So I would put that there for the minister.

Mr. Speaker, I heard on the local media, just in the last couple of days, for example, down in Victoria County where the local grader and a snowplow have been removed from down in the North River area for the general servicing in Victoria County. That's a loss there. We've seen a reduction in the quality of service to a certain extent in my own area. For example, now they're looking at privatizing the snow removal and the salting of the roads for Route 327 and indeed the Main-a-Dieu to Catalone Highway. Both these roads are in terrible shape and I think to allow that to be tendered out, for example to have one contractor do the plowing and another contractor to do the salting could lead to some very difficult situations. Perhaps the minister could enlighten members of the House on the true extent of how far the minister is prepared to go on the contracting out of services, particularly in rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, with that being said, as well when this government came to power in 1999 there were three major federal-provincial highway agreements. There was the HIP agreement, the Highway Infrastructure Program; there was the SHIP Program, the Strategic

[Page 4405]

Highway Improvement Program - and I forget what the acronym is for the third one, but the fact of the matter is that there were three programs and now there is only one. I would encourage the minister to start moving towards reactivating one of the other two major highway agreement programs because the federal government seems to be, from all indications, willing to move to renew some of these federal-provincial programs. Why the province is a little slow off the mark on that, I'm not so sure - maybe it's bogged down on negotiations, maybe not.

Mr. Speaker, the government gave an indication in its blue book promise of 1999 that 100 per cent of all the automotive and vehicle taxes and revenues would be going towards roads in Nova Scotia. The minister presented his figures in the last sitting of the Legislature that in fact there was more going into that than in fact was being collected. Perhaps the minister, again, could enlighten us where the issue is with the federal government on this particular issue as well. These are major policy issues that perhaps the minister could speak to. At this point, perhaps I'll allow my colleague, the honourable member for Kings West, Kings North.

AN HON. MEMBER: Kings West.

MR. MACKINNON: Kings West. I'm moving around here from riding to riding, but there are so many problems down in Kings County, from what I understand, that I could pick any one of those members and they would speak very eloquently to the problems on roads. With that, Mr. Speaker, I will turn it over to my colleague, the honourable member for Kings West.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West. You have four minutes remaining.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, certainly I appreciate the opportunity to point out a few of the deficiencies that we have seen in our area in regard to the maintenance of rural roads and certainly Kings West is an entirely rural area of Nova Scotia. When we see a highway like Highway 221, which has become enormously important to the agricultural sector, tourism, with a golf course now on that highway, traffic has increased immensely. Also, we have the compost facility which requires a hardening of the road from Highway No. 101, to that facility. Again, this Summer and probably Fall will pass and nothing will have happened to that road and we know that certainly it requires immediate attention as the recycling contractor will have to take four trips to the normal one, once restrictions go on that piece of highway.

So, with the amount of traffic. The type of traffic, the Highway 221 that section, certainly having an upgrade, is very critical indeed. I think also of a road like the Aylesford Road, out to East Dalhousie, which did get some patching this year, which I know the residents appreciated, but again, it was a piece of highway put down during late Fall to early

[Page 4406]

Winter when frost conditions prevailed and of course that highway still is nowhere near perhaps the safest of conditions for a good part of the year.

It was very disappointing to also have happen in our area in the end of August, first week of September, to see 10 to 15 workers between Berwick and in the New Minas garages, who were laid off at a time when Fall work, I think, is the very essence of preparing for the winter season. I know that there is a considerable amount of basic work with the shoulders of the road, with the clearing of the bushes and so forth, that need to be accommodated for. So that certainly, again, is another element where maintenance can prevent a lot of problems for the rural roads in our area, I think, and can get a boost.

Obviously we know that there isn't sufficient money to carry on the work that is required. I think the study last year pointed out that we needed about $364 million going into our roads around the province, and we know that around $140 million certainly rural Nova Scotia is in need of the kind of long-range plan where x number of miles in each of the counties are maintained with paving and proper upgrades from one year to the next.

I hope a few of those areas that I have outlined - one further one which was raised by the honourable member for Pictou West, outlined today, the RIM work on the Black Rock Road, which certainly shows that if you don't do a good job, the right job first . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time has expired.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I had really intended to go last, if it was possible, simply because I would like to respond to the specific question.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable with the other members?

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, It doesn't matter, I can talk about rural roads sooner or later, or longer or shorter, because it's an issue that there's no shortage of topics about, but if the minister wishes to go last, that's not a problem.

The resolution read, "Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government has neglected rural roads." and in my opinion and in the opinion, I think, of almost all rural members in this House, that resolution is true. Rural roads have been neglected in the Province of Nova Scotia and for a long time.

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As a rural member from the riding of Pictou West, like many rural MLAs - Mr. Speaker, I'm sure it's the same for yourself - that we get lots and lots of calls from people with concerns over the condition of their secondary roads. Whether it's ditching or gravelling or shoulder work, bush cutting, grading - there's all kinds of needs out there and it just keeps on coming day after day, as I'm sure the minister hears from in his own riding as well.

For example, I had a call just a couple of days ago about the very poor condition of the Caribou Island Road. It's a gravel road, it extends out into a beautiful area of our Northumberland Strait and it's washboardy and it needs to be graded. It was graded earlier this Summer but it's in poor shape again. While the co-operation from our local office in Lyons Brook is generally pretty good, that's just an example of calls that we're dealing with at our office. Over and over we're getting calls about the poor condition of our secondary roads.

Probably the biggest concern is over paving, or lack thereof. Everything from repaving the whole road to general repair, patching of potholes and cracks in the road and other needs. One road in particular that I've been pressing for recently - I'm hearing quite a bit from constituents - is Route 256 which runs from Scotsburn to West Branch. That road has a lot of bad potholes, it has not been patched at all this year. I've been in contact with our district supervisor, Mr. Garby, hoping to have that particular road repaired before the cold weather arrives.

There are a lot of needs. Certainly, it was mentioned by the previous speaker, we have a huge deficit in the road needs in this province. A few years ago a study was done and it was estimated $3.5 billion - that's somewhere around $350 million a year over a 10 year period - would be needed just to bring our roads back up to standard, just to put them into a decent shape so that people would not have to be continually spending money for repairs on their vehicles. That's one of the concerns, part of that deficit, $3.5 billion over 10 years. In addition to that, there's the deficit that rural residents pay themselves when they have to go to the garage and get rims fixed on their vehicles or mufflers or front end car parts, shocks and struts and so on. In addition to the deficit the province has determined for road maintenance, there's also the cost to the individual driver.

One issue that, in addition to the cost to the driver, in our rural communities people want to improve their communities, they want the best for their community. In my riding this past year, there's been two committees set up to look at economic development and strategic planning. One is in the Alma-Mount Thom area. They sat down and looked at the strengths in their community, looked at the weaknesses, the opportunities and threats that might be in their community for the future. In the Alma-Mount Thom area, they identified one of the weaknesses as being the condition of the rural roads. That's hurting the economic activity in the area, especially along Route 4 which runs from Salt Springs right through Mount Thom and through to Colchester County into the riding of Colchester North. It is felt by the members of that committee that if money was invested in that rural road, that would help

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bring more tourists into the area and maybe it would help economic development, more businesses that could flourish and grow, and it would build on itself, but the basic infrastructure has to be there initially. So the members of that community from Alma, Greenhill, Salt Springs, Central West River and Mount Thom have identified the weakness there of the infrastructure in Route 4 and they feel that it would boost economic activity if that particular road was looked after.

[5:15 p.m.]

Likewise, there's a strategic planning committee now that has been struck in the River John area and they, too, have looked at their strengths and weaknesses and opportunities and threats and, again, the number one weakness that they have identified is the condition of the secondary roads in the River John/Seafoam/Marshville area, including the Sunrise Trail. It has been paved out as far as the MacAulay Road past Toney River and for economic development and for improvement in the community they would like to see that road paved all the way from MacAulay Road right through to Colchester County and heading towards Tatamagouche; other secondary roads in the area, too, such as the River John road and the Cape John road, and especially the West Branch Road, which runs from the Village of River John towards West Branch, is in bad, bad shape. It's really one of the poorer roads out there. So I could go on and mention lots of roads that are in need.

I will mention one other and that's the White Hill Road in back of Westville. Perhaps the minister has heard me speak about it previously. It's about six miles from the Town of Westville. I think it was paved around 1981. By 1982 it was starting to get some potholes and cracks. By 1983 it was one of the poorer roads in the county and I think it was partly because the amount of pavement that was put down was very, very little and it just went to pieces almost immediately. A rural road should last, you know, many, many more years than that. By 1984 it was done, you know, in three years it was as bad as any road out there and that was 20 years ago. So you can imagine now what it's like after all those years.

I will mention one other road and the minister would be familiar with this, is the Granton Road past the Michelin Tire plant. Due to unforeseen circumstances there, the rubberized asphalt program was not able to be carried out this year. We're certainly thankful that the regular pavement was done and the contractor had done all the preliminary work and got it ready, but it just wasn't coming together and they just couldn't seem to make the system work for rubberized asphalt.

However, in talking with the plant manager there, they are certainly very hopeful and would very much like to get the other end of the Granton Road done as an experiment, as a pilot project to see if that's possible, that would allow a type of pavement that would last a lot longer than regular asphalt paving. It has worked in Ontario, it has worked in South Carolina, and I think it has a lot of potential for long life on our roads and that's really what we need is something that's going to last a lot longer than what happened on the White Hill

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Road. Within two or three years it was finished, it was all over. So I'm hoping the minister might be able to consider the Granton Road, the other end of it, perhaps for this pilot project to see if it does work and perhaps it can save us money over the long term for other areas of Nova Scotia.

I guess my time is winding down, Mr. Speaker. I just want to say, again, I think our rural roads need more investment. We need to press the federal government for a bigger share of our gasoline tax. We need to make sure we use our dollars wisely and a pilot project, or whatever, would be one direction to go, but there's no question there is a huge deficit in roads. Our rural residents are also paying the lion's share of that with damage to their vehicles and it's hurting our economic development. There are areas that could grow and thrive if they have good rural infrastructure and it's hurting our tourism. All those things could be overcome if we had a long-term plan for better roads and I think it would help our whole economic development in rural Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for bringing this resolution forward. In fact, I wish we had one resolution like this every night because, to be quite truthful, every rural member in this Legislature will agree that we need more money for roads. I think we have to start off by discussing the money situation. The Minister of Education was asked a question today about money going into education and whether or not additional money makes for better education programs for our children, and he said, quite frankly, we don't exactly equate money with the quality of education. The same thing applies to Health. There's lots of money going into Health, but that is not necessarily going to solve the problems that we have in the health care system.

But I can guarantee you that in the transportation system, more money means better roads, absolutely, because the money goes into infrastructure, it goes into something you can see, something you can measure, and you can say, yes, we have another five kilometres, 10 kilometres of road in your area, and you can go out and see that. On top of that we're doing something that is going to last for 25 years. If we cannot get that particular kind of support across the province, then the money will still continue to go to Health and it will go to Education and it will go to Community Services, because when people are asked the question, what is the most important government program that you think should be expanded, should have more money, they say Health. It's just an automatic answer.

You go up and knock on their door, as you have probably done, Mr. Speaker, during an election campaign and you ask them what their concerns are, what their problems are, and they point out their front gate and they say fix the road, cure the potholes, pave, build a bridge. That's the kind of thing they want. So the first thing we have to do is to encourage not only the provincial government, my colleagues in Cabinet, but also the federal government to step up to the plate and provide more money for highways.

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I said today, when the honourable member for Pictou West was talking about $3.5 million, and I corrected him and I know he knew what the answer was, that it's about $3.5 billion; $3.5 billion is the amount that we needed to pick up the deficit about five years ago, but that deficit is getting bigger and bigger every year. We're not catching up. We need more money, and the money has to come from somewhere. Where's it going to come from?

Well, Mr. Speaker, one of the things that we have to do, I think, is to encourage the federal government to return to the province a portion of the gasoline tax that flows out from this province every year. It's about $140 million. Now Mr. Martin has said yes, he's going to actually share some of those revenues from motive fuels with the provinces. However, he has said that when he's returning that money to the provinces that it's going to flow to the municipal units. That would probably be very fair in a province like Ontario or provinces like Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and perhaps Quebec, but in the Province of Nova Scotia it doesn't make sense.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member allow for a question?

MR. RUSSELL: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Minister, thank you for taking the question. When you mentioned about the federal government stepping up to the plate for more money, I was in contact with Mark Eyking, the MP in my area and I questioned him about the funding for the Cabot Trail. He said that if they come up with more money, the province would have to step up to the plate, also. So if he was successful to bring more federal dollars to come forward, guaranteed for the Cabot Trail, would the province also match those funds and step up to the plate along with them?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the quick answer is yes. But I don't want to dwell on that, because I'm wasting my time, to be quite frank, because I don't think that's going to happen. What I was trying to say was that the present federal Liberal Government's plan is to take a portion of the federal motive fuel tax and return it to the provinces via the municipalities, via the cities.

Mr. Speaker, in the Province of Nova Scotia that won't work, and I'll tell you why. In the Province of Nova Scotia, 90 per cent of the roads in the province are the responsibility of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, and 10 per cent belong to the municipalities and the cities and the towns. You go to Ontario, it's 10 per cent that belongs to the provincial Department of Transportation and 90 per cent belongs to the municipalities and the cities and the towns. When the federal Minister of Transport was down in the province, just about a week or 10 days ago, I had a meeting with him and I brought this to

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his attention and I must confess, for the first time in my time in the Department of Transportation and Public Works, I think I found somebody who understood that.

That gives me great happiness from the point of view that I think, finally, somebody in the federal government understands that in the Province of Nova Scotia and in the Province of New Brunswick and in the Province of Newfoundland that we are different from the point of view of how we maintain our roads and bridges, where the provincial Departments of Transportation have the majority of the load to carry. So I think we're getting somewhere.

That is more money coming to the province, and that's good but, Mr. Speaker, there are other things we can do as well, and one of the things that we can do to assist us getting more work done on our highways, quite frankly, is to use our money more intelligently. Now I know that there's a lot of discussion out in the rural areas about alternate service delivery whereby we are asking private contractors to carry out capital work for the province. This is done primarily through the RIM program, which is an ideal vehicle for the small contractor to start up and get into business, and perhaps later on that same contractor will be able to compete for some of the larger contracts around the province under our general capital program.

But, Mr. Speaker, the RIM program is providing the Department of Transportation and Public Works with about an extra 30 per cent of actual completed highway work over what we would get if we had department forces doing that same work. I'm sorry, the costs of the department doing the work themselves is around about 30 per cent higher than having our own forces do it, so it makes sense that a certain percentage we're going to put out to the private contractors.

Mr. Speaker, the RIM program has been a success. We have increased the amount that we put into the RIM program every year since we came into government by approximately $1 million, $1.5 million per year. One of the reasons why we have roads in Nova Scotia that are not up to scratch today is because in 1993, when we went out of power, we were spending $131 million a year on capital expenditures - $131 million on capital. During the next several years that capital investment in highways went down to $40-odd million and only now, over the past four years, have we started to increase the capital expenditure, and even today we're only at $120 million, approximately.

At least every cent that we derive in taxes from motive fuels at the present time is going back into highways; in fact we're putting in about $10 million more than we are receiving in motive fuel taxes. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I say, this is a subject near and dear to my heart, and I'm sure it is to all rural members. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The time has expired for late debate.

[The House rose at 5:29 p.m.]

[Page 4412]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 2276

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 despite occasional comments to the contrary, government could simply not function without a system of organized political Parties; and

Whereas the Old Barns Progressive Conservatives are about to enter their 61st year of operation, providing support to the local community in such areas as the community hall, the school, cemetery, fire equipment and the local church; and

Whereas the Old Barns Progressive Conservatives do everything from having an annual Christmas tea to the selling of quilts as well as items which have either been sewn, knitted or crocheted, while in the past during the Second World War, they donated funds to the Commercial Travellers Association in Truro to supply some treats to troops passing through town on the train;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs commend the fantastic work of the Old Barns Progressive Conservatives, still going strong after 60 years, and wish organizers such as Bette Chisholm and Rowena Loughead and all club members nothing but continued success for many more years in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 2277

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 Springhill/Oxford area Kidney Foundation will celebrate its 25th Anniversary on September 24, 2004, at the Springhill Senior Citizens Centre with guest speaker, Senator Terry Mercer, who also spoke at the charter meeting 25 years ago; and

Whereas volunteers have spent many hours fundraising for the foundation throughout the year, including such events as a Boxing Day breakfast, selling tickets on baskets, the March Drive, selling peanuts and suckers in the Fall and many other fundraising events which have been instrumental for the Kidney Foundation to support the staff and patients at the Springhill Dialysis Centre; and

[Page 4413]

Whereas these funds, which assist with research, dialysis and patient services, are very important to the Kidney Foundation and monies raised go a long way to make life much easier for those individuals in need of help;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Springhill/Oxford area Kidney Foundation on their 25th Anniversary of making such a significant and positive change in the lives of those who deal with kidney disease and wish them continued success in the years to come.