The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 03/04/05-68

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

TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2005

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice: Young Offenders Act - Review, Hon. C. Clarke 5936
Health: Tobacco (Second-Hand) - Dangers, Mr. M. Parent 5936
Fin.: Gasoline Prices - Regulation, Mr. C. Parker 5937
Educ.: Tuition Fees - Reduce, Ms. D. Whalen 5937
Commun. Serv.: Disabled - Living Options, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5937
Educ.: Costs - Reduce, Mr. K. Colwell 5937
Educ.: Post-Secondary Funding - Restore, Mr. D. Dexter 5938
TPW: Black Rock Rd. - Repave, Mr. M. Parent 5938
Educ.: Tuition Fees - Reduce, Mr. W. Estabrooks 5938
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Private and Local Bills Committee, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 5938
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3129, Pope Benedict XVI - Election, The Premier 5939
Vote - Affirmative 5940
Res. 3130, Power, Sonja: Status of Women Chair - Election,
The Premier 5940
Vote - Affirmative 5940
Res. 3131, Paris, Doreen: Status of Women - Dedication,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 5941
Vote - Affirmative 5941
Res. 3132, Redcliff Middle School: Historica Fair - Importance,
Hon. J. Muir 5942
Vote - Affirmative 5942
Res. 3133, Benjamin, Kevin: PRO Prog. - Commend,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5943
Vote - Affirmative 5943
Res. 3134, Pengrowth: N.S. Energy Scholarship Prog. - Applaud,
Hon. C. Clarke 5943
Vote - Affirmative 5944
Res. 3135, MacDonald, Heather - Picker Instit. Award,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 5944
Vote - Affirmative 5945
Res. 3136, Thorsen, Terry - PM Teaching Award, Hon. J. Muir 5945
Vote - Affirmative 5946
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 152, Liquor Control Act, Hon. E. Fage 5946
No. 153, Public Service Act, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5946
No. 154, Provincial Finance Act, Mr. G. Steele 5946
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3137, Pope Benedict XVI: Best Wishes - Express, Mr. D. Dexter 5946
Vote - Affirmative 5947
Res. 3138, Justice - Deputy Sheriffs' Working Group: Concerns -
Address, Mr. Michel Samson 5947
Res. 3139, Storysacks: Pictou-Antigonish Reg. Library - Launch,
The Premier 5948
Vote - Affirmative 5948
Res. 3140, Justice - Deputy Sheriffs: Equip./Staffing - Provide,
Mr. K. Deveaux 5949
Res. 3141, Prem.: Promises - Inaction, Mr. Michel Samson 5949
Res. 3142, Cameron, Sandy: Death of - Tribute, Mr. R. Chisholm 5950
Vote - Affirmative 5951
Res. 3143, Justice: Deputy Sheriffs - Reclassify, Mr. F. Corbett 5951
Res. 3144, Sydney Acad. - Debating Championship,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 5951
Vote - Affirmative 5952
Res. 3145, Palmer, Carl & Evelyn: Vol. Efforts - Recognize,
Mr. M. Parent 5952
Vote - Affirmative 5953
Res. 3146, Bond, Mary: Commun. Serv. - Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 5953
Vote - Affirmative 5954
Res. 3147, Environ. & Lbr.: Greenwood Water System - Install,
Mr. L. Glavine 5954
Res. 3148, Cdn. Guernsey Assoc. - Anniv. (100th), Mr. B. Taylor 5955
Vote - Affirmative 5955
Res. 3149, Gov't. (N.S.): Environment - Protect, Ms. J. Massey 5955
Res. 3150, Volunteer Wk. - Vols.: Efforts - Applaud, Mr. H. Theriault 5956
Vote - Affirmative 5957
Res. 3151, Privateers Harley-Davidson - Congrats., Mr. G. Hines 5957
Vote - Affirmative 5957
Res. 3152, Pictou Garden Club: Lifetime Members - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Parker 5958
Vote - Affirmative 5958
Res. 3153, TPW - Plateau, Inv. Co.: Road - Repair,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 5958
Res. 3154, Gaming - VLTs: First Nations Communities -
Gov't. (Can.) Plan, Mr. R. MacKinnon 5959
Vote - Affirmative 5960
Res. 3155, TPW: Route 333 - Prioritize, Mr. W. Estabrooks 5960
Res. 3156, Environ. & Lbr. - Rural N.S.: Jobs - Attract,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 5961
Res. 3157, Grant-Walsh, Margie: Work - Compliment, Mr. J. DeWolfe 5961
Vote - Affirmative 5962
Res. 3158, Cabrita, Judith - Tourism Ind.: Devotion - Thank,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 5962
Vote - Affirmative 5963
Res. 3159, Yorke, Lisette: Morehead Scholarship - Congrats.,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 5963
Vote - Affirmative 5963
Res. 3160, Hillcrest Acad.: Tsunami Fundraising - Compliment,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 5964
Vote - Affirmative 5964
Res. 3161, Boston Marathon - N.S. Participants, Mr. G. Gosse 5964
Vote - Affirmative 5965
Res. 3162, Jail & Bail Fundraiser (Digby): Participants - Applaud,
Mr. H. Theriault 5965
Vote - Affirmative 5966
Res. 3163, RCMP: Seniors Check-In Prog. - Acknowledge,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 5966
Vote - Affirmative 5967
Res. 3164, WCB: Sydney Patients - MRI Stats, Mr. R. MacKinnon 5967
Res. 3165, Manzer, Audrey E.: Vol. Service - Tribute Pay, Mr. J. Pye 5967
Vote - Affirmative 5968
Res. 3166, Educ.: C.B.-Victoria Reg. Sch. Bd. Strike - Address,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 5968
Res. 3167, Moore, Jeff & Debra: Entrepreneurial Award - Congrats.,
Hon. D. Morse 5969
Vote - Affirmative 5969
Res. 3168, Yar.-Portland Ferry Service - Replace, Mr. D. Dexter 5970
Vote - Affirmative 5970
Res. 3169, Wicks, Ashley: Athletic Achievements - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 5970
Vote - Affirmative 5971
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 686, Gaming - Fdn.: Funding Cuts - Explain, Mr. D. Dexter 5971
No. 687, Gaming: VLTs - Ban, Mr. Michel Samson 5973
No. 688, Health Prom. - Funding: Recovery Houses - Effect,
Mr. D. Dexter 5975
No. 689, Gaming - VLTs: All-Party Comm. - Jurisdictions Visit,
Mr. D. Graham 5976
No. 690, Health: Pharmacare Co-Payments/Ambulance Fees - End,
Mr. D. Dexter 5978
No. 691, Educ. - C.B.-Victoria Reg. Sch. Bd.: Fin. Assistance - Offer,
Mr. F. Corbett 5979
No. 692, Educ.: C.B. Sch. Bd. Strike - Plan, Ms. D. Whalen 5980
No. 693, Educ. - Prof. Progs.: Tuition Cap - Applicability,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5982
No. 694, NSLC - Yarmouth Store: Relocation - Explain, Mr. G. Gosse 5984
No. 695, Health - ALS Patients: Home Care - Policy,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 5985
No. 696, TPW - Pictou Co. Rds.: Conditions - Explain, Mr. C. Parker 5987
No. 697, TPW - Como Rd.: Neglect - Explain, Mr. Gerald Sampson 5988
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 145, Elections Act 5990
Hon. J. Muir 5990
Mr. K. Deveaux 5991
Mr. Michel Samson 5994
Mr. R. MacKinnon 5997
Mr. J. Pye 5999
Mr. W. Gaudet 6002
Mr. J. MacDonell 6003
Mr. C. Parker 6005
Hon. J. Muir 6007
Vote - Affirmative 6008
No. 146, Cross-border Policing Act 6008
Hon. J. Muir 6008
Mr. K. Deveaux 6009
Mr. Michel Samson 6012
Mr. W. Langille 6016
Hon. J. Muir 6017
Vote - Affirmative 6017
No. 147, Youth Justice Act/Motor Vehicle Act 6018
Hon. J. Muir 6018
Mr. K. Deveaux 6019
Adjourned debate 6019
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
TPW: Roads - Gov't. Neglect:
Mr. Gerald Sampson 6020
Mr. H. Theriault 6022
Mr. C. Parker 6022
Hon. R. Russell 6025
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 20th at 2:00 p.m. 6028
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3170, Westville Miners Midget "C" Hockey Team - Championship,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 6029
Res. 3171, D.W. Thompson Esso-Scotsburn Dairy Bombers - Congrats.,
The Speaker 6029
Res. 3172, Daborn, Sgt. Major CWO - Cadet Award, The Speaker 6030
Res. 3173, Davis, Daniel - Basketball Award, The Speaker 6030
Res. 3174, Boss, Janice - Cumberland South Vol. of the Yr.,
The Speaker 6031
Res. 3175, Brown, Bethany - Cumb. Health Care Bursary,
The Speaker 6031
Res. 3176, TCH - Southern N.S.: Tourism - Increase, Mr. S. McNeil 6032
Res. 3177, Educ.: Debt Relief/Student Fin. Aid - Prioritize,
Ms. D. Whalen 6032
Res. 3178, Educ. - Int'l. Students: Fee Increases - Effects,
Ms. D. Whalen 6033
Res. 3179, Volunteer Wk. - Vols.: Contribution - Thank,
Mr. Michel Samson 6033
Res. 3180, MacNeil, Anastasia: Physical Fitness - Congrats.,
Mr. Michel Samson 6034
Res. 3181, Saulnierville Pharmacy - Commun. Contributions,
Mr. W. Gaudet 6034
Res. 3182, Comeau, Cecil - Clare Vol. of the Yr., Mr. W. Gaudet 6035
Res. 3183, Pengrowth Corp. Scholarship Fund - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Graham 6035
Res. 3184, Gaming: VLTs - Ban, Mr. D. Graham 6036
Res. 3185, Health: Oncology Nurses - Appreciation Extend,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 6036
Res. 3186, Castle Moffett - AAA/CAA Four Diamond Award,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 6037
Res. 3187, Brown, Martha - Commun./Prov.: Service - Honour,
Mr. K. Colwell 6037
Res. 3188, Sport: Adams Rink - Curling Championships,
Mr. L. Glavine 6038
Res. 3189, Byers, Jesse: Fundraising - Congrats., Mr. S. McNeil 6038
Res. 3190, Justice - Deputy Sheriffs: Casual Positions - Convert,
Mr. K. Deaveaux 6039
Res. 3191, Walters, Anthony - 4-H Citizenship Conf.: Participation - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 6039

[Page 5929]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2005

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. James DeWolfe, Ms. Joan Massey, Mr. Daniel Graham

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a point of privilege. I'm rising today to have the Premier address what I consider to be a very serious problem regarding the fundamental rights of the members of this Legislature and fundamental principles of democracy. When a bill is passed by this Legislature, the members of this Legislature and the residents of Nova Scotia should be able to expect the passed legislation to be proclaimed into force by this government's Executive Council in a reasonable period of time.

Mr. Speaker, I have a list here, and I'll table this list of 16 bills passed by this Legislature since October 2003 that have been given Royal Assent but are still waiting to be approved by the Executive Council before they can be proclaimed in force. At least one bill was given Royal Assent back in 2003 and has still not been proclaimed.

5929

[Page 5930]

The list of bills passed by this Legislature includes: legislation to protect Nova Scotia consumers from aggressive collection agencies; free use of school gyms for youth and seniors' groups; legislation to help families recover money from deadbeat parents; vital health legislation to help protect the public in the event of a SARS-like outbreak; legislation to monitor the illegal use of prescription drugs. Mr. Speaker, this is important legislation.

I also note, Mr. Speaker, there are Opposition Party bills that were passed and are still waiting to be proclaimed, including a Liberal Private Member's Bill to require booster seats. The Premier has spoken, finally, of his support of Opposition bills. Now, for a few of these pieces of legislation I recognize there are legitimate reasons why there may be a delay in proclamation, but for the vast majority, I submit that the government lacks the will to respect the wishes of this Legislature after the spotlight of the media has gone and the attention of Nova Scotians has shifted to other matters. The problem is, Nova Scotians think these bills are law when they are not.

Nova Scotians and the members of this Legislature need answers. One would think that this government is operating with a majority government. Well, I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, and the people of Nova Scotia, they are not operating as a majority and are accountable more than ever to this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, this inaction by the Executive Council violates the rights and privileges of all members. Members of the Treasury benches cannot and must not be allowed to flaunt the rights and privileges of members. It is anti-democratic and I would appreciate it if the Speaker ruled on this point. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that over the past 250 years there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of bills that have not been proclaimed, including some, I would suggest, probably introduced by that honourable member between 1993 and 1999.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will certainly take the matter under advisement and report back to the House at a later date.

We will begin the daily routine.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure and sadness that I rise in the House today to pay tribute to a former Liberal Party Leader, MLA and friend, Mr. Sandy

Cameron, who passed away on Christmas Day.

[Page 5931]

Sandy followed in his family's tradition and served over 30 years in politics. His dedication touched many lives along the way. Holding his provincial seat in Guysborough for 11 years, Sandy was a true worker, always looking out for what was best for Nova Scotians.

Holding Ministries in Fisheries, Lands and Forests, and Development, Sandy had a wide grasp of the issues of the day. He also had a firm hold on what it meant to be a Leader. When he took the helm of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia in 1980, Sandy worked tirelessly on behalf of the Party, always with a smile. Sandy Cameron was known as a gentleman and it was even suggested that he was too much of a nice guy to be Premier of the province.

Following his departure from politics, Sandy returned to his native Guysborough to operate the family business, St. Mary's River Smokehouse. Many visitors to the area, including myself, left with some of Sandy's wonderful smoked salmon.

Sandy stayed active in his community lending a helping hand whenever called upon. He also remained an active member of the Liberal Party, providing sound advice and guidance over the years. Our Liberal Party and all Nova Scotians feel the loss of Sandy Cameron. We express our deepest sympathy to his wife, Shirley, his children Moira K. and Alex.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of our Leader, Francis MacKenzie and the Liberal caucus, that following comments by the Premier and Leader of the Official Opposition, and possibly the member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour, that all members rise today for a moment of silent reflection on the life of a great minister, MLA, Leader of the Liberal Party, and a friend. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, in the House yesterday each Party spoke of a gentleman whose life was cut all too short. It's sad to think that in the last week of December 2004, we lost two loyal servants of this House.

Mr. Sandy Cameron was an unassuming man who took great pride in his province and pride in his constituency. He was known to several of my caucus colleagues personally, he was very much the gentleman. He was well known because he had served as a Minister of the Crown and a Liberal Leader, but even greater than those legacies was the manner in which he conducted himself in his years in provincial politics, both in his time on the government benches and on the Opposition benches. Perhaps being the third in a line of provincial politicians, following both father and grandfather, he had a more intimate understanding than most of the world of politics. He left a positive impression in his years served in what is a difficult career choice.

He is sadly missed, and I join with my colleagues in this House in sending sincere sympathies to his partner in life, his wife, Shirley and their family. Losing a loved one on

[Page 5932]

Christmas day must have been very difficult emotionally. We can only hope the many memories of their father and husband, especially in the last two decades when he was able to spend so much time in his beloved community, would have helped them through the loss. As I said of John yesterday, this man, whose life we recall, was a true gentleman. This former Liberal Leader was a man of integrity and a positive model for others who have chosen to follow his career path to public service.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say a few words, following up on what has already been said by the member for Richmond, the Leader in the House of the Liberal Party, and the Premier. Certainly what both have indicated is the strength of the service that Mr. Cameron gave to this House and to the Province of Nova Scotia. There's, of course, not at this time on our benches people who would have known him personally, at least I don't believe so, but many of us watched him in his years of service as a member of the House and as the Leader of the Liberal Party, as a minister, and the work that he did was done, as was mentioned, with great integrity and with a great understanding of the needs of the people of this province.

For my own self, Mr. Speaker, life sometimes works in odd ways, when I graduated from the School of Journalism I went to work at CFDR Radio. The very first interview I was ever asked to do was with Sandy Cameron, he took me into his office, and we sat down. What I was amazed about in the course of that interview was how at ease he was and how he was able to put even a young reporter who was feeling a great deal of trepidation, finding themselves in that situation at that point in time, how easy he made it feel for you to do the job that you were doing. When I was reflecting on Mr. Cameron's life, I remember the fact that he was so gracious and so willing to brook what might not have been the best interview that he'd ever encountered.

[2:15 p.m.]

So, I would just conclude by saying that members of the Opposition and members of the New Democratic Party caucus would like to echo the sentiments and associate ourselves with the words already spoken by the Premier and the Leader in the House of the Liberal Party. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I too want to relay the regrets and the sympathies of all people from Guysborough County that have over the years come to know Sandy Cameron - there were a great number of them.

[Page 5933]

Just two weeks ago I was driving down through Larry's River, Seal Harbour, in that area and there was a baby barn on the side of the road with a sign on it - Re-elect Sandy Cameron. Many places that I've travelled throughout Guysborough County, people have always asked about Sandy Cameron, especially when he was sick, asking if I knew of his condition and how he was doing.

I had the opportunity a couple of times when Sandy was sick to drop in on him. The first time I dropped in at his home and there were two other people there. They weren't necessarily of Sandy's particular political persuasion and we had joked we now had Sandy surrounded when he was laying in bed. We had really good discussions and many times that I've met Sandy Cameron - whether it be on the street in Sherbrooke or at a meeting of concerned citizens - he was always available to give advice. It didn't matter that we were of different political Parties, he was a true gentleman.

Mr. Speaker, I have a resolution that I will read when it's time for resolutions. Thank you very much for the opportunity.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Would all members now rise for a moment of silence in the memory of the late Sandy Cameron.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Please be seated.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture on an introduction.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Thank you very much and I do so as Minister of Immigration, if I might make an introduction. In your gallery, I'd like to introduce to the House Mr. Michael Yu and Mr. Brian Hare, both of whom have just immigrated to our province with their families. Mr. Yu was a successful applicant through our new Nova Scotia Nominee Program. He has purchased a home in Clayton Park and he and his wife and three children just moved in this past Friday. In accordance with our Nominee Program, he has accepted employment with a Nova Scotia firm and is offering his expertise with respect to export and marketing of products for Southeast Asia.

Mr. Hare also came to Nova Scotia through our Nominee Program. He and his wife and two children moved into their new home in Lawrencetown just this past week. He is already pursuing solid job opportunities.

The Yu and Hare families are just two of the 71 families who have recently settled here as a result of the Nova Scotia Nominee Program. Mr. Speaker, I would ask the two gentlemen to rise and to receive the warm welcome to this House and to Nova Scotia. (Applause)

[Page 5934]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. I certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery today and to our province.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Thank you. I'd like to make an introduction. You can imagine my surprise when I looked up into the gallery and I saw for the first time in many years a friend of mine, a person who was my roommate at university. Which, of course, means he has way too much to say, or at least he knows way more than he ought to. He's an individual who has had great success and who works I think primarily in the U.S. these days. He's here I understand to observe the proceedings of the House. I would ask the members to make welcome Steven Mader. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources on an introduction.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure this afternoon to introduce representatives of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women who are in the east gallery. This morning they officially welcomed their new Chairman, Sonja Power, from Amherst and I would ask that they stand as I introduce them: Sonja Power, Chairman of the Advisory Council; Jen d'Entremont from Pubnico; Doreen Paris, past-chairman of the council who is from New Glasgow; Patricia LeBlanc of Sydney; and Rita Warner of Judique. I would ask that all members acknowledge their presence and give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome our guests to the gallery today and also I would like to take the opportunity to bring the attention of the House to two people who are in the Speaker's Gallery today, we have Mr. Allan Alexander and his wife, Marian. Allan is the Warden of the Springhill Institution in Springhill. Allan and his wife were here today to observe the ceremony in the Red Chamber where Sonja has taken over the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. I would ask Allan and his wife, Marian, to please stand and receive the warm welcome of the House as well. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery I want to introduce members from the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, deputy sheriffs, who are here today as part of a working group that is working with government on some issues with regard to health and safety, casual employees and reclassification. If they could stand as I read their names: Kathleen Mayich, Hank Dunnewold, Raymond Lindsay, Sandra Webster, Roland Beaman, Robert Baird and Ian Johnson is here as well from the union. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We would welcome our guests. We hope they enjoy the proceedings.

[Page 5935]

The honourable member for Kings North on an introduction.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome and introduce to the House someone who's no stranger to the House and is sitting in the gallery. He will be well known to us over time, Mr. David Hovell, who is the new Director of the PC caucus and a constituent from Port Williams. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome Mr. Hovell to the gallery today. Any further introductions?

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, one other member who is with us today is Jeanette Peterson who is in the crowd also. Sorry about that. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome Jeanette here today.

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: I do have one other introduction that I would like to make. Today we Krissy Arbuckle, a third year political science student visiting us from Mount Saint Vincent University. She is job shadowing me today to find out what it's like to be a Cabinet Minister and an MLA. I know that on International Women's Day other members of the Legislature had the opportunity to do the same and I thank them for that. This morning she attended the reception for the new chairman of the advisory council and she will now have the opportunity to see the Legislature in full flight.

Krissy attended the Campaign School for Women which was held at the Mount in conjunction with the advisory council. She has since put her campaign knowledge to work and has been successful in winning a position on the executive of the student union. She is now Vice-President of Academic Affairs and I invite all members of the Legislature to join me in welcoming Krissy Arbuckle of Halifax to the Legislature. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome Krissy to the gallery today and hope she enjoys the proceedings.

Before we go on to the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton South.

"Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government has continued to neglect Nova Scotia roads."

[Page 5936]

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition entitled "CHANGE IS NEEDED! - CHANGE THE YOUNG OFFENDERS ACT!", where the signatories want to ensure a review is undertaken without delay to determine if the Youth Criminal Justice Act is working for all Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, over 4,000 residents from the Northside of Cape Breton have signed this petition. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table two petitions. The first one is from Kids Against Tobacco Smoke of Aldershot Elementary School. The operative clause is:

"Whereas second-hand smoke kills approximately 200 Nova Scotians each year; and

Whereas all Nova Scotians, regardless of age, need to be protected from the health risks of indoor second-hand smoke in public places; and

Whereas there's no safe level of indoor second-hand smoke; and

Whereas 100 per cent smoke-free indoor public places legislation will reduce the number of youths starting to smoke and increase the number of adults who quit smoking, we the undersigned support 100 per cent smoke-free municipal provincial legislation." (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member has signed that?

The petition is tabled.

[Page 5937]

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, a very large petition. It contains 3,470 names. It's on the need to regulate gasoline and heating fuel prices in this province. I'll read the operative clause.

"WE the undersigned petition the Province of Nova Scotia to REGULATE FUEL PRICES. Regulation, based on the Prince Edward Island model, would STOP PRICE SPECULATION by the oil companies, ensure a Fair Margin for retailers and would bring STABILITY to the industry as a whole:"

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition entitled, Reduce Tuition Fees, containing 120 signatures of Nova Scotia residents concerned about the high and ever-rising costs of education in our province, and I have affixed my signature there too.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition to support the establishment of community living options for people who have disabilities, in the Town of Port Hawkesbury, and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition containing 113 signatures of Nova Scotia residents concerned about the high and ever-rising costs of education in our province and I have affixed my signature here too.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 5938]

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition and the operative clause of which reads:

"Therefore your petitioners call upon the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia to make a considerable reinvestment in core funding to Nova Scotia's post-secondary institutions, tie increase core funding to progressive reductions of tuition fees at Nova Scotia's public post-secondary institutions, and to implement a systems of needs-based non-repayable grants."

Mr. Speaker, there are 130 signatures and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Sorry, apologies to the House for being in a rush on these petitions. The second petition basically is calling upon the government to repave Black Rock Road and there are about 89 signatures and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I beg permission to table a petition entitled, Reduce Student Tuition Fees. There are 156 names of post-secondary students and as a father of a daughter in this situation going to NSCAD, I am proud to say that I have affixed my signature also.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Private and Local Bills Committee, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

[Page 5939]

Bill No. 134 - Yarmouth Marketing and Promotions Levy Act.

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

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

[2:30 p.m.]

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 3129

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

Whereas today a successor to Pope John Paul II has been chosen; and

Whereas millions around the world, while still mourning the death of Pope John Paul, have looked eagerly to the church for their next leader; and

Whereas that leader has been announced as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and has chosen the name Benedict XVI;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature join with the faithful in rejoicing the election of the new Pope and wish that he continue Pope John Paul II's legacy of peace, human rights and interfaith dialogue.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 5940]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 3130

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

Whereas Sonja Power of Amherst has been elected as Chairman of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women from April 1, 2005 to March 31, 2007; and

Whereas Ms. Power has been a member of the council since 1999, working hard to help advance the equality, fairness and dignity of all women in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Ms. Power is past-president and a current board member of the Amherst Association of Healthy Adolescent Sexuality, the governing board of the Teen Health Centre in the Amherst Regional High School, and an advocate for women's equity in the workplace;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature join me in congratulating Ms. Sonja Power on her new position, and thank her for her leadership in support of women in our communities.

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 Act.

[Page 5941]

RESOLUTION NO. 3131

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

Whereas the Advisory Council on the Status of Women works with partners inside and outside of government to advance fairness, dignity and equality for the women of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Doreen Paris has recently ended two years of devotion to this mission as Chairman of the Advisory Council, part of her lifelong commitment to the equality of all women; and

Whereas she has helped improve the lives of many women, indirectly and directly;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature join me in thanking Doreen Paris for her dedication to the women of Nova Scotia since she joined the council in 1994 and especially during her tenure as chairman.

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.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, with your permission I'd like to do an introduction in advance of reading this resolution.

In the east gallery, I'd like to introduce six Redcliff Middle School students who are here with their Principal, Alan Kennedy. Just to put the school in situation for you, it serves students in Colchester North, Colchester South, Musquodoboit Valley, as well as Truro-Bible Hill. The students, Ryan Myette, Lauren Sinclair, Ceilidh Matheson, Brandon MacKay, Robert Kennedy and Rebecca Johnson, worked very closely with their teacher, Dr. Owen Ferguson, to create projects for the Historica Fair in their region. Those projects were on display in the

[Page 5942]

lobby of the provincial Legislature today, and I might add were on display at Pier 21 yesterday, and each tells its own story about our unique heritage in Canada.

I would ask that the students and their Principal, Mr. Kennedy, please rise and receive the warm welcome of the members of this Assembly. (Applause)

RESOLUTION NO. 3132

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

Whereas the theme of Provincial Education Week, April 17th to 23rd, is History: Look in your own backyard, and we are celebrating teachers and students with a love of history; and

Whereas each year Historica Fairs are held across the province, and students in Grades 4 to 9 explore Canadian heritage by creating dynamic history projects for public presentation; and

Whereas students from Redcliff Middle School have worked hard to create projects for their regional Historica Fair and have displayed them in the Provincial Legislature today;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the importance of Redcliff students' interest in history and their efforts to create history projects to educate their classmates, school community and general public about our Canadian heritage.

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 Health Promotion.

[Page 5943]

RESOLUTION NO. 3133

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

Whereas sailing is a favourite recreational pastime of Chester residents and provides the area with an economic boost every Summer with the amount of Summer residents and tourists it brings to the town; and

Whereas Kevin Benjamin coordinated a special licence plate fundraising program through the Municipality of the District of Chester, which features sailing boats on the plates; and

Whereas the money raised goes towards PRO, the Positive Recreation Opportunities for Kids, a program he coordinates that provides local children and teens assistance, so they can participate in a variety of recreation and sports programs. Last year 42 children in the municipality were given money for registration fees and equipment;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Kevin Benjamin and the Municipality of the District of Chester for their efforts to encourage and assist our youth to be physically active, participate in local recreational opportunities, and using sailing to boost the Chester community in other ways.

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 Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 3134

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

[Page 5944]

Whereas Pengrowth Corporation, one of the owners of the Sable Offshore Energy Project and the Department of Energy are partnering to create the Pengrowth-Nova Scotia Energy Scholarship Program; and

Whereas at 10 $2,500 scholarships will be awarded annually to students pursuing energy-related studies at a Nova Scotia university, with one additional university scholarship designated each year for a member of a First Nation or visible minority, as well as up to four research grants for graduate students valued at $15,000 each; and

Whereas the program will also offer at least four $2,500 scholarships for first-year students pursuing energy-related trades and technology programs at the Nova Scotia Community College;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the generous investment by Pengrowth Corporation and applaud their partnership with the Department of Energy to create new opportunities for Nova Scotians in the energy sector.

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3135

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

Whereas Heather MacDonald, a critical care nurse at the QE II Health Sciences Centre, has become the first Canadian to be selected by the esteemed Picker Institute in the United States for her superior work in patient care; and

Whereas Ms. MacDonald is a member of several professional nursing associations and currently is enrolled in a Master of Nursing Program at Memorial University of Newfoundland; and

[Page 5945]

Whereas Ms. MacDonald has made national presentations on patient/family centred care, is a strong advocate of implementing patient/family centred care philosophy within the critical care environment, while leading the Critical Care Patient/Family Council team at the QE II on the council over the past few years;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the significant award presented by the Picker Institute to Ms. MacDonald at its recent symposium, and appreciate the high quality professional health care work force working in every region of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3136

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

Whereas Terry Thorsen, a math teacher at Cobequid Educational Centre, has received the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence; and

Whereas the $5,000 National Certificate of Excellence and the $1,000 Local Certificate of Achievement along with a certificate signed by the Prime Minister were awarded to 67 teachers and 25 early childhood educators this year; and

Whereas Terry Thorsen, who teaches Grades 10 and 12 students, has demonstrated a commitment to building the foundation for lifelong learning, Canadian values and a stronger Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Terry Thorsen on receiving the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching and thank him for his continued contribution to the education of young Nova Scotians.

[Page 5946]

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. 152 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 260 of the Revised Statutes, 1989. The Liquor Control Act. (Hon. Ernest Fage)

Bill No. 153 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 376 of the Revised Statutes, 1989. The Public Service Act,to Establish the Office of Immigration. (Hon. Rodney MacDonald)

Bill No. 154 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 365 of the Revised Statutes, 1989. The Provincial Finance Act. (Mr. Graham Steele.)

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. 3137

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

Whereas Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany was today elected as the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church; and

Whereas the worldwide response to the death of Pope John Paul II was a reminder of the importance to many people of moral teaching and faith-based values; and

Whereas values such as love, hope and charity help the entire family of human kind live together in peace, regardless of one's religious belief;

[Page 5947]

Therefore be it resolved that this House express its best wishes to the newly chosen Pope Benedict XVI for his success in advancing the cause of peace and goodwill towards 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 Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3138

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

Whereas this government continues to ignore the concerns of government employees by failing to address the concerns of deputy sheriffs; and

Whereas deputy sheriffs are constantly being asked to do more with less, compromising their safety and the safety of the general public; and

Whereas a large number of deputy sheriffs are employed on a casual basis, which means they get paid less with fewer benefits than those doing the same job;

Therefore be it resolved that this government address the concerns of the deputy sheriffs working group so that they have the tools and resources to do the job required.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 5948]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 3139

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

Whereas this Winter, thanks to the creative efforts and financial support of many volunteers, the Pictou town branch of the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library launched its own Storysacks program; and

Whereas Storysacks - part of the National Adult Literacy Database - was appropriately launched on National Family Literacy Day; and

Whereas thanks to $500 in donated books from the Pictou Rotary Club and a beautiful hand-crafted Storysacks made by members of the Northumberland Quilt Guild, reading has been made just a bit more fun for young readers and their families in this community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature who are always fans of any new efforts to promote literacy commend the work of these Pictou County volunteers and our library to foster the joy of reading in our youth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:45 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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 5949]

RESOLUTION NO. 3140

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

Whereas deputy sheriffs working with the Department of Justice feel as if they work in a correctional facility on wheels, without adequate support or backup; and

Whereas they have to handle increasingly difficult prisoners, as do correctional officers and police, without the same level of resources; and

Whereas there is a lack of consistency between the various justice centres in terms of the provisions for occupational health and safety for deputy sheriffs;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House call on the Department of Justice to provide an adequate range of equipment and appropriate staffing numbers in order for deputy sheriffs to be able to safely handle prisoners.

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 Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3141

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

Whereas in 1999, the current Premier said he would not add one cent to the provincial debt; and

Whereas in 1999, this same Premier promised that he could fix the health care system for approximately $46 million; and

Whereas in 1999, this same Premier also said that VLTs were catering to addiction;

[Page 5950]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize that the Premier has not fulfilled his key promises to Nova Scotians, and that he should reflect on his inaction and neglect.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 3142

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

Whereas known by his colleagues as a true gentleman politician and a personal friend, Sandy Cameron lost his battle with lung cancer this past Christmas Day in Sherbrooke at the age of 66; and

Whereas Sandy Cameron held the Guysborough seat from 1973 to 1984, and was provincial Liberal Leader from 1980 to 1986; he had a front row seat to politics; his grandfather, Alexander Fisher had been an MLA in Sherbrooke in the late 1890s, and his dad, Alexander Whitcomb Cameron became MLA in 1956; and

Whereas after leaving politics in 1986, he founded St. Mary's River Smokehouses in Sherbrooke, where he produced fish delicacies that won worldwide acclaim;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send our condolences to Sandy Cameron's family and friends all across Nova Scotia, and know that he will be truly missed by all of the residents in Sherbrooke, a place where he was truly proud to call home.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5951]

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. 3143

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 duties and responsibilities of deputy sheriffs have changed considerably since 1991-92; and

Whereas, for example, they constantly work with high-risk offenders, that includes monitoring of health issues, protective custody policies and suicide watches; and

Whereas they also perform significant fine and debt collection work that provides for significant revenue for this government;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House call on the Department of Justice to meet with the Nova Scotia Government and General Workers Union to work out a significantly altered reclassification for deputy sheriffs in the very near future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3144

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

[Page 5952]

Whereas debaters from Sydney Academy again won top honours at the Nova Scotia High School Provincial Championships, defeating Sacred Heart High School from Halifax; and

Whereas this is the fourth straight title for Sydney Academy, and they have now won this title 14 of the past 16 years; and

Whereas debaters Sheldon McCormack, Blair MacDonald and Liam Gillis were members of the championship team;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature congratulate these debaters and all members of Sydney Academy Debating Program for their tremendous achievement in competition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3145

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

Whereas Carl and Evelyn Palmer of Aylesford were recognized last November at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto for their dedicated volunteer work; and

Whereas Carl and Evelyn were one of only five couples from across Canada and the only couple from Nova Scotia to receive recognition and be presented with a 2004 Canadian Agri-Food Award of Excellence, which distinguishes dedication, leadership and outstanding achievements in the Canadian agriculture and agri-food industry; and

Whereas following an accident in 1979 in which Carl lost both of his legs after becoming entangled in farm machinery, he and Evelyn founded Farmers with Disabilities Atlantic Canada along with the Canadian Coalition of Farm Safety and Rural Health, while

[Page 5953]

dedicating many long hours in providing farm safety outreach programs while advocating on behalf of disabled farmers;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House extend our regards to Carl and Evelyn and recognize the tireless volunteer efforts of the Palmers as they continue to promote the extreme importance of farm safety.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3146

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

Whereas volunteers are the glue that binds communities together; and

Whereas ladies auxiliaries provide vital support to volunteer organizations; and

Whereas Ms. Mary Bond has helped provide that support for 20 years with the Noel and District Ladies Auxiliary;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mary Bond for her service to her community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 5954]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3147

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

Whereas the residents of North Greenwood are now in their ninth month with the knowledge of being without healthy drinking water due to PERC contamination; and

Whereas the consequences of neglecting this issue any longer are long-term health problems, the inability of service personnel to sell their homes, and the ongoing purchase of filters and bottled water; and

Whereas this is a serious health issue due to the known carcinogenic substance in the water for the past 10 years;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House demand that the Minister of Health act on the recommendation of medical officer, Dr. Richard Gould, and have the central water system installed immediately.

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-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 5955]

RESOLUTION NO. 3148

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

Whereas the 100th Anniversary of the Canadian Guernsey Association's first annual meeting took place in Truro in mid-March with farmers and their families from as far away as British Columbia attending; and

Whereas Guernsey cattle were first developed off the coast of France in a place called Guernsey Island; and

Whereas Guernsey cattle are widely known as solid milk producers, producing up to 20 litres of milk a day, with some Guernsey cattle producing up to 60,000 kilograms of milk in their lifetime;

Therefore be it resolved that congratulations be extended by all MLAs to the organizers of the 100th Anniversary of the Canadian Guernsey Association and wish the association nothing but continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3149

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

Whereas recently the Nova Scotia Government allowed Nova Scotia Power to delay cleaning up its sulphur dioxide emissions and spew an extra 4,000 tons of sulphur dioxide into our air, thus allowing Nova Scotia Power to save about $2.1 million; and

[Page 5956]

Whereas Nova Scotia has the highest rate in Canada for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease of which sulphur dioxide is one of the key triggers; and

Whereas Premier Hamm wrote in his overview of Seizing the Opportunity, the province's energy strategy document, Volume 1, Page 2, "Our government will take firm actions to improve the quality of the province's environment by reducing air emissions and working closely with the federal government on climate change issues.";

Therefore be it resolved that this government be reminded of its commitment to reduce air emissions and be urged to take firm action, stop making deals with Nova Scotia Power, and instead start protecting the health of our children.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3150

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

Whereas the week of April 17th to April 23rd is set aside for each of us to reflect on the selfless contributions of time and talent by our volunteers; and

Whereas the Town of Digby chose Rick Olsen as their representative volunteer for the countless hours he invests in the Digby Curling Club; and

Whereas the Municipality of Digby chose Dianne Outhouse as their representative volunteer for her commitment to the Valley Seniors Games and the Tiverton Super Seniors;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize not only the dedicated efforts of these stalwart volunteers, but applaud the efforts of all those who gave so generously of their time, energy and resources to the benefit of their communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5957]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 3151

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

Whereas in their initial year of operation, Privateers Harley Davidson Motorcycle Franchise located at 100 Susie Lake Crescent in the Halifax Regional Municipality, won three separate awards at the Harley Davidson Inc. annual banquet and meeting in Grapevine, Texas in late January; and

Whereas President John Larson and General Manager Bob Hiltz saw their franchise named as the top retailer in Canada for 2004, the No. 1 Parts and General Merchandising Franchise in Eastern Canada, while also winning the Trev Deeley Gold Award for Sales Achievement in Eastern Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that congratulations are extended by all MLAs in this House of Assembly to all employees of the Privateers Harley Davidson Motorcycle Franchise on Susie Lake Crescent in the HRM, with special recognition going to President John Larson and General Manager Bob Hiltz for their outstanding success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 5958]

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3152

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

Whereas the Pictou Garden Club recently honoured six members with Lifetime Membership Awards, which are granted after 25 years of club contributions; and

Whereas all six exemplify the club's mission of joyfully exploring, gladly promoting and actively sharing all aspects of gardening; and

Whereas these six members - Jane Webster, Sylvia MacDonald, Hazel Wilkie, Ruth Sterling, Anne MacIsaac and Janet Hemphill all share a great passion for gardening;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Pictou Garden Club and the six newest lifetime members and wish them all good growing days 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.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 3153

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

Whereas on April 6, 2005 the Liberal caucus launched its new Web page entitled Neglected Road of the Week, its goal being to draw attention to the neglected and forgotten roads of Nova Scotia; and

[Page 5959]

Whereas the roads of Plateau in Cheticamp, Inverness County were chosen as the first Neglected Road of the Week; and

Whereas the residents of this area have on several occasions brought these roads to the attention of their local MLA, as well as the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, and the members of this Legislature during the last session, when over 200 letters were tabled regarding the deplorable state of these roads;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House demand that government act immediately to fix this road and ensure that the neglect on the behalf of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, and the Hamm Government end today.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3154

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

Whereas playing video lottery terminals, better known as VLTs, has proven to be an addictive form of gambling causing death, destruction and havoc for nearly 16,000 Nova Scotians; and

Whereas VLTs have also become a major problem for residents of First Nations communities; and

Whereas matters related to First Nations communities are primarily the legal responsibility of the federal government;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House request the federal government to state clearly what action it is taking to reduce VLT addiction within First Nations communities.

[Page 5960]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3155

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

Whereas the Village of Peggy's Cove and surrounding area is heavily promoted by Tourism officials in this province; and

Whereas the road to Peggy's Cove, Route 333 from Shad Bay to Seabright is an embarrassment that visitors will not soon want to endure again; and

Whereas immediate roadwork is needed on Route 333 from Burke's Road in Shad Bay through to Redmond's Road in Seabright;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Tourism urge the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to make Route 333 from Shad Bay to Seabright a priority project in its continuing promotion of Peggy's Cove as a place to come to life and not as a destination where the road conditions result in travellers coming to take their life in their own hands behind the wheel of their vehicles.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

[Page 5961]

RESOLUTION NO. 3156

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

Whereas the Office of Economic Development and Nova Scotia Business Inc. should be attracting and maintaining jobs in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in Chester and throughout rural Nova Scotia the government is failing to either attract or maintain jobs; and

Whereas Snair's Bakery will now set up shop in P.E.I. because of neglect by the Hamm Government;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House urge government to do more to attract jobs to rural Nova Scotia and maintain the businesses that already exist there.

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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3157

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

Whereas when you think of commitment and community involvement, in Pictou County one name comes to mind right away - Margie Grant-Walsh; and

Whereas for 18 years Margie has been executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters, first for Pictou County and now for both Pictou and Antigonish Counties; and

Whereas Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County is now in their 25th year of operation providing a wide array of activities for children needing special guidance, direction and friendship;

[Page 5962]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly compliment Margie for her outstanding work and wish her nothing but continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 3158

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 Judith Cabrita has been a tireless advocate for members of the tourism industry in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas during her tenure at TIANS, Ms. Cabrita has helped the tourism industry make great strides in the province; and

Whereas in December 2004, Ms. Cabrita retired from her position as president of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislative Assembly thank Judith Cabrita for her many years of devotion to the tourism industry of Nova Scotia and wish her well in her retirement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 5963]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 3159

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

Whereas Lisette Yorke, a 17 year old from Boularderie, Cape Breton, has been playing hockey for six years playing defence for the Cape Breton County Midget AA girls hockey team and is captain of the Memorial High School hockey team; and

Whereas Lisette has a 98.2 average coming out of Grade 11 and is leading her class halfway through Grade 12 and is responsible for creating a junior firefighting Web site while also being a liturgist in church, is the chairperson of Memorial High School's Drug Action Committee and has raised funds for the Rotary Club, the Terry Fox Run and Cycling for Diabetes; and

Whereas she was named a Canadian Morehead Scholarship winner to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, valued at more than $140,000;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Lisette Yorke on her extraordinary achievements at making her family and Cape Breton proud.

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.

[Page 5964]

RESOLUTION NO. 3160

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

Whereas the devastating tidal wave, tsunami, which struck Southeast Asia Boxing Day morning has proven to be one of the most horrific weather tragedies experienced anywhere in the world in a long time; and

Whereas fundraising for victims of the tragedy reached far and wide; and

Whereas Hillcrest Academy, an elementary school in the Town of Shelburne with 410 students, raised an incredible $6,717.50 over a three day period in early January;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly compliment the students and principal, Terry MacIntyre, of Hillcrest Academy for their incredible spirit in wanting to help the victims of this terrible tragedy.

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. 3161

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

Whereas the 109th Boston Marathon was run yesterday sponsored by the Boston Athletic Association; and

Whereas 86 Nova Scotians participated in the run, exhibiting a commitment to health promotion and healthy living; and

[Page 5965]

Whereas the top male and female finishers from Nova Scotia were Manuela Chiesa of Wolfville, who placed 50th on the women's side, and Harry Neynens of Enfield who placed 215th on the men's side;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the dedication and effort that each of these 86 Nova Scotian runners demonstrated yesterday while doing Nova Scotia proud in the running of the 109th Boston Marathon.

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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3162

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

Whereas on April 1st, the Canadian Cancer Society held a very successful jail and bail fundraiser in the Digby Legion, which will realize well over $13,000 for the society; and

Whereas this initiative would not have been possible without the dedication of countless volunteers, who acted as judges, jailers and clerks, support of the Digby RCMP, Stetsons and Spurs, the Royal Canadian Cadet Corps and local businesses who provided cell phones and vehicles for transportation; and

Whereas more than 300 would-be offenders worked diligently on the phones to solicit pledges for their arbitrarily assigned bail;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the commitment of all the participants in this endeavour to help the Canadian Cancer Society with their vital work in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5966]

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3163

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

Whereas Antigonish RCMP are optimistic a new check-in program for seniors will provide a level of comfort during times of severe weather; and

Whereas Antigonish RCMP in conjunction with local snowmobile clubs and EMO providers will visit seniors interested in having a visit to their homes during times of heavy snowfall, potential flooding or when the power has been out for a long period of time; and

Whereas Antigonish Town and County Seniors' Safety Program Coordinator, Kim Timmons is compiling a list of interested individuals whose homes can be visited during a time of severe weather.

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the caring initiative being launched by the RCMP and local community organizations, in turn assuring senior citizens they will have access to community individuals concerned with them during times of extreme weather conditions.

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 5967]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3164

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Workers' Compensation system is noted as having one of the highest employer rates and the lowest injured workers' payment schedules in Canada; and

Whereas according to WCB records, in the year 2004, 69 Cape Breton injured workers travelled to Halifax for MRI treatment, while the MRI unit at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital sat idle; and

Whereas such action is counterproductive and wasteful to both employers and injured workers;

Therefore be it resolved the Minister of Environment and Labour investigate and ensure this action is ended.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3165

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

Whereas volunteers give so generously of their energies, skill and family time and are the unsung heroes and backbones of our communities; and

Whereas on April 12, 2005, the Provincial Volunteer Awards recognized individuals and groups throughout our region who have dedicated countless hours of their lives enhancing the days of others; and

Whereas Audrey E. Manzer of the Halifax Regional Municipality was recognized for her many years of volunteerism, including being a founding member of the Dartmouth Lakes Advisory Board, various environmental organizations including Clean Nova Scotia, organizing Dartmouth Natal Day and the Highland Games;

[Page 5968]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Nova Scotia Legislature recognize the important role volunteers play in our lives, and pay tribute to Audrey E. Manzer for her outstanding volunteer services which have contributed to the well-being of our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 3166

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

Whereas quality education is being denied to 18,500 students who are not attending class in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board; and

Whereas this blatant neglect by government to address the needs of these 18,500 students is unconscionable; and

Whereas the school year for these students is at risk because the Minister of Education is too busy laying blame at the feet of everyone else instead of addressing the real issue at hand;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education wake up and take some real leadership on this issue by outlining his plan which will ensure that students in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board are no longer being denied the quality education they so rightly deserve.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5969]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 3167

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

Whereas the Acadia University President's Entrepreneurial Award was presented last month to Coffee Roasters Co-operative founders Jeff and Debra Moore of Wolfville; and

Whereas the Moores are the second recipient of the President's Award, which last year went to Irving Oil CEO Kenneth Irving; and

Whereas the Moores opened "Just Us" 10 years ago in 1995 as Canada's first fair-trade coffee roaster and since that time have opened cafés in Grand Pre, Wolfville and Halifax, with tea, chocolate and other products, along with the fair-trade coffee, being sold in grocery stores across Atlantic Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud the entrepreneurial spirit of Jeff and Debra, while commending the Moores for their commitment to other community projects in the Wolfville area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

[Page 5970]

RESOLUTION NO. 3168

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

Whereas the Scotia Prince's Yarmouth-Portland service was recently rated one of the 100 best cruises in the world, and the Portland ferry connection is important to tourism throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Scotia Prince vacated the International Marine Terminal in Portland on Friday, April 15th, as a result of a long-standing environmental problem; and

Whereas there is no definite plan to replace the Scotia Prince with a ferry connection near Boston that would carry as many or more visitors to Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Progressive Conservative Government to show leadership in securing ferry service that will truly replace or increase the valuable access to Nova Scotia that the Scotia Prince service provided for 35 years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3169

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

Whereas Ashley Wicks was honoured as the 2004 Outstanding Female Athlete 16 Years and Over by the Truro Sport Heritage Society; and

[Page 5971]

Whereas Ashley Wicks won gold in six events at the 2004 Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Track and Field Championship - six being the maximum number of events in which an athlete can compete; and

[3:15 p.m.]

Whereas Ashley Wicks was the 2004 CEC Female Athlete of the Year and now attends Jacksonville University in Florida on a full athletic scholarship;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ashley Wicks on her outstanding athletic achievements, and wish her every success in her academic and athletic pursuits at Jacksonville University.

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 3:16 p.m. and end at 4:16 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition

GAMING - FDN.: FUNDING CUTS - EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, there's a great deal of concern today with some of the recent changes that have been made to the Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation. The new memorandum of agreement means that the foundation will have less money for research and community groups; in fact, 50 per cent of the foundation's funding now goes to the district health authorities to be spent as they like. The foundation's funding available for community programs and research has been cut in half - more than half, in fact - from $700,000 last year to $270,000 this year. So my question for the Minister of Health Promotion is, why would you

[Page 5972]

make changes to the foundation that would reduce the funding available for front-line addiction services?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, I'd like to thank him for the question. The fact of the matter is, when we sat down with the Gaming Foundation and went through our memorandum of understanding process, it was felt that we needed to put a framework around those dollars, which were sitting there in that fund the last number of years, and we took a look at what the needs were throughout Nova Scotia with respect to addictions. Those dollars for community groups are best directed through the district health authorities and we made those decisions based on the research and the information available.

MR. DEXTER: The minister didn't come within a country mile of answering that question, so I'm going to give him another chance.

Mr. Speaker, the Second Story Women's Centre in Bridgewater is very concerned about the changes to the foundation's funding; staff who are in the gallery today know that there is a shortage of problem gambling services available for women in their area. Last year, the foundation funding helped them identify gaps and this year, in Phase II, they had planned to start that support work that was needed. Now they're worried that the funding cuts will mean their project won't go ahead, and they're also worried about the impact that these cuts are going to have on community programs right across the province.

My question to the minister is, will you at the minimum restore the community program and research funding to last year's level?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is the dollars that were there were sitting there for the last number of years, and I know there was a lot of concern expressed here in the Chamber from that member and many members, and a concern that I had expressed, we wanted to ensure that those dollars, and the interest generated from those dollars, got out to our communities and got out to the groups that really need those funds; through the agreement we're doing that.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, the district health authorities are in the best position for many of those dollars to ensure that they're being used in the most appropriate way.

MR. DEXTER: With all respect to the minister, the district health authorities can't even manage their wait list, let alone look after this responsibility as well. There are 15,000 problem gamblers in the province and 35,000 people at risk. This year, the province will make an estimated $170 million from gambling and they spend just a few million to help problem gamblers.

[Page 5973]

Mr. Speaker, we need more programs not less, so my final supplementary to the minister is, why won't you take immediate steps to boost front-line community-based programs for problem gamblers?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious in the last few weeks that the member has not been watching what the government has put forward. As part of our strategy for promotion and prevention, and the steps we have taken through our gaming strategy, we're doing the very thing the member is talking about. On the social marketing, on the front-line workers that need to be there, on the help that they need through the problem gambling helpline. We have invested millions of dollars, and we will invest millions more in the years ahead.

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

GAMING: VLTs - BAN

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, back in 1998, on June 4th, in fact, the Premier, who was then the Leader of the Third Party, told this Legislature, "evidence is starting to accumulate that we have the most addictive video lottery terminals that are available." That was 1998. In 2001, John LaRocque, a provincial public servant, tried to tell this government that the new machines installed by his government, with their bill acceptors, were even more addictive than the previous ones. Just last week in the Public Accounts Committee meeting, Mr. LaRocque told the committee that the new gaming strategy may have no effect on problem gambling at all and even questioned the advice that was provided to this Premier. Given that these machines cause untold misery upon Nova Scotians in this province, my question to the Premier is, why won't the Premier finally show real leadership and ban these machines from our province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, yes, the government did receive a lot of information as it worked its way through a more responsible approach to gambling. Needless to say, the information was often conflicting. But what we were determined not to do is not to replicate what we saw happening in Ontario and South Carolina, where there is a proliferation of illegal machines. If you look back at what was present in Nova Scotia prior to 1991, there were illegal machines, and the government had no control. We took all of the advice, and we've come forward with a gambling strategy that will positively improve the situation for all Nova Scotians.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this is the same Premier who called for a cap on VLTs here in this province, yet once he got in power he ended up negotiating side deals with Natives, increasing the number of VLTs here in this province, something he had asked to have a cap on. It's a clear demonstration of the Premier's flip-flopping on the issue of VLTs in this province. Nova Scotians will not be content with a half-measure on this issue. They've had to watch this government go halfway on smoking; they've had to watch this government go

[Page 5974]

halfway on a loan remission program for students, only bringing in half the amount of money that was there before. Nova Scotians expect real leadership today.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier's own experts are telling him that these machines will continue the cycle of misery here in this province. So my question is, why won't the Premier finally show real leadership in this province and ban these machines once and for all from Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if the government did not receive so much information from those jurisdictions that have banned the machines, indicating to us that that doesn't work, then perhaps your position would make some sense. We have looked at what has gone on in other jurisdictions, and we have come to the conclusion that the police enforcement agencies in those jurisdictions have come to, it doesn't work and the government is not prepared to do something that is proven not to work.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, what this Premier is not prepared to do is to put the health and safety of Nova Scotians first, ahead of his own government's addiction to the revenues that are coming from these machines and the money coming from innocent Nova Scotians who are losing their futures, the education of their children, money set aside. How many more stories does this Premier need to hear? The next thing we're going to hear is that the sky is falling, to justify the Premier's inaction on this very issue. What the Premier is saying is that he does not have faith in the justice system of this province or his government's ability to keep law and order in this province. That is what the statement truly is. So I ask the Premier again, when he talks about the future for his grandchildren, the future of our communities, will he finally put the health and safety of Nova Scotians as his top priority and put an end to these machines here in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question, because it gives me an opportunity to provide some information from a document I have in front of me, Page 15 of the Organized Crime Section of Illegal Gambling, which is a document from the Province of Ontario dated 2002. I'll read a few lines from that, with your permission.

Bearing in mind the machines are illegal in Ontario, this is what the police service says in Ontario, the machines started appearing in eastern and southern Ontario approximately 18 to 20 years ago. During that period of time, it is estimated that there were about 20,000 illegal gambling machines in the Province of Ontario, making millions of dollars a week, tax free. Today it is estimated that between 4,000 and 5,000 machines operate in the province. They have over 20,000 video lottery terminals in casinos already in Ontario. It would appear that enforcement techniques have been successful in reducing the number of illegal gambling machines in the province but, unfortunately, it has not eliminated them and that is the problem.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable Premier to table that document he read from, please.

[Page 5975]

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HEALTH PROM. - FUNDING: RECOVERY HOUSES - EFFECT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, when the Office of Health Promotion signed a new agreement with the Gaming Foundation, they didn't tell anyone that it would mean cuts to community programs, but the new funding changes mean that money that was being directed to recovery houses, like the Freedom Foundation and Alcare Place, is now going to the district health authorities. Last year recovery houses received over $500,000 in operational grants from the foundation and now they've been told by the foundation that they have to look elsewhere for funding next year.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Minister of Health Promotion is, why, when we need more addiction services, would you put these houses at risk?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member is very much stretching what the facts are. There are opportunities for those organizations through the district health authorities for that funding.

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, the Freedom Foundation has been providing help to people with addictions for over 15 years. The executive director, Joe Gibson, says they've helped more than 600 people over the years. He estimates that 30 per cent to 50 per cent of them have struggled with gambling addictions. Mr. Gibson says that addicts who have lost everything need this type of facility, a home and a place where they can rebuild their lives. Mr. Gibson can't understand why the funding formula was changed in such a way that it could force him to close his doors next year.

So my question to the minister is, you know, clearly you have made a bad decision when valuable centres like the Freedom Foundation may be forced to close. Will you restore funding to at least the previous level?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again, as I mentioned, there are opportunities for funding through the district health authorities. We have taken a look at the funds which were available, there are funds there directed through the DHAs. There are funds there based on the interest, as an example, on the money that was accumulating over a number of years for community groups. There are other opportunities for the organizations such as you have already indicated who do an excellent job and those funds are being directed through the district health authorities.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that's just not the case. If the minister's intention is to simply choke off these facilities, then he should at least have the strength of character to get up and say so. It's clear when people like Bob LaPierre, the executive director of Alcare Place,

[Page 5976]

who has been helping addicts for almost 20 years, there are over 500 people on Alcare's alumni list, and Mr. LaPierre says next year they may in fact have to cut staff or programs.

Minister, your government will make more than $170 million next year from gamblers. How can you justify taking money from organizations like the Freedom Foundation and Alcare place, how can you justify that?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is a couple of weeks ago we announced $3 million additional dollars for those who need the services that you're referring to. The fact of the matter is there are opportunities through the district health authorities for the very programs he is referring to. The fact of the matter is those organizations do an excellent job for all Nova Scotians and they will continue to do an excellent job and we will continue to support them the very best we can.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

GAMING - VLTs: ALL-PARTY COMM. - JURISDICTIONS VISIT

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. We heard today the predictable and hollow comments with respect to illegal VLTs. The only argument that this government now puts forward for keeping VLTs is that there will be an underground illegal VLT industry. On Monday, April 4th, in his tri-weekly newspaper column the Premier stated that there are tens of thousands of illegal VLTs in Ontario and B.C., assertions that he and his officials have not or cannot verify. Today he speaks about 4,000 or 5,000 in Ontario. On Wednesday, April 7th in a radio interview, he stated, VLTs are alive and well in South Carolina. But, a law professor from South Carolina who has researched this issue called the Premier's assessments absolutely not true. On Wednesday, April 13th, before the Public Accounts Committee, the province's gambling addiction experts questioned whether the Premier was getting accurate information about the risk of so-called underground VLT markets.

[3:30 p.m.]

So the response from the Premier regarding South Carolina is contradicted, his Ontario assertions are inconsistent, he no longer speaks of British Columbia and his own experts are questioning the accuracy of the information concerning the VLTs. My question for the Premier is, if the Premier is so confident about the big problem in those jurisdictions, will he send an all-Party committee to those jurisdictions with an independent third party to determine the scope of the law enforcement challenges in Ontario, British Columbia and South Carolina?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it will take me a few questions to cover all the ground the member has chosen to talk about, but I want to address the issue in South Carolina. I want to take a quotation - it was actually not delivered to me, but to a reporter of the Daily News.

[Page 5977]

The person referred to is a South Carolina vice officer and he is the head of the South Carolina vice unit. This is what he said, Captain Colin Lee said Friday that the ban in his Southern Carolina state five years ago only drove the problem underground, making it much harder to catch and prosecute illegal operators of video lottery machines. "'It's really been a nightmare' he told the Daily News. 'We've ended up with a much more out-of-control gambling problem'."

MR. GRAHAM: Once again, the Premier is providing us with limited information about the whole thing. If the Premier was interested in providing all of the information from the vice chief, Colin Lee, he'd refer to the CBC articles that seem to contradict what he said to the Daily News. Where he says he confirms police are confiscating 100 machines a month - 1, 000 last year - which was different from what he provided to the Daily News. So, instead of relying on the professors who have researched this problem, the Premier continues to stick his head in the sand, rely on limited information. You get what you want if you only ask limited questions.

My question for the Premier again is, will he agree, in the interests of clearing the air, to an all-Party committee visiting other jurisdictions to provide an independent assessment of the law enforcement challenges? What is there to be afraid of?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, when the government made public its gambling strategy, one of the influencing factors was the experience in Ontario. I want to relate a conversation my office had on April 7th with Detective Sergeant Bill Sword of the Ontario Illegal Gambling Enforcement task force. These are some of the quotations from that conversation. Detective Sergeant Sword estimated there are thousands of illegal VLTs in Ontario, closer to 10,000 than 1,000. He said 75 per cent of the VLTs are operated by organized crime. He said, as fast as we take out the VLTs they are replaced. He said, I could take you down Eglinton Street alone and find 100 machines. He said even in Windsor, Ontario - a city with a massive casino - his task force recently seized 300 illegal VLTs as part of one operation.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the Premier table that document before him. I would ask for the Premier to table whatever document he may have been relying on when he said there were tens of thousands from Ontario and British Columbia. Even if we take the numbers that are being suggested by the Ontario people, it would have reduced their number, but if you do it on a per capita basis it reduces the number in Nova Scotia by almost 90 per cent. Wouldn't it be better, Mr. Premier, to improve the situation of Nova Scotians by 90 per cent instead of the half measure that was put forward by this government quoting from selective choices instead of getting to the real truth where there are hundreds, hundreds of illegal VLTs in Ontario and British Columbia according to our research?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite will remember that it was this government or this Party and this member that tabled the cap for VLTs in the province at 3,234 and in our

[Page 5978]

new gaming strategy that number will drop to 2,234. But I want to continue to give the member opposite the facts that he is asking for so diligently. I want to continue reading from the 2002 Organized Crime Section illegal gambling document from the Province of Ontario dated March 8, 2002, a short quotation: "Video gaming and lottery machines are one of the newest and possibly the largest illicit source of gambling income available to organized crime groups according to the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada."

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

HEALTH: PHARMACARE CO-PAYMENTS/AMBULANCE FEES - END

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, when the Minister of Health announced changes to long-term care fees last Fall, he stated that the new system was a work in progress and that he was open to making changes to ensure fairness to residents and their spouses in the community. Residents of nursing homes, particularly low-income seniors, are finding that Pharmacare co-payments and the threat of ambulance fees impoverish them now to an even greater extent than prior to the changes; this is unacceptable. So I would ask the Minister of Health when will this practice be ended?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that we're very pleased with how the cost of care initiative has rolled out in this province and, obviously, we made a commitment to monitor very carefully the implementation of the program and the policies related to it. We're monitoring those policies very carefully and we believe that we will have something to say in the future but we want to make sure that we get a real good look at the program and how it's operating and we will be back to Nova Scotians with respect to this in the future.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that's one problem identified for the minister, here's another one. The income split introduced on January 1st is leaving many spouses in the community with inadequate income to cover their own needs, such as medication costs, mortgages or rent and, of course, the ever-rising home heating expenses. The way the present system has been created, there is no mechanism for taking any unique circumstances into consideration. So my question for the Minister of Health is, how does he intend to remedy the situation?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, it is a matter that we are looking at very carefully, the two items that the honourable member referenced are under review as we look at the policies and how they're being implemented and there are other items that we're considering as well.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows the problem as well as I do, the longer it's under review the more it impacts on the lives of people who are in those facilities and you take from them what very little they have. So, I want you to understand that although

[Page 5979]

the changes that were brought about did create relief for many families in this province, there are still those for whom fairness has not been reached. I would ask the minister to ensure fairness for all the nursing home residents and their families. So my question is, will the minister commit to fixing the new policy to ensure that no nursing home resident or their spouse is left in poverty?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can undertake and have undertaken that from the very beginning of the roll out of the cost of care initiative to do the sort of due diligence that's required to ensure that when we make changes that those changes deal effectively with any problems that arise as a result of the operation of the programs and that commitment stands.

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

EDUC. - C.B.-VICTORIA REG. SCH. BD.: FIN. ASSISTANCE - OFFER

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. As no doubt even he is aware last night the workers turned down the latest contract offer by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and the labour impasse continues, with no resolution in sight, with no action forthcoming from his department, students are left to worry, especially those who are getting ready to graduate in June. The situation is so grave today, that the Chief Education Officer, Mr. Davis says, he feels abandoned by this government. Now the minister may very well get up and say, we're going to offer binding arbitration. Well what this minister has to do is offer financial assistance to that board. So minister, will you offer financial assistance to this board so these workers can get back to what they want to do and that's supporting the children of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, a government has provided support to every school board in the province and I do understand the question from the member for Cape Breton Centre. You know with this strike affecting students in his constituency and as the Minister of Education, I am extremely concerned when students are not in school and when workers are on strike at any time and right now they are affecting school children, but as some members of the House may know, with certainty, and I agree with it, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board offered binding arbitration to CUPE this afternoon. I hope that all members of this House will support the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and our department, that CUPE will accept the offer of binding arbitration that the students will be back in school and the workers will be back at their jobs.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, that's the exact question that I asked but wasn't answered, is just that, it is about funding. We know what's on the table, two offers which are literally the same, have been resoundingly rejected by the membership. What are you going to get through arbitration? What you need is an infusion of capital. A capital that has to come from your department. Mr. Minister, when will you agree to parity and fund it properly? (Interruptions)

[Page 5980]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The question is for the Minister of Education.

MR. MUIR: This is something that is supported by my department. The suggestion of binding arbitration was made by members of both Opposition Parties. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Education has the floor.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, and I hope that the members of the Opposition Parties will support the government in the call for the offer by the school board of binding arbitration to CUPE, that it be accepted, that the students get back in school and continue with their education and the people who are on strike get back to work.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we heard the catcalls of the member for Colchester North and we know what he thinks of collective bargaining, but I'm trying to get through to this Minister of Education that the offer is about putting decent dollars on the table. The money that is on the table, didn't get the deal done. So minister, are you going to provide extra funding so they can get a deal done?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as I said during late debate yesterday, I am told that it was only during the second round of talks on Friday evening between the school board and CUPE, where the issue of wage parity was finally defined. Wage parity was defined by CUPE as cherry-picking every contract in the province regardless of what union it was. The board has made the offer of binding arbitration, I hope that the member for Cape Breton Centre, as well as all members, the member for Cape Breton Nova, all of the members of the New Democratic caucus will join with the Department of Education and support the parents and the students and those workers . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Get the children back to school.

MR. MUIR: Binding arbitration, get the children back to school and the workers back to work.

[3:45 p.m.]

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

EDUC.: C.B. SCH. BD. STRIKE - PLAN

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is again to the Minister of Education. Today, as we know, there are 18,500 students sitting at home in Cape Breton wondering when and if they will be able to complete this school year. In your education document, Learning for Life, this government says it's committed to helping all students reach their greatest potential. Your government's response, or more accurately non-response, to this

[Page 5981]

issue has left Cape Breton out in the cold. In light of the union's vote to reject the latest offer last night, what plans do you have in place to help the students, the children, get back into the classroom - a specific plan?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, earlier this afternoon the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board hand-delivered a letter to the Canadian Union of Public Employees saying - and I can quote from this and I'm prepared to table it for those who haven't seen it, I'm sure that some of you may have seen it already - "I'm authorized on behalf of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to offer binding arbitration as a mechanism to resolve all outstanding monetary issues. Should you accept, we would expect in the interim that our employees would return to work in order to allow our schools to re-open and students to resume their education."

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, we would like that tabled for ourselves as well, if we could get a copy, thank you.

Again to the Minister of Education, I think the minister is well aware that CUPE has said that they're looking for wage parity. He went into that to some degree and mentioned it last night as well, but what's missing is the discussion about how we get there. The union has been very reasonable in saying they are looking for a mechanism to achieve wage parity. They're not asking for immediate wage parity, and I believe that it's up to the Department of Education to step in and to provide that mechanism and provide some leadership which has been grossly missing in this entire episode. So, please, perhaps the minister could answer.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, with all respect, the issue of wage parity was not talking about a process as was communicated certainly to me. So if that member knows something about negotiations that were going on that I don't, perhaps you could tell me - but the fact is that the offer of binding arbitration has been made by the school board. What they are requesting in this offer of binding arbitration is that the workers come back to work, get the schools open, the students can resume their education, and I hope that every member of this Legislature will support the request of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to get those students back in school where they belong.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, what I'm hearing from the minister is more that he can remain at arm's length and he will call for this binding arbitration and stay out of it himself. I think that it's clear that the union has asked for involvement, and so has the school board asked for the involvement of the Department of Education, that they have a responsibility to the overall education of all children in this province regardless of where they live - and here in our own province we have 18,500 students not in classrooms, not advancing their education, and jeopardizing their graduation. It's just not good enough, the answer that we're hearing here today. People expect more. They expect leadership from the Department of Education and from the Minister of Education.

[Page 5982]

AN HON. MEMBER: Is there a question there?

MS. WHALEN: Yes, the question I would like to go back to is whether or not the minister will involve himself and move towards a mechanism for wage parity across our province for these unions?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier - and I take it the honourable member is referring to the situation in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board - is that wage parity was defined I'm told on Friday night as cherry-picking the highest wage of any board, any union, any classification across this province.

Mr. Speaker, wage parity - you know a number of the workers in that Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, the offers that were made to them I believe were fair, and there were a number of classifications, a number of workers up there whose wages or salaries were above the provincial average. The board and the union were not able to come to an agreement. The board, today, has called for binding arbitration, and I hope that every member of this Legislature who has a concern about education of young people in this province will join with the Department of Education and this minister in asking CUPE to accept that offer, get those workers back into the schools, get the schools open and get the students to continue to their education.

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

EDUC. - PROF. PROGS.: TUITION CAP - APPLICABILITY

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Post-secondary students in this province are struggling with the weight of the highest debt load of any students in this country. Tuition has skyrocketed to the highest level in the country, almost $1,800 more than the national average. Ontario, the second-most expensive province to study in in this country has imposed a tuition freeze. In fact, governments in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador have all committed to freezing tuition fees. And what has this government done? What have they done? They've cut the loan remission program, they've agreed to another 12 per cent increase in tuition over the next three years, for some students. Students pursuing an education in law, dentistry and medicine can expect at least another 30 per cent increase at this rate. Mr. Minister, your government's so-called tuition cap, why does it not apply to some of the very professionals that our province dearly needs?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member would know, when we worked out the memorandum of understanding, which, by the way, at the end of three years - if the tuition increases had continued at the previous rate, students would have been paid collectively, each one, $2,600 more over the three-year period. There is no government in this

[Page 5983]

province's history that has made a more significant and important contribution to higher education than the present government.

The memorandum of understanding guarantees controlled increases in tuition to undergraduate students. Quite frankly, the university that has the professional schools would not sign the agreement if the professional school fees were included in it, which would have affected universities all over the province. I'm not even going to try to justify the professional fees or to explain them. Suffice to say that you will probably see, and it may be today, that the fees for the professional schools are not the top in Canada.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, well, that's a huge relief, I'm sure. The board of governors at Dalhousie University are meeting at this very moment to vote on a proposed increase of 9.28 per cent in tuition fees for medicine, dentistry and law. The student union wants tuition increases for these programs limited to 3.9 per cent, called for in this memorandum of understanding. The dean of the Dalhousie Law School recommended that tuition also be capped at 3.9 per cent. There is a growing consensus that, and excuse the expression, Mr. Speaker, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. It seems that the Minister of Education is the only person satisfied with the memorandum of understanding. So my question to the Minister of Education is, why, Mr. Minister, do you believe that there should be one standard for some students when it comes to tuition increases and another standard for others?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the memorandum of understanding was endorsed widely, right across this province. It was the first one, it was a model. I think you will probably see other jurisdictions, and I'm talking about the provinces entering that type of agreement. If he wants to talk about the professional fees at Dalhousie University, then he should talk to the people at Dalhousie University.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Well, how ironic - and I want to thank Dr. Tom Traves for giving a few moments of his busy schedule - we talked on that very topic earlier this week. Mr. Speaker, it's obvious that this government has no intention of addressing the doctor shortage in the province, at least not so long as they force tuition for medical students through the roof. Despite near unanimous calls for the introduction of a bursary program for low-income students, like the one cut by the previous government, the members of the Third Party who sit to my left, in the 1990's, this government refuses to even acknowledge there is a problem.

Mr. Minister, when will your government announce a needs-based program for students, because it is badly needed and it is, after all, the way to access education as a key for young people and not having them depend upon daddy's chequebook.

[Page 5984]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the student loan programs very much is needs-based, the scholarships are needs-based. We have also introduced a loan remission program that when it is fully implemented, which will take another couple of years simply because it came into effect in 2003, students who take full advantage of that, begin to pay back their loans on a regular basis and are employed in Nova Scotia will see about 60 per cent of their Nova Scotia Student Loan forgiven.

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

NSLC - YARMOUTH STORE: RELOCATION - EXPLAIN

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, business people in downtown Yarmouth are asking that the decision to remove the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation store from the town's main street, Main Street, and relocated to the local Superstore be revisited. This store brings literally hundreds of people to downtown Yarmouth each day where they also eat in local restaurants and shop at businesses. Thousands of tourists also visit this liquor store each year as they arrive and leave the Port of Yarmouth. Mr. Minister, moving the liquor store will have a devastating effect on many family businesses in downtown Yarmouth.

My question to the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, how can you allow this attack on Yarmouth's downtown business community? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable Minister of Economic Development has the floor.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite asks a very good question but I think there are two things we have to reinforce here. First of all, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation revenues that they generate from sales is to the benefit of all Nova Scotians. They pay for health care, they pay for education and they pay for roads in this province. That being said, the greatest return that they can receive to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia is critical to all government services and all Nova Scotians in this province.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I will table a copy of the tender from the NSLC. If I was a downtown Yarmouth businessperson, I wouldn't be popping the champagne corks just yet, because this tender makes no promise of any NSLC outlet in downtown Yarmouth. What it says is this tender ". . . is to source all opportunities available should NSLC determine to keep a 2nd and much smaller store in the Downtown area." It also says that "NSLC will consider all Proposals . . . but may not award a location should its business needs not be furuthered by the Proposals."

What we have here is a smokescreen, Mr. Speaker, cleverly disguised as a government tender. Will the minister tell the hardworking businesspeople of downtown Yarmouth why he is trying to fool them into thinking that this government cares about their plight?

[Page 5985]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member would know, this government supports all communities, Yarmouth and throughout Nova Scotia, especially rural communities. In relationship to what the honourable member has put forward to the House, obviously the honourable member does appreciate a proper tender form that is released to the public and business people for an expression of interest.

MR. GOSSE: So much for the proper tender form, Mr. Speaker. Let me remind the minister, who is also the Minister for Economic Development of a simple economic fact, if you remove a key business from a downtown area, you'll harm the businesses there and Yarmouth is not the only downtown in the province that is a target for the removal of liquor stores. Rick Perkins, the Vice-President of Marketing and Communications for the NSLC said in a radio interview yesterday that the Crown Corporation is in the middle of making this move all over the province. Downtown areas are being hollowed out all over Nova Scotia. Rather than helping, here is a government-owned business that is hurting downtowns. My question is, why is the minister not prepared to stand up for what is best for downtown areas across Nova Scotia?

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member again appears to be confused, because this government is there to support businesses and business opportunities, to employ Nova Scotians in every community. I would remind the honourable member that if he checks his facts on the Web site there are two liquor stores that will be announced in Yarmouth rather than one, and I would suggest two outlets are much better than one.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - ALS PATIENTS: HOME CARE - POLICY

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

Recently I met with Janice MacDonald of Glace Bay to discuss some serious concerns over the inability of Homecare Nova Scotia to provide care for her husband at home. Joey MacDonald is 37 years old and on a portable ventilator after being diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2003. He has three young children - Rene, 12, Ryan, 10, and Colin, two - and they would dearly love to be a part of their father's life on a daily basis. There are three people alone in Cape Breton with home ventilators who are receiving care at home. Two of those individuals have full-time, round-the-clock care through Homecare, yet no one seems to be willing to help Joey. My question for the minister is, why is there no consistency when it comes to the provision of home care for ALS patients in this province?

[Page 5986]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member would appreciate that I'm not at liberty to get involved with the details of individual cases, but I can assure the honourable member that every effort is made to apply the policies of the Department of Health in an equitable manner throughout this province. Any change from that would suggest that may be due to other circumstances that are beyond the capacity of the Department of Health or the DHA to control. I want to assure the honourable member that the disease to which he refers is one which is very devastating, and we are very cognizant of the need to provide proper and appropriate care to those individuals in the best way that we can.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I know that the minister is aware of this case personally and so is your department. The problem is that home care has been sadly neglected by this government, and it's acute care that is paying the price because of that. Joey has been in an intensive care unit bed since November of last year, occupying a critical care bed that the health care system needs at a cost of over $1,200 a day. They want to put Joey, now, in a step-down unit in the hospital, and they want him to stay there, probably for the rest of his life. Joey's wife, Janice, is a registered nurse. She does her best for her husband, but she can't do it alone. My question then for the minister is, why is it not possible for anyone in home care to develop a joint care plan so that Joey can get care at home, like other ALS patients in this province?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for bringing this very serious matter forward with respect to the family involved. I can assure the honourable member that I have very personal experience with that disease. In our family we cared for my mother-in-law, and cared for her until such time as we were not able to do it in our own home and unfortunately had to see her go to the hospital where she spent the remainder of her life. I do know that she was very well cared for when she was in the hospital, and that is our objective with respect to all of these patients - to ensure that they get the very best care that we can possibly provide for them.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, Joey MacDonald is 37 years old and looking for fair treatment in this province. We have a Home Care Program that provides 24/7 care for some ALS patients but it's unwilling to provide support for others - acute care budgets that are out of control, Mr. Minister, because this government has a Home Care Program that has been neglected and it's inflexible. We have a spouse who's a trained RN who's both willing and able to provide care, but no one is willing to help her.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister, can he explain the rationale for not providing support for the MacDonalds which would no doubt save the health care system money. It would ensure a better quality of life. Mr. Minister, why won't you let Joey go home?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the situation to which the honourable member refers is a situation that on the surface is not as simple as he would suggest that it is because to do

[Page 5987]

what he is requesting requires considerable infrastructure to be provided in that home and that is a real challenge to be able to provide the appropriate level of infrastructure.

Mr. Speaker, we are working with the district health authority to provide a more appropriate environment within the hospital setting for patients who suffer from ALS and are in the circumstances described by the honourable member.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

TPW - PICTOU CO. RDS.: CONDITIONS - EXPLAIN

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, as you will know, many of the secondary roads in this province are in deplorable condition. One such road that I've become quite familiar with is Highway No. 256 in Pictou County through Lyons Brook and Scotsburn, into West Branch and through to Colchester County. The road is heaved, it's potholed, it's cracked, it's broken, and the actual structural integrity of the roadbed is gone and looks as if the road hasn't been touched in decades. I've got some pictures here I'm going to show and want to table, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. No props allowed in the House. You can certainly table a document.

MR. PARKER: It shows the actual conditions of that particular road. People there have come to me and they're asking why the road is in such poor shape and the only answer I can give them is that the road is so bad because this government has neglected it and previous governments before them have made the decision to let it get this bad. So my question to the Minister of Transportation, why is it that in 2005, residents - not just there but right across this province - have to put up with such horrible roads?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: I don't know about Pictou County, Mr. Speaker, but I know that in Shubenacadie, Sam came out and he didn't see his shadow and Spring arrived. When Spring came, the snow melted, the ice melted, and the frost came out of the ground. That has been going on, for the honourable member's attention, for about the last 10,000 years I guess and you get potholes. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, what you learn when you take Highway No. 101 is that you can't repair potholes in the Winter and you can't repair potholes in the early Spring but, however, a little later in the Spring the Department of Transportation and Public Works will be out there and will be looking after the potholes.

MR. PARKER: Thanks for the anecdotes, Mr. Minister. Mr. Speaker, this time I would like to go on and ask the Premier this question. I guess, Mr. Premier, as a fellow Pictonian, I'm sure you're familiar with Highway No. 256. In February we held a public meeting in the

[Page 5988]

community of West Branch. We had over 100 people there who were very concerned and wanting improvements on Highway No. 256 and since then there have been hundreds of people who have signed petitions and actually the Highway No. 256 Improvement Committee has been established to lobby for repaving on that road. So, Mr. Premier, they're looking for a plan. They're looking for a plan to repair not just their road but a plan for all roads in this province, a plan that will tell them when their road is going to be repaired and where it is on the priority list.

So, Mr. Premier, I would like to ask, what is your plan to deal with Highway No. 256 and where does it stand on the government's priority list?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I share the member opposite's concern about the shape of bridges and highways in rural Nova Scotia. We certainly have a tremendous challenge in addressing all of the road issues that are present in our province. We do take very seriously the complaints of Pictonians and all Nova Scotians living in the rural parts of the province when the road infrastructure is falling below an acceptable standard. I do take the concerns of the people living by Highway No. 256 very seriously. At their invitation I did drive the highway two weeks ago and I can confirm the members observation that the road needs some work.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, so we know the road needs some work and the next question is when it's going to be done? That's the question I'm being asked daily by residents along Highway No. 256. Residents are facing higher bills for car repairs and have legitimate concerns over safety for themselves and for their children who travel on the school buses. What they want is a plan and they want to know that the plan will be free of politics. Take the politics out of paving. They're tired of the idea that when elections come along all of a sudden Santa Claus comes along and says we're going to pave your road. It's not the way to go. My question this time to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, when will this government leave politics behind and develop a priority list open to public scrutiny?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if there's one thing I can say about the present administration, is that we do indeed divide the highway dollars that are available for both capital and operational purposes, evenly across the whole province.

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

TPW - COMO RD.:NEGLECT - EXPLAIN

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Two weeks ago our caucus and our Leader, Francis MacKenzie launched a Web site called, Neglected Road of the Week. The launch was in response to unsolicited submissions from the public appalled by the state of the neglected roads. Today I want to draw the minister's attention to Como Road in the community of Fort

[Page 5989]

Ellis, Colchester County, and I wish to table the picture I have of that. This is a huge sinkhole, which is a danger to anyone travelling on the road. My question to the minister, why does the government continue to neglect Como Road in Fort Ellis? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works has the floor.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the history of that Party and highways are well known right across this province. About 90 per cent of the problems we have in the highway system today were generated by their lack of attention to the highways from 1993-2000. (Interruptions) About $40 million on capital and highways. They dropped from about $80 million in 1990 and today we're spending $160 million in 2005 on the highway system.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I don't want to get into too much verbal diatribe but it sounds like if that $160 million is being spent, it's not in the ridings that I travel. A grown man can be seen standing in the pothole, or in the sinkhole. Maybe what I'll do is I'll try some flowery language like the honourable Minister of Energy and we'll dispose of potholes, because they're a seasonal thing, they come and they go. We'll call them now traction ruts because if you go into one, you need all the traction or a tractor to get yourself out of it. Maybe that's what the language is we should use.

My first supplementary to the minister - as I said a small car could disappear in the sinkhole - will the minister commit today to undertake a permanent and immediate construction project to fix this problem? This sinkhole has been there for three weeks to date.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation and Public Works is aware of the sinkhole and is taking steps to repair that particular problem.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable minister mentioned about what was done in the previous government. This government has had six years to repair the potholes. So far the only response from the Department of Transportation and Public Works on the Como Road is to put up a few barriers. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes has the floor.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Fix the neglect to the Como Road on behalf of the residents there and do it immediately.

[Page 5990]

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I cannot emphasize enough that this government has moved steadily on highway reconstruction, repair and construction over the past six years faster than any other government probably in the history of Nova Scotia. We have increased - by the RIM program, the Summer and Winter maintenance programs and we have increased the capital program. For the first time in history, we're moving forward insofar as highways are concerned in Nova Scotia. (Applause)

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 145.

Bill No. 145 - Elections Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Justice, to move second reading of Bill No. 145. As my colleague said yesterday at the bill briefing, this legislation is an important step forward in ensuring an effective enumeration/confirmation process and promoting the development of current and more accurate voters' lists for our citizens.

These amendments also recognize the need to have access to additional sources of information from which to maintain our made in Nova Scotia permanent list of electors. Ongoing updating of lists by returning officers and elections office staff between elections is recognized in the bill as a critical aspect to ensure that lists are up to date.

Further, the amendments also require that the Chief Electoral Officer provide a consolidated list of electors to recognize political Parties annually to help the Parties stay better informed. The bill also takes care of some administrative matters, including allowing

[Page 5991]

returning offices to be secured earlier than at present and in ensuring fair reimbursement of candidates based on the final list of electors, including those who voted on election day.

Finally, the bill removes the prohibition against inmates serving two years or more in custody from exercising their right to vote as determined by the courts. This bill results from the work done by the Election Commission to assess the problems encountered in the 2003 provincial election. The Election Commission is, as you know, a three Party statutory body created under the Elections Act to advise the Chief Electoral Officer in the administrative conduct of the elections. All of these amendments stem from the work of that commission and it is to be commended for its effort.

With those few remarks, I'm pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 145.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. I recognize the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to take a few minutes on behalf of my caucus to speak with regard to Bill No. 145.

Some may know that there's actually a bit of an understanding - unique in this province - with regard to the Elections Act that the three recognized political Parties will ensure that the Electoral Commission that we all have equal membership on, will present to the Chief Electoral Officer a united front with regard to changes.

It's taken a couple of years since the 2003 election, but at that time, I think all the Parties were clearly sending signals to their representatives on the Electoral Commission that the permanent list, the federal list, was not working. I think every member of this House can speak volumes with regard to anecdotes in their riding. I just want to take a minute to speak about a few of them in my area. I want to say, my experience isn't only with the provincial election, but obviously with two federal elections, the 2000 election and the 2004 election, federal elections. In particular I will say - this is interesting, because when I was at the press conference last week, the member for Clare and the Minister of Justice were there as well, it was interesting how it came up, what percentage of mistakes were on the list, what percentage of people were missing.

In rural areas they seemed to think it was 10 per cent or 15 per cent; in urban areas, the more transient areas, and that would include mine and many others in this House, the number is actually much higher. I would predict it was 25 per cent or 33 per cent. We actually saw situations where there were whole streets that weren't on the list. New streets, sometimes not that new, were removed from the list. I've seen situations, Mr. Speaker, where one side of the street was on the list and the other side of the street wasn't.

[Page 5992]

Partly, I think, one of the biggest problems with this federal list that we were using, was that it was based on people having to acknowledge on their tax return that they wanted to have their name on a registered list of voters. Of course, I can't think of a worse time to ask Canadians, and ask Nova Scotians, do you want to be on a voters' list than when they have to fill out their tax return. I would suggest to you, probably more than any other time, they're seeing red with regard to government and the taxes they have to pay, and at that time we're supposed to be asking them, do you want to be on a voters' list, so that the government knows where you are? Well, are we surprised to find that most people or a good chunk of the people decided not to put their name on the list. I don't think we should be surprised.

By moving to a provincial list, by moving to our own list, the province has probably good if not better records with regard to where people are, and those records, obviously a driver's licence is a clear example of one that is primary, but there are people who don't have a driver's licence but there are still ways that we can identify them, different records that the province has. By using that combination of various records in the provincial database, we actually are going to be able to produce a fairly accurate list of people and where they're voting and where they live. I think that is important.

But that permanent list, and this is what I like about this system that we're proposing here today, isn't just that permanent list, it allows for the chief electoral officer and the returning officers in each riding to go out and do enumeration, not only to add names, because I can speak in my area of developments where there's new streets on a yearly basis that they would have to go out and actually fill in who's living on those streets, but also to go back to the other areas to confirm who is or who is not on the list. I think a side effect, a benefit of this is, and someone suggested this to me, that in a shorter campaign there may be a tendency for people not to know there's an election until the near very end when they start getting a flood of leaflets and advertising.

But the whole benefit, sort of a side effect and a benefit of enumeration, Mr. Speaker, is it allows people who are not campaigning on behalf of any particular candidate or Party to go out door to door and just remind people early on, in the first five or 10 days, that there is an election on. That may, in itself, just give people that impetus to know, okay, I have a responsibility as a citizen of Nova Scotia to actually focus. By having that person come to their door or receiving a slip of paper that reminds them of this, that might be a way of helping to instill a few people are voting. In a province where the voting rate is going down, consistently in the last few years, I think that's an important side effect that we should be happy to see.

Enumeration is not only adding names or addressing names or revising names but confirmation as well, so I see a benefit to that. These are things that, quite frankly, I like what we're proposing here. Obviously this is something that after the next election we'll have to go back and review to see whether it's working, whether there's a need to tinker with it again, but at this point any system that combines enumeration, confirmation with a permanent list, I think is good.

[Page 5993]

The other part of this is, and maybe many in this House don't know that, but each riding association in each constituency is going to get a yearly list of the voters in that riding, and there'll be an update every year that will be presented to each riding association, or at least each Party who will then distribute it to their riding associations. So there'll be an opportunity to have a fairly accurate database when the election starts. You may recall - I know as a candidate, and I'm sure many others here do, too - that you have to wait to have a fairly accurate list, 10, 15 days. Our campaigns are only 28 days long now. Having at least some semblance of a list that's going to be updated at least gives us something we can start with early on in the campaign, so we're not sitting around - I'm sure none of us are twiddling our thumbs - waiting for a permanent list. Mr. Speaker, I see these as benefits.

Also, I want to talk a bit about the returning officers, because it's been hinted and I'm not sure how much is in the Act and how much will just be through regulation or through policy, but I get the sense we're moving toward full-time or at least returning officers who are employed longer than 30 days, 60 days or 90 days, depending on the length of their job. Right now our returning officer is clearly a part-time job. They start a few days or at the time of an election, work through an election and then work the 30 days after in order to verify the voting and confirm the voting and the ballots, and then sign off.

I think the changes to the Elections Act will ensure that these returning officers are doing the job on a regular basis, yearly, maybe monthly. I'm not sure what was actually proposed, maybe we'll hear at the Committee on Law Amendments, but some form of longer-term commitment that - there will be a cost to that I understand, but at the same time having these returning officers doing a job on a regular basis, yearly, monthly, would at least ensure that we're going to have some system again. Lists being updated on an annual basis. People who are in the community updating those lists, who know the communities on a fairly well basis, so I think that those are good things.

We talked about the inmates. I think the Minister of Education, on behalf of the Minister of Justice noted that. I want to say that obviously this is a Supreme Court of Canada decision that said that inmates in institutions who are there for more than two years, have the right to vote. All we're doing here is legislating what the Supreme Court of Canada has already said had to be done, so I don't see any real issue with that.

I do want to commend, as well, on behalf of my Party, not only our members but all members of the electoral commission, because that electoral commission and I will say this, I think did a very good job of taking what in many cases was just sort of an esoteric complaint. I know I was one of the people in the media early on after the election on behalf of my Party, complaining about the lists. I'm sure others were as well. They took those complaints, those nondescript complaints in some cases and turned that into policy recommendations that the Chief Electoral Officer and was able to use and now we see this coming forward.

[Page 5994]

I think all these things, including a new Chief Electoral Officer, Ms. Christine McCulloch are good signs that we do have an electoral system that can work and I think that's important, not only because obviously as elected officials, this is how we get elected, but something that I've noted in the past and I would like to put on the record here, if we don't make the changes that are in Bill No. 145, we really do risk having a system that is vulnerable to electoral fraud and I'm sure none of the Parties or no members of this House would be involved in that.

In my constituency I had people who literally were dead for 10 or 15 years on the list. We had people who had lived in the same house for 80 years not on the list. You had people who may have lived in my riding or my constituency in the last election who are on a list, but now they live somewhere else. So maybe now they no longer live in Eastern Passage or Cole Harbour, maybe they're living in Bridgewater. Maybe they're living in Enfield. Well, they can put themselves on the list in Enfield and vote, but they also can come back to my riding because there's still someone on the list saying that person is in my riding and nothing stops him from showing identification and getting the ability to vote in my riding as well.

I show that as an example that when you have a list that is that problematic, a list that has that many errors on it, you're opening yourself up to a lot of serious problems. I would suggest in the current state of cynicism toward politics in this country and in this province as a result of what's happening federally, the last thing we need is a serious case of electoral shenanigans as well. I'm glad to see these changes. I'm hoping they'll be put in place in time that we're going to be able to have these for the next election. I guess that depends on a lot of factors, but even if we don't I think it was clear at the press conference that there will be - they do currently have the ability to do certain amounts of enumerations, spot enumerations, to make sure that the lists that we have right now would at least be better. I would like to see these changes. Our caucus will be supporting it because we see this as important for Nova Scotia to have confidence in the system that elects their officials, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

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

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as Justice Critic for our caucus, it's a pleasure to rise and speak briefly on Bill No. 145 and the amendments to the Nova Scotia Elections Act.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's quite clear that as my colleague for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage mentioned, pretty much every member who is here in this House whether it's their first trip here or for many of us a returning trip, will have many memories of the voting list in the last election. Unfortunately for the most part they are not very fond memories.

[Page 5995]

[4:30 p.m.]

I can tell you in Richmond County when the list first came out, we have just under 9,000 voters in Richmond County and the list wasn't too bad - we were only missing 3,000 voters from the list. I had my official agent, he and his wife who were married for over 30 years and had been living in Alderney Point on Isle Madame, who weren't on the list. The minute we saw that, we immediately brought it to the returning officer's attention. Certainly we're blessed in Richmond County, we have Raymond LeBlanc who has been the returning officer there for many years and has a tremendous amount of experience from his time on municipal council and being involved in various elections, especially on the provincial side. He actually agreed to appeal to the chief electoral officer to have an enumeration in Richmond County to avoid a civil war.

In fact, that's what we did in Richmond County, we actually did have enumeration so that at the end of the day - for the most part - the list was in good shape. But it certainly wasn't an easy road and it took his leadership to be able to avoid what certainly would have been a catastrophe. In Richmond County, as in many other parts of the province, they take their politics seriously and they certainly take their right to vote very seriously. For people who had been married 30 years, living in the same house and not showing up on the list, that's just one example of the other 3,000 residents of Richmond County who didn't make it on the list.

One of the issues, in speaking about the list, it even became an issue in the operations of the campaign, is the important aspect that after one has run a campaign, the Province of Nova Scotia does provide a rebate. If you get a certain percentage of votes, you are offered a rebate based on the list of electors. It became a major issue in ridings such as Richmond County and I believe Antigonish was one of them, as to what list was supposed to be used to determine the rebate. Was it the first list that came out? Was it the list just before voting day? Or, was it the list after voting day when people had been sworn in?

I can tell you, for places like Richmond County, the difference between the first list and the last list was over 3,000 names. That certainly was a significant impact on us and I know that in other ridings it was the same thing. It's my understanding that with the changes in this bill it will address that by saying the rebate provided to candidates at the end of the election will be based on the final list after voting day. Anyone who has been sworn in on the day of the vote will be added to that list and that is the figure that will be used to determine the rebate that is provided to candidates and their campaigns. We certainly know how expensive it is to run a campaign and there is a role for our province to play to assist the democratic process by providing this rebate to candidates and to their campaign teams who worked so hard.

Mr. Speaker, I too want to commend the Electoral Commission who have suggested these changes in light of the difficulties in the last election. I want to take this opportunity on behalf of our caucus. I believe my colleague from Clare has already done so, but certainly to congratulate Christine McCulloch for becoming our new Chief Electoral Officer. Again, thank

[Page 5996]

Janet Willwerth who served this province in that position with distinction and thank her for her many years of service in what is certainly a difficult position and one that's of an extremely sensitive nature. I do wish Christine McCulloch well in that position.

There's no doubt the return of enumeration to our province is going to bring stability to the elections. By having an annual list, it will allow for political Parties and candidates to be able to review that list, to amend it as there are changes - whether they be deletions, additions that can be made by campaign teams prior to a campaign.

I, too, want to encourage the government at looking at the role of returning officers and making sure they are given ample opportunity to prepare before an election is called and that they have the necessary resources at their disposal. I know at most elections, my returning officer is racing to try to get a computer and the necessary software to get up and running. That's not the position we should be in if we are going to treat the returning officers in our own constituencies as an important position and one that we want to see some continuity.

If I'm not mistaken, there's apparently been a significant turnover in returning officers. By looking at the papers, I keep seeing advertisements for returning officers in various ridings. I think it's important that we try to have returning officers who are willing to remain in that position given the resources to be able to carry out their job because by remaining in that position they bring experience with them in each election.

One of the final items that I wanted to raise is that one of the important changes that was made prior to the last election was the whole issue of the proxy vote. We went with the mail-in ballot, similar to the federal government. It was a way of replacing that you would no longer have to give an excuse why you were not able to vote in person and you were able to apply for this mail-in ballot. For rural areas it was a relief, because each election when you needed someone to get a medical excuse, running to see the local doctor, especially in Richmond County with the doctor shortages we continually have, it was a frustration for the doctors, yet it was important to make sure that our seniors, if they were unable to go vote, or anyone who couldn't go vote due to medical reasons, did have the right to have their ballot cast.

I can tell you the mail-in ballot is a good idea, but there is still some refinement that needs to take place to that process. The way it was working in Richmond County is that whoever was going to vote for an individual, for example, had to show up at the returning officer's home, pick up the application package, return to bring it to the constituent, have them fill it out, get the documentation, and then bring it back to the returning officer to be given the ballot and the materials.

Now that may not sound like a complicated process, but when you have one returning office in a riding like Richmond County where it takes about an hour and a half drive from one end to the other, it cause a serious problem, because if you're in L'Ardoise or if you're down

[Page 5997]

in Grand River, or if you're over in further parts, Point Tupper, whichever one, to come to that area, to make a drive to pick it up, go back, come back to drop it off, it just wasn't practical and what happened is a lot of people said we're not going to bother, it's too far to travel. So there are different options - have more than one returning office in larger ridings, which I believe is something that has been discussed, or allow agents appointed by the political Parties to be able to pick up the application form, bring it to the constituent, and whoever is going to exercise their vote for them, at that point maybe that person would only have to make one trip and to see the returning officer to have it processed.

I think it's something the commission should look at. We're trying to make sure that all Nova Scotians have as easy a time to vote as possible. We're very concerned about the fact that we have low voter turnouts, and the last thing we need to be doing is making our system any more cumbersome that it would discourage people from voting, especially people who might feel that because they live in more isolated communities they're not going to bother going through the process to be able to vote. So with that, it's my suggestion of some of the frustrations we saw in Richmond County, but I believe these changes are positive.

I think it's something that certainly we'll be giving our support to and I'm sure that other members of the House may wish to share other proposals or other ideas that they have of their own experience and I do look forward to seeing how the Electoral Commission will react to the concerns I've raised and the Chief Electoral Officer. With that, Mr. Speaker, I again thank the Electoral Commission for their hard work on behalf of all recognized political Parties here in this province, for advancing our loss forward. There is certainly room for us to make more changes as we are in more and more of a technical age and there have been some suggestions along that road and maybe that debate can take place at another time, but I think it's important that we continue to recognize that our Elections Act should be like our Constitution, it is a living tree, it must be prepared to make changes as necessary and adapt to the realities we find ourselves in in this province.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the reactions we get at the Law Amendments Committee and any suggested changes, but it would be my intention to support Bill No. 145.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief on this particular piece of legislation. I, too, support this piece of legislation because, as we've noticed over the past several years, there have been some refinements that have led to this piece of legislation today, and I think the member for Richmond has highlighted several of them, as did the previous speaker but I just wanted to recapture, from a practical point of view, the reasons for these refinements.

[Page 5998]

I recall back in the 1993 election when enumeration had taken place, the enumerators from all three Parties who had taken part in the enumeration process - or two out of the three, the two leading Parties, but then after that had been done, of course, there are still vacuums in the total number on the list because people move, people die, people for whatever reason move to another constituency or out of the province altogether, and some move into the community just shortly before the election, and I recall back at that particular point in time when the revision list was being dealt with, the enumerators for the NDP were in full force in Cape Breton West and, lo and behold, one of the enumerators who was a resident of Saskatchewan meant very well, but to try and put on the voters' list 38 people who had died as many as 10 to 15 years prior to was a little much for the returning officer. At the end of the day, the returning officer ordered that particular revision officer for the NDP not to come back to the headquarters anymore unless there was proper documentation. So that's one of the pitfalls that you have when you're dealing with certain political elements.

Another pitfall, Mr. Speaker, is, for example, in the last election, as we recall, we went through the redistribution just prior to the provincial election, and of course there was a levelling off as to how many voters would be in each constituency in order to have the provincial mean average. Well, in my particular constituency that would be approximately 14,500 maximum, but when we got into the election there were 2,000 voters missing. We really haven't discovered who at least 1,000 of those are to this very day. I do believe that if we had some enumeration that perhaps that would have been very helpful. (Interruptions)

No, I'm not sure which would have been worse, Mr. Speaker, but at least we're thinking that those 1,000 who were missing were at least living and had moved on their own accord rather than somebody going to the graveyard looking at headstones to try to put them on a list. That seems to be the general focus.

Somewhere in between there is a balance of understanding and fairness to that. I think the point has been made in previous times where if somebody wanted to vote by proxy vote, then they would always have to go, for example, to the family doctor or to somebody, legal counsel. Well, if you read the form very closely, that's not the absolute requirement, anyone in the health care system, for example a registered nurse or even a CNA, if they were practising, could very well validate those forms, but that was never ever advised clearly to a lot of the enumerators and those who were working for the various respective Parties.

I think on that particular form, although we now have mail-in ballots, and that's good that we have that process because more people participate in the process, I do believe that has to be fine-tuned even more so that people are better apprised that commissioners of oaths, registered nurses, different professionals that do have the ability to do it. I know we did it in our constituency, there were at least 30 individuals who had taken affidavits, or registered nurses had taken the affidavits for these voters who were going to be voting by proxy, and it was very much legal because that was the interpretation for the returning officer of the constituency.

[Page 5999]

Mr. Speaker, these are the types of things that I would hope - I believe going back to some type of enumeration process is very important, because there are too many vacuums, particularly with Canada Post which is now in the process in some regions of the province of making substantial changes to the postal code system in the regions, and they're trying to tie it in at the municipal level by agreement from the local municipalities and putting everybody online, whether it be through the 911 system or indeed through their postal code system. Many vacuums are created because of that, and in some cases in my constituency there have been literally hundreds of individuals excluded because the streets were not included because the postal codes didn't match up to the previous postal codes. In fact what happened is they were listed in adjoining constituencies, and that's not very productive at all.

So there are some of the issues from a practical point of view that I thought I would point out. I know there'll certainly be some refinements to this particular piece of legislation, and I'll certainly be supporting this, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I had not intended to speak on this piece of legislation because I think the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, a colleague in the Legislature, had indicated that in fact our political Party was supporting the amendments to Bill No. 145. I think it's absolutely correct, we have discussed this piece of legislation and we have discussed that the amendments and the improvements to this bill, and thanks to the commission, that in fact these are positive amendments and improvements.

[4:45 p.m.]

I want to say that during the 1993 election campaign we in Dartmouth North were quite concerned with respect to not having access to enumerators at the onset of the campaign primarily because we represent a constituency where there is a high number of multi-unit residential developments and as a result of those high number of multi-unit residential developments, the population tends to be transient and move not only through the district of Dartmouth North but to other constituencies as well.

There needs to be, Mr. Speaker, a stronghold as to where those people or those electors are on the voter's list and it's extremely important for electors to know that they are an important part of the democratic process and that they are on the elector's list and that they do have the opportunity to cast a ballot. I have to say though that in speaking with the returning officer in the district, she acknowledge that in fact we did have a concern with respect to the number of transient individuals and that there would be a need for enumerators to do at least parts of the constituency. She had advised us to make up a list and we did prepare a list of the number of polling districts that we wanted to have enumerated.

[Page 6000]

Mind you, unfortunately, we only received about half of those polling districts, I shouldn't say received, but had approval for at least half of those polling districts to be enumerated which meant there was a tremendous amount of work placed upon the campaign workers and the canvassers for the campaign team to go out there and do the work that was normally, or should normally have been done by government.

I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, how important it is to make sure that those individuals are on the voter's list. For example, we had on election day an individual who went to the polls. The individual had lived in the constituency for at least 50-some years and had consistently voted for 40 years, consistently voted. Not only when the individual went to cast a ballot at the polling station on that particular day were they not on the list, but their civic address, their residence wasn't even on the list. There was no way that we could convince the returning officer that in fact this residential facility exists, that there was a civic address here that existed. It was only when they had contacted me on election day to go in and do some verifications with a map that they had agreed that there was a civic address and that the individual could then be sworn in to cast a ballot. Thankfully, the individual was prepared to, because that individual had voted consistently for 40 years, that they weren't about to give up their democratic right to cast a ballot this time. They were committed to stay there, Mr. Speaker, and make sure that they were going to exercise their right to vote.

After the election campaign had been completed, approximately about two and a half months, I actually received a call from the returning officer indicating that they were going to do a wrap-up with respect to what we had envisaged as difficulty through this election campaign and what we would recommend. I have to say that myself and the campaign manager for Dartmouth East went to visit the returning officer at her home, along with the other campaign managers as well, and we talked about those particular things that we think needed to be fine-tuned within the Elections Act. One of the very issues that needed to be fine-tuned within the Elections Act was the revisions of the enumerators list.

It is very important to know that we are now going to have a permanent enumerators' list and that no Nova Scotian, for the most part, will feel left out on that voters' list providing that it is done appropriately. The piece of legislation and the amendments to the legislation indicates this is going to happen. We are not going to rely upon the federal government for information, but we in this province are going to have an ongoing enumeration prior to the next provincial election.

This can only bode well for those individuals who want to participate in the election process. I can't stand here and tell you that it will increase voter turnout because we don't know how much of an effect a good enumeration process might have on voter turnout. Can't tell you that, but I can tell you that if it encourages one additional voter to cast a ballot, then the democratic process has been improved. There has been a positive effect in the democratic process.

[Page 6001]

We will know, based on the number of individuals who have cast their ballot in the 1993 election campaign and after this enumeration process has taken place, we will know if it has been effective in increasing voter turnout in the future election campaign. That's all we can say, but we as legislators do have a role to improve a democratic process whenever we can. If that means amendments to the Elections Act that make it easier for Nova Scotians to participate in that democratic process, then that's the way to go.

I want to talk a bit about the mail-in ballots. The mail-in ballots tended to have a bit of difficulty because - as a previous member of the Legislature mentioned - took this cumbersome process whereby you went to the returning officer, you picked up the ballot, you take the ballot to the potential elector, the potential elector completed the ballot, filled out the form, then you took it back to the returning officer, then the person who was indicated to vote on that particular day would be casting the ballot.

Often there were mix ups because many people didn't fully understand that mail-in ballot process. We had asked the returning officer to take back to the Chief Electoral Officer our concerns with respect to the mail-in ballot. We had asked him if it could not be simplified or fine tuned and make it easier to do just the one stop with respect to the mail-in ballot and this would be the appropriate way to go.

The revisions list, the continuous revising of that revisions list, the opportunity to continue to make sure it's an updated permanent list is something that I can tell you every campaign office will welcome. There's absolutely no question that we will welcome it, because we will not, and our canvassers and our workers will not be spending time trying to do again, the work the enumerators should be doing.

I think if one were to calculate - I can't speak for every constituency because every constituency is uniquely different, but I can speak for my constituency and tell you that if I were to calculate the number of hours that we have spent in putting people on the voters' list, making sure that people were eligible to vote on election day, the hours would be enormous. It would at least quantify at least one-quarter of the election time in that 28 day, 30 day span that we have to run a campaign. That's significant for individuals who rely upon canvassers who canvass for them in polls - particularly individuals like myself because of the changes within the boundary of the constituency of Dartmouth North, I've seen an expansion of some 1,500 to 2,000 additional voters. Not only did I witness a reduction in the period of time in which I could campaign, but I also saw an increase within the electoral boundary.

So, I have to tell you, this reflects a positive move. Hopefully, Mr. Speaker, we will be able to measure the changes here in this elections bill in the next coming provincial election, whenever that may be. I want to say, similar to the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, that this appears to be a good piece of legislation and it appears that our members, our Party will be supporting this piece of legislation. Having said that, I want to say

[Page 6002]

that we should thank the Chief Electoral Officer, the staff and the staff of the government departments who acknowledged there needed to be changes and in fact brought them forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few words on Bill No. 145. I think all of us as elected members of this House this is certainly welcome news. I know in Clare, and I'm sure in every riding across Nova Scotia, in the last provincial election in 2003, many people were left off the voters' list. I just want to share with you a few of those complaints that happened in our riding.

On the average, Mr. Speaker, we had about 25 people in every poll who were added to the voters' list. That basically represents roughly between 10 per cent and 12 per cent of the voters who did vote. Mind you, not everyone voted. I will go into detail in a few minutes. On the average many people were not on the voters' list. I happened to be at one poll when this elderly lady walked in to vote. She had been voting for many years at this poll. The returning officer, along with the clerks, knew this lady, and she knew them as well. Unfortunately, she had no voter's card, she had no identification with her, and the returning officer explained to this lady that she needed some proof of identification in order to be allowed to vote. Well, I'm not going to repeat what this lady said to these workers in the poll, but I don't believe this lady did vote on election day. I don't think she bothered to go back home, pick up her identification and come back to the polling station.

Again, this was just an example of what did happen. I know in some of our polling stations people from the same household, from the same family who normally voted in the same polling station, unfortunately in the last election, these people from the same families had to vote in two different polls. Again, many people certainly raised these concerns with me.

Another concern that I had was the lineups at polling stations with people who were waiting to register in order to vote. I can tell you a lot of people I saw did not bother waiting in long lineups to register in order to vote. They came in, saw what was going on and, unfortunately, they did not stay behind in order to vote. Again, how many people across Nova Scotia had this happen to them when they went to vote at polling stations, and they refused to wait in order to register to vote?

Mr. Speaker, I'm glad that the members of the Election Commission, along with the help of the Chief Electoral Officers and staff and people from the department have looked at these complaints from the last provincial election and have come up with these proposed positive changes. I personally believe that the government has a responsibility to try to encourage as many voters to participate in the electoral process. When you look at the low voting turnout that we had in the last provincial election - you know I don't enjoy it, I don't like it, and I don't think any government appreciates low voting turnouts. I think it's a responsibility

[Page 6003]

that any government has to try to encourage as many voters to participate in elections and in the electoral process.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I just want to share with you, and with members of the House, that last month I had an opportunity, in Central Africa, to be an observer in a presidential election. There are approximately four million people over there and, of course, different countries have different rules come election time. In this country it was part of the responsibility of the voter to register. There was no registering at the last minute come election day to vote; voters had to pre-register in order to vote on election day.

Election day over there, Mr. Speaker, takes place on a Sunday. Polling stations are open at 6:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and the lineups - it's just amazing, amazing, the participation from the general population over there. Everybody wanted to have a say. It's a big event. In the community that I was in on election day, it was just unbelievable. When we were going around to different polling stations on election day, I spoke with many voters about how long they had been waiting to vote and it was two, three, four hours and, believe me, it was hot on top of that. So, again, when I look at registering and doing enumeration to allow people to vote on election day, it's certainly welcoming news. Unfortunately in Nova Scotia, we are allowed to register even on election day at the polling stations. So, to me - and I'm quite sure to many people throughout this province - this is certainly welcoming news.

Again, Mr. Speaker, in closing, I'm glad that the Election Commission, that the government is bringing back enumeration to allow as many people to be on the voter's list and I'm quite sure this is certainly welcoming news for every voter who was left off the voter's list across this province back in August of 2003. So I believe this is welcoming news for all Nova Scotians to bring back enumeration, and I'm quite sure the number of complaints that we encountered in the last election from voters who were not registered on voter's lists, this is certainly a step in the right direction and I will be voting in support of both changes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to speak on Bill No. 145. I listened with interest to the previous members who spoke and, in particular, the member for Clare. I thought his information from his experience in Africa was really worth listening to, to show how important it was for the people there that they get an opportunity to vote and that actually democracy can still mean so much.

I, for one, certainly welcome any change that would be a benefit in terms of voter's lists. I like many of my colleagues in the House, certainly experienced calls from voters or would be voters around the voters lists or the inconsistencies in the voters list. I want to say that the people I ran against in 2003, I think they conducted themselves very well, both the Liberal

[Page 6004]

candidate and the Tory candidate. They probably ran into the same headaches that I did and I think quite often if you're the incumbent, people probably call your office more quickly when they run into these. (Interruptions) Well, the Finance Minister is saying that they blame you too, but certainly when you are in Opposition you can certainly deflect that. (Laughter)

I want to say, that role is not one that I necessarily appreciate. I would very much like to be as distant from all of that as I can and like to leave that to other people so that the candidate isn't perceived to be too close to any of those lists or whatever. Certainly people - one of the names that comes to mind is the incumbent MLA is someone that they would want to call. I had reason to want to call myself, actually, the list in my own area where I would have been voting, I wasn't even on the list. I thought that was hitting pretty low, I thought by the Tories, that they wouldn't even put me on the list to vote.

Even my mother who is across the road from me, she lives in Enfield, was on the list to vote in Upper Rawdon, which you know, even as the crow flies, is quite a little hike, you're probably looking at 20 miles anyway, quite a bit out of her way. So I questioned and wondered about how things could get in such disarray, but if the Act will straighten this up, I am certainly pleased and willing to endorse any process that would improve it. I challenge the member for Cape Breton West, while he's here, to bring any documents that he can to substantiate his allegations and I'd be interested to have a look at those.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would respectfully submit there are at least seven cemeteries in Cape Breton West he may want to check for the evidence.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. MACDONELL: My colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, I think he was the one, but I might be wrong, had indicated to put the idea out there, since our election campaigns are so short that enumeration actually would be a way to let the public think about an election. When somebody knocks on their door, tries to get information from them and then - oh, is there going to be an election - because I'm sure all members of the House on occasion, after the writ is dropped, have knocked on doors and people were unaware that there was an election in progress. So this is one way that people actually would turn their mind toward an election, even though it's the latter days perhaps before they start to decide. My colleague says only in Hants East, but those people there don't want to lose their MLA, so they don't want to think about an election.

I think we quite often don't realize the importance of voting. We tend to think that people are quite cynical about politicians, and that's not to say they haven't had good reason. There's any list of accomplishments or lack thereof of politicians that would make the public cynical. But I want to say that for people who live in a particular community for a long period

[Page 6005]

of time and feel that they are well known, when they go to vote and they're not on the list or they feel they're not being identified, they walk out and they're not interested in coming back. To me that really seems to be a shame, that people who are interested in getting out and casting a ballot are put off by the fact that they've been left off the list. There definitely were lots of occurrences like that.

Some things that I would like to see this bill address, if it doesn't, and when I looked through it I couldn't find it, are rules around people wearing colours of the Party when they go to vote. I think that quite innocently people go in and have been nabbed because they wore a blue shirt or a red shirt or a blouse or whatever, totally innocent, and I think to give them a hard time on these things is just purely ridiculous in the 21st Century.

Something I'd like to see some flexibility on and in particular around the issue of advance polls, and that's in regard to the First Nations community. We have the community of Indian Brook in Shubenacadie. Quite often elections occur in the Summertime, there's a fairly large contingent of the members of that community who would go to Maine for blueberry harvests and we tried to get an advance poll for those people, and it wasn't possible. That's something I'd like to see some flexibility around. There's a community of interest there who have a traditional pattern of being away for one reason or another for a particular time of year, so for those communities it would be very nice if they could have an advance poll ahead of their leaving because they're as interested in voting as anybody else.

If the changes to this Act would certainly mean that I'd be on the voters' list, I'd be very pleased, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to see the process streamlined enough that people are comfortable, that they have every expectation that they will be on the list. I actually have a constituency where one section of it is fairly rapidly growing, and there's quite a bit of movement in and out. So this would be very important, to keep an updated list that's accurate.

I think certainly for all the Parties it would be less grief at election time if they can turn their attention to practices that would help get their candidate elected and not be doing the pushing for paperwork that was tried to correct some errors in the voters' list. With those few comments, Mr. Speaker, I'll take my place, and I look forward to hearing what other members have to say.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I, too, welcome this opportunity, just a couple of minutes to speak on Bill No. 145, the Elections Act. I share a lot of the same concerns that previous members have spoken on. I guess I've had the opportunity to participate in a few elections over the years, municipal and provincial and federal. I don't think there was an election that compared to the problems that were associated with the 2003 general election in that so many people were left off the voters' list. In my riding of Pictou West, I estimate there were approximately 25 per cent of the people who were not there on the initial list that was

[Page 6006]

provided from the federal list that was available. That's a lot of people, probably around 3,000 people in the riding of Pictou West. It caused real problems, not just for myself and my team of helpers, but for all three political Parties in the riding and probably for the Independent who ran as well.

[5:15 p.m.]

When people are disenfranchised the democratic process is not being served the way it should be. When you think about it, the electoral process that we have, our elections are the lifeblood of our democratic system. It must be fair and it must be seen to be fair and if it's not, then people start to wonder if there's something going on that perhaps shouldn't be.

If you go back in history, we have fought long and hard to have a democratic system where people could freely come to the polls and vote. Not that long ago people were discriminated against - for example, only men were allowed to vote. At one time there were two well-known political Parties in this province who would actually line up at the polls and make it hard for people to vote. They would have their muscle men there and people would prevent somebody they thought was not of their persuasion from getting into the polling booth. If you look back to the 1800s, that was quite common. So, we're hoping that as we move along the process will become more democratic and more people will have the availability to go into the poll and vote the way they choose, to vote for the candidate of their choice.

I just want to mention a couple of things that happened in my riding that were similar perhaps to what happened in other members' ridings. A previous member mentioned his own name being left off the ballot and that happened to my family as well. In poll 32 in Pictou West, my home poll, I went to look at the list and there were about 20 names on there - there should have been about 250 - and my name wasn't there. That happened to a lot of other people, so fortunately, we talked to the returning officer and she agreed to do an enumeration in that particular poll. That happened a lot, it happened all over our riding, I'm sure it happened in other ridings.

I guess the most disconcerting thing was when people who lived in a community all their lives, went to the poll and were told, sorry, your name is not on the list, you're not going to be allowed to vote unless you have two pieces of ID and somebody swears that you are who you say you are. That really slows down the process. If they're fortunate enough to have their driver's licence with them, then perhaps they could get on the list right then and there.

In other cases, though, they actually had to go back home and find their birth certificate or driver's licence or some identification and come back. It just made for line-ups that were unnecessary, especially as you go toward 7:00 p.m. and the closing of the polls. It may hold some people back from voting, it's holding back the count that needs to take place at that time.

[Page 6007]

There are others in Pictou West that were not on the list who perhaps had moved away, were recent movers and they thought they could still vote. There were deceased people on the list who had the right to vote, I guess, if they so could and there were transients who perhaps felt they had the right to vote. Anyway, there were lots of problems and in many ways it was very frustrating for voters and for political Parties and for candidates and when you have one-quarter of the electorate not on the electors' list, you know there's something wrong.

I appreciate the effort that's gone into Bill No. 145. It looks like a vast improvement. I certainly support what I see so far in the bill. There's mention in there about the preliminary list - it will be by both enumeration and by confirmation that once a year the returning officer would confirm the list to make sure it's updated and it's almost a continual process to allow the list to be as fairly accurate as possible.

I guess if there's one suggestion, Mr. Speaker, that I would add that I think would be an improvement over the system that we have, maybe it's a small point, but the mail-in ballot worked much better than the proxy system that we had previously, but one other item related to that is before there's a ballot printed, before there are names of the known candidates, there are still some people who would like to be able to vote. They know who's nominated, but they're not actually on a printed up ballot as of yet and some people are leaving the constituency in the first day, or the second day, or maybe the first week of the campaign. They're not going to be back before E-day and there is an opportunity I think for a write-in ballot where they can write the name of the candidate on a blank sheet and give it to the returning officer, but I think that needs to be promoted or advertised a bit better and it's just for those people who are going to be away for the remainder of that 30-day period and would still like the opportunity to vote.

So I guess overall, Mr. Speaker, I support Bill No. 145. I think it's a major step forward than the debacle, I guess, that we had in 2003 in many ridings, including Pictou West and the election process certainly must be fair, it must be seen to be fair. It needs to be easier for the voter to get out there and participate in the democratic process and I think that's their democratic right to make sure they have the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice. I look forward to the bill going on to the Law Amendments Committee and at this point I'm certainly supportive of the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Education, it will be to close debate.

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleagues on all sides of the House for those informed and insightful comments. (Interruption) I did indeed. I will watch the video.

[Page 6008]

This bill does deal with an item of importance to us all. We all had awkward situations with voting lists during the last election and I would like to congratulate my colleague and with the support of the others that this revision is good for Nova Scotia. With that, Mr. Speaker, and just before sitting down, I would like very much to extend a welcome to you in the Chair, I believe it's your first official visit. (Applause) I will now move second reading of Bill No. 145.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 145. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 146.

Bill No. 146 - Cross-border Policing Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again I rise on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Justice, to move second reading of Bill No. 146. As my colleague said yesterday at the bill briefing, this legislation is an important tool to help police investigate criminal activity. Indeed it's part of a larger national effort to have all provinces adopt model legislation brought forward by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada. The problem now is that police officers lose their official status when they leave their home jurisdictions. This bill sets out the procedures to be followed when a police officer needs to pursue an investigation beyond their own provincial boundaries. I'm pleased to say that it has the full support of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and many other law enforcement organizations.

Other provinces, Mr. Speaker, have either adopted similar legislation or plan to do so. The legislation sets out appointment procedures, defines responsibilities of police officers who are pursuing investigations and also has procedures to ensure effective civilian oversight. It is timely legislation. Just last week, Minister Baker announced that we, as a province, would help fund the Criminal Intelligence Service of Nova Scotia. This organization will grow from six to 26 employees. These intelligence officers and analysts will work hard to combat organized crime and serious crimes that cost society hundreds of millions of dollars. Our funding investment of $6.1 million over four years, was widely applauded by the RCMP and all 12 municipal police agencies. That investment in public safety combined with this legislation shows our commitment to working closely with police to support safe streets and safe communities.

[Page 6009]

Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to move second reading of this bill.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I want to welcome you to the Chair as well because I think having been in that position I know it has its challenges but also has its rewards as well.

I want to speak for a minute on Bill No. 146 because it is an interesting piece of legislation and not the first one to come to this House where we've been told that there's a harmonized legislation, where every province, every jurisdiction in Canada, at least provincial jurisdictions I presume, I'm not sure if the Territories apply these as well, have agreed to the wording. To some extent that's used as a means of saying, don't touch this. You have to pass it as it is because otherwise you're going to muck around with an agreement that's been made by the Justice Ministers.

As a member of this House, as members of this House, it's our job to pass legislation that's good for Nova Scotia. I say that not because I have an inherent problem with the concept of this legislation, the legislation itself is good, in the sense that it is providing an opportunity where officers from other provinces are coming to hear police officers. They have an opportunity to have the powers to act, whether it's investigating, whether it's interviewing, whether it is other means of investigation that they may be doing, Mr. Speaker, and that's important. That's a good thing because we need to clarify those rules but at the same time given the nature of criminal activity, not only organized crime, but Internet crime, it's probably very likely that the need for this kind of agreement will increase.

So I don't have a problem with the legislation as a concept, although I do want to note in my remarks, Mr. Speaker, some specific points that I think having read the legislation, at first glance, I may have a few concerns with. I'm hoping that someone from the Department of Justice is noting this and if I'm way off base. I'm sure they will clarify it before the Committee on Law Amendments, but if not there might be an opportunity to discuss this at the Committee on Law Amendments.

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by saying, let's talk about the concept. Basically if an officer from another province, and someone said to me today well is this only Canadian, what about Americans, or Interpol? No, this only applies to provinces. Officers from other provinces. If they want to come here because of an investigation and they want to have the authority to do what they need to do, they have to apply to what's called an appointing officer, and under part one of the Act, they can apply to an appointing officer and in writing, they have to spell out why they need to come here and what exactly is the purpose of their trip. In return, the appointing officer has to say yea or nay within seven days and provide them with that in writing and then they have the ability to come here with any conditions. It seems simple enough.

[Page 6010]

There are certain emergency situations where maybe they need to be here for - and I must say that first group when it's in writing, they can have that power for up to one year. That's a fair amount of time, one year. I actually would suggest to you that seems like an awfully long time. I could see maybe six months with one renewal or three months with two renewals or four renewals, but one year to give, carte blanche, an opportunity to come here for a year and act as a police officer seems like a fairly lengthy period of time. So I make that as a note to start. If it's an emergency, they can get the power for 72 hours as an officer. They need to come here because they've heard that there's someone who is in the province and they're in the middle of a very hot investigation. In those cases they don't have to have it in writing, but they do have to either orally or in writing, request why they want to be here and again, it can be provided to them in a certain form and approval is given, Mr. Speaker. So those are the two main forms of how this would work and I have a few comments about those.

[5:30 p.m.]

To start with, there's something called an appointing officer in this Act and not getting into the details of the legislation but as a principle, an appointing officer should be someone who, I would suggest, has a very high level of command, at the least a local detachment head. I would expect it to be higher, a chief of police or maybe even higher up but in this legislation it's clear that it's defined as, any police officer in Nova Scotia can be an appointing officer. I understand as a condition you want the appointing officer to be a police officer but I would suggest they have to be more than that as well.

They should have to have a certain rank, a certain level of command because I can see an opportunity and maybe it is a fairly rare opportunity where in this province you can have an appointing officer who is just a plain officer, a constable, who would be an appointing officer. I have a concern with that and I think that we need to ensure, for accountability, for the issuing of these particular certificates to allow people to come here and act as officers in our province, which is a fairly powerful right, we need to ensure that there are certain checks and balances put in place that would best be served by having an officer of some responsibility. A police chief, a detachment head, someone like that Mr. Speaker, who would then be in a position and understand the accountability that goes with the job, not just any officer. My reading of the legislation is, any officer can take on that job at the moment and I would have a concern with that.

I think it's also important to note that when an appointing officer makes that decision they don't have to get the approval of the Minister of Justice. I'm not sure they need to, they just have to provide notice but it goes back to the point that the Minister of Justice is not signing off on these special appointees who come here, no one higher up in the Department of Justice is doing that, this is being done by an appointing officer. Again, another reason why that officer should be someone who has a certain level of rank, a certain level of authority and responsibility, to be not just any officer in this province.

[Page 6011]

I also want to say that when we talk about the emergency appointees, ones for up to 72 hours, Mr. Speaker, it says it can be done orally or in writing. I understand in certain circumstances, in a rush, you may need to do it orally but I would suggest maybe in those circumstances it has to be followed up in writing, the request and the appointment or refusal, presumably, within 24 hours. To have it done orally means that if an officer from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario or Quebec wants to come here and they call up on the phone and say here are my reasons for wanting to come to Nova Scotia, there's no real record of what they were doing. Because you could have problems later on, maybe it's only 72 hours that they have the authority, but in those 72 hours they can do a lot of things.

To not have a written record of their request, again, for the purposes of not slowing it down given the sort of circumstances, the emergency circumstances, I'm not saying they have to apply in writing but I would suggest that maybe it would be a good idea to say that if they do apply orally, within 24 hours there will be a written request follow up. I think that would be a good way of ensuring that we do actually have a written record of what the request was so there are no problems later on.

Mr. Speaker, also when we talk about the one year appointment there is a clear deadline. Within seven days of receiving a request, the appointing officer has to provide a response, yes or no, in writing. For the emergency one, there is no deadline, it says that the appointing officer has to respond as soon as reasonably possible. Well anyone who has any experience either in this House and reading legislation or as a lawyer will know that, as soon as reasonably possible, you can drive a truck through.

What does that mean? I would say that maybe there is a need to put some sort of time limit on it, 12 hours, 24 hours, so that those officers in other provinces know they are going to get a timely response and not just as soon as reasonably possible. If it's Friday at four o'clock, when you get the phone call and you don't respond to them until Monday at 9 a.m. or noon, you may say that's reasonable. But someone who is in another province who is in pursuit of someone or a witness or someone who is alleged to have committed a crime, I would suggest that they would say that it's not a reasonable amount of time. Those are issues that relate to that Mr. Speaker.

I also want to note, that when there is a power here to terminate when someone as an appointed officer from another province comes here, does things that they're not supposed to, they can be terminated and that's good, but I want to note that when there's a termination done that you have to send that termination notice to the person who's been appointed obviously, to that person's extra-provincial commander, the person who's in charge of that, it may be a police chief or whomever, in that province. So it could be the Chief of Police of Calgary, if it's a Calgary police officer, or the head of the RCMP provincially in Saskatchewan, and to the minister here. All good.

[Page 6012]

I would suggest it wouldn't be a bad idea to also send a copy of that termination to the Minister of Justice in the province where that officer is based. I suggest that because there may be circumstances in which that officer has done things that are fairly serious in this province, and to send it to the chief of police or the head of the detachment, to the department in which they belong, obviously it's good for internal discipline purposes, but frankly that doesn't allow, necessarily, for accountability of that department.

I would suggest that if I was the Minister of Justice in a province - for example the Minister of Justice in Alberta - and a police officer from Calgary came to Nova Scotia and had to have his appointment revoked because he or she was doing things they weren't supposed to, I would want to know about that, because I would want to ask the police chief in Calgary what they're doing to ensure that this won't happen again and what discipline is going to take place, because this is potentially an embarrassment for that province, not just for that police department. So I would suggest sending it to the Minister of Justice or the minister in charge of police services in the province where that appointee comes from would also be a good idea.

These are all things that, obviously at Law Amendments Committee, maybe people will come forward and speak on, but I put them on the record now because as principle I do like this legislation but I do see specific issues that need to be addressed prior to bringing this back. Again, if someone in the Justice Department can tell me that there are other means of addressing this or that my concerns are being addressed in other ways, that's fine, but I put them on the record because I look at this and I say I like this legislation but there are certain little details that concern me. As people like to say, the devil is in the details, Mr. Speaker, and I see in this legislation opportunities for the devil to rear his ugly head.

So we will support this legislation. We would like to see it move forward to the Law Amendments Committee to hear where people are coming from. I would ask, for the record, that the Department of Justice and the Minister of Justice, at some point, respond to some of the concerns I've raised prior to the Law Amendments Committee dealing with any amendments, because I think it's important that we do understand exactly what this legislation is saying so that we do have the details in place to make sure that this is working, not only for us but, frankly, for all jurisdictions in Canada.

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

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as Justice Critic for the Liberal caucus, I take this opportunity to say a few words on Bill No. 146, an Act to Facilitate Interjurisdictional Policing in Certain Circumstances. As has been indicated, we were told that this is part of the uniform law changes that are being adopted throughout the country - or at least hoping that they will be adopted throughout the country. My understanding, I believe from the minister, is only one jurisdiction has adopted it - at this point I believe Manitoba is that jurisdiction, and I'd be curious to know, because we have passed a couple of bills along this, and I know Nova Scotia, each time, was either first or second in passing.

[Page 6013]

I'm curious where those bills are in other provinces, the issue being is this uniform law being adopted by other Canadian jurisdictions or, at the end of the day, are we passing bills that aren't really going to work because the other provinces aren't buying into the changes that are being made. I would hope that the minister might be able to give us a bit of a sense as to where those bills are in regard to other provinces, and why it is that we seem to be - which is a good thing, that we are showing a bit of leadership in being second or third in doing it, but why are the other provinces reluctant to bring forward and adopt this kind of legislation. Maybe there's more to it that we're not aware of, and it would be interesting to hear his comments on that.

Mr. Speaker, there's no doubt that any sort of legislation that's going to allow police in Nova Scotia or police in other jurisdictions to be able to do their job more effectively in pursuing investigations is something that one would naturally expect to support. I'd have a hard time coming up with an argument as to why one should not support that type of notion, so I don't see this bill encountering any sort of great deal of opposition because of that.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that this does touch on is the whole issue of crime and the whole issue of safety in our Nova Scotia communities. I can tell you that recent events in the past number of weeks and months have caused Nova Scotians to raise concerns about the safety of our communities, and that's unfortunate, because Nova Scotians are used to living in a province where safety is something that is just accepted, that it is safe to go into your home at night, it is safe to walk along your local street, it is safe to walk along the streets of Halifax.

Suddenly in the last few weeks that seems to be changing and one of the things that we are looking for coming into this House was to see what initiative the government was going to bring forward to bring back safety to our communities, bring back safety here to the City of Halifax, and unfortunately to date, and maybe there's more to come, but to date we are not seeing that. The announcement that was made regarding the Criminal Intelligence Service is a good announcement and it will deal with organized crime and some of the more major crimes that take place in this province, but what we've been hearing in the last few weeks, I don't think anyone would suggest that it's based on organized crime. It seemed to be random acts of violence that we're not used to seeing here in this province and the question is what can we do as legislators, more importantly what can the government do with the resources that it has to try to bring back a sense of safety and security to our communities.

We're not used to hearing of swarmings. We're not used to hearing of violent robberies each morning we wake up, the odd one has happened, but lately it seems every morning you wake up and you hear on the radio that there's another incident that has taken place. That's not something that we're used to seeing in this province and that's not something I think we want to continue to see happen in our province or in our communities.

[Page 6014]

One of the frustrations, Mr. Speaker, and there's another bill that's going to be brought forward for debate later it talks about new offences that are being created to deal with youth who get involved in crime. My question to the minister was at what point is this minister going to stand in his place and say here are the investments and here are the changes my government is prepared to make to work with our youth to try to offer them the counselling, the services, the programs, to work with them when they are at risk to make sure that they do not commit crimes, to make sure that they do not go down the road that we don't want to see them go down, to make sure that they can become productive members of society?

We don't hear that. What we hear from this minister and from this government is we've got to either create new offenses or we've got to go up to Ottawa, and I'm going to bring a couple of members with me, and we're going to stand there and we're going to blame the Young Offenders Act for all the troubles we have in the province. No one is buying that, Mr. Speaker. Every time the minister does that, you know, it's almost a farce to see him do that when we know that there are different initiatives he could be doing in the province that he's failing to do.

Let me give you an example. This is the government that first in 1999 said we're going to get tough on crime. The minister came in and he said vote for the Conservatives and we're going to get tough on crime. So what does the government do? It starts closing all the rural jails, closes all the rural courthouses. It closed the one in St. Peter's that I had. I believe the member for Inverness may have lost some. No, he has still got Port Hood for now, I'm not sure how much longer that will last once the Port Hawkesbury facility is up and running. I might lose the remaining one I have in Richmond as well. (Interruption) Closed them all around the province and yet this is a government that's going to get tough on crime.

So then they go a step further and they shut down the Shelburne Youth Facility regardless of the fact they had a sitting member there and the importance it was to that community and the fact the government was saying it was going to get tough on youth crime, they shut down the facility. I believe they saved approximately $1.3 million. That's $1.3 million that's no longer going to Shelburne. The question, Mr. Speaker, that I have is how much of that $1.3 million has gone into youth programs, into youth crime prevention strategies, into counselling, and into the programs available to help our youth before they actually commit crime? No one has answered that question yet.

I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that little to no money of that money has gone back to work with our kids in our education system and in our communities and to try to make sure that when they are at risk, we can do our best to try to put them back on the right track and offer them the services that they require in order to be able to do that rather than continually creating new offenses to either incarcerate them or to somehow get them punished in front of the law.

[Page 6015]

One of the things I'd like to hear from the Minister of Education - I know he is introducing this bill, but this would be something that maybe he can provide some information on - how well is the new treatment facility working in Truro? Can he provide us statistics which show us, that that facility is working the way it should be working? Or, will he stand in his place and admit to us that facility is not meeting the needs that it was set up to meet? One of the main issues has been the location of that facility - that it is not as accessible as it should be to those who need it most in our province. A lot of government money and time was spent on building a facility that in the end is not meeting its objective.

[5:45 p.m.]

Being the fact that it's either in his riding or in the member for Colchester North, but I do believe it is in the Minister of Education's riding that he would be able to tell us exactly if that facility is meeting the needs that it was set up for and intended to, I think the answer is no.

So, until this government starts to give us an indication of what they're prepared to do - other than creating new offences, that's not a solution. The solution is to try to work with our youth before they get into trouble with the law so that we can make them productive members of society and they can contribute to society. Is the treatment centre in Truro working the way it should be? If it isn't, then let's see what changes need to be made to make sure we can have that facility operating the way it should be, that the staff are seeing as many of our youth as possible who need their services. All indications that I've received to date is that's not taking place and that facility is not having the success that it was intended to have to start with.

With that, we do look forward to seeing exactly what initiatives this government is prepared to bring forward in this session - not only to create new offences, not only to work on organized crime. I find it interesting that they're putting more money in organized crime, yet they don't want a ban on VLTs because organized crime is going to run all the VLTs. I'm not sure how they're going to be able to take care of organized crime - they're afraid organized crime is going to run all the VLTs in this province. It seems to be a bit of a contradiction that we're going to control organized crime yet we fear they will take over this province in illegal gaming.

The message is, we have a serious problem. Nova Scotians do not want to wake up in the morning to hear about swarmings, violent robberies and violence on our streets in this province. This government has an opportunity to show leadership, to take action and to make our communities safer and to make Nova Scotians satisfied that when they do go out at night and when their children are out at night that they are in a safe environment and that we continue to enjoy the peaceful living that Nova Scotians are so proud of here in this province.

[Page 6016]

I look forward to this bill moving on to Law Amendments Committee to see if there's any proposed changes at that point. I do certainly hope that while this is only the second day in this session that we will see better leadership coming from this government in making our communities safer. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure for me to rise here today to speak on an Act to Facilitate Interjurisdictional Policing in Certain Circumstances, Bill No. 146.

The honourable Minister of Justice and the honourable Speaker from Cumberland South and myself did go to Ottawa in January to speak to Justice Minister Irwin Cottler. I know the member for Richmond doesn't think we accomplished anything, but one of the things we did accomplish up there, we had a prior meeting set up as a sideline meeting with the Canadian Police Association. The Canadian Police Association, at that time, were lobbying for us to introduce this bill. There's only one in Canada and that is in Manitoba and it's from the uniform law.

When you have legislation, the problem is there isn't uniformity across Canada. So we want it to be geared by the uniformity that governs all provinces. In this legislation, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage - I must say he read this because he's interested in this and you could tell by the way he was talking and that's all I'm going to say about that. However, I will say that he did bring out a couple of good points on which I agree. Sometimes, even though it's a uniformity law, we have to be looking at the picture of maybe we can make a better difference in bringing in some amendments. He alluded to two that I was listening to intensely. One of the two was the appointing officer, and the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage was a little concerned with who could be an appointing officer. I agree, and I think that this could be overcome with the simple statement, by changing it to all appointing officers must be commissioned officers. I would support a change to that.

Also, in the emergency, on the 72 hours, either orally or written notification, that you could have it orally, however, like he said, 72 hours is quite a space, so you could follow that up in writing, have someone follow that up in writing within 24 hours. But one thing we have to remember is that we can be followers or we can be leaders when it comes to legislation. I would hope that in Nova Scotia we would be leaders, especially leaders in crime prevention. You know that crime has no borders, but in police they do, except the RCMP who are governed by the RCMP Act, and they can go from province to province because of their Act.

Other police forces in all of Canada cannot. Once they cross from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick, they are no longer police officers, they are restricted in their investigations, and this would give them the authority to carry on investigations in another province, if they have an Act similar to this. Now, when you're passing uniform legislation, there has to be a starting point.

[Page 6017]

The starting point was actually in Manitoba, and we would be the second to enact this. I think there's going to be opposition from Quebec.

Having said that, there shouldn't be any opposition from Quebec, but I think there might be because in the Ottawa/Hull area you have organized crime prevalent there. You have about 12 police forces there that are policing that area, and the criminals are crossing borders, and the police don't have the authority to move in the pattern that the criminals move. So this is very important legislation. It's important legislation because as we enter into technology, into the Internet technology, in the era where we're moving now, money follows the source, and the crooks will always follow the money. Where is the money? It's in the IT technology.

Having said that, this is very important, very important for the police forces of Canada, it's very important for the citizens of Nova Scotia, that we pass this legislation. It's very important that we be leaders and not followers when we're doing legislation. I support this fully, and I know that other provinces will come on stream, but there has to be a starting place for this. As I said, I realize we can't change the gist of the bill, but we can make alterations, such as amendments to things that maybe the Uniform Law Society overlooked when they did this and we could make it a better piece of legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Education it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague, the honourable Minister of Justice, I would like to thank the Opposition members and my colleague, the member for Colchester North for their comments on this bill. I now move second reading of Bill No. 146.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 146. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 147.

[Page 6018]

Bill No. 147 - Youth Justice Act/Motor Vehicle Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, it's my privilege to move second reading of Bill No. 147. I rise on behalf of the Minister of Justice, whom, as members may know, this afternoon is attending a swearing-in ceremony for a new Justice of the Supreme Court. I appreciate the chance to do this. As you will remember I was responsible for the Justice portfolio not all that long ago. I know that these are important issues, not only to us as elected members, but to people in every community across our province. This bill speaks about accountability, and when it comes to driving a vehicle we need to learn at a young age that there are deadly consequences when we make mistakes behind the wheel. This legislation gets us closer to where we need to be. We are proposing that 16- and 17-year-old youth be treated as adults if they are charged under the Motor Vehicle Act or any other motor vehicle related offence designated in regulations.

There are, unfortunately, some youth in that age group who feel that they can fail to show up for a court appearance without consequence. Police are then forced to execute an arrest warrant just to find the youth to bring him or her to court, and this must stop. Like adults, 16 and 17 year olds need to realize the full consequences of failing to show in court. Like adults, if they fail to show, the courts will be able to enter convictions against them. It's the responsible thing to do.

We're also proposing that all drivers face tougher licence revocation for stealing a motor vehicle or for taking one without the owner's consent or knowledge. The penalty for a first offence now is that their licence can be revoked for one year, and that will double to two years. For a second offence, the penalty is now a two-year revocation, and it will jump to five years. Those are much more serious consequences - they are in line with how other serious driving offences are treated. It should send a strong signal to those who might feel, now, immune from tough penalties - five years is a long time to be without a driver's licence.

Another amendment deals with the authority of police to impound vehicles used in a race. Police would be required to impound the vehicles involved - first offence, for 24 hours, second offence, for 30 days. This too speaks to the issue of accountability, not only on the driver's behalf but vehicle owners need to be responsible when they decide to turn their keys over to a friend or a neighbour. In summary, these are changes we believe will improve the justice system.

Now I know if Mr. Baker were here he would publicly acknowledge the contribution of the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage in drafting this legislation. We believe it is important to act and change what we're able to do from a provincial standpoint, and we continue to call for wider changes to the federal Youth Criminal Justice Act and the Criminal Code. We need tougher laws and more suitable options for the courts when they deal with the

[Page 6019]

small percentage of what we call out-of-control youth. The federal Justice Ministers in other provinces are giving this all due consideration, and we believe it is not only important to lobby for change at the federal level but to take action where we have jurisdiction. I believe this bill accomplishes that and I look forward to hearing comments from other members. So, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Due to the late hour - and I do have numerous comments to make on Bill No. 147 - I will move adjournment of debate on Bill No. 147.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The Liberal House Leader for tomorrow's agenda.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow following the daily routine and Question Period, we will be calling Bill No. 149, the Video Lottery Terminals Moratorium Act and, following that, Resolution No. 3051 regarding the Cape Breton strike.

I move we do now adjourn to meet tomorrow at two o'clock.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned.

[6:00 p.m.]

We will now move into the late debate and the topic for tonight has been put forward by the honourable member for Cape Breton South:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government has continued to neglect Nova Scotia roads."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

[Page 6020]

TPW: ROADS - GOV'T. NEGLECT

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, when I was campaigning, people would ask me what were the three top subjects, or the three top articles, number one was roads, number two was roads, and number three was roads. That was in a rural area, that was then and this is now. What I'd like to do is reference some of the articles in a different part of the province from myself.

An article written by Ron Goodall, Chairman of the Pictou County Highway No. 256 Improvement Committee. ". . . at a meeting of concerned local citizens, a committee was established with a mandate to find ways to urge the provincial government to repave Highway 256 from the Pictou County line through Scotsburn to Lyons Brook . . . Local residents are frustrated and angry." A newspaper article written by Sherry Martell for the Evening News, ". . . Route 256 and West Branch Road were two areas of the greatest concern to residents." The Chronicle Herald, "Drivers demand fix for crumbling Pictou road." Monica Graham, "'We'd be better off driving on dirt roads,' George Campbell of West Branch told a public meeting, 'I wish you would just rip it up and leave it to gravel.'", again, another reference to Highway No. 256.

Mr. Speaker, those articles are from different residents all pertaining to roads. I'd refer now to an article that was put in the Cape Breton Post and before we even launched the Web site - by the way, Madam Speaker, I would like to interrupt myself right now to say that I intend to share my time with the colourful member for Digby-Annapolis. Before launching our Web site, 75 per cent of the calls that I receive in my office have been and still are pertaining to roads. If we have a rainstorm or a snowstorm, my office focuses the next two days complete on nothing but phone calls pertaining to the roads, simply because the potholes or the traction ruts as I referred to them earlier today, can't be visible because of the snow and the water in them and therefore people are calling up with broken rims and broken belts and tires. As I stated myself, when you drive in Nova Scotia, on a lot of these rural roads, you have to break the law. You either drive on the paved shoulder if there is one and if not, you have to straddle the lanes to duck the potholes. If you stay in your own lane, then you wind up damaging your vehicle.

Roads are an economic development tool for any part of the province and especially in rural areas. I toured my riding with Barb Baily, Area Manager for the Cape Breton section of Victoria-The Lakes on Thursday. I toured the Victoria County section on Friday with Charles McDonald, Area Manager for the area of Victoria County and was trying to prioritize and hopefully that we'll get some action on those roads.

I refer to some facts and figures done by Ruth Blades researcher for the Greater Halifax Partnership. These figures are the actual figures that were released through Statistics Canada and the 2002-03 figures are not available yet, but the 2001-02 the actual motive fuel tax, the revenue for the year was $207,950,550. That's a lot of tax coming in, Madam Speaker.

[Page 6021]

I refer to now what appears to be a Disneyland drawing or reprint of a portion of the Cabot Trail. The Cabot Trail is actually that beautiful because I've travelled it several times, but the picture of the road and the beautifully painted white line - I travel the Cabot Trail with Mr. MacDonald, you could hardly find a white line let alone a yellow line. They have a new policy that they paint the white line every two years on secondary roads.

When they created that policy, they then went to latex paint, supposedly for environmental reasons, but really it's a lot cheaper and it has a road life of about six months. It's worn off completely and I get calls continually saying, Gerald, it's the white line on the shoulder of the road that we follow when we're going home in a thick, heavy fog or bad rain. Don't drive that road when it's a clear and moonlit night. Drive it when you can hardly see the hood of your vehicle with fog and that is what the people North of Smokey travel and watch to keep away, if there are any moose in the middle of the road or anything, but they know they're safe if they can follow the white line and in most places the white line has gone off.

I now refer to, we're talking about the Cabot Trail here, the beautiful Cabot Trail, I want to focus on it. It says March 19th, the Cape Breton Post, Alastair MacLeod, President of the Nova Scotia Chamber of Commerce, "A lot of the tourists who come around the trail express great appreciation of the scenery . . .", but they finish off by saying we won't be back again because your roads are so deplorable. I look at the Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Energy, along with the gentleman who owns the Inverary Inn, proudly presenting there the $400,000 investment to enhance the look-offs on the Cabot Trail.

Madam Speaker, nobody is going to view these look-offs if they're going to damage their vehicle to get to them. Finally, in The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, April 2nd, when they're talking about roads, Michele Rogers of Riverside Road said, ". . . my husband travels extensively the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. and many times has heard the comment from our neighbours to the south: 'Oh, we love your province, but the terrible roads! To quote her, she's saying she would not ever want to revert to the dirt road but at least a gravel portion sees a grader from time to time.

One final comment, Madam Speaker, in 2003 the Department of Transportation was going to issue a new temporary workplace traffic control manual. It was put off in 2003 to 2004. Then it was put off, definitely it was going to be in 2005, now it's not coming into effect until 2006 and this temporary closure of lanes right now, in order to fix a five-minute pothole, it takes an hour to shut down a lane, five minutes to fix the pothole, and another hour to open the lane back up again. We are waiting on the Department of Labour to let the Department of Transportation and Public Works do the work. The workers are frustrated and it's holding everything up.

[Page 6022]

Madam Speaker, I don't want to go on too long, but like I said, I want to revert the rest of the time to the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Madam Speaker, I believe I only have about a minute left and I don't want to start something that I can't finish. So I will hold this off for another time, but all I wanted to say is I can repeat just what my colleague has said anyway. In the Digby area the road conditions are pretty poor. We have people down there who are hauling their own gravel onto the roads so they can get out of their driveways on the dirt roads, which is one-third of our roads in that area. We have 500 kilometres of road and about one-third of them are mud roads. Cheap material has been put on them for the past few years because they said that it was cheaper to buy, because the money wasn't there to do it. So I think we need to find a way to find more money for our roads. It seems to be a problem with everything in this province, the lack of money. Anyway, I won't get into it tonight, but I've got it on my mind. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Thank you. I'm pleased to be able to rise to speak for a few minutes on rural roads. The resolution reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government has continued to neglect Nova Scotia's roads."

I think that's very, very true. Probably more true than it has ever been because if you drive around rural Nova Scotia you see just how terrible our secondary roads are.

It's no surprise that this resolution has come forward. I recently had the opportunity to review a poll that was done by our Party. It outlined a number of issues and one of the questions that was asked was, what do you consider the number one issue that should be fixed outside of metro - in other words, in rural Nova Scotia? Was it health care, education? No, it was rural roads.

Thirty-five per cent of the people in my region of the province in central Nova Scotia thought roads was the number one issue - almost twice as many as those people who thought health care was at the top of their list. It clearly proves it is the most important issue in rural Nova Scotia ahead of other issues that we feel are perhaps most important, like health care and education.

[Page 6023]

It's no surprise that I get a lot of calls at my constituency office about road maintenance and snow clearing and road problems and dangers. It's certainly a major issue. I'm hearing words like atrocious, deplorable, unsatisfactory, broken, potholed, damaged, heaved - I guess the bottom line is that the roads are just unacceptable in this province. They've never been worse. Probably we have the worst roads in all of Canada. If you've done any driving across this country, you would probably agree with that.

I will mention briefly some of the roads that I've had calls about and people are concerned about, roads like the Upper Clyde River Road in Shelburne County, Highway No. 4 in Richmond County, Highway 223 in Cumberland County and various roads on Cape Breton Island. The roads I'm most familiar with, of course, are the roads I'm hearing about every day in my particular riding and that would include roads like the White Hill Road, the Green Hill Road, West Branch Road, Highway 256 through Scotsburn and West Branch to the County line, the Scotch Hill Road, the River John Road, Abercrombie and so on. There are just a lot of roads in Pictou West that are in very, very poor shape - drive over them and you're going to do damage to your car. That's a major concern that we're hearing from people around.

The cost of maintaining their vehicles for tires that suddenly blow when they hit a huge pothole, mufflers, front-end repairs. It's hurting the local people, it's hurting our local economy when business people do not wish to expand or even come to an area because of the poor condition of the roads.

We've all heard the stories about tourists who have said they would never come back to Nova Scotia because of the condition of our roads. I think there was a major story a couple of years ago about a bus tour company that wouldn't come to Eastern Nova Scotia because of the very rough roads along the shore. I can relate to that - in my own riding there is a tourism business that's called Stonehame Chalets, run by the Gunn family. There was a story in our local paper a short time ago about people saying they will never come back because they're complaining about the roads. At first, the operator thought it was the dirt road about a mile long from the highway into his chalet, but in actual fact it was the paved roads up through Durham and Scotsburn, leading to the chalet business. That's just another example of how it's hurting our local economy and it's hurting our tourism business as well.

There are lots of problems. We know the problem is this government and previous governments have not addressed on an ongoing basis or keeping up with the road repair that's required. Actually, we're falling further behind. A few years ago the department put out a study on the roads in this province. It was Nova Scotia's primary and secondary highway systems - its 10 year needs - and identified that we have an infrastructure deficit of $3.5 billion in this province. That was four years old so I suspect it's even more than that today. Even if it is $3.5 billion, that's over a 10 year period, it would cost $350 million. As we know, our department's budget is nowhere close to that so obviously we're going even further behind in trying to catch up with the road maintenance that's necessary.

[Page 6024]

[6:15 p.m.]

In fact, when you look at our budget, back in the 1980s and 1990s we were spending somewhere around 10 per cent of the provincial budget on highways, roads and bridges in this province. By the late-1990s it was down about 4 per cent and I think today it's somewhere around 5 per cent. We're nowhere near the amount of investment that's required to maintain the roads in this province.

People are very, very concerned. They're certainly not happy with the state of the roads. I think there's a groundswell of movement of people that are really putting pressure on their MLAs and putting pressure on government, they want something done. I know in my area, two examples I'm going to mention of community action in the community of West Branch in Pictou County. A group has come together there, they've formed the West Branch Community Improvement Committee and their primary objective is to see Highway No. 256 improved and put up to a decent standard.

They're writing letters, they've contacted the media, they've done a story on CBC television, they've contacted all the major dailies and weeklies in this area. They're continuing to meet on a regular basis, we had a public meeting in that community earlier this year with over 100 people. I've presented a petition here on their behalf yesterday with 621 names on it. They're actively lobbying to get improvements to their roads. There is a democratic process under way here, the community has come together to try to get something done about their roads.

The same thing is happening in River John. There's a strategic planning group there that are actively lobbying the area manager, they're writing letters to the minister. I know both those community groups would love to have the minister come and visit the area and see the actual condition of the roads. I'm putting that invitation out, Madam Speaker, to the minister to come to Pictou County and actually have a look at the roads so he'll know first-hand what they look like.

This is about the worst time of year and if your schedule doesn't allow it, but later on in the Summer, that would be welcome. To travel on the River John Road, the West Branch Road, Highway No. 256, Scotch Hill Road and so on - some of the very worst roads in our county. So my invitation, Mr. Minister, is to you to visit our area and I would be glad to show you around to look at some of those projects.

Finally, we know the problem, but what is the solution? Obviously the solution is more money. I know it's always a battle within various departments to find enough money for everyone and I know we need to lobby to get more money for the Department of Transportation and Public Works. We also hope that when that is done, it will be done in a fair and equitable manner that all areas of this province would get the money that's needed to fix up their roads. In other words, priorities would be set based on fairness and on some criteria

[Page 6025]

that will allow fairness. It shouldn't matter where people live or how they vote or anything else - it should be based on the needs of the road. The worst roads should be the ones that are fixed first. I think that makes common sense and I'm just asking for fairness.

The other thing I think relates to that people should know when their road is going to be fixed. There should be a public list available saying this road is going to be done in 2005 and that road will be done in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and so on. It should be published, it should be available to all, based on a criteria that is open, transparent and people will know when the road repair is going to take place.

I guess my time is up and I'll listen carefully to what the minister has to say.

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak about the transportation system in the Province of Nova Scotia. I'm absolutely delighted that finally the Liberals have seen the light and recognize the fact that we do have a problem with our highway system, and I'm glad that the NDP finally realize that there is a solution but it entails spending more money on highways and having to accept the fact that if you're going to spend more money on transportation, you're going to have to take it from somewhere else.

We talk about health and we talk about giving more money to health; we talk about education and we talk about giving more money to education. Madam Speaker, more money doesn't make for a better education system, it may help some, and more money doesn't make for a better health care system, it might help some, but more money, I can guarantee you, will make for a better transportation system. We need more money in the system to have a better transportation system.

To give you some indication, Madam Speaker, earlier today in Question Period I was perhaps a little sharp in some of my responses, but it makes me angry, genuinely angry when people say my road is falling apart, why don't you fix it? Well, the problem is we are fixing roads, we are fixing bridges, we are fixing culverts, and we are fixing every facet of the transportation system across this province. But the problem is immense, as the honourable member just said a few moments ago. We had a deficit of $3.5 billion in the transportation system, that was four or five years ago. Today that number is probably about $5 billion. It's a tremendous amount of money required to bring our transportation system up.

Now the first part of curing that problem, Madam Speaker, and I know everybody says, well, you always blame the feds, well, we are going to blame the feds. The feds take from this province, every year, $145 million in motive fuel taxes. We in the province take out something like about $200-some odd million, but we put more than that back into the system. The feds

[Page 6026]

take out $145 million, and on average over the years we'd get maybe $3 million, $4 million or $5 million of that back to assist with the national highway system.

The federal government has to accept the fact that the transportation system in all provinces has to be improved, because if we cannot transport our goods out and bring our goods in, Madam Speaker, we don't have an economy anymore. We're not the worst province. The honourable member said that we're the worst in Canada, and that's not true. We're not good, I grant you that, and there are provinces that are better, but there are some provinces that are worse off than we are.

Madam Speaker, I'd like to have the federal government provide to the provinces, on some kind of equitable basis, whether it's the number of kilometres of highway that you have or the number of bridges or the population or something, every year, a percentage of that gas tax that they take out, so we could have an ongoing program in this province to bring our highways up to speed.

I've said this before in the House and I don't know if it crystallized with everybody in the House, but the federal government is now saying not to worry because we're going to give billions of dollars to the municipalities for infrastructure, which will include roads and bridges. Now, Madam Speaker, that is absolute nonsense in this province. In this province, 90 per cent of the roads and all of the bridges are the responsibility - for repair, maintenance and construction - of the Department of Transportation and Public Works in this province.

You go to Ontario and guess what? The Province of Ontario only looks after 10 per cent, and 90 per cent is looked after by the municipalities. Therefore, that infrastructure program is going to work in Ontario, but it sure as heavens isn't going to work in the Province of Nova Scotia or the Province of New Brunswick or most of the western provinces. So that's not the answer.

Transport Canada - I just got a letter today from the honourable Minister of Transport, I wrote him a letter raising the issue again with him about getting some transportation money into this province, into the hands of the people who can put it onto the roads, and he comes back with a letter that says, well, we are doing that, we are going to provide it to the municipalities. Well, good Lord, how many times do you have to stand up and draw pictures for somebody to understand something.

That's one of the solutions that we have to improving the highway system, and that is getting more federal participation into the highway system, but there are other things we can do too, Madam Speaker, and we have to be spending our money perhaps more smartly and we're trying to do that, but we do have a problem. Whereas three or four years ago, you could get a kilometre of road paved for approximately $95,000, $105,000, somewhere in that area, per kilometre. Today, in fact just yesterday, I was at a capital meeting in my department and the cost now is $175,000 per kilometre. So $1 million is not very much.

[Page 6027]

We've got an additional $30 million this year in capital which sounds like a lot of money. In fact, that's almost the entire budget that the former administration devoted to the capital. We got that extra this year, but it's not going to solve the problem because inflation, the cost of personnel, the cost of material, the cost of trucks, everything has increased. So we're having a hard time at even keeping up with the amount of work that we have to do on the highways.

I wish, Madam Speaker, I had more time to talk about this because there are so many things I would like to talk to you about and I would like to talk to you about bridges. The fact that we have 200 bridges in this province, 200 of the old steel-truss bridges. These were bridges that were bought out of a catalogue, like an Eatons catalogue. Salesmen used to wander around the countryside selling bridges and you bought a bridge. If you wanted a bridge 10 feet long, you want a bridge 50 feet long, you look in the catalogue and there's the bridge. They ship it up here and it's like a Meccano set. You bolt it all together and you've got a bridge. That's the old steel-truss bridges, but they were built for horse and carriage. They were built so that two horses and a cart of a load of hay could traverse across a river and they had a piece across the top which held the sides together. If an 18-wheeler goes through there right now, it would take that top bar off and you would have no bridge.

But we have 200 of those bridges that have to be replaced. How much was that going to cost? About $350 million. We haven't got that amount of money so we've got to be smart. We've got to try to do things to accommodate our needs with the money that we have. How are we doing that? Well, fortunately, we have in this province, for instance, a firm which has just come up with a brand new idea for bridges. I suppose I shouldn't be advertising the name of any company, but there is a company that has come forward and they have a bridge that's similar to a truss bridge but the truss is under the bridge, and it's a truss under the bridge and the platform sits on top. The decking is wood, but it's coated wood. It's coated in fibreglass so it should last for years and years and years and it's cheap. So you can lift the old bridge off and take this along and dump it on top of the abutments and there you have your brand new bridge. The cost is quite good and that kind of a bridge is going to help solve some of our problems. We're changing over to concrete in some instances. Now, concrete costs us more, but concrete costs us less in the long run because concrete doesn't pothole.

The honourable member for Pictou West was saying that, you know, in Spring we've got potholes and that's true, we do. I don't want to be facetious about it, but it happens everywhere, but it doesn't happen with concrete. Concrete cracks sometimes and you may have to do a repair, et cetera, but concrete doesn't come out in a big chunk like you get from spiking under an asphalt road. So these are things that we can do to help us maintain and preserve our highway system but for heaven sakes let's make a concerted effort to say we've got to have more money in Transportation and we're going to have to take that money from somewhere else and so be it. If it has to be from Health or from Education, or from Community Services, or somewhere else, it's going to have to happen because we do have to have a good highway system. It's no use having a hospital down the road if you can't get there.

[Page 6028]

MADAM SPEAKER: The late debate has ended and the House will rise and meet tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]

[Page 6029]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3170

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas the Westville Miners Midget Hockey Club recently returned from the Nova Scotia Midget "C" Hockey Championship played in Digby; and

Whereas the Miners team captured the Fair Play award and since this was the first time the award was handed out at the midget level, the achievement was that much sweeter; and

Whereas Miners goaltender Trevor Boardway was named the number one netminder during both the tournament and the skills competition;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Head Coach Bob Withers, his assistants and all players on the Westville Miners Midget "C" Hockey team for their outstanding play during the 2004-05 hockey season and at the Nova Scotia Midget "C" Hockey Championship.

RESOLUTION NO. 3171

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 D.W. Thompson Esso-Scotsburn Dairy Bombers won the 2005 Hockey Nova Scotia Minor Midget AAA Championship on March 20, 2005; and

Whereas the team will now represent Nova Scotia at the Atlantic Championship Tournament to be held in Antigonish. This is the first provincial championship for the Bombers since 1997, making this a great win; and

Whereas the team consists of Darcy McSorely, Shawn McManaman, Michael Archibald, John Caulfield, Steve Brown, Terry McManaman, Cory Skinner, Justin Downey, Ross Andrews, Seth Crowe, Derek Smith, Jeff Ryan, Jake Mattinson, Luke Crocker, Ryan Arbing, Matthew Bartley, Assistant Coach Paul Atkinson, and Managers Doug Curry and Randy Ryan;

[Page 6030]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the D.W. Thompson Esso-Scotsburn Dairy Bombers and wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3172

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Regimental Sgt. Major CWO John Daborn was presented his five-year pin along with two other cadets; and

Whereas John is a member of the 1442 River Hebert District Army Cadet Corp; and

Whereas the pins were presented by Second World War veteran Bert Hatherly, who congratulated the cadets as well as their commanding officer, Capt. Harry Dow;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Regimental Sgt. Major CWO John Daborn on this outstanding achievement and wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3173

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Daniel Davis was honoured at the Springhill Student Appreciation Night in Springhill; and

Whereas Daniel was awarded a plaque for the Most Valuable Player of the Sr. Boys Basketball team; and

Whereas it was a night for the school and the students and staff of Springhill Regional High School to show their appreciation to all the athletes who work so hard and show so much dedication all year to their team and their school;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Daniel Davis on this outstanding achievement and wish him continued success in the future.

[Page 6031]

RESOLUTION NO. 3174

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Janice Boss of Springhill, Nova Scotia was named Cumberland South's Volunteer of the Year during the Progressive Conservative Party's Annual General Meeting in Halifax on February 4, 2005; and

Whereas each constituency in Nova Scotia recognizes one of their outstanding volunteers and each volunteer is then presented with a plaque by the Premier; and

Whereas Janice Boss received this prestigious award for going above and beyond the call by dedicating her time and effort to the Party and her community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Janice Boss on receiving this award and thank her for her time and effort that she has so freely given to her community and to this province.

RESOLUTION NO. 3175

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Bethany Brown, a native of Southampton, has been chosen as one of four recipients of the Cumberland Health Care Careers bursaries; and

Whereas Bethany is in her first year of the four-year Bachelor of Science Nursing Program at Dalhousie University in Halifax; and

Whereas the Cumberland Health Authority and the five health care foundations that serve Cumberland County launched the bursary program in 2004 and is intended to assist the CHA in addressing anticipated human resource shortages in various health care professions in the upcoming years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Bethany Brown on receiving this outstanding bursary and wish her all the success for the future and look forward to having her be an important part of our health care system upon graduation.

[Page 6032]

RESOLUTION NO. 3176

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the Department of Tourism and the minister say that they want to double the value of tourism over the next eight years; and

Whereas the value of tourism in Nova Scotia has not increased significantly since 2000; and

Whereas the regional tourism associations report an actual downturn in tourism, especially in southern Nova Scotia where recently it was announced that the Scotia Prince Ferry service between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine, would be cancelled this year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize that government has failed tourism operators in southern Nova Scotia and that they must do more to increase tourism if we are ever to get to the goal of doubling the value of tourism over the next eight years.

RESOLUTION NO. 3177

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's post-secondary students are suffering under the burden of ever-increasing debt loads; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's post-secondary institutions have the highest tuition rates in the country and these rates exceed the national average by an astounding $1,800; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's post-secondary students struggle to remain in university and achieve their full potential;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House call on government to set a course of action that makes debt relief and student financial aid a funding priority.

[Page 6033]

RESOLUTION NO. 3178

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the federal government has announced new initiatives to better attract, integrate and retain international students in Canada; and

Whereas these initiatives include allowing international students to work off-campus which will give them valuable experience in Canada and provide them with more opportunity to continue their studies and afford their higher tuitions; and

Whereas the new memorandum of understanding between Nova Scotia's universities and the government has specially excluded international students from an agreed-upon tuition cap;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House call on the government to re-examine the impact of higher fees for international students and urge universities to show restraint in implementing these increases.

RESOLUTION NO. 3179

By: Mr. Michel Samson (Richmond)

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

Whereas the week of April 18, 2005, has been designated Provincial Volunteer Week to honour and thank Nova Scotian volunteers; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has the highest per capita number of volunteers in the country; and

Whereas volunteers, volunteer agencies and organizations contribute selflessly to making Nova Scotia the best place in the country to live;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature thank Nova Scotia's thousands of volunteers for their continuing contribution to our communities and province as a whole.

[Page 6034]

RESOLUTION NO. 3180

By: Mr. Michel Samson (Richmond)

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

Whereas Anastasia MacNeil, a 94-year-old native of Richmond County continues to stay healthy and fit; and

Whereas Mrs. MacNeil continues to exercise on a regular basis at the Kin-Excel Fitness Centre in St. Peters; and

Whereas Mrs. MacNeil sets an example for the community as to the benefits of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle regardless of age;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature congratulate Anastasia MacNeil for her dedication to remaining healthy and physically fit, which encourages others to follow her lead.

RESOLUTION NO. 3181

By: Mr. Wayne Gaudet (Clare)

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

Whereas the Saulnierville Pharmacy has recently been honoured at the annual Provincial Volunteers Awards ceremony in Halifax; and

Whereas the Saulnierville Pharmacy was awarded the 2005 Building Healthier Futures Corporate Award in recognition of their commitment and dedication to volunteerism, ensuring Clare is a better place to live; and

Whereas the Saulnierville Pharmacy has a store policy to accommodate staff schedules when events are taking place in order to encourage staff to volunteer in the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Rick Theriault, owner of the Saulnierville Pharmacy and his staff at the Saulnierville Pharmacy for their generosity and willingness to help in whichever way they can and recognize the contributions they have made to their community.

[Page 6035]

RESOLUTION NO. 3182

By: Mr. Wayne Gaudet (Clare)

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

Whereas the community of Clare is very proud of its dedicated volunteers; and

Whereas this year the Clare community has selected one of its outstanding citizens as Volunteer of the Year and this individual has given much in the way of time and energy to various organizations; and

Whereas through this individual's genuine warmth and care toward others he has become a valuable asset to the organization that he is involved in;

Therefore be it resolved the House extend its best wishes and congratulations to Cecil Comeau of St. Alphonse for his outstanding contributions to his community.

RESOLUTION NO. 3183

By: Mr. Daniel Graham (Halifax Citadel)

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

Whereas on March 22nd, the Pengrowth-Nova Scotia Energy Scholarship Program was launched; and

Whereas the program is a partnership between the Nova Scotia Government and Pengrowth Corporation of Calgary, one of the owners of the Sable Offshore Energy Project; and

Whereas the interest income generated by the scholarship fund; $15 million contributed from Pengrowth and $500,000 from the province, will assist university and community college students to pursue careers in our growing energy sector;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Pengrowth Corporation for creating this scholarship fund which will create significant opportunities for young Nova Scotians.

[Page 6036]

RESOLUTION NO. 3184

By: Mr. Daniel Graham (Halifax Citadel)

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

Whereas it is estimated that over 100,000 Nova Scotians are negatively affected by problem gamblers through family and work connections; and

Whereas VLT addicts lose an estimated $1,200 per month or $14,000 per year; and

Whereas the issue of VLTs requires a firm stance by all members of this Legislature;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the damage VLTs have caused to so many Nova Scotians and act immediately to ban these addictive machines.

RESOLUTION NO. 3185

By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas April 19, 2005 has been designated as the second annual Canadian Oncology Nursing Day by the Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology; and

Whereas oncology nursing is an essential component of health care services across the cancer continuum; and

Whereas oncology nurses throughout our province enhance our health care system by assisting in the implementation of appropriate treatment and providing much-needed support for cancer patients;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature extend our appreciation to all oncology nurses throughout Nova Scotia for the valuable role they play in improving the health and well-being of cancer patients.

[Page 6037]

RESOLUTION NO. 3186

By: Mr. Gerald Sampson (Victoria-The Lakes)

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

Whereas Castle Moffett, an inn in Baddeck, was honoured with the American Automobile Association and the Canadian Automobile Association's Four Diamond Award for the third consecutive year; and

Whereas Castle Moffett has also receive Canada Select's Five Star Award; and

Whereas Castle Moffett is the first and only inn in Atlantic Canada to receive both awards;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the owners and staff at Castle Moffett and send them best wishes for continued success.

RESOLUTION NO. 3187

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas Martha Brown is an outstanding woman in the Black community of Nova Scotia and has made numerous contributions to her community and to the province; and

Whereas some of Mrs. Brown's contributions include being a provincial president of the African United Baptist Association Baptist Youth Fellowship, former executive member of the Home and School Association for Bicentennial School, chairperson of the Finance Board of the African United Baptist Association; and member of the Black Professional Women's Group; and

Whereas Martha is currently the 1st Vice-President of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, the first woman of colour to hold this position;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House honour Martha Brown for her lifetime of service to her community and the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 6038]

RESOLUTION NO. 3188

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas the Adams Rink won the Labatt Tankard Provincial Mens Curling Championship at the Bridgewater Curling Club; and

Whereas that championship was the first Nova Scotia title for Kelly Mittelstadt, it was the third for Shawn Adams and Craig Burgess and the fourth Tankard for Paul Flemming; and

Whereas the Adams Rink went on to proudly represent Nova Scotia at the Tim Hortons Brier and reach the championship game which gave them a berth in the 2006 Olympic trials;

Therefore be it resolved the members of this House congratulate Shawn Adams, Craig Burgess, Paul Flemming and Kelly Mittelstadt on a successful season and extend best wishes at the Olympic trials this December in Halifax.

RESOLUTION NO. 3189

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas Jesse Byers, a Grade 8 student at Bridgetown Regional High School, made a contribution to not one but two worthwhile charities; and

Whereas Jesse started raising money for the Tsunami Relief Fund and stated that if she raised $1,000, she would cut her hair for the Locks of Love Charity for Cancer; and

Whereas Jesse raised the $1,000 and cut her hair on her 14th birthday in front of her classmates proving that one can reach out and help at any age;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jesse Byers for being a caring, compassionate individual and proving that youth can and do make a difference.

[Page 6039]

RESOLUTION NO. 3190

By: Mr. Kevin Deveaux (Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage)

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

Whereas deputy sheriffs provide comprehensive support services to all court levels in terms of court security, prisoner transportation, jury management, court orders and documents; and

Whereas there are at least one and a half times as many casual employees working as deputy sheriffs as there are permanent full-time employees; and

Whereas the only benefit these casual employees receive is a low hourly rate of $13 an hour for doing the same difficult work as their permanent employee counterparts;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House call on the Department of Justice to convert most, if not all, of the casual deputy sheriff positions to permanent full-time positions in recognition of their hard work and long service to the department.

RESOLUTION NO. 3191

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

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

Whereas the teaching of citizenship skills at a young age is very important; and

Whereas the 4-H members receive citizenship skill development as part of their program; and

Whereas 4-H members from Nova Scotia recently participated in a National 4-H Conference in Ottawa which focused on Canada's political processes, parliamentary debate and the rights, roles and responsibilities of Canadian citizens;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Anthony Walters of Lunenburg County for his participation in the 4-H conference.