The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., Nov. 5, 1999

First Session

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Health - Care: Delivery System - Transition Plan, Hon. J. Muir 1581
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 16, Provincial Mineral Act, Mr. J. DeWolfe 1584
No. 17, Adoption Information Act, Hon. P. Christie 1584
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 497, Health - Cdn. Crossroads Internat.: Anniv. 30th - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 1584
Vote - Affirmative 1585
Res. 498, Commun. Serv. - Social Serv.: Costs Takeover -
Promise Fulfil, Mr. D. Downe 1585
Res. 499, House of Assembly - Richard Ramsey (Staff): Birthday 42nd -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 1586
Vote - Affirmative 1586
Res. 500, Health - Min.: Unsubstantiated Figs. Party Ldr. (Third [03/99]) -
Reprimand (Premier), Mr. D. Dexter 1587
Res. 501, Health - Deputy Min.: Methodology (Dr. T. Ward) - Reveal,
Dr. J. Smith 1587
Res. 502, Agric.: 4H Week (Can.) - Recognize, Hon. E. Fage 1588
Vote - Affirmative 1588
Res. 503, Nat. Res - Coal Leases (C.B.)-Retain: Petition (26/03/99) -
Signature (Premier) Explain, Mr. F. Corbett 1589
Res. 504, Sports - Golf: Atl. Cdn. Supt. (1999) - Gordie Callan
(Ingonish) Congrats., Mr. K. MacAskill 1589
Vote - Affirmative 1590
Res. 505, Sports - Soccer (NSSAF W. Reg. Div. 3 Boys):
New Germany RHS - Champs Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 1590
Vote - Affirmative 1590
Res. 506, Sports - Hockey (TASA Minor Org.): Fund-Raising -
Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 1591
Vote - Affirmative 1591
Res. 507, Justice - Min.: Political Interference - Comments Refrain,
Mr. M. Samson 1591
Res. 508, Educ. - Brookfield JHS (Col.-Musq. Valley): PAWS Prog. -
Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 1592
Vote - Affirmative 1593
Res. 509, Agric. - 4H Movement: Success - Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell,
(By Mr. H. Epstein) 1593
Vote - Affirmative 1593
Res. 510, Commun. Serv. - Families: Food Minimum - Res. Provide,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1594
Ruled Out of Order - Too Long 1594
Res. 511, Agric. - 4H Progs.: Opportunities - Recognize, Mr. J. DeWolfe 1594
Vote - Affirmative 1595
Res. 512, Fin. - Casino (Hfx.): Penalties Non-Payment - Consequences,
Mr. J. Pye 1595
Res. 513, Communications N.S. - Policy Change: Action Appropriate -
Take, Mr. D. Wilson 1596
Res. 514, House of Assembly - Members' Lounge: Pool Table - Install,
Mr. K. Deveaux 1596
Res. 515, Gov't. (N.S.) - Promises: Unkept - Compromised (Premier),
Mr. B. Boudreau 1597
Res. 516, Educ. - Sir John A. Macdonald HS: Student Council
Co-Presidents (Mary Ann Campbell & Jacob Stone) - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1598
Vote - Affirmative 1598
Res. 517, Commun. Serv. - LaHave Manor (Lun. Co.): Day Prog. -
^^Funding Provide, Mr. D. Downe 1598
Vote - Affirmative 1599
Res. 518, Youth: Baddeck Centre - Support, Mr. K. MacAskill 1600
Vote - Affirmative 1600
Res. 519, Health - Investment Fund (Lib. 01/06/99): Non-Support -
Apologize, Dr. J. Smith 1600
Res. 520, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Antigonish: Bypass -
Red Route Avoid, Mr. D. Wilson 1601
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 9:37 A.M. 1602
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 1:38 P.M. 1602
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Fin. - Tobacco: Tax - Increase, Hon. N. LeBlanc 1603
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 12, Mineral Resources Act 1606
Hon. E. Fage 1606
Mr. John MacDonell 1607
Mr. K. MacAskill 1609
Hon. E. Fage 1610
Vote - Affirmative 1610
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. D. Dexter 1611
Mr. W. Langille 1619
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Nov. 8th at 2:00 p.m. 1625

[Page 1581]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 1999

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Wayne Gaudet, Mr. Kevin Deveaux

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table the transition plan outlining the government's proposed restructuring of the province's health care delivery system. This document is entitled Future Direction of the Health Care System. It describes the process that will guide the transition to a new structure, a process that will take about a year to implement. The plan will see the establishment of a more community-responsive health care system based around nine district health authorities. These district health authorities will be smaller than the current regional health boards and will have formal links to community health boards.

1581

[Page 1582]

Mr. Speaker, this transition plan is very much a work in progress. The input and expertise of many health care providers will be required and encouraged as we move through the transition process. We will also be discussing the plan with heath sector stakeholders. The consultative process is already under way. Regional health board CEOs had the opportunity to review an earlier draft of this transition plan two weeks ago. Their comments and recommendations are reflected in the document I will be tabling today. Earlier this week, the document was given to members of the Provincial Health Council.

Mr. Speaker, the first step in the transition to a more community-based system occurred on October 21st when I announced that the governance of the four regional health boards had been transferred to the Department of Health. Today's document outlines the next steps in this ongoing transition process. In proceeding with a smooth transition, structural and delivery changes will be introduced in a manner that ensures quality patient care, continuity in health care delivery, minimal disruption for health board employees, involvement of health care providers and the retention of efficiencies gained in the current regional system.

Mr. Speaker, we must and will deliver health care differently. We have to deliver it more effectively and more efficiently. We have to make sure that communities are able to influence health care decisions and this will occur if we change the current delivery system. Nova Scotians have made it clear that they are disenchanted with the current regional health board structure. People complain that regional boards are too large and too far removed from local communities. Working with Nova Scotians and with health care providers, we will change that. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I guess the first thing I would like to do is to thank the Minister of Health. I received this statement earlier today, in fact the Minister of Health was kind enough to deliver a copy himself. (Applause) I thank the minister for the courtesy. I have also had an opportunity to have a very brief look at the Future Direction of the Health Care System.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by saying that although we have been pretty clear in our opinion about the move that this government has made, we believe that it is against the overall advice they have received on numerous occasions. I think that they are now looking for a way to try to fulfil an election promise that even they know is wrong. That is the sum total of it all. I notice that in the document, even they acknowledge that the efficiencies that were gained in the regional health boards are going to be lost as a result of the district health authorities. That is what one of the parameters of this document says. In fact, it says that they will try to retain efficiencies wherever possible, and that is the best they can say about it.

[Page 1583]

All that having been said, I believe that the commitment of the Parties, our Party and the Liberal caucus, is to see to it that the people of Nova Scotia get the best possible health care system that they can have. What we intend to do with this document, and as the process and the debate unfold, is to give you the best advice that we can on how you can make this work in the best possible way. When you hear our criticism, I want you to understand that we are doing it because we are trying to assist you and for no other reason. (Interruptions) That is right, we are just attempting to be helpful.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure there will be much more to say about this as the process unfolds. I will say that some of the parameters have the right feel, they say the right things about participation, and we will look forward to seeing how real they are. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East. (Applause)

DR. JAMES SMITH: I too would like to thank the minister for the information arriving before his announcement. That is one out of five, and I don't think that is too bad, it is getting there. If we look for improvement, he can improve on that record.

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: One in a row.

DR. SMITH: One in a row, the Leader says. Mr. Speaker, seriously, I am pleased to rise in the House this morning and respond on behalf of our Liberal caucus to the statement and report tabled by the Minister of Health today. Seriously, I am quite amazed at some of the wording contained within the statement and indeed within the report itself.

Before I comment on the statement and report, I would like to make a correction in the minister's report. Your first line states, "On October 21, 1999 . . . effective immediately, governance of the four Regional Health Boards would be transferred to the Department of Health.". I would question the accuracy of that statement as this happened 48 hours before that, previously, without the minister being aware that it had happened. With all due respect, Mr. Minister, you have produced what you have called a work in progress, completed with the assistance of the health care providers. That is commendable. At the time of our health investment plan, you vehemently criticized because for us it was a work in progress. Well, today, it is our turn to criticize you for a so-called work in progress.

What you have proposed today, in our opinion, will cost this province dearly. These costs will be both in terms of health in a sense as well as terms of quality of health care. You propose to set up nine administrative structures and are promising they will be more cost-effective than four. This Liberal caucus will hold you accountable to that belief, Mr. Minister, because we have figures to show already cost-savings within the regional health care structure. You only have to look at British Columbia, where the deputy minister is coming

[Page 1584]

from, when they restructured their regional health care delivery system. They restructured because it became too unwieldy and costly.

Mr. Speaker, they reduced their number of regional health boards and they did not increase them. Mr. Minister, this Liberal caucus will be monitoring very closely this plan to establish district health authorities. The Tory Party decided in the last election to play politics with the health care of Nova Scotians and you wrapped a great deal of misinformation around the individual who Nova Scotians at that time found credible, your Leader. He promised $46 million would be found out of administration to fix the health care system. Now you have put over $200 million into that same old system and now you are tearing down that system. What we are seeing today is that the wrapping is starting to unravel.

I serve notice today that the Liberal caucus will not stand by and allow Nova Scotians to suffer through a Tory health care experiment and this you can count on. We have just seen the announcement on the municipal units to lose their social services which is a very dangerous situation to move to. This is a negative impact on health care and people within our municipal units and now they are going to tear down another work in progress. Thank you. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 16 - Entitled an Act to Declare Stilbite the Provincial Mineral of Nova Scotia. (Mr. James DeWolfe)

Bill No. 17 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 3 of the Acts of 1996. The Adoption Information Act. (Hon. Peter Christie)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 497

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

Whereas the non-profit organization, Canadian Crossroads International, has been promoting cross-cultural understanding for 30 years; and

[Page 1585]

Whereas Canadian Crossroads International has formed a partnership with the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment in an international environmental youth exchange; and

[9:15 a.m.]

Whereas Canadian Crossroads International is celebrating 30 years of volunteer service by hosting an international dinner this Saturday night at The Church at 5657 North Street in Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the endless hours of volunteer work of Canadian Crossroads International and congratulate them on their 30th Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 498

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

Whereas the present Tory Government, prior to the July 27th election, promised to abide by all agreements that were in place with Nova Scotia's municipalities; and

Whereas during the election, the Tories said they would be committed to communities and working in partnership with municipal governments; and

Whereas the announced delay in the assumption of social services costs by the province was called a betrayal by delegates to the UNSM annual conference;

Therefore be it resolved that the government live up to its election promises and abide by the agreement reached by the municipalities and the previous provincial government that has the provincial government take over the full cost of social services.

[Page 1586]

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 499

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

Whereas there are many individuals among us who work hard to ensure that the operations of Province House run smoothly on a daily basis; and

Whereas one such individual is Mr. Richard Ramsey who has worked as part of the cleaning team for the House of Assembly for the past four years; and

Whereas Mr. Ramsey's 42nd birthday is on Monday, November 8th;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in noting Mr. Ramsey's hard work and in wishing him well as he celebrates his 42nd birthday. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Ramsey is with us in the gallery.

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 Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

[Page 1587]

RESOLUTION NO. 500

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

Whereas when the Premier was Leader of the Third Party in this House he brought in unsubstantiated figures on the Hoogovens contracts on March 31, 1999; and

Whereas when the Premier was Leader of the Third Party in this House, his Health Critic brought in unsubstantiated figures on how much the second-last Deputy Minister of Health was paid while on leave on March 25, 1999; and

Whereas it would seem that the present Minister of Health has a problem with figures that are unsubstantiated or otherwise brought into this House;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health reprimand the Premier for his past deeds and have the Premier apologize to this House for offending the Minister of Health's delicate sensibilities.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 501

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

Whereas the Minister of Health has justified his new deputy minister's salary of $180,000-plus-plus by saying that he will more than cover the cost of his salary in multiple savings; and

Whereas comments like this amount to nothing more than someone coming in to perform invasive surgery; and

Whereas the minister then continued by saying that if the deputy can't accomplish savings the department will have to increase its revenue-generating abilities;

Therefore be it resolved that this minister come clean and tell all Nova Scotians whether this deputy minister will be performing skilful surgery or robbing us blind.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 1588]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 502

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

Whereas this is National 4-H Week, an important week for the Nova Scotia 4-H program, its members and its leaders; and

Whereas 4-H has been providing leadership and development programs to Nova Scotia's young people for over 77 years through a dedicated team of volunteer leaders; and

Whereas this week, eight Nova Scotia youth delegates and seven Nova Scotia 4-H leaders are in Toronto proudly representing the province at the National 4-H Conference and the National 4-H Volunteer Leaders' Conference;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize National 4-H Week and the contribution made by the 4-H members and leaders to agriculture, community and rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 1589]

RESOLUTION NO. 503

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

Whereas in a March 1999 debate in this Legislature, the Premier tabled a petition asking the province to withhold coal leases transfers; and

Whereas this petition stated, ". . . withholding the transfer of coal leases from private owners maintains Nova Scotia's ability to assist Cape Breton coal miners to negotiate a fair employment and retirement strategy with the Federal Government . . ."; and

Whereas the Premier stated upon presenting this petition, "I have signed this petition for tabling.", which contained 22,000 signatures;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier explain to the 22,000 Cape Bretoners who signed that petition why he signed this petition if he didn't believe in it.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 504

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

Whereas Gordie Callan, manager of the Highlands Links Gold Course in Ingonish, was named the Atlantic Canadian Superintendent of the Year by the Atlantic Golf Superintendents Association; and

Whereas Mr. Callan won the award for his contribution to the profession, which has led to the Highlands Links being ranked among the top 100 courses in the world; and

Whereas the Highlands Links plays a major role in the success of the tourism industry in Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Gordie Callan on his award and wish him continued success as he promotes Cape Breton Island as a golf and tourism destination.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 1590]

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 Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 505

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

Whereas on October 23rd the New Germany Rural High School Boys' Soccer Team won the Nova Scotia Athletic Federation Western Region Division title; and

Whereas this is the second year in a row that New Germany Rural High School has won the championship; and

Whereas the New Germany Rural High School triumphed over a team from Shelburne in a hard-fought final;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate New Germany Rural High School students and coaches on their success in athletics.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 1591]

RESOLUTION NO. 506

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

Whereas fundraising is a necessary part of any athletic team's success; and

Whereas TASA minor hockey teams have held numerous successful auctions recently to assist with its fundraising; and

Whereas parents, coaches and volunteers give of their time freely to make these events successful;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to the members of the TASA minor hockey organization for their fundraising auctions with wishes for good luck, off and on the ice, this upcoming hockey season.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 507

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

Whereas the Minister of Justice, through comments at bill briefing yesterday, said that Nova Scotians should rest assured because he would be personally involved with the Justice process and the Public Prosecution Service; and

Whereas the comments of the minister sets the justice system back decades by casting aside the hard won reforms brought on by the Marshall Inquiry;

[Page 1592]

Whereas the minister's tendency to shoot from the hip is a dangerous disposition for a Justice Minister as it has already eroded Nova Scotians' faith in the justice system;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Minister of Justice and Attorney General to refrain from the type of comments that suggest political interference in the justice system by the minister.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 508

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

Whereas Brookfield Junior High School, located in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, is presently implementing a program entitled PAWS; and

Whereas PAWS is a program which promotes citizenship and participation among students; and

Whereas the program involves staff members of Brookfield Junior High who are responsible on a daily basis to identify students who have demonstrated an act of kindness or have done a special deed for someone else at the school;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Nova Scotia House of Assembly commend the students and teachers for participating in such a rewarding program, while also commending the students who were actually identified from the 168 names entered.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1593]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 509

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

Whereas the National 4-H Conference and the 4-H Volunteer Leaders' Conference take place November 3rd through November 7th in Toronto, attended by a large Nova Scotia delegation; and

Whereas 4-H has been a part of Nova Scotia communities since 1922 when the first 4-H club was organized in Heatherton, Antigonish County; and

Whereas today there are close to 2,800 members and 120 clubs in Nova Scotia, with provincial county councils that provide direct youth and leader involvement in programming and decision making;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the success of the 4-H movement and the Nova Scotia delegates and pledge it will do everything it can to sustain agriculture in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 1594]

RESOLUTION NO. 510

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 Department of Community Services provides families under their care with 94 cents per meal per child from the ages of 0 to 6; and

Whereas Canada's Food Guide recommends that young people should have at least five servings per day of grain products, five servings per day of fruit and vegetables, two servings per day of milk products and two servings per day of meat and alternatives; and

Whereas 94 cents per meal is insufficient to even provide proper nutrition according to Canada's Food Guide;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Community Services provide these families with sufficient resources to at least meet the minimum requirements of Canada's Food Guide.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is out of order. It is too long.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 511

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

Whereas I, too, would like to bring to the attention of this House that this is National 4-H Week across Canada; and

Whereas 15 delegates from Nova Scotia are attending the National 4-H Conference and National 4-H Volunteer Leaders' Conference in Toronto; and

Whereas Pictou County's Brian Sharpe is one of seven Nova Scotia delegates attending the volunteer leaders' conference with an additional eight participating in the National 4-H Conference;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the significant opportunities and benefits offered and provided by the 4-H programs across Nova Scotia and wish them the very best in their future endeavours.

[Page 1595]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: It is too long.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There are a lot of things that I can't do as the Speaker in this House but what I can do is determine whether resolutions are too long or not. I am keeping time of them, thank you.

There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 512

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

Whereas the operators of the casino potentially owe Nova Scotia $2.2 million in penalties for late completion of the casino; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance assures Nova Scotians he will collect a $10,000 a day penalty imposed on the Sheraton Casino operators; and

Whereas the dispute might not be resolved until the matter goes to court, which some would describe as the biggest crap shoot of them all;

Therefore be it resolved that this House hopes the Minister of Finance will not roll snake eyes in the legal tiff to follow.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1596]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

[9:30 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 513

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

Whereas Communications Nova Scotia received a prestigious International Gold Quill Award for its coordination of information in the days following the Swissair disaster; and

Whereas the government communications agency won the respect of the international media for its professional management of the press corps during the G-7 Summit; and

Whereas this government has compromised the reputation of all communications officers by forcing them to act as apologists for the Tory Party;

Therefore be it resolved that this government either apologize to all communications officers or finish the job by forming a Tory ministry of propaganda and enlightenment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 514

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

[Page 1597]

Whereas the game of pool, savoured with good Scotch, has provided an atmosphere conducive to brokering agreements; and

Whereas the member for Dartmouth North, lovingly referred to as, Dartmouth Fats, in his community for his pool heroics in bygone days, is coming out of his self-imposed retirement from the game; and

Whereas Dartmouth Fats wishes to foster the spirit of cooperation in the House of Assembly, so sought after by this government;

Therefore be it resolved that this House request the Speaker to install a pool table in the members' lounge, replete with weekly tournaments among the members as tangible evidence that this government wishes, above all else, for cooperation in this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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 The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 515

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

Whereas the Premier must not have any plans of ever visiting Cape Breton again because yesterday in this House he asked the member for Cape Breton South to take a message back to the Island; and

Whereas if the Premier wants to come promise something for Cape Breton he should come promise it himself; and

Whereas when it comes to promises, I know the value of a compromise;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier has found himself in the compromising position of making promises he cannot keep.

[Page 1598]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 516

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

Whereas responsible students continue to elect other responsible students to high school student councils across this province; and

Whereas student high school councils are led by their presidents; and

Whereas Sir John A. Macdonald High School students elected Mary Ann Campbell and Jacob Stone as co-presidents;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mary Ann Campbell and Jacob Stone on their electoral success, with best wishes for a great school year at Sir John A. Macdonald High School.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 517

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

Whereas LaHave Manor in Dayspring, Lunenburg County, provides a home for 87 residents from our South Shore communities; and

[Page 1599]

Whereas the manor and its three small options homes are served by caring and dedicated full-time staff; and

Whereas LaHave Manor has applied for funding to operate a day program delivering one-on-one attention while offering clients the chance to take on paid productive activity;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Department of Community Services to support LaHave Manor in continuing to provide innovative and meaningful human services by funding this proposal.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

MR. DOWNE: Someone said no?

AN HON. MEMBER: Michael Baker.

MR. DOWNE: Michael Baker is against this?

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: Ask for waiver again.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I have been asked by the members opposite if I would ask for waiver on this again.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver on the resolution of the honourable member for Lunenburg West.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Victoria.

[Page 1600]

RESOLUTION NO. 518

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

Whereas our youth are the greatest resource we have in our province; and

Whereas our youth deserve the attention of all levels of government to help sustain a worthwhile quality of life; and

Whereas youth centres help provide youth with a better understanding of the role youth play in our future;

Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of members of this Legislature, this government continue to support the Baddeck Youth Centre and other centres across our province.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver and passage without debate.

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. 519

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

Whereas a report tabled yesterday by the Psychiatric Facilities Review Board outlining lack of resources confirms the Tories' worst fear about mental health resources; and

Whereas the Liberal Government's Health Investment Fund, defeated by the Tories, recognized that a healthy investment was required in alternate levels of care to free up acute care beds; and

[Page 1601]

Whereas the Tories promised to fix health care with $46 million to be acquired in savings from administration;

Therefore be it resolved that this government apologize to the people of Nova Scotia for not accepting a plan that would have saved the health care system money and in the long run would have allayed their worst fears.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 520

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

Whereas the honourable Minister of Transportation recently is reported to have had some adventures of an automotive nature; and

Whereas the condition of the honourable minister's van suggests that the minister has run out of control; and

Whereas they say the involvement of a red light reflected the minister's fixation on the red route for routing Highway No. 104 around Antigonish;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister should steer clear of the red route, stop at the red light, and hue to the blue if he wishes to be a successful Tory.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 1602]

The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[9:37 a.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[1:38 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress in considering Supply and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would ask for the unanimous consent of the House to revert to the order of business, Statements by Ministers.

[Page 1603]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform members of this House that the government is acting with Ottawa and other provinces to help reduce smoking. Effective midnight tonight, the provincial tobacco tax on a package of 20 cigarettes will rise by six cents. The federal government has already announced it is raising the tax by a similar amount. The total tobacco tax change then is 12 cents per pack of 20 or $1.20 per carton of 200 cigarettes.

Our government has agreed with this coordinated action because it strikes a balance between two important public concerns: a desire to reduce smoking and a desire to avoid creating conditions for a resumption of large-scale smuggling.

Everyone understands that a change in the price will effect how much people buy. We believe that the change today will lead to lower consumption. We also accept the position that the drop could be more significant if we could raise the tax even more. However, our past experience shows that a sharp rise in taxes not only discourages consumption it encourages smugglers and we also know that a sharp rise in smuggling will lead to many people being able to obtain illegal tobacco products at a cost that is lower than it is now. Ironically then, we know that a sharp rise in taxes could actually result in lower prices on the black market and a rise in consumption.

By working with the other provinces, we are able to strike a balance. That is what today's tax change does. It strikes a balance, Mr. Speaker. Over the coming months, the Department of Health will finish its companion plan to discourage smoking. This plan will focus on prevention and education. The department is developing new programs to reduce smoking among youth; new initiatives to help smokers who want to quit; and new strategies to curb smoking among pregnant women and others who are at great risk when it comes to smoking. These programs will represent our commitment to use part of the tobacco tax revenue in this area. They are expected to be ready for implementation in the spring.

In the meantime, I would note that our revenue forecasts on tobacco taxes are expected to remain unchanged because of several factors. First of all, this tax measure comes into effect late in the fiscal year. Secondly, our latest reports show an encouraging sign of a slight drop in consumption compared to earlier forecasts. Thirdly, I would also say that we expect some further reduction in consumption as a result of the change announced today. We will be updating our revenue forecasts in the regular manner in the months ahead.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention the fact that this increase has been the subject of some considerable speculation across the country. I want all honourable members to know that it is the policy of this government not to confirm or deny that a specific

[Page 1604]

commodity tax change is about to happen until we are ready to implement it. I am certainly prepared to talk about tax principles and direction. But when it comes to specific measures on specific commodities, the practice has been to announce the measure the day it occurs. This avoids the possibility of unfair economic gain or hoarding. I intend to maintain that practice. I thank all the members for their attentiveness. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and respond to the statement by the minister. I am also pleased that the minister was prepared to acknowledge that this is, about the health of Nova Scotians. We have said right from the very beginning that this was not a tax issue, that it was a health issue, so we are certainly pleased in the response to the initiatives we set out and the questions we asked over the last week or so.

I would note that here we are on day 77 of this government and this is the second tax increase that the government is seeking. The first one, you will recall, is the Cost and Fees Act and Probate Act legislation that my friend pointed out was also a tax measure. Now, Mr. Speaker, in this case, this is a good one. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DEXTER: This is a good one because this is an initiative that as I understand it, is aimed at reducing tobacco-related illnesses. Mr. Speaker, we know that 1,400 Nova Scotians die every year from tobacco-related illnesses. So taking square aim at this is an important initiative. I do have to say, and I think I am obligated to say, that during the last election campaign the government said that it was going to dedicate a part of its tobacco tax to fund the new health promotion and disease prevention initiatives which they mention in this statement. But, I think on the clear reading of that promise, what they intended to do was to take part of the existing tobacco tax. They are now raising the tax and the thing to do would be to dedicate all of that tax and also live up to their commitment made on the campaign trail and take a part of the existing tax so that the amount of money in the fund to pursue these initiatives are substantial and that they will have a real effect on the health of Nova Scotians.

So, in a sense, Mr. Speaker, we think we can take credit for putting pressure on the government to bring forward this measure. We think there is a clear correlation and we are on record as saying it - between the increase in taxes on tobacco products and tobacco use. So we are looking forward to seeing the details of the initiatives that are going to be undertaken in this regard and we will be watching carefully to see to it that all of this new tax is being used to fund those initiatives.

[Page 1605]

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Minister of Finance for the advance copy of his statement. Answering for another department, it is nice to have these come and perhaps you will set the example for your colleagues.

I don't know why the delay, Mr. Speaker. There had been an informal agreement between the provinces and the federal government on these initiatives and we saw our provincial government wait and delay. Whether they are afraid of announcing a tax increase, they can answer to that. They have a lot of their supporters, obviously, the chamber of commerce and others, that may take objection to this, they can answer to that.

Certainly from the health point of view, the research is in, the debates have taken place; and the jury has given its decision. There is no question that cigarette smoking is killing thousands of people in this province. I won't take any credit for being part of the whole decision. I think the decision should have been made earlier, at the time, get on with it. I think the hesitancy and the delay, there is a mixed message there to young people that maybe it is not important, those initiatives, but it is here today and I want to thank the minister for his statement.

I, too, have concerns about the funding of the tobacco control unit, a very strong commitment to education, consultation, those types of initiatives. The minister did mention the problems with smoking and pregnant women. That is a major disaster in this province. We are high numbers, across the board, on smoking anyway, but particularly the pre-natal initiative. There is a real need there for designated funding to go in for that, so I will ask the minister for that consideration. I know it is hard to project how this will go but there will be monies there, I would believe.

We will be monitoring the smoking programs for the youth in the schools, those who want to quit, and particularly pregnant women, and I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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 Bill No. 12.

[Page 1606]

Bill No. 12 - Mineral Resources Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce for second reading, Bill No.12, An Act to Amend Chapter 18 of the Acts of 1990, the Mineral Resources Act.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to take a couple of minutes to respond to a few remarks here, the reason this bill was put forward. In December 1997, the Government of Nova Scotia released its response to the Westray Inquiry. In that response, the government accepted all 74 recommendations contained in the Westray report and designated various departments accountable to the Act on the recommendations within that specific time-frame.

The Department of Natural Resources was designated as being accountable to take action on six of those recommendations contained in the Westray report. Four of these recommendations require amendments to the Mineral Resources Act and the government committed to having these amendments in place by the end of 1998. A fifth recommendation required the department to have an external study done on the structure and staff of the Department of Natural Resources involved in mineral and mining and Mr. George Miller conducted this review and, in his final report, Mr. Miller recommended additional amendments to the Mineral Resources Act.

In May 1998, a team of DNR staff began the process of amending the Act, and regulations and a first draft of the legislation was viewed with representatives from the mining industry as well as other government departments besides Natural Resources, as well as the Department of the Environment and the Department of Labour in the summer and fall of 1998, and the necessary changes were made following these consultations. In December 1998, staff at the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of the Environment and the Department of Labour made a presentation to Executive Council to explain the proposed amendments to the Act and regulations. The Department of Natural Resources was subsequently instructed to proceed with drafting the amendments that we have before us today.

These amendments, I think, are extremely important in relationship to the Department of Natural Resources, because what these ones, in essence, do is ensure that the recommendations of the Miller report allow that the Department of Natural Resources will no longer be the regulator and promoter of the mining industry. I think what is a critical part in what we are reviewing here, in what is being put forward as we go through these amendments, is just that - that the Department of Natural Resources, when this Act is passed, will be responsible for the promotion of the mining industry but regulation will be conveyed in two other Acts, that being the Department of Labour, as well as the Department of the Environment. It is a pleasure to move for second reading, this long-overdue adjustment to the Act.

[Page 1607]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to make a few brief comments on Bill No. 12. Bill No. 12 purports to be a response to the Westray recommendations and in many respects it is. The biggest task is to clarify the Department of Natural Resources' role in the overall process of safe and sustainable mining. I think that anybody, in regard to the Westray report or the Plummer report, would think that safety certainly would be a major issue that would want to be addressed from this.

Basically, the Department of Natural Resources is handing off all responsibility for safety and regulations to the Department of Labour, and one of the recommendations in the report was that the Department of Natural Resources should not be the promoter and regulator both, and certainly, I think this makes sense. By trying to wear both those hats, then you have to question to what degree you are wearing each one or that you carry out the duties of one to the full extent without interfering with the duties of the other. It is practically impossible, I think, to go to the full extent of each without some interference, so having one department take care of promotion and one department take care of safety is probably a very good idea, although it would have been nicer to know what the regulations are regarding safety and those regulations, I guess, are supposed to be drawn up by the Department of Labour. As yet, they have not been finalized.

We really have nothing to take this bill and hold it up against to ensure that the safety regulations that are requested are being met. That would have been helpful, to have this at this time. We want to be assured that the Westray recommendations and the safety of workers are paramount. With any amendment, we are basically asking, is it really going to address the recommendation, is it going to make mining safer, is it making roles clearer, and is there a clear path to accountability?

There are some additional recommendations in the bill, and I will speak to those as well. I would like members to know and the minister to know that I am not sure if you have to be a Philadelphia lawyer to go through this, but it probably wouldn't hurt if you were. It is fairly technical, and so in order to be assured that the bill actually meets the mark that it was supposed to, interventions in the Law Amendments Committee and more time to peruse the bill would be greatly appreciated. If the public has concerns, they could address them then.

Briefly, I would like to review what it is that the proposed amendments accomplish in this Act. The department's mandate is being clarified with respect to responsibilities of the Department of Labour, accordingly these amendments eliminate any responsibility the Department of Natural Resources has for approving mine plans or changes to mine plans and the responsibility will lie solely with the Department of Labour.

[Page 1608]

Mr. Speaker, the department will no longer act as both promoter and regulator of the development of mineral resources. To this end, the department will no longer issue permits for excavation, mining or milling. It will only collect such information as is needed for resource management and promotion. Instead of permits, the department will now grant mineral leases that give ownership of the resource for a certain time.

The Department of Natural Resources will cooperate with the Departments of the Environment and Labour in the process of mine development and a Memorandum of Understanding will be signed as each department is satisfied that the applicant has met the criteria. I think that the Westray report had asked for a more formalization of the process and I am not really sure if the Memorandum of Understanding actually meets that criterion. It may be a step, but there is nothing clear in the bill that indicates to me that that is for sure.

There are, however, recommendations that are not touched on. The minister had mentioned four of them being addressed in the bill and a fifth one by the Miller report. I am not sure if the Miller report will address all these other concerns. I mentioned the formal procedure and whether or not the Memorandum of Understanding is what is being done to address that formal procedure.

It seems that with these amendments DNR can issue mining releases and this says three conditions must be met through the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Labour and the Department of the Environment, but whether or not it is possible to issue a mining lease without having the other two is not made clear. In fact, Clause 56 which deals with prerequisites before a mining lease is issued is amended in Bill No. 12 but not to include any necessity for meeting environmental or labour standards.

I think all approvals should be required together. I hope that is the direction in which that the bill is going. The Westray report had asked that DNR clarify its role in the process of ensuring mining safety operations. In trying to ensure safe mining, it really has handed that responsibility over to the Department of Labour rather than clarify it in its own department and without the regulations being drafted, it is difficult to know.

It also had mentioned that the role of the deputy minister to be clarified. There are three points in the Westray report and I will not go through those, but there is nothing to address that here unless it is one of the things from the Miller report. As far as safety, when we talk about mining, in the Environment Act there is a Class 2 undertaking which would provide for a public hearing and environmental assessments. These environmental assessments and public hearings would address concerns related to safety, Mr. Speaker, and I am not really sure if Clause 76 is strong enough to address that. I think that this is something that I hope the minister will look at.

[Page 1609]

Also, there is a mention of bulk sampling and the bill more clearly defines what bulk sampling is and also the fact that it is limited to 100 tons of material, but there is nothing to state what happens in the case of an individual going over that limit of 100 tons. I think the amendments clarify the Department of Natural Resources role by eliminating any responsibility for safety and handing it over to the Department of Labour. It would be nice to have those regulations drafted by now and it makes it difficult to evaluate the appropriateness of the Department of Natural Resources' abandonment of responsibility for mining safety not knowing what these regulations contain or how well prepared the Department of Labour is to take on this responsibility.

[2:00 p.m.]

It says the amendments to the Act will not be proclaimed until new underground mining regulations are proclaimed, and as yet they are not drawn up. So I would encourage the Department of Labour to do so. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I, too, won't take very long in the House this afternoon to make some comments relative to Bill No. 12. As what was already said this afternoon, the bill is the result of recommendations of the Westray Inquiry and report. In late December 1997, the former Liberal Government accepted all 74 recommendations contained in the Westray report. I believe the government of the day has moved very quickly and very appropriately on most of the recommendations.

Mr. Speaker, the changes in this Act that are before us today were made after several consultations with the Department of the Environment and the Department of Labour and representatives of the mining communities. These changes are necessary to comply with the former government's commitment to amend the Mineral Resources Act in accordance with the Westray report. Therefore, our Party will be supporting these changes.

However, Mr. Speaker, we do have some reservations. These are some observations that we want to bring to the attention of the minister. The minister said these changes will not be proclaimed until the new underground mining regulations are proclaimed. We would be interested to know when the new underground mining regulations are scheduled to be proclaimed. Also, there is concern with transferring all responsibilities for occupational health and safety regulations to the Department of the Labour.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Labour has delayed the implementation of the General Occupational Safety Regulations. On the day before these regulations were supposed to come into effect, the minister announced that the date was extended for nearly one-half a year. This immediately calls into question the government's commitment to safety. The Nova Scotia Safety Council has expressed concern about this and so has the Nova Scotia

[Page 1610]

Federation of Labour. A recent story in the media last week pointed out that the most concern centred around strip mining operations and inspections.

Mr. Speaker, we would hope that the Progressive Conservative Government would move immediately to reassure all mine workers that their safety is our first priority. Because if the Tory election platform is to be believed, then mines are low on the list of priorities of this government and that is disappointing. Mining is on the very last page and it is the last set of promises in the Tory election platform. Of the 243 promises only four deal with mineral resources. The Minister of Labour has already delayed the implementation of occupational health and safety regulations, so this transfer of power should make us a bit cautious.

However, it is a recommendation of the Westray report and therefore is worthy of our support. Mr. Speaker, it is nice that the Tories have an opportunity to redeem themselves for the Westray disaster by making these changes to the Mineral Resources Act. So, Mr. Speaker, as we said in the beginning, we will be supporting the bill and we hope the minister will hear our concerns today and will deal with them in due course. I think the mining society and the industry deserves it. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources to close debate on Bill No. 12.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as my honourable colleague opposite noted, the most important concern is for the safety and well-being of the miners in the industry. I am sure the previous administration and certainly this administration is strongly in favour of moving this bill forward as quickly as possible to separate that division primarily between the promotion of the mining industry and the safety of the mining industry. I certainly concur with those remarks. With that, it would be my pleasure to move for second reading Bill No. 12, An Act to Amend Chapter 18 of the Acts of 1990, the Mineral Resources Act. I so move.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 12. 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 Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to introduce two gentlemen from the Department of Natural Resources who spent a great deal of effort and time in preparing these amendments. In the gallery, I would like to introduce to the assembled members, Scott Swinden and John Campbell. Thank you gentlemen very much. (Applause)

[Page 1611]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to resume my Address in Reply. Last night at the hour of interruption, I had just begun to talk about the community of Dartmouth. I had taken the opportunity to properly chastise the government for the things they had done so far and had proceeded to describe some of what I think, is the character of the communities that I represent. I am going to go back, because I think there is a particular flow or flavour to this. I want to go back and refresh the members' minds about what I was talking about last night.

Dartmouth is the home of the Starr Manufacturing factory. Now it is not in my riding, in fact, it is in Dartmouth South, but it is a contributor to the entire history of the City of Dartmouth, the province and this country. You may not know but from the humble factory on Prince Albert Road came the modern tube skate which is, with some modest improvement, still used today. It was Dartmouth's contribution to our national game. When Team Canada takes the ice, the ingenuity of Dartmouth's citizenry is on display. Mr. Speaker, as I said last night, with all respect to Kingston, to Windsor, and to other communities in this province and in this country which lay claim to the game of hockey, can it really be doubted that Dartmouth, with all of its lakes, was not the home to the earliest games that we would recognize as hockey.

In my earlier academic career, I had an opportunity to study the history of this province and I recall the early newspaper reports of sailors and soldiers playing a game which, although described rather roughly, was surely the forerunner to our great game. So, Mr. Speaker, whether it is the game or just the skates, Howe, Beliveau, Henderson and Gretzky all owe something to Dartmouth, whether they know it or not. Dartmouth has a proud history which

[Page 1612]

will not be subsumed by the artificial institution known as the Regional Municipality of Halifax.

The second community in my riding, Mr. Speaker, is Cole Harbour. I want to say that I am very proud to be a member of the Cole Harbour Rural Heritage Society. The farm that is operated by this society had another very successful year, although I must say all members of the society were saddened with the untimely death of the farm's cow, Daisy, however, after it passed away the operation of the farm went on.

Recently, I was pleased to attend the designation of the Cole Harbour Meeting House as a provincial heritage site. The restoration of this building was one of the first projects undertaken by the society in 1973. The designation of a heritage site is the culmination of that work and the recognition of the site and its importance to the collective history of Cole Harbour.

Mr. Speaker, in addition, I had the pleasure of accompanying Terry Ehland, the farm curator, and other local residents and municipal officials on a walkabout through Lawlors Point Cemetery. This cemetery is the oldest in Cole Harbour and is reputed to have started as a result of a shipwreck in the harbour. I am told that it was used as a burial site for a religious group known as the Samandians, and then early in the 1800's, was used by the Maroons. If you will allow me a small digression into our history, I should explain that the Maroons came to Halifax or, perhaps more accurately, were deported to Halifax from Jamaica in 1796, and were employed in one of the reconstructions of the Citadel. Their descendants are settled in many parts of this province.

Mr. Speaker, finally, with respect to Lawlors Point Cemetery, it was then used by residents of Cole Harbour, and I can tell you that although it is not well known and it is of considerable historical significance, it was still used until recently for interments. The Rural Heritage Society and its members and friends have a great interest in these matters, and work hard to see that these sites are recognized and preserved.

Mr. Speaker, the Heritage Farm was a backdrop for a television movie, The Made in Canada series which will air this fall on CBC. I must say it was also the backdrop for both the past and present Premiers during July. I was pleased that both of them could make it out to my riding during the campaign. In fact, I was flattered by the attention. The Liberal Leader was there twice, taking time out of his busy schedule to visit my riding. I am sure that Premier Hamm and Mr. MacLellan found that my constituents were good-humoured and listened politely to their promises and pleas.

This brings me to my campaign in Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, and my campaign team, who I can say did an excellent job and worked very hard on my behalf. I would like to thank them, for it was they who convinced the people of my riding to give me the chance to speak

[Page 1613]

with you today. It gives me the opportunity to stand in my place and to address the depredations, which will inevitably be wrought by this administration.

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to believe that the first thing this administration would do would be to wipe out the community charitable fund, literally taking food off the tables of the poor. They are destroying a fund that was established to assist the most vulnerable in our society, and it displays a meanness of spirit that is unmatched in recent memory. It is a chilling forerunner to what is to come, but I digress.

I want to address some other matters, and I would like to speak very briefly about the minimum wage. On September 13th, this government reaffirmed an earlier announcement of an increase in Nova Scotia's minimum wage, which took effect on October 1, 1999. The minimum wage increased by 10 cents to $5.60 an hour on October 1st. There are approximately 21,000 Nova Scotian workers who work for minimum wage. Those workers will get, before taxes, an additional $4.00 a week if they work a 40-hour week. The sad fact is that many of those who work for minimum wage have part-time employment and for many of them the amount of the increase will be even less.

[2:15 p.m.]

We know, Mr. Speaker, that minimum wages disproportionately benefit low income families. The evidence clearly shows that minimum wage earners are disproportionately represented among families with low incomes; thus increases in the minimum wage will disproportionately benefit low income families.

Mr. Speaker, the research of the Centre for Policy Alternatives concludes, and not surprisingly, that the real minimum wages have fallen. The real value of the minimum wage, after inflation, has fallen dramatically since its peak in the 1970's. This research has also found that increasing the minimum wage has only a marginal effect on employment. In-depth analysis clearly disputes the claim that a decent minimum wage level is a major killer of jobs. Over the past two decades, large increases in the minimum wage have been followed by both increases and decreases in employment, demonstrating that other trends in the economy influence employment levels to a much greater extent than do the minimum wage. Studies, looking at employment effects of minimum wage changes, typically find very small negative or even positive impacts from changes to the minimum wage.

My point, Mr. Speaker, is that this is an inadequate response to the need for an increase in the minimum wage. The province will continue to subsidize the labour pool through tax credits and social assistance until we have a clear criteria for setting the minimum wage, so that both workers and businesses know the rules and can plan for increases. The minimum wage should be high enough to ensure that individuals working full time will not find themselves in poverty.

[Page 1614]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to turn my attention for a second to education. In my riding, student busing is an issue of considerable concern and I have had the opportunity, through estimates, to raise this already with the Minister of Education but I think it is appropriate to do that now so that it is on the record.

Last year I forwarded to the Minister of Education an RCMP report that looked at the route from Hirandale and Cassandra Crescent to Joseph Giles Elementary School which is travelled daily by elementary school children. If they use the HRM trails, the distance to school is between 2.2 kilometres and 2.4 kilometres. That report pointed out a number of concerns with this, not the least of which was that the trails are not maintained during the winter, and for periods they are impassible.

The police officer who completed the analysis also pointed out that the trails went through wooded areas which were potential trouble spots for those who would do harm to children. He pointed out that there would be no houses nearby and therefore no adult supervision and, further, the trouble with trails was that if a child had a mishap and was injured there was no access for ambulances.

These students then have to cross the Forest Hills Parkway, one of the busiest collector highways in the province. With no busing, these children have to walk almost nine kilometres to and from school every day. To be clear, that is 2.2 kilometres in the morning, 2.2 kilometres home for lunch, 2.2 kilometres back to school . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Uphill, downhill.

MR. DEXTER: . . . and then 2.2 kilometres back home again. I haven't even mentioned, as I hear what my colleague says, the topography of that walk, which is a substantial hill. So although it is downhill in the morning, Mr. Speaker, it is uphill on the way home.

These are six year olds, Mr. Speaker, and there needs to be a new standard set. I know that the minister has said that this matter is under review, and I can only say that I encourage that review to take place and for a new standard to be set that will be reasonable for elementary school children to be able to walk to and from their homes.

I want to mention two other aspects of the same matter. When I mention the safety on the way to school, I want you to know what the perspective of the CEO of the school board was. He said in these words, or in words to this effect: If there is a problem with the safety of students on their way to school, it is not a problem for the school board. It is a problem for the RCMP and it is a problem for the municipality, the province, or for the parents. It is not a problem for the school board. It is not their job to make the route safe. It is the job of the other authorities to see to that. I am sure that Mr. Reid would agree that this is what he told me.

[Page 1615]

Of course, Mr. Speaker, many parents, because they cannot adjust their work schedules, do drive their children to school and, indeed, the RCMP report identifies this as one of the problems. Traffic congestion around the school at drop-off and pick-up times is a major concern and the place for potential accidents to happen. However, for others it may be a different story. They do their best at arranging rides, car pools and the like, but sometimes the children are left to walk on the reasonable assumption that if the route was dangerous, someone would do something about it and that someone is the government, whether it is municipal or provincial. It is a responsibility that at this moment is being tossed back and forth and with it rests the safety of the children in my constituency.

Mr. Speaker, I am not happy about this and, in fact, that puts it lightly. In fact, I am angry about this. It is what I consider to be a desertion of the duty that we hold in respect to children, the duty to hold them safe from harm. Suppose some of these parents wanted to reduce the risk inherent in these long walks to and from school by having them stay for lunch? This is a common sense solution to part of the problem but guess what? They cannot stay or if they can, it is at a cost of $200 a child. If there are two children, it is $400. In some cases I have children who live next door to each other where one rides the bus and stays for lunch and the other walks and has to pay $200 to sit in that same classroom over the lunch hour.

Mr. Speaker, it is wrong. I have said it before, w-r-o-n-g, wrong. On top of all of this, in my constituency the program assistants, which we have a dire shortage of, have had their wages cut. Thankfully, in my riding I have concerned parents who are setting up a co-op program to help look after the children at lunchtime.

Mr. Speaker, education is facing ever-increasing challenges, but we are not rising to those challenges. There is a lack of resource teachers. There is a lack of resources generally to assist with children who have special needs. We spend the second lowest amount per student in this country on education.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shame. They are our future.

MR DEXTER: I do not remember the exact quote from Tennessee Williams, in the Glass Menagerie, but it went something like this: The one thing that guarantees a poor future is poor planning of the present. Not investing in education, Mr. Speaker, is poor planning of the present.

Mr. Speaker, another group in my constituency that I want to speak about are the seniors. We have a seniors' complex at 20 Circassion Drive. I want to tell you that the seniors in my riding are very disappointed with the decision of this government to break their word on Pharmacare premiums. In Opposition, the PCs were resolute in denouncing these premiums and pledged to work for their elimination and, now in government, they deny that this was their intention.

[Page 1616]

In fact, Mr. Speaker, I asked the Premier about this commitment the other day in Question Period and, like Peter to the guards, he denied it three times. He denied it three times. This is a betrayal of the worst kind, a betrayal of the people who have worked to build this province and who have placed their faith in the Premier. There is no other way to put it, he has forsaken them.

Mr. Speaker, I have tabled in this House a petition by the residents of the third floor of 20 Circassion Drive who have requested a lift be installed in their building. The other buildings in that complex have elevators and, indeed, the residents are not asking for a full elevator. What they are asking for is a lift. I have had the opportunity already to ask the Minister of Housing, I have invited him out to my riding - in fact, he has agreed to come - and I am going to set up the meeting so that he can see these premises, so that he can see that they were clearly set up to have an elevator facility or a lift.

Mr. Speaker, when I wrote to the previous Minister of Housing, he wrote to me and said, well, the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority is able to manage their tenant applicant list to ensure that only those residents who are physically capable of walking the few steps in this building are housed on the second floor. This is true. When they move in, they are assessed and they are properly placed. But the reality is that time does not stand still. These people continue to age and their capabilities change. We have residents in their 80's who can't carry groceries up those stairs; they are still ambulatory but they have difficulty with the stairs. I am asking the Minister of Housing to come out and meet with them so that he can see the difficulties that these people have and that clearly what they are asking for is only reasonable under the circumstances.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to bring to your attention and to the attention of the government, particularly the Minister of the Environment, the petition that I tabled just recently on behalf of the Friends of Cranberry Lake. Cranberry Lake is one of the many beautiful lakes in Dartmouth from which the residents of this community derive much enjoyment. It is used for all the recreational uses usually associated with lakes and many of those who have homes abutting this lake have been there for many years.

In July 1998, the Halifax Regional Municipality went ahead with the installation of storm sewers that emptied into Cranberry Lake. This project was approved by the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment. I can table, if the minister wishes, a copy of the approval that bears the signature of the minister at that time and just for reference sake, Mr. Speaker, it was approval number 97-ATCC-042.

The effect of the project was to double the catchment area of the lake and to speed up the flow of the water into that lake. The results of the project are predictable; that is to say, we should not be surprised that water levels in the lake have risen. Mr. Speaker, it is not the fact that the levels have increased that are of concern but the extent of the increase. That has

[Page 1617]

been dramatic. There has been flooding of the properties along the lake to an extent not previously seen by any of the residents.

This problem is compounded by the fact that when the Department of the Environment approved the application and put the water in the lake, they never considered how it was going to get out. Mr. Speaker, there is a culvert at one end of the lake where the water flows out from Cranberry Lake into Lake Loon. The size of this culvert was apparently not considered at the time. Well, guess what? It is too small. In addition, the culvert is on private property and therefore fixing the problem requires the assistance of the property owner, which is Irving.

Irving has said that it would like to move the culvert and as a result of some work it wants to do with its property, how or when this will be done is unknown. Indeed, if and when they intend to do the work at all, consideration for the residents does not figure into their considerations.

What is for sure is that the department should have considered this before going ahead with its initial proposal. Changing the culvert size will mean greater water volumes at peak times are flowing into Lake Loon, but Lake Loon is huge in comparison with Cranberry Lake. This needs to be fixed, and it demands the attention of the Minister of the Environment.

[2:30 p.m.]

That is not all, the increased water flow means that there is water off more lawns, which means that there are a lot more chemicals flowing into the lake, so there has been a dramatic change in the algae in the lake. This summer, as you may have seen reported in the newspaper, there were dramatic algae blooms in this lake which were not reported in the other Dartmouth Lakes, to such an extent that the lake actually became unsuitable for recreational use. This also needs to be addressed and the minister may know that I have tabled a petition in this regard with this House, and I would like to take the opportunity, just again, to bring that to the attention of the minister.

Mr. Speaker, I have one other issue that I want to address, and that is the issue of the HST, because although we haven't heard it raised in this House yet, it still has a profound effect on the people of my riding, specifically on senior citizens. Whether it is the HST or known by its alias, the BST, this tax is a curse to all. Let me say that it is an unfair and punishing tax on those who can least afford it. The right thing to do is to remove it from the necessities of life. Take if off of home heating oil, children's clothing and diapers; that is the right thing to do. (Interruptions) Electricity, as my colleague has mentioned.

Mr. Speaker, sometimes we find that others have expressed things better than we can. I want to read a very brief excerpt from Anthony Hyde's book, Promises, Promises: Breaking Faith in Canadian Politics, because I think it sums up how people feel about taxes like the

[Page 1618]

GST and the HST. He says, "I hate the GST, you hate the GST, everybody hates the GST. If you run a small business, you hate the pernickety accounting it forces you to do, you hate the forms, and every time you deal with the GST's clumsy and aggressive bureaucracy, you end up furious.

But it's not just businessmen; no one, however innocent, escapes.

Schoolchildren buying their exercise books pay this tax; a woman who needs a new pair of winter boots pays it; and a man who stands in line for twenty minutes at Canadian Tire to buy what he needs to fix the kitchen sink, he pays it too . . . in fact everyone contributes to the limo and driver that take Paul Martin to work every morning, everyone chips in to pay all those bureaucrats to shuffle all that paper back and forth, day after day.

Except for food, every single purchase we make - from the most basic and necessary to the most frivolous - bears this tax. Shopping, as a small personal pleasure, now leaves a bad taste in the mouth; how can you buy yourself a treat when 7 per cent of your money goes to the Feds? Omnipresent and omnivorous, few taxes are more oppressive. They've always taxed the money we make - now they tax the money we spend. Totalitarianism, no doubt, is a political policeman's knock on the door at three in the morning; but it's also a government so voracious that it can't even leave you alone to buy a new pair of socks.".

Mr. Speaker, I don't think truer words about a tax were ever spoken. The HST is an oppressive, unfair, punishing tax on those who can least afford it.

I am going to close my Address in Reply, and over the course of this speech I have had the opportunity to quote from Tennessee Williams, Anthony Hyde, the Centre for Policy Alternatives. You may remember last night, I quoted Randolph Churchill, I even quoted from John Hamm. I would like to leave the members of this House with one final quote, and it has to do with the 243 mischievous undertakings that they made over the course of the election campaign, the 243 promises.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is appropriate that it is by the Canadian poet, Robert Service, from his poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee. (Interruptions) This is it, Mr. Speaker, "Now a promise is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code . . .". (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, through you and to all members of the House, I have the distinct pleasure this afternoon of introducing some special guests that are in the gallery opposite. I would like to introduce to you, Mr. Speaker, and to all members, Wendy Balser, wife of the Economic Development, and Transportation and Public Works Minister (Interruptions)

[Page 1619]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. TAYLOR: I would also like to indicate that Wendy is accompanied by her and Gordon's daughters: Erin, aged 16; Jill, aged 14; and Ann, the baby, aged 12. They also are accompanied by a friend, and I apologize, I don't know the friend's name, but would you please rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I just rise again because I wanted to make a brief introduction. With us in the gallery today is a friend and neighbour of mine, Nancy Radcliffe, a journalist, as you may know, as well, with The Daily News. I would just like to welcome her to the House as well. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, before I give my reply to the Speech from the Throne, I would like to explain for the guests up in the gallery that these are ribbons for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, showing our support for their initiatives. I would also like to thank the veterans and the people who lost their lives during the Second World War whose lives were taken before they could get old. I thank them very much. (Applause)

I would also like to thank the three NDP who are staying in the House and the one Liberal who just walked in. Thank you very much. (Laughter)

AN HON. MEMBER: He didn't name them.

MR. LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, it is with considerable honour that I am able to reply to the Speech from the Throne. The people of Colchester North elected me to put forth their concerns and views in this Legislature. When was the last time a government, in its Speech from the Throne, talked about getting rid of red tape? Often it has been the other way around. As governments keep piling on mounds of red tape to make things difficult for small business, it is refreshing to see in this speech that our government will be encouraging businesses and small businesses, in particular, by eliminating bureaucratic red tape. This will be done with the establishment of a red tape commissioner. The commissioner's sole purpose will be to begin making recommendations to the bureaucracy on rules and regulations which can be removed to make things easier on small business.

Mr. Speaker, the speech is exceptionally well written and provides a good overview of what Nova Scotians will see from our government in the next four years. This is the opening session of the 58th General Assembly. A majority Progressive Conservative Government was elected by the people of Nova Scotia on the evening of July 27th. I want to take the

[Page 1620]

opportunity to thank the voters of Colchester North for placing their confidence in me and electing me to serve in the Legislature for them.

I want to thank by wife, Libby, and our two children, Robert and Debbie, who, by the way, are both high school teachers at the Cobequid Education Centre in Truro. I also want to thank my two year old granddaughter, Riley, who played a pivotal role in my election success because every time someone would ask her, what does Pop say, her reply would be, he cares. Thank you, Riley, for your support. Their support throughout the election campaign was certainly appreciated by me, as well as my supporters. I also want to extend my sincere thanks to Scott Armstrong, my campaign manager, and the great team of volunteers who worked so hard to ensure the legislative seat for Colchester North would have me in it.

I will say one thing, when I was elected I did not realize the amount of time I would be spending in Halifax. I want to assure the people of Colchester North that I am available whenever needed, either through my constituency office in Truro or through the government caucus office in Halifax.

I also want to take this opportunity and congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your election in your constituency of Cumberland South and also your position as the second-ever Speaker to be appointed or elected by other members of the Nova Scotia Legislature. I might also add that we share a common bond as former police officers and now as elected members of this Legislature.

As police officers we found ourselves enforcing the law as mandated by provincial Statutes and federal legislation. Did you realize that crime costs Nova Scotians $1.2 billion a year? That is correct; it is not a mistake; it is $1.2 billion a year. This money includes salaries for our police officers, correctional officers, Crown Attorneys, support staff and equipment, as well as insurance claims for one reason or another, not to mention the costs to our health care system as a result of crime.

Just think, if we could reduce this number for, say as an example, $1 billion per year, there would be an additional $200 million that we could use for health, education and highways. I want to invite all three Parties here today to take a serious look at this problem and work together in supporting our municipal police and the RCMP with their community and crime prevention programs.

An area of concern that I do want to bring up comes as a result of a recent letter I received from a constituent in Bass River. She expressed concern over the fact that her husband, after collapsing and dying in their house on July 29th, lay on the kitchen floor for four and one-half hours before being removed. It was 8:30 p.m. before a body removal company from Sheet Harbour was able to go to Bass River and pick the body up. As my constituent indicated, surely there could have been some compassion shown to her family, instead of the body laying there for four and one-half hours.

[Page 1621]

Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time this type of incident has happened in Nova Scotia. I will be bringing the concerns expressed by my constituent to the Minister of Justice so, in the future, families will not have to go through the duress which the family in Bass River did.

I also want to extend my best wishes to all the newly-elected MLAs. I understand that, as a new member, the time ahead is both a learning as well as a challenging experience. Mr. Speaker, I referred earlier to the role that a red tape commissioner will play in John Hamm's Government. That job will be designed to eliminate bureaucracy being faced by business in this province. When it comes to businesses in Colchester North, there are many, and I want to speak for a minute or so on the businesses we are so fortunate to have established in Colchester North.

The Debert Industrial Park is an economic driving engine in my constituency, and it is home to several exceptionally successful companies. For example, many people are familiar with Kohler Windows. Mr. Speaker, Kohler Windows are manufactured in the Debert Industrial Park and sold everywhere. Kohler is one of at least 12 businesses situated in the park that generate considerable dollars into Colchester County and, for that fact, the economy of Nova Scotia. Other businesses include a Home Hardware supply warehouse, which distributes products to all Home Hardware stores across Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec.

You also have Atlantic Chemex Limited, Atlantic Frame Makers; Canadian Automotive Radiator Exchange and Manufacturing Limited; Inland Technologies; M&D Precision Machining and Tool and Die; Newmac Manufacturing Incorporated; Orenda Incorporated; Phoenix Agritech; (Canada) Limited; Specialty Steel Incorporated; and Thermocell Industries Limited; along with the field station of the Nova Scotia Blueberry Institute. These companies are all situated in Debert. These are just a few of the companies situated in Colchester North.

[2:45 p.m.]

Our government will begin discussions with the federal government in the coming weeks to secure an agreement on sustainable forestry practices enabling future generations to work in the forest industry which is presently a provider of nearly 30,000 jobs, both directly and indirectly, across Nova Scotia. It also generates nearly $1.5 billion into the provincial economy on an annual basis. We must manage our forests so that we have sustainable wood for future generations.

We must also take another look at additional areas that we may want to protect. One area which I believe deserves protection is Gully Lake, an area which has 4,600 acres of land that needs to be preserved. Gully Lake is the headwaters of North River which flows into the Cobequid Bay and also the Waughs River which flows into the Tatamagouche Bay on the Northumberland Strait.

[Page 1622]

The Speech from the Throne also recognized the importance of assisting young farmers and I am exceptionally pleased to see that our government will be providing relief from the high cost of borrowing. One only has to look as far as the Onslow-North River area where a number of beautiful farms are situated.

Being from a rural area of the province, I wanted to take a couple of seconds and talk about the Nova Scotia blueberry industry. Did you realize, Mr. Speaker, that Nova Scotia produces nearly 30 million pounds of the 120 million pounds of wild blueberries grown in North America annually? In fact, wild blueberries are the number one fruit crop in the province in terms of total acreage. There are over 1,000 blueberry producers operating in the province and over 32,000 acres in production. The acreage of production of blueberries in Colchester North includes the Cobequid Mountain area, an area taking in Five Islands all the way to Earltown.

I would like to take a few minutes now, Mr. Speaker, and tell members of this Legislature about the many unique places to visit when you are travelling in Colchester North. Five Islands is a renowned tourist destination with five offshore islands named Moose Island, Diamond Island, Long Island, Egg Island and Pinnacle Island. The community of Economy, near the Cumberland County line, gets its name from the Mi'kmaq word kenomee which means a piece of land jutting out into the ocean and is situated where the Economy River enters the Minas Basin. Clam digging and bass fishing are abundant in Economy.

Bass River was once home of the Dominion Chair Company, world famous for its Bass River chairs and, incidentally, the original company store remains in operation to this day. Great Village is situated where the Great Village River flows into the Cobequid Bay and was the Nova Scotia home of Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Bishop. Londonderry, approximately nine kilometres from Great Village, is this province's earliest boom town, built on the veins of iron ore and I might add, Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased to introduce a resolution on Londonderry in this House of Assembly a few weeks ago.

Venturing into Masstown you will find the home of the first Acadian Church. Heading back towards the Debert Industrial Park, and the administrative building, there is a display of replicas of tools used by the Paleo Indians 11,000 years ago. In Colchester North, you can also cross the Ishgonish River where a cairn denotes a travelway of early French and native people. In Lower Onslow you have the home of a picnic park known as McElmons Pond with a one kilometre walking trailing bordering on a wildlife sanctuary.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to take a couple of minutes and acknowledge the tremendous work undertaken by our volunteer firefighters. They are the heart and soul of every community and our government campaigned on making their job easier by doing a number of things. We have already initiated one which involves free motor vehicle registration and a special licence plate for volunteer firefighters.

[Page 1623]

I want to take this opportunity to mention the fire departments and their chiefs situated in Colchester North. You have Chief Mike Taggart from the Bass River Fire Department; Chief Shane Slack from the Debert Fire Brigade; Chief Kevin Welton with the Economy Fire Brigade; Chief Glendon Davis from the Five Islands and District Fire Department; Chief Dave Lundie with the Great Village and District Fire Brigade; Tracey Hill with the North River and District Fire Department; Chief Keith Hamilton of the Onslow-Belmont Fire Department; Chief Nigel Lagged of the Valley-Kemptown and District Fire Brigade; and Chief Bryan Reid from the Tatamagouche Fire Department.

Mr. Speaker, before concluding, I want to highlight a few more points from the Throne Speech. A Progressive Conservative Government will recognize the contribution made by seniors across Nova Scotia by amending the Senior Citizens Financial Aid Act to extend the property tax rebate to more low income seniors next year. (Applause) We will be introducing the youth pathways and transition initiative through high school studies to better meet the needs of at-risk students.

Why wouldn't someone want to support this Throne Speech? It is loaded with initiatives that will make Nova Scotia a better place to live. Premier John Hamm and members of the Progressive Conservative caucus will continue to do something that will be of lasting benefit to all Nova Scotians. Remember, the election on July 27th was about our future, our children's future and their children's future. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East on an introduction.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to take this opportunity to introduce to you and all members of the House, in the west gallery, three very distinguished people from the South Shore of Nova Scotia, Queens County, where amalgamation went through with flying colours. I say to my esteemed colleague, the member for Dartmouth South that maybe someday you could take a trip up there and those people up in the gallery can explain how well it went there. (Interruptions)

I would like to introduce, not necessarily starting with age or beauty, either one, Mr. Ken Wilkinson, who will be recognized this evening, I believe, as past president of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and a councillor from Queens; previous warden and now councillor, Stanley Smith, from Hunts Point, Queens County; and accompanied by David Clattenburg, who is the Chief Administrative Officer, County of Queens. I would like to show them the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to draw the attention of members of the House to guests who are with us today in the west gallery, who are visiting us for the first time from Amherst, a place that is near and dear to your heart, Mr. Speaker,

[Page 1624]

although I am not sure that it is in your constituency, but close enough. I would ask them to rise. With us are Mr. and Mrs. Gordon and Adrienne Hebert. They are the in-laws of the member for Queens. I would like to take a moment to thank them in particular for the good fortune we have in the NDP caucus of bearing the fruits of your labour with your daughter, Michelle Hebert, who works in our caucus, who is with them today. So if you would rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Harbour on an introduction.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it seems to be a time for introductions, but I have the distinct privilege this afternoon of introducing an individual that I have had the opportunity and very real pleasure of working with over the last six to seven years. We have worked on a number of initiatives and I want to tell this House that in the Truro area, in the Town of Truro, recently a youth centre was established by the member opposite, although he is very modest and won't claim responsibility, he actually spearheaded the initiative. I want to recognize Councillor Ray Merriam. I believe by the looks of things, he is accompanied by his son this afternoon. Ray would you and your son please rise and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, (interruptions) yes, there is actually up in the Speaker's Gallery, a woman who has been a long-time activist both in Truro and in Halifax and now in the Shelburne area, Ms. Dianne Nickerson, who was our candidate in the last election in Shelburne. If she could stand to receive the accolades of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, before I ask you to move the adjournment motion, I just want to make clear to the House about the order of business on Monday, because it will be a little different from what we normally encounter.

We have two committees out of phase, as everybody is aware, in Supply. So on Monday, the House will go into Supply after we finish the daily routine. The committee in the House will sit for about 30 minutes and then they will ask to recess, not adjourn, but to recess. This committee will then return into the ordinary routine of the House.

The other committee - I have agreement - will go for four hours and six minutes, which will complete their period of 40 hours. They will then come back into the House and because they can't report to you, sir, they have to report to the committee in the House, they will

[Page 1625]

come back in and then this committee will come back in for the remaining eight minutes that they have to reach 40 hours.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ten minutes.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, whatever. Anyway, so they will report to this committee and the committee will then report to you and then you will go to the normal routine of voting on the motion and voting on the Appropriations Act.

The House, while the other committee is sitting, will be doing Public Bills for Second Reading, on Bill No. 14, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act; then the Public Prosecutions Act; and Bill No. 17, the Adoption Information Act; followed by a Private and Local Bill, the Maritime Life Assurance Company Act; followed by two Private Members' Public Bills, Bill No. 1 and Bill No. 16.

Following that, Mr. Speaker, the remainder of the evening will be spent on debate on the Speech from the Throne.

So, Mr. Speaker, the hours on Monday will be from the hours of 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, I move adjournment.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn. Would all those favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned until 2:00 p.m. on Monday.

[The House rose at 2:57 p.m.]