The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 01/02-78

















HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY



DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS



Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott



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



Available on INTERNET at http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/



Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.





Second Session



FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2002





TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Justice: Civil Procedure Rules - Amendments, Hon. M. Baker 7899
Fin. - Supplement to the Public Accounts, Hon. N. LeBlanc 7900
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 109, Financial Measures (2002) Act, Hon. N. LeBlanc 7900
No. 110, Provincial Fossil Act, The Speaker 7900
No. 111, Motor Vehicle Act, Hon. A. MacIsaac 7900
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2895, Gov't. (N.S.) - C.B.: Economic Plan - Develop, Mr. F. Corbett 7900
Res. 2896, Econ. Dev. - Gov't. (N.S.): Commitment - Lack,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 7901
Res. 2897, Service Zone Inc. - Opening: Supporters - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 7902
Res. 2898, Gov't. (N.S.): Priorities - Straighten, Mr. D. Dexter 7902
Res. 2899, Gov't. (N.S.): Election Promises - Intent, Mr. W. Gaudet 7903
Res. 2900, Sports: Millwood Knights Hockey Team - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Barnet 7904
Vote - Affirmative 7904
Res. 2901, Commun. Serv.: Progs. - Restore, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7905
Res. 2902, SEDHMA Tournament: Participants - Congrats., Dr. J. Smith 7905
Vote - Affirmative 7906
Res. 2903, Dhillon, Kulvinder - Hfx./HRM: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 7906
Vote - Affirmative 7907
Res. 2904, Fashion Explosion 2002: Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 7907
Vote - Affirmative 7907
Res. 2905, Gaelic Settlement (C.B.): Anniv. (200th) - Congrats.,
Mr. K. MacAskill 7908
Vote - Affirmative 7908
Res. 2906, Commun. Serv. - Food Bank Soc.: Min. - Meet, Mr. J. Pye 7908
Res. 2907, Budget (2002-03) - Vote: Referendum - Best,
Mr. P. MacEwan 7909
Res. 2908, Payzant, David: Liverpool Firefighter of the Year (2001) -
Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 7910
Vote - Affirmative 7910
Res. 2909, Moser, Ms. Friedel: Truro Business Person of the Yr. -
Congrats., Mr. H. Epstein 7910
Vote - Affirmative 7911
Res. 2910, Hughes, Joanne: Most Valuable Hockey Mom Contest -
Runner-up, Mr. T. Olive 7911
Vote - Affirmative 7912
Res. 2911, Educ. - Post-Secondary: Gov't. (N.S.) -
Accessibility Limitation, Mr. M. Samson 7912
Res. 2912, Educ. - Sir John A. Macdonald HS: Plans - Publicize,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 7913
Res. 2913, Literacy Day - Coxheath Elem.: Importance - Recognize,
Mr. B. Boudreau 7914
Vote - Affirmative 7914
Res. 2914, Millenium Ctr. (St. F.X.): Contributors - Congrats.,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 7914
Vote - Affirmative 7915
Res. 2915, Commun. Serv. - Women's Centres: Cuts - Prem. Halt,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 7915
Res. 2916, Commun. Serv. - Transition House: Budget - Cuts,
Mr. D. Wilson 7916
Res. 2917, Nat'l. Tartan Day: MLAs - Salute, Mr. Ronald Chisholm 7917
Vote - Affirmative 7917
Res. 2918, Agric. & Fish. - All-Party Comm.: Min. - Refusal Explain,
Mr. J. MacDonell 7917
Res. 2919, Laroche, Jean - Atl. Journalism Award : Nomination -
Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 7918
Vote - Affirmative 7919
Res. 2920, Windsor Hockey Heritage Soc.: Hall of Fame Ceremonies
(10th) - Congrats., Mr. R. Russell 7919
Vote - Affirmative 7920
Res. 2921, Gov't. (N.S.) - Labour Relation: Tactics - Effect,
Mr. D. Dexter 7920
Res. 2922, Health: Children's Dent. Prog. - Reduction, Dr. J. Smith 7920
Res. 2923, Glassey, Jack: Commun. Serv. (70 yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 7922
Vote - Affirmative 7922
Res. 2924, Black Women in Business Network: Launch - Congrats.,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7923
Vote - Affirmative 7923
Res. 2925, Budget (2002-03): Secret Plans - Table, Mr. P. MacEwan 7923
Res. 2926, Cole Hbr. Boys & Girls Club: Relocation - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 7924
Vote - Affirmative 7924
Res. 2927, Sports - Speedskating: C.B. Classic - Participants Support,
Mr. B. Boudreau 7925
Vote - Affirmative 7925
Res. 2928, Gov't. (N.S.) - Municipalities: Gas Tax (Addt'l.) - Return,
Mr. J. Pye 7925
Res. 2929, MacDonald, Ann Marie - Novel: Success - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Wilson 7926
Vote - Affirmative 7927
Res. 2930, SMU: Liberated Learning Proj. - Congrats., Mr. H. Epstein 7927
Vote - Affirmative 7927
Res. 2931, Filion, Laura: Accomplishments - Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 7928
Vote - Affirmative 7928
Res. 2932, Educ. - Sir John A. Macdonald HS Students:
Environ. Concerns - Dedication Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 7928
Res. 2933, Lorraine, Jim & Tricia: Outstanding Young Farmers
Comp. (Toronto) - Best Wishes Extend, Mr. D. Downe 7929
Vote - Affirmative 7930
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 2820, Estimates: CWH on Supply, Hon. N. LeBlanc 7930
Mr. G. Steele 7930
Mr. D. Downe 7941
Referred 7958
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Educ. - School Boards: Accountability - Public, Hon. N. LeBlanc 7958
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Apr. 8th at 4:00 p.m. 7963
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 2934, Dartmouth Dairy Queen Blizzard: Relocation - Congrats.,
Mr. R. Hurlburt 7964
Res. 2935, Prem. - Blue Book: Const. Explain, Mr. G. Steele 7964
Res. 2936, Sports - Parrsboro Figure Skating Club: Members -
Congrats., The Speaker 7965
Res. 2937, Sports: SHS Jr. Lady Golden Eagles Basketball Team -
Victory Congrats., The Speaker 7965
Res. 2938, Cape Chignecto Park - Mgt. Comm.: Gulf of Maine Award -
Congrats., The Speaker 7966
Res. 2939, Rector, Walton (Deceased): Gulf of Maine Award -
Congrats., The Speaker 7966
Res. 2940, Patriquin, Barry: Album Release - Congrats., The Speaker 7967
Res. 2941, Sports: Cumberland Co. Midget Girls Hockey Team -
Best Wishes Extend, The Speaker 7967
Res. 2942, Cummings, Kevin - Y's Men Council: Election - Congrats.,
The Speaker 7968
Res. 2943, Scots - N.S.: Contribution - Recognize, Mr. Robert Chisholm 7968

[Page 7897]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2002

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

10:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Jerry Pye, Mr. David Wilson

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Yesterday, during Question Period, the Minister of Community Services made reference to reports he has had from talks he claims occurred with transition houses and he read from some notes during the Question Period. I would like to request that the minister table the reports and the notes that he referred to and read from, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would certainly take that point of order on advisement. If the minister did, in fact, read from notes, my understanding is that notes that are read from should be tabled. We certainly would follow through with that one, honourable member.

The honourable member on a continuation of the point of order?

7897

[Page 7898]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Yes, well, on another point of order, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday the Minister of Community Services, in this House during the Question Period, also indicated that he had consulted with the transition houses prior to the assault on their budgets. In his response, he made three claims. He claimed he had consulted, he claimed they were in agreement with his plans, he claimed that mechanisms to help women stay safe in their own homes are in place. Now these statements are completely misrepresentations of the facts of a critical issue to this House. So I am requesting that the Minister of Community Services retract those remarks and apologize to this House for misleading the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Needham rose on two points of order. The first one, the Speaker has taken under advisement and will certainly follow through to see if the honourable Minister of Community Services did read from material and, if he did, the request will be made to table the material.

However, the second point of order may be a dispute between two honourable members. (Interruptions) I would encourage all members, if they have an opportunity, to confer with Beauchesne and look at the terms and conditions relating to a point of order and it clearly was not a point of order, the second point that the honourable member rose on.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on another point of order, please. Surely truth is a fundamental principle in our democracy and misrepresentation and misleading this House and not being accountable for misrepresentation and misleading the House is fundamental and we will find many references in Beauchesne to that fact.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville Cobequid, on a point or order?

MR. JOHN HOLM: Yes, Mr. Speaker, on this point. What I am requesting, and suggesting, before you just simply out of hand, rule that there wasn't any misrepresentation, I would ask that you review what the minister said, review what the facts are and, then, if you don't feel comfortable making the decision right now because you don't have the information at hand, at least agree to review it and report back to this House. I think that in the interest of getting to the basis of the point of order and certainly in keeping with the principles that this House is supposed to operate by, I think that that, as a bare minimum, is required.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. On the member for Sackville Cobequid's point of order, I have ruled on the point of order regarding the second point that the honourable member for Halifax Needham - she made an allegation that another honourable member misled the House and I had indicated that many times we have experienced, in this House, as members and as Speakers or Deputy Speakers, members making similar challenges. However, I will have a look at it and follow through to, in fact, see if there has been any misleading of the House. But I would suggest that we will have to have some type of evidence to support such an accusation.

[Page 7899]

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Just for clarification, Mr. Speaker, does that mean, then, that you are rescinding your ruling and that a future ruling will be made after you have had an opportunity to review the situation?

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, what I am saying is that we have an accusation made against an honourable member, the Minister of Community Services, in this House. I said that it may end up being a dispute between two honourable members. I will take a look at the concern and see if there's evidence to support such an accusation.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to shift gears for a moment. Would the Speaker allow me an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: An introduction, yes.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Joining us in the gallery today is a distinguished Cape Bretoner, a former long-time member of this House, a personal friend of mine and my colleagues and a personal friend of many in this House. I would like to introduce - who's back in Halifax visiting - Russell MacNeil, who is with us here today. (Standing Ovation)

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, good morning to Russell, and it is nice to see that he received warm applause from all members on all sides of the House. Back to Orders of the Day and the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, if you could bear with me for a moment. In my capacity as Attorney General and pursuant to Section 51 of the Judicature Act, I hereby table amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules that were made pursuant to the Judicature Act by the Judges of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on October 19, 2001.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

[Page 7900]

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Supplement to the Public Accounts for the Province of Nova Scotia for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2001.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 109 - Entitled An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. (Hon. Neil LeBlanc)

Bill No. 110 - Entitled An Act to Declare Hylonomus lyelli the Provincial Fossil of Nova Scotia. (Hon. Murray Scott as a private member.)

Bill No. 111 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Hon. Angus MacIsaac)

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

[10:15 a.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2895

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

Whereas yesterday's budget offers no economic plan for Cape Breton; and

Whereas, on average, Cape Bretoners earn just over $18,000 a year and over 20 per cent of the Island's population is unemployed; and

Whereas despite these obvious facts, this Tory Government is adding more user fees and taxes to underpaid Cape Bretoners;

[Page 7901]

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government act immediately to develop a viable economic plan for Cape Breton, instead of attacking the family budget of Cape Bretoners.

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 Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2896

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

Whereas the Hamm Government has proven time and time again that it lacks a commitment to economic development in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this government has proven that with the reduction of staff at the Sydney office and then with the downsizing of the department to an office while handing out pink slips to employees; and

Whereas this government just reduced the budget of Economic Development by more than one-third;

Therefore be it resolved that yesterday's budget was all the proof Nova Scotians need to determine the Hamm Government lacks a commitment to economic development in Nova Scotia and to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 7902]

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2897

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

Whereas Service Zone Inc. recently opened a call centre in the former Cornwallis tire recycling plant creating 400 new full-time jobs in Annapolis County; and

Whereas the Cornwallis Park project included $950,000 from ACOA, $1 million from Digby and Annapolis Counties, a payroll rebate of at least $3.8 million from Nova Scotia Business Inc. and $1.05 million from the Digby Annapolis Development Corporation which own the facility; and

Whereas Kespuwick Developments, a non-profit group that works to attract business to Cornwallis Park, donated the former tire recycling plant, worth $1.5 million, and contributed $300,000 towards renovations;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank Minister Gordon Balser, Nova Scotia Business Inc., ACOA, the Western Valley Development Authority, Kespuwick Developments and Digby and Annapolis Counties for their financial support and assistance toward the development of new employment and industry in the Valley region.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2898

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

[Page 7903]

Whereas Nova Scotians are asking why the government needed $890,000 so badly that it cut the emergency services for women and children fleeing family violence; and

Whereas a quick glance shows that the Justice Minister's Office gained $308,000, Communications Nova Scotia gained $235,000, and Intergovernmental Affairs gained $240,000; and

Whereas the government gave Conservative political ventures a higher priority than community-based emergency services that deal with family violence;

Therefore be it resolved that this government should get its priorities straight by seeking sacrifices from ministerial offices and the government propaganda budget rather than cutting transition houses.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice - there was never a truer resolution than this one.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2899

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

Whereas during the 1999 election, the now-Premier promised that the debt would not increase; and

Whereas based on figures in yesterday's budget, the debt of the province is scheduled to rise for the next four years totalling $379 million; and

Whereas this Tory Government is raising ambulance fees and cutting funding to Cancer Care Nova Scotia and families in crisis while taking in record revenue;

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory Government admit to all Nova Scotians that they had no intentions of keeping promises made during the election campaign.

[Page 7904]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 2900

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

Whereas the Millwood High School hockey team went on from a fantastic season to win the Provincial High School Hockey Championship last week in Halifax; and

Whereas the team, led by Captain Andrew Hyson and Coach Larry Marchand, showed true team spirit all season long; and

Whereas the team's combined talent, desire and dedication have made the school, community, family and friends proud of their achievement of winning the high school hockey championship for the first time;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Millwood Knights hockey team and their entire school for their outstanding victory in the provincial championships two weeks ago.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 7905]

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2901

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

Whereas women and children in need were the target of this heartless Tory Government in yesterday's budget; and

Whereas cuts have been made to transition houses, women's centres and men's treatment programs; and

Whereas these most vulnerable women and children need more help not less;

Therefore be it resolved that this government immediately stop attacking those who can least defend themselves and reinstate these valuable programs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2902

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 Dartmouth Whalers, through the leadership of Wayne MacDonald and his organizing committee, will host the 25th annual SEDMHA International Minor Hockey Tournament; and

Whereas from April 4th to April 7th of this year more than 5,000 players, representing 232 teams, will play on 16 ice surfaces throughout the Halifax-Dartmouth region; and

[Page 7906]

Whereas this major partnership between corporate sponsors and volunteers has made the SEDMHA tournament one of the largest and most respected multi-level minor hockey tournaments in North America;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend our best wishes to the organizing committee, players and parents for a successful and fun-filled weekend at the 25th annual SEDMHA International Minor Hockey Tournament.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 2903

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

Whereas Kulvinder Dhillon, a 28 year veteran of the Halifax Regional Municipality, will soon be carrying his years of experience to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board; and

Whereas Mr. Dhillon began with the city as a design engineer, moved to become the chief of engineering design, then chief engineer and following the amalgamation became the merged cities Director of Public Works and Transportation; and

Whereas the municipality's great loss of experience and talent will be URB's gain;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Kulvinder Dhillon on his appointment, and thank him for his commitment to the City of Halifax and the Halifax Regional Municipality and wish him the best of success with his new endeavours at the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 7907]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2904

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

Whereas in Eastern Passage recently there was an opportunity to bring together creativity, the entrepreneurial spirit and providing youth with something to do; and

Whereas this unique event was Fashion Explosion 2002, in which a local fashion designer, Sandra Veres-Dyer showcased her designs for a local audience; and

Whereas the fashion show was an opportunity for local youth to have fun modeling the fashion at the show;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of Sandra Veres-Dyer and Mike Dyer to provide opportunities for local youth through Fashion Explosion 2002 in Eastern Passage and congratulate them on their success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

[Page 7908]

RESOLUTION NO. 2905

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

Whereas a salute to two centuries of Gaelic settlement will take place at an event called Feill nam Barrach - Gaelic for Barraman's Feast - from July 28th to August 4th; and

Whereas this celebration will mark the 200th Anniversary of the arrival of the first Gaels to the area along the Barra Strait; and

Whereas the Highland Village Museum - An Clachan Gaidhealach - will be the centre of the celebration with many of the events taking place at venues in central Cape Breton, including the communities of Iona, Christmas Island and Washabuck;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the 200th Anniversary of Gaelic settlement in Cape Breton and congratulate the organizers of this celebration.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2906

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

Whereas 15,000 metro residents use food banks each month in the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas each year it becomes increasingly more difficult to keep the warehouses stocked with the important protein items; and

[Page 7909]

Whereas food banks now play a vital role in providing food to the most needy of Nova Scotians each month as the minimum wage falls further behind and social assistance for families is cut;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services meet with the executive directors of the food bank societies in Nova Scotia to better understand the underlying problem as to why we have food banks in the first place and, as a government, work towards their elimination.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2907

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

Whereas the Tories are all pumped up now with the honourable member for Cape Breton North leading the charge, over the Hamm "balanced" budget; and

Whereas the Halifax Board of Trade and Peter O'Brien are all in an ecstasy, while the victims of the budget, that is to say virtually all Nova Scotians, writhe in anger and pain; and

Whereas the Hammites are so convinced that they have done the right thing, they ignore all gas consumers, electricity users, seniors requiring drugs, payers of user fees and virtually everyone else who votes;

Therefore be it resolved that democracy is the reflection of the will of the people and that the best vote to take place on this budget would be a referendum of the people at the polls, the election to take place sooner rather than later.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

[Page 7910]

RESOLUTION NO. 2908

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

Whereas each year the Liverpool Fire Department recognizes a firefighter whose dedication and year-round contributions are outstanding; and

Whereas David Payzant is a committed firefighter, dedicating time and energy to continuous training, working hard as a member of several committees and devoting time and energy to the department's important events; and

Whereas in acknowledgment of these fine efforts, David Payzant was chosen as Liverpool's Firefighter of the Year for 2001;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate David Payzant, Liverpool's Firefighter of the Year, and thank him for his dedicated service to the people of Liverpool.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 2909

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

Whereas many immigrants come to Nova Scotia and have difficulty finding employment; and

Whereas Friedel Moser came to Nova Scotia from Germany in 1981 and started her own embroidery and silkscreen firm in Truro; and

[Page 7911]

Whereas Ms. Moser has been named Business Person of the Year for 2001 by the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce for her business, Fundy Textile and Design Ltd., which employs more than 120 people;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend Ms. Moser on her accomplishment, proving that Nova Scotia really benefits from immigration policies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I was unable, because of noise in the Chamber here, to hear the last couple of lines. If he could repeat the clause, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto repeat the resolved.

MR. EPSTEIN: Yes, the operative clause reads as follows:

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend Ms. Moser on her accomplishment, proving that Nova Scotia really benefits from immigration policies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[10:30 a.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2910

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

[Page 7912]

Whereas 15 year-old Jonathan Hughes of Dartmouth should be proud as his mother was chosen first runner up in Canada's Most Valuable Hockey Mom Contest; and

Whereas Jonathan and his mother, Joanna Hughes, can be seen on the local arena, driveway or garage practising their shots and stickhandling; and

Whereas Mrs. Hughes was chosen as the first runner up for Canada's Most Valuable Hockey Mom, second only to another metro mom because of a letter written by her son which was chosen by Mario Lemieux in the Campbell's Chunky Soup Most Valuable Hockey Mom Contest;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Joanna Hughes on being recognized through Canada's Most Valuable Hockey Mom Contest, and thank her son Jonathan for writing the letter highlighting his mother's leadership qualities and selfless devotion to her son and the great sport of hockey.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 2911

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

Whereas students in Nova Scotia are facing the highest tuition fees and debt loads in the country as a result of decreased government operating grants to universities; and

Whereas the current government cut the student financial assistance loan remission program in 1999-2000, saving the province $9.9 million plus an additional $1 million on savings on interest payments with the introduction of the Canadian Millennium Scholarships by the federal government; and

[Page 7913]

Whereas students in Nova Scotia are choosing not to pursue a post-secondary education because of sky-rocketing tuition prices and the absence of any debt relief assistance through the Nova Scotia Student Loan Program;

Therefore be it resolved that congratulations be in order for the Tory Government for maintaining the limit on accessibility to post-secondary education for students in this province requiring financial assistance.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

Due to the din in here not only the Minister of Justice can't hear sometimes, neither can the Speaker.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2912

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

Whereas a high school is a vital and important part of community life; and

Whereas Sir John A. Macdonald High School has a reputation for involvement, committment and dedication; and

Whereas graduates and current students want to know what is the future of their high school;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Education make public its plans for Sir John A. Macdonald High School and explain why it has just cut the budget for school renovations by $6 million.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

[Page 7914]

RESOLUTION NO. 2913

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

Whereas on March 27th Coxheath Elementary celebrated Family Literacy Day by holding an open house; and

Whereas costumes, games, storytelling and reading were all part of the Literacy Day activities; and

Whereas Literacy Day is a great way to promote reading and writing among children;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the importance of reading and writing among children and congratulate the organizers of the Literacy Day at the Coxheath Elementary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 2914

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

Whereas the Charles V. Keating Millennium Centre at St. Francis Xavier University recently opened with a gala celebration where Premier John Hamm was a guest speaker; and

Whereas the $20 million Millennium Centre is a great example of all levels of government coming together with the assistance of generous individuals to make a lasting contribution; and

[Page 7915]

Whereas the Charles V. Keating Millennium Centre boasts two ice surfaces, an indoor walking track, a dance studio, meeting rooms and a sophisticated technology training centre;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all those instrumental in the planning, construction, fundraising of this outstanding project that will be long an asset to eastern 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 Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 2915

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

Whereas shelters for battered women were already facing a funding crisis before this Tory Government announced its budget yesterday; and

Whereas women in Yarmouth, Bridgewater, Port Hawkesbury, Truro, Amherst and New Glasgow are facing the possibility of having no place to go when in need of emergency shelter and support;

Whereas womens' shelters already have to fund raise a portion of their budget because they are already underfunded by government;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier step in to halt this mean-spirited attack on those in desperate situations, like battered women and their children.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

[Page 7916]

RESOLUTION NO. 2916

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

Whereas with each successive budget, this government proves its complete disrespect and disregard for women and children in crisis; and

Whereas yesterday, the Minister of Community Services continued this tragic philosophy by slashing the budget of transition houses by almost $1 million; and

Whereas the availability of shelters and programs to women and children living in poverty and confronting violence is being severely compromised;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House condemn the Minister of Community Services for perpetuating the "true blue" Tory philosophy of attacking and punishing those most vulnerable in our society.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South on an introduction.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I thank members of the House for allowing me this interruption in the resolutions. It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you and all members of the House three representatives of a very important sector of our economy, that being the small business sector, in the persons of: Lois Dyer Mann, President of the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce; Valerie Payn, General Manager of the Chamber of Commerce; and Matthew Fox, Director of Communications for the Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Speaker, it's important to note that the reason for their visit, other than to obviously view what happens in the House, is that this morning they presented the Premier and the Minister of Finance with a bottle of black ink for future use in the management of the province. I would ask our guests to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 7917]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 2917

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

Whereas "Here's to it. The fighting sheen o'it; The yellow, the green o'it; The black, the red o'it; Every thread o'it"; and

Whereas "The fair have sighed for it; The brave have died for it; Foemen sought for it; Heroes fought for it"; and

Whereas "Honour the name o'it; Drink to the fame o'it; The Tartan";

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House salute National Tartan Day Saturday, April 6th, and, if appropriate to their ancestry, don on this day a wee bit of tartan to commemorate the occasion.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2918

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

Whereas extended drought conditions have plagued Nova Scotia farmers, who have serious concerns with the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries who has stated that existing farm safety net programs are adequate to deal with this crisis; and

[Page 7918]

Whereas after hearing first-hand from the Federation of Agriculture, the Standing Committee on Economic Development recommended that an all-Party committee study and recommend solutions to the crisis in agriculture; and

Whereas many months after the request, and a reminder, the minister finally thanked the committee for its suggestion, but he needs no all-Party committee to help with the crisis;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries explain to Nova Scotia farmers why, in their time of crisis, he refuses to call on the collective wisdom of this Legislature to find solutions for this mainstay of our rural economy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2919

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to inform the members of the House that I checked with the Minister of Education and a member of the New Democratic Party, who are in agreement, before I read this.

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

Whereas Jean Laroche was recently nominated for an Atlantic Journalism Award for covering the provincial Legislature; and

Whereas Mr. Laroche is truly deserving of this award; and

Whereas it is partly because of his very professional relationship with all members of this House that Mr. Laroche has been nominated;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize their contribution to Mr. Laroche's recent nomination and wish him the best on May 4th at the Atlantic Journalism Awards.

[Page 7919]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 2920

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

Whereas the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society recently held its 10th Annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies before nearly 300 guests at the Royal Canadian Legion in Windsor; and

Whereas inductees this year included talented Windsor hockey players, in their day, such as Bill Boyd and David Boyd, Brian and Richard Redden, Jim Wilcox and his mother Hazel, and Howie Fish; and

Whereas the President of the American Hockey League, David Andrews, formerly a player at Kings-Edgehill, was the guest of honour and was also inducted as a member, while Hall of Fame inductee and famous Valley hockey player Connie MacNeil was guest speaker for the evening;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend our congratulations to President Terry Hines, Historian Garth Vaughan and the Board of Directors of the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society for another successful banquet.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 7920]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2921

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

Whereas the Tory Government has used this year's budget to repeat the negotiating strategy it used so unsuccessfully with nurses and other health care workers in 2001; and

Whereas the government should recognize that budgeting a 2 per cent increase for teachers in the face of growing shortages in that profession will not help them at the negotiating table; and

Whereas the government should also realize that no matter how it presents the budget, it will have to abide by the results of binding arbitration now underway for the Civil Service;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government should have learned that it simply creates worse labour relations when it tries to mislead and intimidate those with whom it bargains collectively.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2922

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

[Page 7921]

Whereas on April 4, 2002, the Minister of Finance tried to pull the wool over the eyes of Nova Scotians by stating that his government's budget is about our children; and

Whereas the legacy the Minister of Health left to children was a reduction of over $4 million in the Children's Dental Program; and

Whereas the Minister of Health has defended his decision by stating for the record that it is one that the dental profession will like;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House condemn the Minister of Health for his decision to gain support from some members of the dental profession at the expense of the vulnerable children of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I do have a resolution to read, but with the permission of the House, in advance of that, I would like to do an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: By all means.

[The honourable Minister of Health on an introduction.]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery, the gallery opposite, I am pleased to welcome to the House a group of young people who are participants and, indeed, winners in the Mainland North Drug Awareness Committee's poster contest. They are accompanied by Constable Mark Young, who is the Community Liaison Constable of the West Division of the Halifax Regional Police. The young people are Kristen Bell from Fairview Heights School, Emma Reid from Springvale School, Caitlin Murphy from the Rockingham School, Jonathan Ash from Burton Ettinger School, Stephanie McPhee from Duc d'Anville Elementary School, Yazan Abou-Ishmael from Grosvenor-Wentworth Park Elementary School, and Shiva Kale from Park West School. I would ask all of those people to rise and receive the warm welcome of everybody in this House. (Applause)

[Page 7922]

[10:45 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery today and offer congratulations on behalf of all members of the Legislature.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2923

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

Whereas John G. (Jack) Glassey was recently honoured for 70 years of community service as a member of the Truro Rotary Club; and

Whereas Jack Glassey's community services included, among many others, 22 years as Mayor of Truro, 24 years as the chief of the Truro Fire Brigade and lengthy service on the hospital commission; and

Whereas Jack Glassey served as Chairman of the Provincial Senior Citizens Advisory Committee for 10 years and was the first Nova Scotia auto dealer to receive Time magazine's Quality Dealer Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate and thank Jack Glassey for his 70 years of exemplary community service and for being a model for the saying, "service above self".

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 7923]

RESOLUTION NO. 2924

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

Whereas in February the Black Women in Business Network was launched at the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church; and

Whereas the network is an outgrowth of the very successful Black Business Initiative; and

Whereas throughout Nova Scotia many African-Nova Scotian women contribute to the economic health of their families and communities through home-based and small businesses that provide many high-quality goods and services;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Black Women in Business Network on its launch and wish it every success in fostering the independence, financial security and economic prosperity desired by its members.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2925

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

Whereas there are more cuts coming to give full force and effect to this government's budget; and

Whereas health care, just for an example, will sustain enormous surgery in the form of closures, cutbacks and user fees before the Tories are through with it this fiscal year; and

[Page 7924]

Whereas the plan of the Tories is to impose the massive cuts on health care after the election, just as Donnie Cameron planned to do in 1993 after he got re-elected;

Therefore be it resolved that the document tabled yesterday does not fully reflect the true aspirations of the Tories, and that the plans they are preparing to gut the Department of Health should also be tabled as part of the budget before this House votes on it.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2926

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 Cole Harbour Boys and Girls Club has been an active and important organization in the Cole Harbour community for over 30 years; and

Whereas the club provides services and support to youth in the Cole Harbour area, including after-school programs and a drop-in facility; and

Whereas the club, in recent years, has been seeking a permanent location from which to operate its programs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Cole Harbour Boys and Girls Club, Executive Director Heather Gaetz, President Lynn Crowell, and all the members and staff on the new location of the club at 1237 Cole Harbour Road.

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 The Lakes.

[Page 7925]

RESOLUTION NO. 2927

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

Whereas seven Cape Breton skaters won medals at the Riverview Speed Skating Championships in New Brunswick; and

Whereas Paul Bonnar, Brandon Crane, Justin MacNeil and Lindsay Collins captured gold medals in their classes; and

Whereas Jenna Guy of the Northside won silver in the female Class 4, setting a new provincial record;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to all skaters and wish them all the best when they compete in the Cape Breton Classic.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2928

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

Whereas this Tory Government has imposed a tax increase on gasoline and $11 million in higher license fees; and

Whereas we already have had high taxes on gasoline, which were intended to pay for road improvement but, instead, most of it went into the province's general revenues, and it now appears much of the new tax and fee will not be spent on roads either; and

[Page 7926]

Whereas many Nova Scotians will also pay additional taxes for road improvements through their municipal property taxes;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government implement measures to return the additional gas tax collected back to the municipalities on a gas consumption basis.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 2929

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

Whereas Ann Marie MacDonald is a Cape Breton author, actress and playwright and has recently published her first novel; and

Whereas Ms. MacDonald will appear on Oprah Winfrey today to discuss her new book entitled, Fall On Your Knees; and

Whereas the novel has been selling off the shelves since it was picked by Winfrey and has already received positive feedback;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ann Marie MacDonald on the success of her first novel.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 7927]

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. 2930

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

Whereas Saint Mary's University, in 1998, launched the Liberated Learning Project, a program whose aim is to nurture an educational environment without boundaries for students with learning disabilities; and

Whereas the Liberated Learning Project is an application of speech recognition technology which translates the spoken word to text in real time, then projects the text to a large screen on-site and produces a visual record of lectures, as well as comprehensive notes for student reference; and

Whereas through recent funding assistance from the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, Saint Mary's University has become one of the few universities in Canada to have implemented speech recognition technology in the classroom;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates Saint Mary's University, in particular, Professor David Leitch, for their receipt of funding from the McConnell Family Foundation for their development of this technology.

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 Richmond.

[Page 7928]

RESOLUTION NO. 2931

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

Whereas St. F.X. student Laura Filion has taken top prize at the Atlantic Undergraduate Physics and Astronomy Conference in Halifax held in February; and

Whereas Ms. Filion won her paper entitled "Lactoferricin meets Gramnegative Bacteria"; and

Whereas Ms. Filion is a native of River Bourgeois, Richmond County;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ms. Laura Filion on her accomplishments and wish her continued success in all her future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2932

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

Whereas students deserve to attend an environmentally-friendly school without concerns for their safety; and

Whereas high school students at Sir. John A. Macdonald High School in Hubley have for years expressed concerns about air quality at that school; and

Whereas unhealthy conditions at Sir John A. have forced students to attend C.P. Allen High School in Bedford on a split-shift basis;

[Page 7929]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank past and present students of Sir John A. Macdonald High School for their dedication to addressing the environmental concerns of their school.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2933

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

Whereas Jim and Tricia Lorraine from Upper Onslow were recently named Atlantic Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers; and

Whereas Mr. and Mrs. Lorraine are among the top seven young farm couples in Canada and will compete for the national title in November in Toronto; and

Whereas Mr. and Mrs. Lorraine were able to overcome the collapse of the beef industry and diversify their farm with great success;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jim and Tricia Lorraine on their successful and significant contribution to farming in Atlantic Canada and wish them all the best at the national competition in Toronto.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 7930]

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable 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, would you please call Resolution No. 2820.

Res. No. 2820, Estimates: CWH on Supply - Referred - notice given Apr. 2/02 (Hon. N. LeBlanc)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to continue my speech from yesterday on the budget. I would like to start by reading some budget-related press clippings. Here's one, "The Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce . . . congratulates Nova Scotia's finance minister for achieving an overall balanced budget . . . Equally important is the sense of confidence that the provincial government can achieve its fiscal targets and will not let the province slip back into deficits."

Mr. Speaker, another budget-related press clipping, "Balancing the books is only the beginning - but a good one, says business, which hailed yesterday's budget as relatively wrinkle-free. 'I think it's a real good budget from a small-business point of view', said Peter O'Brien, regional director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business." Another one, "'Everybody's celebrating the fact that we've got the first fully balanced budget in years,' says Atlantic Institute of Market Studies head Brian Crowley, 'and that's good." So we have the metro Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Peter O'Brien and Brian Crowley lined up in support of the balanced budget. The problem is that these clippings are from 1996.

Mr. Speaker, the business lobby says the same thing every year. I will table those clippings, of course. The business lobby is embarrassing itself with the way that it fawns over government. They fawned over Bernie Boudreau and said he's got the first balanced budget

[Page 7931]

in years. They said the same thing about Don Downe because he came in with a surplus too, remember that, and they did it again yesterday. I would think that they would be embarrassed by now that they keep saying the same things because they said the same things yesterday that they said in 1996.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let's talk about the real story of what happened yesterday. Are the people of Nova Scotia celebrating because of what happened yesterday? No, they're not because all the government is doing is hiding the deficit. They're hiding it because - let there be no doubt - Nova Scotia has got a serious problem with the amount of money that we spend on interest on the debt every year. It's a shame that $900 million a year out of our budget goes simply to pay interest and we have to work to regain that money, to bring it back to Nova Scotia. We have to do that, but is this budget going to do that? No, it's not because as a result of yesterday's budget, the debt this year is still going to go up $100 million and according to the government's projections, the same thing is going to happen the year after that and the year after that and the year after that. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is very noisy in here and I would ask the members to take their conversations outside. I would also ask the members to close that door, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview has the floor.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the challenge here is to regain that money that we're paying in interest and bring it back to Nova Scotia. As a result of the budget yesterday, which way are interest payments going to go? Are they going to go down this year? No, they're actually going to go up and the year after that they're going to go slightly and then the year after that there's going to be another big jump in interest. So it's going to be more than it has ever been. In fact, senior officials from the Department of Finance told us yesterday that it's going to be at least eight to 10 years - at least - before Nova Scotia's debt starts to come down. It's not going to happen this year or next year or the year after that or the year after that. It's going to be eight to 10 years before the debt even starts to come down, so this is the time to deal with the fundamental issues that are causing the deficit. But that is exactly what the government is not doing because they are hiding the deficit; they're not solving it.

[11:00 a.m.]

They're hiding the deficit in the homes of seniors enrolled in the Pharmacare Program. A pharmacist told me that seniors are now choosing not to take drugs, they are choosing not to enrol in the program, because of the increases in user fees, and that is a real cost. That is trying to keep the genie in the bottle, because authoritative studies from Quebec show (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, I really wish that the seniors in my constituency could hear the member for Dartmouth South and hear what he's saying about them and their issues. I really wish that they could hear and see what I have to hear from that member who seems to think that seniors not taking medically-necessary drugs are objects of derision, something to make

[Page 7932]

fun of. I just want the people of Dartmouth South who might be watching today to know what their member is doing when I'm talking about seniors' drug costs going up. I'm being made fun of over there by their elected member of the Legislature. I just want that member to know that. I just want the people of Dartmouth South to know what their member is doing right now.

Seniors are not taking drugs and they are choosing not to enrol in the program because of what this government is doing. This government is hiding the deficit on medical waiting lists. I would like to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Fairview has the floor.

MR. STEELE: This government is not solving medical waiting lists; it is lengthening them. According to the CEO of the Capital District Health Authority, what this budget means is longer waiting lists. In a letter to the editor in today's Daily News, here's what one citizen of Nova Scotia says. Do you think he's celebrating? Do you think he's jumping for joy over yesterday's budget? Here's what it says, Mr. Speaker. He says, "My wife has been on a waiting list for more than a year, and on some pretty potent pain-killers, waiting for a replacement for a hip that is so bad now that one leg is almost eight centimeters shorter that [sic] the other because of the wear. She is in constant pain, and I can guarantee that if she fell, she would not get up." That's the letter from Steve Tanner of Halifax that appears in today's Daily News. Do you think that Steve Tanner and his wife are jumping for joy today because the budget is balanced? No, because as a result of this government's budget, waiting lists just got longer.

Here I am reading a letter to the editor about a woman who is in severe pain and has been on a waiting list for a year, and the member for Preston has now joined in the heckling from the other side. If anybody in the constituency of Preston is watching, I just want them to know that the member they elected to the Legislature, instead of standing up for them, is heckling me while I am reading a letter to the editor about a woman in severe pain because she has been waiting for a year for a hip replacement. I just want the good people of Preston to know that that is what their member is doing with his time here in the Legislature. Oh yes, I should add, the Conservative member of the Legislature. That is what he is using his time in this Legislature for.

Mr. Speaker, the government is hiding the deficit in crumbling schools. Barrington High School is still closed because nobody knows what is causing the problem. Nobody knows what is causing the problem down there except that it is something in the environment. Sir John A. Macdonald High School is still closed and nobody knows what the problem is there. What is the government's answer to that? It is to cut the amount of money allocated to school renovations. So the government is not solving the problem. What they are doing is hiding it in the schools.

[Page 7933]

Mr. Speaker, they are hiding the deficit in the homes of the women and the families who need to rely on transition houses in order to be safe from abusive spouses. Something else that we were just able to ferret out this morning, in addition to cutting nearly $1 million from transition houses and women's centres, the cost of applying for a peace bond has just gone up. That is the government's response to family violence. They are hiding the deficit in the homes of those women and children. They are hiding it in the homes of students who are in university or who want to be in university because the government froze funding for universities in this budget and there is about $36 million of costs from the universities that have to be paid for. There is only one other source for it and that is from the students - $36 million in higher tuition fees in a province that already has the highest tuition fees in Canada. That is where they are hiding the deficit. They are not solving the problem of post-secondary education.

The budget says that they are going to come up with a plan to help students in need some time over the next 12 months, Mr. Speaker, which in government speak, means they don't actually know what they are going to do, but they will think of something over the next year. Meanwhile, this September, tuitions are going to go up by a collective total of at least $36 million. They are not solving the problem, they are hiding the deficit. They are hiding the deficit in our hospitals that, like our schools, are crumbling and don't have the right equipment. Here is a quote from the Capital District Health Authority. This is not me speaking. This is an official document from the Capital District Health Authority and here is what they say about their needs: "Our capital funding is totally inadequate to maintain current medical technology, information technology and renovation to our facilities." That is the Capital District Health Authority saying that in this year's Auditor General's Report. It is totally inadequate. What has this government offered them? Nothing. So the capital funding continues to be totally inadequate to have up-to-date medical equipment and to even stop the crumbling of our hospitals.

Mr. Speaker, this government is hiding the deficit in the homes of families whose children have special needs because special needs education is severely underfunded in Nova Scotia. Everybody knows that. This budget has not one red cent more for special education. So it is those children and those families who are paying for the deficit. It is in their homes that the deficit is hiding. They haven't solved the special education problem, they are just waving their magic wand and pretending it doesn't exist because all they care about is not solving the problem, it is getting through to the next election.

Now let's look at what Nova Scotians are going to be paying as a result of this budget. In this budget there's $101 million of new taxes and fees. On the subject of user fees I came across an interesting quote the other day, something written by this government, but the problem is it was written for a different audience, so it says something different from what they say here in the Legislature. This is a document from the Campaign for Fairness, and is directed towards people in Ottawa. Here's what they say to that audience - they're talking about reforms to the equalization formula - that the Atlantic Provinces want full inclusion

[Page 7934]

of user fees in the calculation formula for fiscal capacity since the vast majority of user fees are similar to taxes.

Mr. Speaker, when they want money from Ottawa they're saying, well, user fees are similar to taxes. Those are their words; not my words. Those are their own words. Since coming to office this government has hit Nova Scotians with $223 million of new taxes, taxes and user fees which, according to their own words, are just pretty much the same as taxes. That's $223 million in new taxes and fees, and in this budget alone another $101 million.

Mr. Speaker, what kind of fees are they? Well, ambulance fees have just gone up. If somebody needs urgent medical care and needs to call an ambulance, they're going to pay more. The gas tax has gone up. They haven't at all settled the issue of the fact that the gas tax is coming from all of us. Half of Nova Scotia's population lives in the Halifax Regional Municipality, but the HRM looks after it's own roads. So these so-called dedicated taxes, half of which, or more, are coming from HRM, are being spent somewhere else. I don't remember them saying that in the budget documents yesterday.

Tobacco tax is up; the liquor tax is up. Oh, I know they split hairs and say the Liquor Corporation profits are up, but it's the same as a liquor tax. It's the same, there's no difference. Then there's all the taxes and fees that they didn't tell you about. In addition - this is in addition to the $223 million that they've already imposed - property taxes are going to go up as a result of this budget, because what the government gave the municipalities from Nova Scotia Power I might add, they took away in yesterday's budget. They took it away. They gave figures that the municipalities don't agree with, so it really works out to just about a wash - what they gave two weeks ago, they just took away in yesterday's budget.

Mr. Speaker, health insurance premiums are going to go up in Nova Scotia because the government has just off-loaded children's dental care to private insurers. I asked a spokesperson for the Department of Health: What about the fact that most dental health insurers don't actually cover the full cost of many kinds of dental care? For example, under the provincial plan there are many kinds of procedures that are only covered at 80 per cent. Who's going to cover the other 20 per cent? Well they said they would check, but their initial response is that Nova Scotians are on their own for that amount. The province isn't going to pick up the remainder, so not only are health insurance premiums going to go up as a result of this, but Nova Scotians are now newly on the hook for that portion of dental care that private insurers won't cover. I don't remember them saying that in any of their budget documents yesterday.

Of course tuition fees are going to go up again, substantially, because there's at least $36 million that has to be paid for. There's all the new district health authority fees that weren't mentioned in the budget yesterday. All the fees that are now going to be charged by the district health authorities, the new fees - the brand new fees that have never been charged

[Page 7935]

before - are nowhere to be found in the budget documents; they are nowhere to be found. We're still trying to figure out how much that adds up to, but you can bet that it's in the millions of dollars.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians' income taxes are going up. I bet they didn't tell that to anybody yesterday. But this government is doing it as a sneak attack. They are not doing it directly, Mr. Speaker, they're doing it as a sneak attack. What they did two years ago when they decoupled from federal tax is that they froze the tax rates and the tax brackets and the tax credits at the levels of previous years. So that means that just by normal inflation, Nova Scotians are going to be paying higher and higher income taxes. But they didn't tell anybody about that yesterday, did they? That's more than Nova Scotians are going to be paying.

[11:15 a.m.]

Here is the fundamental problem with that, Mr. Speaker. All of these new fees and taxes are what we call regressive. They are not based on ability to pay. So, for example, the new driver's license fee of $11 is the same whether you are a senior on a fixed income or whether you are Donald Sobey. I think Donald Sobey is a lot more able to come up with $11 than many seniors in my constituency who can't stand any more price increases because their income is simply not going up to cover them. How about the seniors in my constituency who need an ambulance? It's now going to cost them $105 that they don't have; $105 that they haven't budgeted for. That's the same ambulance fee that Donald Sobey has to pay. Whether it's a senior in my constituency getting by on $12,000 a year or the vice-president of a bank, they pay the same ambulance fee. That's what it means for taxes to be regressive; everybody pays the same no matter how much money they actually have. So all these taxes are regressive.

But when the government talks about the tax cut, now, suddenly, they start talking about income taxes which are progressive, which means that Donald Sobey now, from the Tory tax cut, gets thousands of dollars and that senior who I was talking about gets nothing. Mr. Speaker, we know whose side this government is on, we know whose side this government is on. Let's be very clear, the tax cut is on the table, next year, 10 per cent across the board of Nova Scotia tax. Okay, then that is another disingenuous thing that the government likes to say, the 10 per cent tax that was not. It's actually a 3 per cent tax cut because it's only of Nova Scotia tax.

Mr. Speaker, there are about 650,000 people who file a tax return. Of that number, one-third don't pay any Nova Scotia tax at all. So Donald Sobey gets thousands of dollars back from this government's proposed tax cut and over 300,000 Nova Scotians get nothing. They're still paying the same user fees as Donald Sobey, but they actually get nothing back. Another quarter of tax filers pay $1,000 or less. Which means, from a 10 per cent tax cut they get $100 or less. So the vast majority of people in Nova Scotia who pay taxes or file a tax return will get $100 or less from the tax cut, while the really well off will get thousands of

[Page 7936]

dollars. So user fees, everybody pays the same no matter how much money you have; tax cut, the rich gets thousands of dollars back and most Nova Scotians get nothing or next to nothing.

Mr. Speaker, buried in the budget documents is the fact that the tax cut is still on the table. If anybody doubts me, they can look at Page B22 of the budget documents and there it is right there in black and white. Just before the next election, this government is planning to offer a 10 per cent tax cut. It's right there, it's in the budget documents. I'm not making it up, it's right there.

Mr. Speaker, if you are trying to get re-elected, it's not a bad strategy. I can just see the signs now. If you want a tax cut, vote for Tim Olive, vote for David Hendsbee, because they want everybody to forget everything bad that's happened over the last few years and what a hard-hearted government this has really been.

It's not a bad electoral strategy to try to get everybody to forget the education protests we had two years ago or Bill No. 68 - heaven knows the government would love people to forget Bill No. 68 last summer. They would like everybody to forget that there have been $223 million of new fees and taxes imposed since this government came to office. They just want everybody to forget that. They want everybody to forget that this government is not dealing with the real financial issues in Nova Scotia because they are refusing to deal with the real issues that generate the deficit, like the poverty of children and families.

There is no determinant of health more important, more significant than poverty. So if you want to tackle your health care costs, you've got to tackle poverty. Is there anything in the budget about this? About poverty? No, there isn't because all the government cares about is for the Minister of Finance to be able to stand up and say, I balanced the budget, which he did, which the member for Lunenburg West did when he was the Minister of Finance, which Bernie Boudreau did when he was the Minister of Finance. The Halifax Chamber of Commerce clapped him on the back then six years ago and Peter O'Brien clapped him on the back six years ago and Brian Crowley clapped him on the back and they said, finally we've got a balanced budget. Finally we've got a balanced budget they said and that was six years ago. They're saying the same things today.

But I will tell you, children and families living in poverty - they're not jumping for joy today. Let's try to put into perspective a little bit this so-called surplus that the government has generated, even though they're adding $100 million to the debt and even though interest payments on the debt are actually going to go up this year. They don't want anybody to actually know that. When we talk in billions and millions it's easy to lose sight of what's really going on here, so I thought I would put it in terms of the average family income in Nova Scotia.

[Page 7937]

The minister's so-called surplus is one-quarter of one-tenth of one per cent of his budget. If you put that in terms of the average family income of Nova Scotia, do you know what that works out to be? That works out to be a surplus for the average family - not just the average person, but the average family, the average household in Nova Scotia - of $10. over the full year. That's his surplus. It's $10. Or, if you want to put that in terms of a daily basis, the minister's surplus works out for the average family of having their budget worked out every day to within three cents. Three cents. So if anything happens over the course of the day that costs a nickel, you're out of balance. Just to say it reveals how ridiculous it really is. For the average Nova Scotian to stand up and say that they figured out their budget to within three cents per day, it's not reasonable, it's not realistic because, of course, what the Minister of Finance knows and what we all know is the Minister of Finance started with where he wanted to be and everything else had to fall into place so he could generate that number.

The fundamental problem is that we're back to Buchanan era politics. That's the real issue here. Let's not forget that Minister of Finance was a Buchanan Cabinet Minister. Let's not forget that the person sitting on the other side of the Premier was a Buchanan Cabinet Minister. We all know that the problem started under John Buchanan. We all know that we are paying for what the John Buchanan Progressive Conservative Government did to Nova Scotia. Spend, spend, spend until they could spend no more and we're still paying for it and we will be for decades because that government, the Buchanan Government, put getting re-elected ahead of everything. They didn't care about the province's finances. They knew they weren't going to be around. I don't know if John Buchanan knew that he would be sitting in the Canadian Senate sucking back a six-figure salary for the rest of his natural life, but perhaps he did, I don't know.

AN HON. MEMBER: To age 75.

MR. STEELE: Well, yes, to age 75, that's bad enough. Mr. Speaker, it sure would be nice if John Buchanan could pay that six-figure salary back against the debt every year. Now, that would be progressive taxation.

Mr. Speaker, the problem with the Buchanan Government was that they put getting re-elected ahead of everything and this government is doing exactly the same thing, because the real issue here is how much interest we pay on the debt. We have to reclaim that from the bankers and bond holders. We have to bring that money back home and we have to do that with a long-term plan, a realistic plan, a reasonable plan that takes into account who we are and where we want to go. It has to take into account the fact that even with yesterday's budget, Nova Scotia's debt is still going to go up to the tune of $100 million, and it's going to go up the year after that and the year after that and the year after that and the year after that and the year after that and the year after that, at least that often. Interest payments on the debt are going to go up the year after that and the year after that and the year after that and the year after that and the year after that.

[Page 7938]

So, Mr. Speaker, this government hasn't tackled the problem. They haven't tackled the real issue. They haven't tackled the real problem because all the government cares about is not the future, or where we're going to be 10 years from now or 20 years from now, all they care about is where we're going to be next Spring when they call the election. All they care about is that they want to be able to go to the polls and say, tax cut. Here's a tax cut. Vote for me. The member for Preston is going to go and say tax cut; forget all the bad stuff that happened, forget all those bad places we went as a government, I'm offering you a tax cut. Except, in his riding - and he knows because of the socio-economics of his riding - the vast majority of his constituents are not actually going to get anything from that tax cut. Oh, well, that's his problem. He's going to want people to believe that they would get a tax cut, but the truth is they're not because it's mostly the really well off who are going to benefit. That's the truth and nobody should doubt for one second that that's the strategy behind yesterday's budget.

It's in the budget documents, Mr. Speaker. They are planning to offer a cut of 10 per cent in Nova Scotia taxes just before the next election, it's right there, because it's very clear that if this government meant what it said, if this government really meant to reclaim some of that interest that's going to bankers and bond holders in Toronto, New York, Tokyo and London, if they were really serious about that they would have a plan about how they're going to pay down the debt. They would have a plan about how we're going to reclaim that interest but they don't, because into the foreseeable future, even with yesterday's budget, the debt is going to go up and payments of interest are going to go up. All they care about is getting to that tax cut this year and that makes them just as bad as John Buchanan. That makes them just as bad as the John Buchanan Government in which today's Finance Minister served because they have put public relations and optics and what they're going to say in the next election campaign ahead of what is really right for the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, what is really right for the people of Nova Scotia is to tackle the fundamental issues that we're facing. Where is this government's plan for dealing with child poverty. The single most important determinant of health of Nova Scotians, where is the plan, where is the press release, where's the news conference, where are the presentations from the chamber of commerce?

I guess they don't know anybody who's poor. I have some people in my riding I would like them to meet, some people who are just barely getting by, if they're getting by at all.

[11:30 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that's the real issue. If you want to improve the health and well-being of my constituents in Halifax Fairview, or of their constituents, they should be tackling child poverty, family poverty. What did they say about that in their budget yesterday? Nothing; not a word. What did the Halifax Chamber of Commerce say about that today? Nothing. Nothing; not a word.

[Page 7939]

If this government were serious about doing what's right for Nova Scotians, we would have a plan for helping our seniors get by. They're retired; many of them are living on fixed incomes. Just think about how many new taxes and fees they've had to pay as a result of this government. If we really were serious about tackling our deficit problem and reclaiming some of that interest, we would know that the way to do it is not to jack up the fees so seniors have to choose whether to take their drugs or not, or whether to enrol in the plan or not.

Let's be very clear about this. An authoritative and well-regarded study in Quebec that examined exactly that issue said that increases in fees result in higher health costs - higher health costs as a result of raising copays and premiums for seniors in Pharmacare, because when they stop taking drugs they need more medical attention. But the government doesn't appear to care about that, because that's something that would happen past the next election. Our population is getting older, so that issue is only going to get worse. What did the government say about that in the budget? Well, they increased the fees and premiums on Pharmacare.

If this government were serious about tackling our real financial problems and reclaiming some of that interest, they would have something to say about our crumbling public infrastructure, our schools, our hospitals. We have had decades of what's politely called deferred maintenance, but really it's just lack of proper upkeep of our schools and our hospitals and other public buildings. Our children are getting sick in those buildings today. The high school in Barrington Passage is closed today, indefinitely, because of environmental problems, and Sir John A. Macdonald High School is closed today because of environmental problems; in both cases nobody has any idea why there's a problem. What is this government's response? What did they say about that in the budget? They cut the funding for school renovations.

If this government were serious about family violence, if this government were serious about solving our real issues, we would find ways to put an end, once and for all, to family violence. Instead, this government has the nerve to cut funding by $1 million, or almost $1 million, and then claim that it's going to make transition houses more effective. Mr. Speaker, it's shameful. There's no other word for it, it's a shame. I just wonder if any of the members on that side of the House actually believe that, that cutting $1 million from transition houses is going to make them more effective. That's just spin.

That's just government spin, because at the same time that the government slashed funding for transition houses, they increased funding for the government's communications arm by $300,000. More spin. More politically motived ads. They've taken money out of the budget for transition houses and added it to their PR people, so now their PR people have more money to work with, more money to try to convince women and children in need of shelter that they're better off because their transition house isn't actually there anymore, not to mention the fact that applying for a peace bond just got more expensive. It is

[Page 7940]

embarrassing. It is embarrassing that they would actually have the nerve to say that kind of thing.

Mr. Speaker, they're just hiding the deficit again. If this government were serious about dealing with our real financial problems and not just the ones that will get them through to the next election, they would deal with education in a meaningful way. They would take into account that fewer students will be able to go to university next year, fewer students will be able to continue in university next year because tuition fees will have to go up and they will have to go up substantially in order to make up the shortfall in funding.

Mr. Speaker, if this government were serious about education, they wouldn't have frozen funding for our public schools because despite the rhetoric in yesterday's budget, that is exactly what happened. Let's be very clear about this. Funding for public schools in Nova Scotia has been frozen. The only increase the public schools got was enough to pay for a wage settlement with teachers, which hasn't even been negotiated yet. That money entirely takes up all of the new funding for public schools. So as the representative of one school board told me yesterday, in real terms, it is a cut because their fuel costs are going up. Their maintenance costs are going up. All of their other costs are going up, but they are not getting any more money from the government. So we have just had a cut, in real terms, to public education. If this government were serious about dealing with our real issues, they wouldn't be doing that. But they're not, because all they are interested in is the facade that will carry them through to the next election. If this government were serious about the real issues we're facing, they'd find ways to deal with waiting lists for medical procedures.

Earlier, Mr. Speaker, I read the letter in today's Daily News from Steve Tanner of Halifax. I have another constituent who is in exactly the same boat, on a waiting list for a hip replacement for 10 months and he had no idea when his turn might come. What do you think they are saying this morning after yesterday's budget? What did the government say to those people in yesterday's budget? Nothing. No, quite the opposite. Waiting lists are going to get longer. Do you think that is dealing with the deficit? Do you think that is a way of solving our long-term financial problems, to have more people on waiting lists for longer? No, it just pushes things off. It just pushes off dealing with the real issue until later. That is probably one of the very best examples of how this government has no interest in what is going to happen even two years from now. All they care about is getting through to the next election because if they cared about more than that, they would have done things differently in this budget. They would have found ways of dealing with special needs because that need is still out there. That need is still out there and there isn't one red cent for it.

Mr. Speaker, we have a government that presented a budget yesterday and they say that it is all worth it because we now have a surplus, a surplus that for an ordinary family amounts to three cents a day. If you snap your fingers, the budget is out of balance and there is $100 million added to the debt this year. What is most important of all is that the fundamental

[Page 7941]

issues that generate that deficit are not being dealt with. They are being pushed off, past the next election.

So I just want the people of Nova Scotia to remember when a Tory comes to your door in the next election, whether it is one of the Tories over there or a new Tory who would like to join them, remember that that Tory wants you to forget everything bad that has happened over the last several years. They want you not to know that this government is not actually dealing with the financial problems facing the province, that this is all designed to get them through to the next election. I want those people on the doorsteps to know that the government intends to bribe you with a small tax cut in the next election in the hopes that you will forget all of those things, even though one-third of Nova Scotians will get nothing and another one-quarter will get $100 or less.

Mr. Speaker, this is a budget that offers no hope. Pay more, get less from a government that's just like John Buchanan's: interested only in what will get them re-elected. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, in the centre gallery, I would like to introduce a well-known and longtime Kentville businessperson whose company's establishment is in the Town of Kentville. He also has connections with a member here in this House, Mr. David Chisholm. I would ask you to give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our guest to the gallery today.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, it's my great pleasure to introduce to you, in your gallery, Krystyna Amero. She's from Lockview High School, and she's very interested in politics and political science. She's here today with Ken Moors from the Department of Education. She's job shadowing and has come down to the House to see how the House operates. I would ask our members to extend her a warm welcome. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure, my honour to stand. I just want to mention Mr. [David] Chisholm as well. I welcome him as well. He not only is a resident of the Valley, he also spent a lot of time down on the South Shore in Bridgewater.

[Page 7942]

I understand he's a great golfer, and someday I would like to spend an afternoon in a game of golf with he and maybe even a member of his family.

AN HON. MEMBER: He's not as good as his brother.

MR. DOWNE: I don't know, I hear he's better than his brother in a lot of areas, but I'm not going to get into that.

Mr. Speaker, it's an honour to speak to the members of the Legislature this year with regard to the budget. I can't say it's a pleasure, but it's an honour. It's never good to be speaking about missed opportunities. That is what this government has done since it's been in power since 1999. It has missed a number of great opportunities: opportunities to grow the economy, opportunities to show where the true priorities are, opportunities about developing infrastructure that can actually grow the economy and opportunities to truly balance the budget that could have been done some two years ago.

This year they were desperate. The Minister of Finance is desperate. He simply did not have the means to balance the budget. Spending was much out of control, as we've seen from day to day. In fact, we've seen the spending out of control since they've been in power. Health care costs continue to rise in the Province of Nova Scotia. If I recall, when they were first elected I indicated to them at that time that health care will be a major part of their concern, and they seemed to shrug it off and say that health care is not a problem, we will be able to deal with that for some $40-some million; cut a little administration and everything will be okay. I think they're starting to realize now that they do not have a plan and they do not understand the complexity of health. In fact, they don't seem to understand too much of the complexity of what's happening in the province.

According to the Premier the government has balanced the budget, even though he will continue to borrow money into the year 2011 and maybe even beyond that. In fact, it's interesting, since they came into power they've been borrowing on the capital side of the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia in excess of $100 million a year, on average, for the last five years; in five years of the government, even their own numbers show that the debt will continue to grow by some $582 million. That's $582 million additional debt that our children and their children will be paying off for years to come.

[11:45 a.m.]

What if we told you that the Premier already balanced the budget two years ago? Members of this House would kind of wonder where that would come from. In fact, according to the Public Accounts of the year 2000-01, the government posted a surplus of some $147 million. To be fair, a portion of this surplus was the result of the sale of NSRL. However, the bottom line is the government took in more money than they spent that fiscal year and yet the fact that they had $147 million additional revenue than they spent, they still

[Page 7943]

grew the debt of the province by $118 million that same fiscal year. That's almost $250 million. That's $0.25 billion dollars that have been unaccounted for by that minister. They could have balanced at that time.

More surprising is the overall amount of revenue the government took in starting in the year 2000-01. This government in their own documents point out that they received an additional $650 million over and above what they expected in general revenue. The Tory Government had a golden opportunity to balance the budget last year, to pay down the debt, they chose not to. They talked about being a government that will manage the affairs of the Province of Nova Scotia and they were the government prepared to make the decisions that needed to be made, to keep spending under control. Well it's evident not only that they didn't manage the spending side, they didn't manage the additional windfall revenue they received during that same period of time.

Today the Tory Government has to scramble to balance the budget. The Minister of Finance couldn't do it by controlling spending, so what did he do? It's really interesting - the Minister of Finance has a couple of options in dealing with balancing budgets. One, he should be talking about growing the economy; two, he's looking for more income from Ottawa; the third one is to reduce expenditure.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There's too much noise in the Chamber. It's very difficult to hear the members on the floor. I would ask the members to take their conversations outside please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I do appreciate your interjection. The Minister of Finance couldn't control spending as I was just saying and the other options are to control spending or raise taxes or raise user fees. Bingo. Guess what the minister decided to do? He decided to ding Nova Scotians on taxes, ding Nova Scotians on user fees; whether you're born or whether you're going to go to the grave, you're going to get hit by that minister and by that Hamm Government.

This is a government that can't control spending so their way of dealing with budgets is simply to tax Nova Scotians. It flies in the face of their blue book that said very clearly they believe that by lowering taxes, this government can allow more dollars in the pockets of Nova Scotians so in turn they will be able to spend on goods and services and creating new wealth and creating opportunity and new tax regimes for the province.

I want Nova Scotians to realize - and I know Nova Scotians realize this already - because whether they go to the gas pump or whether they buy something, they're paying more right now in Nova Scotia. It's Friday and somebody goes home and wants to go and buy a six pack of beer, they're going to pay more. It doesn't matter what you do, this government is going to get you, one way or the other. It shows that this government has lost a vision or a direction or a plan. I will get into that in more detail today because it's clear they

[Page 7944]

just seemed to stumble into this election victory and they've been stumbling through the leadership of the province ever since they've been in there.

I was talking to a chap from Aulds Cove, Cape Breton and his name is Mr. Pettipas. He's known to be somewhat outspoken sometimes and he used the analogy, he says this Tory Government is like a washing machine - sometimes it's in a reasonable cycle and sometimes it's in a bad cycle. He says it's like a dumb and dumber cycle. That's a little bit like how this government has operated - the dumb and dumber cycle.

They don't understand what they're doing with regard to the opportunities they've missed in growing the economy and creating new wealth. Growing the economy and creating new tax regimes and new opportunities, not by user fees and taxation burdens, but by allowing people to have jobs and economic opportunity.

This minister has lost his dream and vision with regard to the future of the province. You know what it is? I think this minister is so guilty that he was part of the Buchanan era that grew the debt from $500 million in Nova Scotia to billions of dollars in this province that he personally feels so guilty, so ashamed that he was a part of that administration that he now says he wants to do penance so his way of dealing with it is that he is going to tax people. He is going to slash and burn, whatever he can do to say that he can clean the slate of his wrongdoings in the past. Well, it is not that simple, Mr. Speaker, because the reality is that the John Buchanan era will be with us for years and years to come and we will never forget the legacy that they left this province.

They can put all the blame they want here, there and everywhere else. There is enough to go around. But the reality is that the Minister of Finance knows all too well that this is not just a matter of taxing and user fees, it is a matter of management and it is a matter of priorities. This government came in with a list of priorities. This government got in and said that they were going to deal with health care and provide level health care across this province for a mere $40-some million. In fact, the comment they made was that there is enough money spent in health care today. All we need to do is cut administration. Well, I want the backbenchers sitting back there who are going to be voting on this budget to make it very clear where they stand in regard to this budget in health care.

They talk about $130-some million going into health care. Let's face it. This minister knows all too well that a majority of that is already negotiated contracts between workers in the health system. This is not new money. This is not brand new money coming from heaven that is going to provide extra money. It is talking about dollars that have been committed through negotiations. I think it is clever what the minister has done, but let's not be fooled by that. The reality is that we have problems in the Department of Health.

[Page 7945]

I am going to find it interesting when I watch the members from the Annapolis Valley stand up and vote in this Legislature in favour of or rejecting this budget. Will they vote the way the conscience of their communities are or will they vote the front bench of this Government of Nova Scotia? The challenge will be up to them to come forward with what they have been saying to the public down in their community and what they do in the Legislative Assembly. We will give them a chance. We will see what they're made of.

Mr. Speaker, what happened to the promises of 1999? I find it amazing that this government has spent so much time talking about health care and education, that they are doing so much more for them, but yet we have yet to see the plan. I think the Minister of Finance wished he had a Minister of Health that could come up with a plan. I bet you this Minister of Finance wished he had a Minister of Education that would come up with a plan, a plan that would show a health and an education that is sustainable and dependable and that is going to be able to provide the benefits for the long-term economic and social growth of the Province of Nova Scotia.

You know this Minister of Finance cannot develop a plan himself. He needs a Cabinet to do it. He is having a hard enough time trying to keep his backbenchers from clawing him apart, I am sure. Now he needs the leadership of his Premier that promised he had the ideas, and we will wait to see whether that becomes a reality. I don't think so, Mr. Speaker. Ask the students and the teachers in sick classes and also ask the people in the Annapolis Valley whether more money has made a difference. I will admit that this government has spent $430 million in the year 2000-01 on health care and education alone. This minister spent $430 million more in health care and education . . .

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This morning, as I came into the House, the honourable member for Halifax Needham raised a couple of points. She mentioned that I had some notes in front of me when I answered a question in Question Period yesterday. This is the piece of paper that I had in front of me and I am certainly happy to table that if that was the question.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The document is tabled.

It is not a point of order. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, does anybody else over there want to make a point of order or interrupt me again before I continue with my speech? (Interruptions)

[Page 7946]

MR. SPEAKER: In all fairness, the honourable member for Lunenburg West is responding to the financial budget and I would ask the honourable members to respect that, please.

MR. DOWNE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the bottom line is, as I indicated, the Minister of Finance in the year 2000-01, by his own numbers, spent $430 million more in health care and education in that fiscal year. That's $130 million more for health care this year. Before anyone on the Treasury benches gets too smug about the fact that they spent all this money, let's ask some fundamental questions of the members for Annapolis, Kings North, Kings South, Kings West, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the ones up in Pictou and the ones in other areas of the province, Mr. Speaker. Has that extra $430 million provided stability to the health care system in your riding? Has it provided stability and confidence for the people in your riding? Has it provided stability and confidence in the education system in your riding?

Do you know what the fundamental answer to that question is? It is a resounding no, and the reason it is a no, Mr. Speaker, is because this government doesn't have a plan for what it wants to do or is going to do in regard to managing the affairs of health and education. They threw the money at it, and this is a minister who's as tight as shoe leather, you know. Somebody said he squeezes a nickel so hard that the beaver would make a noise, flap his tail or whatever. But the bottom line is that that minister just poured out $430 million for health and education, yet we have not seen the benefit of those dollars in our system and in our communities.

No wonder the backbenchers are screaming and hollering at their caucus colleagues on the front benches, because they're saying, you promised us. They went out on the campaign trail in 1999 promising that they would deliver to Nova Scotians quality health care and quality education. They spent $430 million trying to do it and they failed, and that is why those members in the backbenches have signed those petitions against their own Minister of Finance, their own Minister of Health, and their own Premier. They signed a petition against their own front benches. They are saying to the front benches that you have failed us, and Nova Scotians are saying to them that you have failed us as well. There was one member who didn't sign it, I understand, but nevertheless.

Now the taxpayers are starting to realize how poorly this government has managed the most important and the most expensive services government provides to the citizens of Nova Scotia. This government has certainly shown that it has no plan for health care or education. They just throw money into the program.

Well, Mr. Speaker, that doesn't work. As long as you have long-term care patients in acute beds, it means that this government is wasting hard-earned tax dollars the wrong way, and this is a government that is saying it needs to manage better. We are telling them, yes,

[Page 7947]

you need to start managing a lot better. Despite the increased spending in health and education, the system is still a mess. Instead of creating a long-term plan for managing services in Nova Scotia, rely on Nova Scotia, the Tory Government - under its leadership and the leadership of Premier Hamm - continues to throw money into the departments without providing any long-term strategy.

[12:00 p.m.]

As a result Nova Scotians will pay dearly, Mr. Speaker, and they're paying dearly in this budget. They are paying dearly in this budget. Even with $130 million more in hospital beds, in emergency rooms, the bottom line is that beds are going to close in Nova Scotia. There are rooms that are going to shut down. In fact, what we just heard today from the Cape Breton District Health Authority - and it's interesting, they talk about the budget and what it means for the good people of the Cape Breton District Health Authority - extended summer holidays, extended Christmas and March break closures. Do you know what that really is?

That's code for, we're shutting down beds, extending the shoulder seasons of those holidays so they are closing down beds and services and letting staff go so they can live within the regime this government set up. They are going to increase the parking for people who go to the hospital and they are going to save through group purchases and so on and so forth.

The most telling aspect of what is really out there is that they're closing down the health care system without providing the long-term sustainability of the continuum of care that is required in the Province of Nova Scotia. In my own riding, Mr. Speaker, we have the mental health section, we are down to 1.2 persons providing service for the whole South Shore. It's unbelievable. Now the pediatric wing, which deals with sick children, they're shutting that down. In fact, what they're going to do is they're going to merge it somewhere. We don't know yet.

Maybe that's not a problem for our rural members in other jurisdictions, but it is a problem in my riding when I have parents of sick children phone my office and say they're concerned about what that means for them and their children. Are they going to have the service that that government promised they would provide to the people of rural Nova Scotia, whether it's in Lunenburg County or whether it's in Cape Breton County, they're all being affected. Yet, this government has poured hundreds of millions of dollars without a real plan.

You know what I think this government should be doing instead of going around the province spending tens of thousands of dollars in advertising? Maybe what they should be doing is going around the province asking Nova Scotians what their priorities should be, because they don't understand what the priorities of Nova Scotians are telling them they should be, instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on PR campaigns and campaigns that are out there to sell the story of government. By the way, I want to say that I understand this is an issue the Premier said, I will not use taxpayers' money for political advertising.

[Page 7948]

Well, I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we are seeing happen in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I want to read a quote from the Premier. He says, "We can provide quality health care and balance the budget . . .", at the same time. This was done on June 22, 1999. He said, "We can provide quality health care and balance the budget." He also talked about what he defined as a balanced budget is ordinary and capital being fully in balance. Now he struck out on the issue of quality health care. Just ask the members for Annapolis and Guysborough and Kings North and other areas. Ask them. Ask the members up in Cumberland County how they feel. Just ask them, they will tell you.

A second one he struck out on is the issue of balance in relationship to his speech that he made to the construction association where he talks about - even ask the Minister of Health over here, he knows there's a problem. He's a nice gentleman. But you know what? This guy doesn't have a clue what is going on with regard to planning for the health care, the long-term health care services in Nova Scotia. Anyway, I don't want to go there. I will carry on.

The bottom line is this government that has a budget presentation - I have to find some material here that I have, Mr. Speaker. Oh yes, the Budget Address.

HON. JAMES MUIR: It's a storybook.

MR. DOWNE: Yes, it is. It's a storybook. It's called the Nova Scotia Budget for the Fiscal Year 2002-03 by the Honourable Neil LeBlanc. As the Minister of Health just said, it's a storybook, and he's absolutely right. It's a storybook. I want to say on the record that I agree with the Minister of Health, that the budget that the Minister of Finance just brought down is a storybook. Because, at some point when he clicks his heels together a few times, this problem is not going to go away. No matter how he wants to live in dreamland, it is not going to go away. But buried at the very back of this Budget Book, buried at the very last page, it's like the fine print in a contract - it shows that the Province of Nova Scotia's overall debt in the year 2002-03 was $11.638 billion; next year is $11.740 billion; the year 2004-05, $11.833 billion; and in the year 2005-06, $11.916 billion.

That's not going up, because they say the interest rates are relatively flat. They're not really adding major amounts in there for interest rates - I think it's 100 basis points or 150 basis points, or 1.5 per cent. They're saying it's growing because their capital expenditure is going to be beyond their capability of cash flow coming in; they're going to spend more than they're taking in. I don't care how you want to take it, how you want to cut it, when I was growing up and my mum and dad would sit around our kitchen table and they would put the bills on the table, lay them all out, and my dad would put so many dollars on that bill and so many dollars on that bill and so many on that bill and, at the end, if he still had another

[Page 7949]

bill out there he couldn't pay, they were worried. Now maybe the front bench wouldn't worry about that, but my parents did and they taught me about that. They worried about that.

That's exactly what's happening here. We're growing the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia. This is a government that said they wouldn't do that, and they're doing it. That's our job on this side of the House, to hold them accountable for what they promised Nova Scotians. It was their covenant, it was their contract, it was their agreement to Nova Scotians. That's our responsibility, that's what we get asked to do as representatives of the Opposition Parties, to hold them accountable for what they promised.

The reality is that the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia this year will go up $273,000 a day, $11,000 an hour, $100 million a year, this year and every year during their mandate. Whether we will have an election this year or next year or the year after, that $100 million each year is continuing, and will continue, but they've buried it at the back of the storybook - as the Minister of Health refers to Neil LeBlanc's budget. It's a storybook that Mr. LeBlanc brought to this House, according to the Minister of Health, and buried at the back are the numbers that clearly state and show the Province of Nova Scotia is deeper in debt. In fact, that number will grow, we understand, to the year 2011, according to the staff and we will have to wait to see what will come from that.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk a little bit about the budget in more detail. This budget covers a lot of tax increases, but let's go back just a few weeks ago - before we got into the new set of tax increases that the government brought in - and talk about the user fees and tax increases that were done just a few weeks ago: a 40 per cent increase to the trucking industry. Now I know the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley, and I remember him in election campaigns driving a great big 18-wheeler, blowing the air horn, the Premier right by his side, we will work for you, we will fight for you, we will represent you, the working people of the Province of Nova Scotia, and those who have trucks, we are there for you.

Well, you know how they're there for them? They just increased the cost of that industry to those individual truckers, the cost recovery of a some-40 per cent increase in their fees. I want you to know that that business is a tough business, and I don't know if anybody knows truck drivers - some people may, I know quite a few in my riding - they work very hard, they don't make very much money, if any, some of them, and they work long hours. It's a very competitive business. This government has just turned around and smacked them to the tune of a 40 per cent increase. Do you know what that means? I talked to Brady Hennigar from Chester Basin - and some on that side of the House may know him, maybe they know him very well - he's a truck driver, I think he's with the truckers association; well the bottom line is that that increase is wrong in his view. They are hardly able to make ends meet as it is, and the government has gone and hammered at that.

[Page 7950]

This is their economic strategy. The bottom line is that this government is going to claw $6.65 million from the trucking industry of the Province of Nova Scotia. According to their numbers, it's $6.65 million coming out of the pockets of those truckers in the Province of Nova Scotia. That's a lot of money, Mr. Speaker, a lot of money for a lot of rural people, rural communities. This is a government that said, we are a Party for rural Nova Scotia. Well, the rural Nova Scotians don't think that anymore, they don't think so anymore.

Let's take a look at the new user fees - $22.5 million in new user fees that were brought in up to March of this year. Then, the day of the budget, we have a gas tax - a two cent gas tax. I don't remember Premier Hamm going on the election campaign in 1999 saying, elect us and we're going to increase gas tax in Nova Scotia. I remember him saying that tobacco tax is going to increase, or he didn't have a problem with increasing tobacco tax. I respect that. He was straightforward on that, but I don't remember him saying that they're going to increase fuel tax by two cents a litre. But, you know what? That's what we've got. A two cent increase in fuel tax. That gas tax affects everybody who drives in the Province of Nova Scotia. When you add the HST on that - this is $23.2 million revenue number and the HST on top of that, which is a cascading tax, is $3.45 million, brings the total to $26.66 million that this government is going to receive out of the pockets of Nova Scotians. They're going to be taking the nickels and dimes out of the pockets of Nova Scotians every day they turn that switch on their car. (Interruptions)

They're going after the international adoption by some $200,000. I wonder, as my colleague mentioned, what increased cost is that to Nova Scotians? Is this a tax or a user fee?

AN HON. MEMBER: It's a tax.

MR. DOWNE: I think it is a tax. People who are going through adoption, it's a hugely traumatic issue in itself, it takes a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of other expenses and if they go internationally to adopt they're talking thousands and thousands of dollars. It's because they can't have children or they can't adopt locally so some of them are forced to go there. So what's the government going to do - where these people who are opening their hearts and their homes to provide a loving environment for children that have no home - they're going to tax them. Go figure.

Ambulance users - if you're sick, it's gone from $85 to $105, a $20 increase, but if you're transported, maybe you can't drive or whatever your physical impairments are that you're unable to get to the hospital and you need an ambulance to do that, it goes from $500 to $600. They're going after gaming - $28 million. The bottom line is new fees total $101 million.

They talk about $134 million extra for health. That's not so. Much of that money was already allocated in the negotiations that were done quite some time ago and the Minister of Health knows that. These are merely salary adjustments that were negotiated. We're talking

[Page 7951]

$22.5 million for DHAs. I'm saying to the Minister of Health who calls this budget a fairy tale - maybe he shouldn't have spoken so loudly about it, maybe he was only meaning to say it to the Minister of Finance, but we heard it on this side - I understand $22.5 million is going for operations. It seems to me they said they could fix all this problem for not much more than that. The problem is still there.

Let's talk about education for a minute: post-secondary education, the universities, they got nothing. What does that mean? I can tell you what it means for a university student who is going to Dalhousie University, it will mean a difference of $300-$500 more next year for tuition fees. That's what it's going to be - between $300-$500 more for tuition fees for any students who are going to Dalhousie University next year.

[12:15 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: And no loan remission program.

MR. DOWNE: Well, there's no loan remission program, which was, as I understood, a promise this government made a year ago, wasn't it?

AN HON. MEMBER: Last year.

MR. DOWNE: Last year they promised it and it still hasn't come. What does it mean for the university students all over this province? They say a 5 per cent to 10 per cent increase. Well, $300 to $500 in one university that I am aware of right now.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is the message?

MR. DOWNE: The message is very clear that this government has no plan for education, nor health. Family assistance programs, eliminated $1.1 million. What does that mean? You know what that means? You know what that program is, the DAP? That's for individuals who are very low income. They are out working. They are trying to sustain themselves. They are trying to be independent. This program was a $1.1 million payback, I guess it is in lieu of tax, and they have eliminated that. It is not for the wealthy; it is for some of the more poor people in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The Provincial Employment Program has been cut by $1.2 million for students or young people who are trying to find employment for the summer to go back to university to pay for the increased cost of attending university. Sport and Recreation: facilities grants in lieu to the municipalities are cut by $1.2 million. The Minister of Health agreed to the tobacco increase, which represents $30-some million this year, but yet Cancer Care Nova Scotia has been cut by $950,000. I don't understand why the minister would do that; $950,000, I believe that was the figure. No, it's not the figure? Mr. Minister, have I given the

[Page 7952]

wrong figure for that? It was in the budget numbers I got from your staff. We will check that later, but I'm pretty sure it is.

AN HON. MEMBER: He didn't even know there was a cut there.

MR. DOWNE: Yes, maybe he didn't know. I'm sure he must have known it was a cut.

Mr. Speaker, the list goes on. They are projecting a $14 million increase in gambling. I don't know, but I understand what they are going to do is they are going to take the VLT machines out of areas that are not so profitable and stick them in the areas that are more profitable. If I recall, what they are saying now is that 50 per cent of the people in this country who use VLTs are addicted to VLTs. So what the government is doing is saying, well, look, if we have five VLTs in store x and only the equivalent of about three are being utilized, we will move those two machines out and put them in where people are really wanting to use them.

I remember that Premier Hamm, when he was on this side of the House, screaming and hollering about the issue of VLT machines and that we need to do more about gambling addiction, and I agreed with him and so did the Minister of Health and so did the Minister of Community Services and so did the Minister of . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Labour.

MR. DOWNE: Yes, it was Labour. But, anyway, the bottom line is this minister now is saying they are going to take those machines and put them in where there is a major problem and yet we see virtually nothing in regard to programs for those who are addicted. They want more tax, but nothing to help people who have gambling addictions. We talk about occupational health and safety; I understand there is going to be an increase in regard to that.

The municipalities. I recall Premier Hamm, when he was in Opposition, and the Minister of Health and some of the other government members who never made it to the front bench, who were here during the time we had a minority government, saying very clearly that they would not download on municipalities. Do you remember that? Well, they are going to be downloading on municipalities by $5 million to $8 million.

Then we come along to the Minister of Tourism and Culture. Now that is the only minister who has one portfolio that is very important. All the front-benchers would love to have his job. They would love to have that job because these guys are working very hard, holding down two or three or four portfolios, and so would the backbenchers love to have that job. In fact, I think some of the backbenchers could do a better job than that guy, but do you know what they did? They turned around on the cultural side and said we're going to - even though ever since, by the way, he has been Minister of Tourism and Culture, tourism

[Page 7953]

has declined in the Province of Nova Scotia. So, obviously, they had a great plan and that one, it didn't work as well.

The poor Minister of Finance, I feel so bad for you. With all the incompetency you have on the front bench, how you ever get your work done, I don't know. But that was a revenue generator for the Province of Nova Scotia, so what did they do? They stuck a minister in there with the full-time job of building tourism in the Province of Nova Scotia and it has declined ever since he has been in power. So now they have cut the budget and do you know how they're going after the budget cut, they're going to cut advertising. Now, you tell me how do you bring people to Nova Scotia from abroad, how do you do that?

AN HON. MEMBER: Advertising.

MR. DOWNE: Oh, there he goes. The answer is (Interruption) No. The socialists even understood this one. You advertise. You know in business, if you want people to come to your door and I know the member for Dartmouth across the way is a businessman, if you want people to go knocking on your door, you advertise. Now they're going to shut down advertising. Then they turned around and, let me see, what else did they do? Oh, my gosh, they shut down the Arts Council of Nova Scotia.

It is the sign of a desperate government when they go after the culture and arts community in the Province of Nova Scotia. This is a program that the Liberals brought into play and, do you know what, these people (Interruptions) I hear some of the backbenchers and some of the other people starting to rant a little bit about the cultural community, you know, they're kind of making fun of the cultural community. Well, we'll see in this House in this session how important the arts and cultural community is in the Province of Nova Scotia and what they've done is they've said they're going to try to do it for budgetary reasons where the reality is that this minister over there is doing it for one reason and one reason only and that is to politically manipulate the outcome of what they want to do with the dollars to go to where they want them to go. They dragged their feet when it came to appointing people to the Arts Council. The Arts Council begged them to appoint people and they didn't do it.

Mr. Speaker, we're seeing now why he didn't do it, is because he wanted to eliminate the Nova Scotia Arts Council and they did it in such a stylish way. They didn't just send a press release out. They literally brought police in and locked the door, guarded it off, took over the phones, had all the calls sent to the minister's office, and they had provincial staff take it over and refused to let staff into that operation. Holy mackerel, you would think there was a major problem going on there. I don't understand why they would do that. I understand they're also taking cuts to museums, somewhere around 4 per cent, we'll see the effect of that; Sport and Recreation, as he mentioned, and the list goes on.

[Page 7954]

One of the more sinister approaches to this issue of the budget is the family violence emergency shelter for women and programs for men. There might be some major plan that's going to come out of this and we will wait to see what it is, but I can tell you right now people all over this province are concerned. It's not the everyday person, it's the women and children who are abused who are wondering what home, or where they will go for safety in the event of abuse in their home. I hope and pray nobody in this room ever has seen that or witnessed that, or been involved with that. I hope and pray that there is nobody here who had to go through that, but when you have women and children come in your office crying because they've been battered and they have no place to go, I can tell you something, we, as society, have failed. We have failed when we have people who are abused.

I know, Mr. Speaker, you have probably seen first-hand what I'm talking about. I believe you've seen first-hand what I talk about. It's part of the responsibility of society, you know, so I don't understand where this government comes from when it comes to dealing with issues such as that.

The Minister of Health, maybe he wants to cross the floor and vote against the budget - I don't know - or the storybook.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: The Minister of Health surely knows a lot better than that. He just needs to come down to Clare. People will probably tell him how grateful they are now that they . . .

MR. DOWNE: I've invited the Minister of Health to come to my riding, and now my Leader . . .

MR. GAUDET: It's seven bucks for blood work now.

MR. DOWNE: It's seven bucks for blood work. (Interruptions)

MR. GAUDET: Four clinics in western Nova Scotia.

MR. DOWNE: As my Leader for the Liberal Party is pointing out, the people down in Clare and Digby would love to have the Minister of Health come down and explain what's going on. I bet they would love to have the members for Digby and Yarmouth come and explain with the Minister of Health.

This government has taxed everything, everything that moves and everything that lives or dies. What do you do next? The question I have for the Minister of Finance is, what's next? This is a government that says next year it will - assuming we get to next year and an election isn't called, assuming that is true, what's he going to do next to find a 10 per cent reduction in personal income tax? I think they've cut quite a bit now. They've done a fair amount, but what are they going to do next?

[Page 7955]

Let's stop. Before we get to next year, let's take a look at the $1.3 million sleeve that the minister built for the budget. He made it very clear in his presentation, and I trust what the minister said with regard to this, that we will be in balance, in his view, notwithstanding the debt continuing to grow. But the $1.3 million sleeve means that if the Department of Health and the Minister of Health burp the wrong way for less than half a day, he's in trouble. Less than a half-day burp - the junior minister, the new Minister of Health only for a few years now - then we've got problems.

How's he going to deal with that? Do you know what he's going to do? He said, I will do whatever I have to do to make sure that I live up to the commitment I give to Nova Scotians today, whether it's raising taxes even further or whether it's cutting programs and services. In fact, we found out today that as that minister was giving this speech yesterday, he had already started the process of cutting and cleansing, in his view, some of the departments. There are 10 people in the Department of Transportation and Public Works who were given layoff notices; two of them, I believe, from Amherst are laid off; four from New Glasgow and two from Port Hawkesbury; one is going to be transferred. This is from the construction side; this is coming out of the mechanical branches.

One has to ask the question - they are basically shutting down the mechanical branches. They have one in Sydney; they're going to have one somewhere down in Antigonish and another down in Truro, but everywhere in between, if you're driving a snowplow in the wintertime - where's that member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley when you need him? When you're driving that snowplow in the middle of winter and that plow breaks down, guess what that means? They're going to have to wait longer to get that plow fixed. What does that do for safety issues? That is a concern. I checked this out; I had a call from down home about this, and I checked it out. As I understand, they've already started the cutting. The Minister of Finance, as he stood here yesterday, started to deliver the bad message yesterday already to 10 employees in the Department of Transportation and Public Works, with more yet to come.

I'm beginning to think that yesterday was a one-day wonder. This is a one-day wonder for the Minister of Finance. One day in the sun, one day when the sun is shining on him and his view. Assuming that teachers don't exceed the 2 per cent wage increase that this minister said is the maximum they are going to get . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Aren't they negotiating?

[12:30 p.m.]

MR. DOWNE: Oh, they're negotiating, but the minister is assuming that. Assuming that DHAs in the Province of Nova Scotia live within their means. They haven't yet, but assuming that they do, assuming that the economic growth forecasts are exactly what this minister has said, and assuming that interest rates stay basically constant to where they are

[Page 7956]

right now. These are a lot of assumptions that this minister has made, and any one of those assumptions goes sideways then maybe the day of sunshine that this minister says is raining down on him, yesterday, will come to a black halt in a hurry.

You know what? When that government says, in this House, that this is the first time in 40 years, referring to the fact that they are going to be replicating a Mr. Stanfield approach and a Mr. Stanfield approach is balancing capital and ordinary and where this government is talking about putting the ordinary in line and not touching capital, then really what they're saying is that they are reflecting that the Buchanan era is still alive in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is what they're saying and it's not for them to say that they are a Robert Stanfield Government. I mean, shame. They don't like to hear that, I know they don't like to hear that but it happens to be fair.

It's clear they can't tax anymore. They've got you from birth to death. They nickel-and-dime you to death. They're nickel-and-diming everybody to death. The only loonies that are left, I think, in Nova Scotia right now are on the other side of this House; the only loonies that are left are on the other side of this House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member would appreciate that would be unparliamentary. I don't think the honourable member has to resort to calling names. He articulates his message very well in this Legislature and I would ask him to retract that and refrain from calling other honourable members in this House names. Thank you, sir. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: I will not call them loonies, Mr. Speaker. Maybe toonies, is that all right? Looney Tunes? No, I won't do that either. I guess I will refer to the fact that they've nickelled-and-dimed Nova Scotians a long time and I will leave it at that. I will let Nova Scotians be creative enough to figure out what to call them. I'm thinking there are probably a few adjectives that some people are saying right now, a few adjectives that they're referring to the government right now. I can imagine a few of them that were pumping their own gas last night thinking that today the rates are going up.

AN HON. MEMBER: I went this morning to pay the extra tax.

MR. DOWNE: That's typical of that member, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions) Obviously I'm starting to get to the backbenchers, they're even starting to talk. I imagine it must be desperate in that caucus over there. When these ministers walk in I'm sure they bring their EAs or bodyguards along because I'm sure that backbench back there are just dying to get them. I think that the backbenchers of this government right here could very well be plotting a coup on their own government. Not unlike the coup that the Minister of Tourism and Culture has done to the Nova Scotia Arts Council. I'm sure some of those backbenchers back there are scratching their heads. They're probably saying to themselves, what are we going to do? Because it's clear to them they're not going to get re-elected. They already see the

[Page 7957]

writing on the wall. They are now saying, what have we got to lose? We either stand up for the people's concerns in our riding or we bow to the pressure of the Premier and the ministers in the front bench. We'll see how they do.

The fact that what we got yesterday is one message. I believe over the next two, four, six, eight, 10 months we're going to see a lot more pain being inflicted on the Province of Nova Scotia. More pain coming to the Province of Nova Scotia. In fact, if I was a betting person, if I was a betting person, I would bet that this government will be coming back to Nova Scotians saying, we are going to have to increase taxes, increase user fees and we're going to cut programs in Nova Scotia again. It's consistent with what this government has done, because they started to announce the bad news back in early March and they started to announce, quite awhile ago, the bad news. They continue to do it and they are going to continue to do it from this day forward. I think it is going to be quite interesting to see what they are going to do with the budget, this budget. The only reality, Mr. Speaker, the budget here is no more than (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's own members are taking away from his time. Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: It is interesting that the New Democrats, who gave the licence for this government to steal and tax money out of the pockets of Nova Scotians, are saying the same thing again today, Mr. Speaker. Shame on those socialists because what they have done is allowed that Tory Government to do exactly what they say they don't want done. So shame on them. They feel guilty about that. I am sure when they go to bed at night, they ask for forgiveness for that. Do you know what? They don't understand that no matter what anybody does, they are always supposedly right in their view. They weren't very bright when it came to the fact that they gave the Tories the right to hail down on Nova Scotians, to lay down on Nova Scotians the ability for them to claw and steal and take all from the pockets of Nova Scotians. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West knows full well that it is unparliamentary to use the word steal and I ask him to retract that.

The honourable member has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I will retract that word. It wasn't stealing, it was merely taking. I apologize for that and I didn't mean to say that at all to my colleagues because (Interruption) Yes, exactly. Actually, I was probably looking at the member and that is the first thing that stuck in my mind.

[Page 7958]

Mr. Speaker, my time is almost gone. (Interruptions) I know this is Friday and I understand that the New Democrats are not used to working a full week, so they are kind of anxious to get home. I understand that that crowd over there is scared to go home. But I want you to know that we in the Liberal Party will hold that government accountable for what they promised, what they committed to Nova Scotians when they signed that contract and gave that covenant to Nova Scotians in 1999 in their promises they made. Our job is to hold them accountable for what they said to Nova Scotians. We will be doing that all through this session.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Estimates are referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Education, who is right now in Antigonish meeting with members of the Strait Regional School Board. She asked me to deliver this statement on her behalf because she felt this was an important enough matter to meet with the board in person.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday our government introduced the first balanced budget in 40 years. With all Nova Scotians doing their part in reaching this long-deserved stability, we cannot allow the balance to be tipped by waste and self-serving extravagance. Nova Scotians demand accountability for every dollar that we spend, yet in recent months we have learned that the much-needed educational dollars intended for the kids in the classroom were diverted and squandered on excessive perks and high-priced contracts and personal gain.

Mr. Speaker, public trust, I believe, has been eroded. Parents, students, teachers and all taxpayers have been let down. I want to point out that this is not the case in every school board, but the fact is that the system did break down and we must tighten controls and accountability system-wide. It is clear that government is ultimately held accountable for how tax dollars are spent. In Education that means ensuring that more than $0.75 billion meant for the classroom is used for that purpose.

[Page 7959]

It is with that responsibility in mind that I introduced legislative amendments earlier today that increase public accountability for all school boards. These changes have one goal, ensuring that money is spent to get the best possible education for our students. They will not come as a surprise, we've talked about them before as these investigations and reports have concluded.

Those amendments include:

- requiring all boards to have audit committees with financial expertise serving on them;

- expanding audit reviews to cover payments to board members and senior management;

- ministerial approval and full disclosure of all employment contracts and personal service contracts with senior staff at school boards;

- applying a provincial conflict of interest policy including consequences for any breaches;

- establishing appropriate compensation for board management;

- restricting board involvement in commercial enterprises outside of education;

- taking over a board for financial mismanagement the first time it happens; and lastly,

- establishing board administrative structure.

I have just outlined steps that we're taking province-wide. With regard to the Strait, the forensic audit, the government review and the elected school board have uncovered a tangled web of contracts, payments and financial irregularities. We need people with financial expertise who can give their undivided attention to untangling this mess, restoring accountability and also restoring stability to the region.

Mr. Speaker, we looked at all of our options, including taking over the board. However, the elected board has worked very hard to make sense of this financial puzzle. I believe, and the Minister of Education believes, they should continue to work for students and education in the Strait Region. The cleanup has begun and continues to be a monumental task. I believe it is too big a task for a board that must continue to make the education of kids in that region its first and only priority. The board must be able to focus its efforts on that priority without distraction.

[Page 7960]

Mr. Speaker, a new governance model was tested, and has been evaluated in the Southwest Region, and we all know that it works. It will now be applied to the Strait Regional School Board with one district school board. The model gives continued responsibility for kids and the classroom to elected school board members. The other matters, relating to budgets, busing and buildings will be the responsibility of the regional board unit, headed by the chief executive officer who will report directly to the Department of Education. This structure will allow the board to devote their full attention to providing quality education to students in that region, while the CEO will concentrate on restoring financial stability to the Strait Region.

Mr. Speaker, no more secret contracts; no more excessive perks; no more educational dollars diverted from the classroom. Children will get the full benefit of every education dollar, and we as elected officials should accept no less. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I want to be perfectly clear, our goal is to make the education system more accountable to parents, students and taxpayers so the education of our children is not

compromised. All of our education partners should welcome these essential changes because they are designed to get us to a system that is more responsible, that is more accountable, but is also more focused on the needs of the students themselves.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for its indulgence.

[12:45 p.m.]

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to be able to speak on behalf of my caucus in response to the statement by the Minister of Finance on behalf of the Minister of Education. There's no doubt that Nova Scotians have had a lot of concerns with the financial accountability of the Strait Regional School Board. Since this matter came to light last October, there have been many questions and not a lot of answers with regard to why this happened and how we can remedy it.

Mr. Speaker, if I can take a moment to talk a little bit about some of the reasons why this happened and under whose watch, I think it's important so that we can reflect on whether or not there can be any real belief that what this government is announcing today will have a positive impact on education for the residents of those four counties. The original contract that Mr. Sullivan had developed and signed on, and provided him with a lot of perks, perks that were talked about in this House in the fall, happened under a Liberal Government, a Liberal Government that under the Education Act passed by that same Liberal Government required, I think it was, a Mr. Unsworth to have to actually sign off and be there as part of the negotiations.

[Page 7961]

That Liberal Government, if it did not have full knowledge, should have had full knowledge of what was in those contracts, Mr. Speaker. The Department of Education in its duties under the Education Act, as it stood at the time, had the ability and should have ensured that those contracts were not being signed. The perks that were provided, the contract that was provided, were exorbitant, should not have been signed, yet the Department of Education and that Liberal Government allowed it to happen.

Mr. Speaker, more recently in 2000 under this same Minister of Education, we had cuts to the education system. We can probably remember back to the 50 kids in a classroom is okay. Well, as part of that, that Minister of Education announced in May 2000 that she would set up a special means by which people could be seconded or removed from the books of the school boards so that she could be able to continue to say that there would be a reduction in staff while still being able to deal with the school boards and the Teachers Union which at the time were causing a lot of concerns for the minister. That deal with regard to secondments resulted in the contracts that Mr. Sullivan signed and provided to four senior staff in the Strait Regional School Board, contracts that were exorbitant, contracts that should not have been signed. That happened under this Minister of Education's watch. That happened under this government's watch and they allowed it to happen and I can argue they caused it to happen. (Interruptions)

Now, Mr. Speaker, this is why we cannot believe that this government, by taking over the Strait Regional School Board, like they did with the Southwest Regional School Board, is actually going to be able to ensure fiscal accountability. Yes, the measures in the Financial Measures Act are the ones that were recommended in the audit of the school board. They are in many ways good recommendations, but to take that extra step, to impose a CEO who is basically under the thumb of a Minister of Education in Halifax does not help a single student in those four counties that make up the Strait Regional School Board. That is why we cannot agree with this particular proposal.

Let's also talk about the fact that it was a Tory CEO that was appointed in the Southwest Regional School Board. Who are we going to appoint in the Strait - another friend of the government who will kowtow to whatever the government wants, Mr. Speaker? These are key and vital reasons why what this government has done by taking over the school board, by imposing a CEO, by removing local accountability, is not going to help the education of the students in those four counties. This will not ensure that those students are better off, that those taxpayers' dollars will be better off. In the past the government has not proven that it has been able to be accountable. By taking more control they will again not be able to prove that they will be accountable. (Applause)

[Page 7962]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise on behalf of our caucus to address the statement being made today. Once again, the Minister of Finance speaking for the Minister of Education - Nova Scotians are left to wonder who the real Minister of Education is in this province. Looking at the recent budget and what the Department of Education could get, one could really see just how effective the current Minister of Education is in her own department.

There's one reason for this announcement being made today, and the reason is because that Nova Scotians now recognize that the balanced budget claimed by this minister is a joke to start off with. They recognize that the debt is rising and today is another smokescreen being thrown out by the Tory Government to try to divert attention away from their failed budget that they had trumpeted so greatly yesterday.

This has been done for one reason only, and the reason is it's a political decision without a doubt. (Interruptions) My Tory colleagues from the Strait would do better to go address the situation at Stora than their catcalls from across the floor.

The fact is, when we hear this government saying that the current board could not be trusted enough to be able to address the situation, and that is this government has to come in and bring financial accountability on behalf of the board, there's nothing more hypocritical, because it is the Minister of Finance and this government who set up district health authorities - remember those? They were supposed to bring better accountability to the spending of health care dollars in this province. How interesting that taxpayers' dollars are now being used to audit the Valley District Health Authority - this government's own creation. So here they are saying we can't trust you, down in the Strait, we're going to take financial control, yet our own creation which was meant to guarantee financial accountability, we are now auditing. So hypocracy flows throughout this entire announcement.

The job done by chairperson George Kehoe and the current elected members down there in the face of what had happened has been nothing but remarkable. They worked extremely hard under extremely difficult circumstances, and as elected members in this House, my God, we should know how hard it is to address concerns. When you look at the $9,000 that school board members are paid for what they have been put through and what they have gone through and how they have acted - honourably, respectfully - in the Strait area, all members of this House should commend the chairman and the elected members for what they have done under extremely difficult circumstances.

What is being done today, to the Minister of Finance who has taken over for the Minister of Education, is that a hammer is being put over the heads of all school boards. What we are calling upon this government, our caucus fully supports financial accountability

[Page 7963]

such as the audit committee. As to working to make sure where money is spent, it is essential that the rules of the game be properly explained to all boards so that they know exactly what is expected of them. We ask again who the CEO will be. Will they appoint another political Tory hack or will they actually put in someone that people have tremendous confidence in?

Mr. Speaker, with only a few seconds left, I want to say on a personal note, not as the Education Critic of our caucus and not on behalf of our caucus but as the member for Richmond, as an elected member from that Strait board, I want to tell you that the decision made by the Tories today, they have to bear responsibility, but at the same time, while I have a tremendous amount of respect for chairperson George Kehoe, there are certain number of the elected board members of the Strait Regional School Board who must accept responsibility that their actions throughout this have led to the Tories making this decision today. Their constituents know that and it is their own actions that they must understand has led to the Tories doing this today, and they must accept responsibility for that. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on Monday at the hour of 4:00 p.m. We will sit until 10:00 p.m., or until we finish. We will get four hours in estimates, if you wish. We will be starting with the estimates of the Minister of Health, in this Chamber and, in the Red Chamber, we will be starting with the estimates of the Minister of Agriculture. So I move now that we rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We are adjourned until 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

[The House adjourned at 12:56 p.m.]

[Page 7964]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 2934

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas the Maritime Junior "A" Hockey League's Dartmouth Dairy Queen Blizzard, after numerous attempts at making a go of it financially in Dartmouth, have announced plans to try to relocate the franchise to Yarmouth for the 2002-03 hockey season; and

Whereas the move has yet to be approved by two-thirds of the League's Board of Governors although in a conference call on Good Friday, many of the governors reportedly supported the move; and

Whereas the league will meet in Truro on April 27th and, based on the league's constitution, if two-thirds of the governors support the application to relocate, the Blizzard will have a new Maritime Junior "A" home in Yarmouth at the new sport facility next year;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs extend our best wishes to the Dartmouth Blizzard Executive and to all league governors as they contemplate what would be a dynamic initiative for Yarmouth hockey buffs if approval is granted on April 27th.

RESOLUTION NO. 2935

By: Mr. Graham Steele (Halifax Fairview)

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

Whereas the Tory blue book at Page 18 states, a Tory Government will reduce the excessive tax burden on Nova Scotians; Nova Scotia can no longer afford such high rates of taxation; and

Whereas the Tory blue book also says later at Page 26, a Tory Government will dedicate all taxes raised through motor vehicle licensing and fuel sales to highway construction and maintenance to provide a solid base for highway spending; and

Whereas this government has failed miserably by not fulfilling its promises to Nova Scotians on highway construction and maintenance;

[Page 7965]

Therefore be it resolved that this House ask the Premier to explain why his blue book now requires almost as much reconstruction and maintenance as the Nova Scotia highways that continue to deteriorate through massive Tory neglect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2936

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas four figure skaters from the Parrsboro Figure Skating Club participated in the area competition to earn spots in the provincial figure skating tournament in Shearwater later in the year; and

Whereas Fabien and Natalka Bergeron, Katie Henwood and Erin McCarthy all won medals at the area competition therefore qualifying themselves for the provincials; and

Whereas this is the first time Parrsboro natives have made the cut to compete in the provincial tournament;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the hard work and dedication put forth by these four young people towards a sport they love and wish them great success as they represent their home town in the provincials.

RESOLUTION NO. 2937

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Winterfest basketball tournament recently took place with the SHS Jr. Lady Golden Eagles claiming the victory with an unbeatable 3-0 record; and

Whereas the honour of tournament MVP went to Stacey Carter of the Golden Eagles and the honour of tournament All-Star went to Samantha Welsh, also a Golden Eagle; and

Whereas Player of the Game titles also were awarded to Golden Eagles players as well: Sara Laurie, Patti Gilroy and Darcee Wilson for games one, two and three respectively;

[Page 7966]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the SHS Jr. Lady Golden Eagles basketball team on their perfect record win in the Winterfest tournament and wish them luck for the rest of their season.

RESOLUTION NO. 2938

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Gulf of Maine Council Awards were handed out in February 2002 to persons and groups exhibiting an active commitment to protecting the Gulf and its precious ecosystem; and

Whereas the Gulf of Maine Council Visionary Group Award was presented to the Cape Chignecto Park management committee for facilitating the community initiative to preserve and protect the unique coastal land in the Cape Chignecto area; and

Whereas not only does this assist the wildlife of the Gulf but it also helps to provide a better economic future for the community through protecting the ecosystem;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the hard work that was put forth by the Cape Chignecto Park management committee and hope that their dedication to preserving the Gulf of Maine has urged others in the community to do the same.

RESOLUTION NO. 2939

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Gulf of Maine Council Awards were handed out in February 2002 to persons and groups exhibiting an active commitment to protecting the Gulf and its precious ecosystem; and

Whereas the Gulf of Maine Council Visionary Group Award was presented to the late Walton Rector of Advocate Harbour to recognize his leadership, spirit of co-operation and his tremendous dedication to preserving and protecting the unique coastal land in the Cape Chignecto area; and

[Page 7967]

Whereas his wife, Yula Rector, and daughter, Judith Swindell, were on hand to accept the honour bestowed upon their late husband and father;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the hard work that was put forth by Mr. Rector and hope that his dedication to preserving the Gulf of Maine has urged others in the community to act to do the same.

RESOLUTION NO. 2940

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas in 1981, Barry Patriquin was involved in a motor vehicle accident that left him paraplegic and has since faced and overcome many challenges in his life; and

Whereas after his accident, Mr. Patriquin started to learn to play the guitar, something he had always wanted to do, and began to write songs which became an integral part of his healing process; and

Whereas his talent is now going to be made public as he is working on the release of his first album due out in the summer of 2002, with some help from Nova Scotia recording artist, Terry Kelly;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Barry Patriquin on the release of his upcoming album and recognize what a positive inspiration he is to people across Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 2941

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Sussex Invitational Girl's Hockey Tournament was held at the beginning of 2002; and

Whereas the Cumberland County D.W. Thompson Esso Midget Girl's team picked up the gold medal with a 4-0 championship game win over Kennebecasis Valley; and

[Page 7968]

Whereas the girl's team is comprised of Joanna Reynolds, Laura Thompson, Alyscia Warner, Melanie Hunsley, Jerika Reynolds, Kristy Hill, Anna Trask, Miranda MacKinnon, Allicia Payne, Lauren d'Entremont, Andrea Carter, Kim Tanner, Teri LeBlanc and Meagan Wood;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the midget girl's team of Cumberland County on their Sussex Invitational win and wish them the best of luck in doing it again next year.

RESOLUTION NO. 2942

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Kevin Cummings of Springhill has recently been elected a council member of the International Council of Y's Men International and is the first Amherst Y's Men member to be elected to this office; and

Whereas Mr. Cummings has been an active member of the Amherst Club branch of the organization for many years in roles such as secretary, president, treasurer, as well as leadership trainer; and

Whereas Mr. Cummings, whose position on the council runs until 2005, has said that this is quite a humbling experience for him and he looks forward to all the challenges that come along with his new job;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Kevin Cummings on his election to the International Y's Men Council and wish him the best of luck with his new posting over the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 2943

By: Mr. Robert Chisholm (Halifax Atlantic)

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

Whereas the Federation of Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia, in league with the Department of Tourism and Culture, celebrates Tartan Day today; and

[Page 7969]

Whereas the contribution of the immigrant Scots upon Nova Scotia is massive and these people rightfully remain proud of their heritage; and

Whereas April 6th has a special significance for all Nova Scotians of Scottish descent because the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence, was signed on April 6, 1320;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join in recognition of the tremendous contributions made by the Scottish people to the wonderful Province of Nova Scotia.