The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD
01-11

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/legi/hansard/

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Second Session

THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2001

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 20, Government Restructuring (2001) Act, Hon. R. Russell 746
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 311, Health - Point Pleasant Lodge: Decisions - Min. Reverse,
Mr. J. MacDonell 746
Res. 312, Sports - Hockey: C.B. Screaming Eagles - Victory Congrats.
Mr. Manning MacDonald 747
Vote - Affirmative 748
Res. 313, Great Village & Dist. Fire Brigade - Anniv. (75th):
Chief/Members - Congrats., Mr. W. Langille 748
Vote - Affirmative 748
Res. 314, Bhandari, Judy: Retirement - Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 749
Vote - Affirmative 749
Res. 315, Fin. - Debt Reduction: Min. - Method, Mr. D. Downe 749
Res. 316, MacNeil, Jack/Burrows, Sister Agnes:
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award - Congrats., Ms. M. McGrath 750
Vote - Affirmative 751
Res. 317, Meikle, Garon/Howe, Sandra: Inter-Collegiate Bus. Comp. -
Congrats., Mr. H. Epstein 751
Vote - Affirmative 752
Res. 318, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Englishtown Ferry: Refit Schedule -
Public Hearing, Mr. K. MacAskill 752
Res. 319, Nat. Res. - Land Designation: Highland Park -
Residents Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 752
Vote - Affirmative 753
Res. 320, Scottish Clans, Fed. of: Efforts - Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 753
Vote - Affirmative 754
Res. 321, Kings South - VLTs: Min. - Plebiscite Request,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 754
Res. 322, Sports - Volleyball: Midget Girls Championships -
Participants Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 755
Vote - Affirmative 755
Res. 323, Agric. & Fish. - Min. (New): Premier - Appoint, Mr. M. Samson 755
Res. 324, Fed. Youth Incentive Plan - Exchange Trip: 18 Dart. Lions
Air Cadet Squad. - Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 756
Vote - Affirmative 757
Res. 325, Cape Breton North - MLA: Tory Ministers - Befriend,
Mr. M. Samson 757
Res. 326, Sports - Hockey: East Hants - Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. J. MacDonell 757
Vote - Affirmative 758
Res. 327, Transport. Pub. Wks. - NSPI: Magazine Hill -
Safety Ensure, Mr. R. MacKinnon 758
Res. 328, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Timberlea-Prospect: Roads -
Min. Upgrade, Mr. W. Estabrooks 759
Res. 329, Fin. - Debt Crisis: Min. - Admonish, Mr. D. Downe 759
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 90, Environ. & Lbr. - Amherst Fabricators: Inspector (Alan Ross) -
Demotion Explain, Mr. F. Corbett 760
No. 91, Commun. Serv. - Transition Houses: Resources - Increase,
Mr. D. Wilson 761
No. 92, Environ. & Lbr. - Amherst Fabricators: Safety Inspector -
Interference, Mr. F. Corbett 763
No. 93, Educ.: Funding Formula Review - Progress, Mr. M. Samson 764
No. 94, Environ. & Lbr.: Amherst Fabricators: Compliance Order -
Rescission Explain, Mr. F. Corbett 765
No. 95, Educ. - HRM Schools: Health & Safety - Monitor, Mr. M. Samson 766
No. 96, Alcohol & Gaming Authority - VLTs: Plebiscite - Min. Ensure,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 767
No. 97, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Roads (Secondary):
Blue Book Commitment - Intention, Mr. K. MacAskill 768
No. 98, Health - Long-Term Care: Seniors - Contributions Criteria,
Mr. D. Dexter 769
No. 99, Environ. & Lbr. - Glace Bay: Water Supply - Safety Ensure,
Mr. D. Wilson 771
No. 100, Nat. Res. - Pioneer Coal: Plans - Table, Mr. J. MacDonell 772
No. 101, Health - Ambulance Service (Bridgewater): Cutbacks -
Effects, Mr. D. Downe 773
No. 102, Health - Point Pleasant Lodge Meal Cuts: Eating Disorder
Clinic - Consultation, Mr. D. Dexter 775
No. 103, Sports - Communicable Diseases: Spread - Concern,
Mr. B. Boudreau 776
No. 104, Econ. Dev. - Pictou Shipyard: Reopening - Proposal Status,
Mr. H. Epstein 777
No. 105, Justice: Escapee - Risk Factor, Mr. M. Samson 778
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:^
Mr. Robert Chisholm 779
Mr. G. Steele 781
Mr. B. Boudreau 783
Mr. K. Morash 787
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:14 P.M. 791
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. 791
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Fin. - Income Taxes: Rise - Bracket Creep/User Fees:
Mr. D. Downe 792
Mr. K. Deveaux 794
Mr. M. Parent 798
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:30 P.M. 801
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:43 P.M. 801
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 10, Order of Nova Scotia Act 801
Mr. D. Wilson 801
Mr. K. MacAskill 805
Mr. J. Holm 806
Mr. B. Boudreau 810
Mr. R. MacKinnon 812
Adjourned debate 818
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Apr. 6th at 9:00 a.m. 819
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 330, Knol Farms/Henry Knol: HACCP Certification - Congrats.,
The Speaker 820

[Page 745]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Kevin Deveaux, Mr. David Wilson

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's Adjournment debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton South:

Therefore be it resolved that despite promises to the contrary, income taxes have risen in Nova Scotia under the Hamm Government due to bracket creep, as well, unjust user fees have added to the tax burden meaning that Nova Scotians will have already paid for their 10 per cent tax cut if it ever comes.

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

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

MS. MARY ANN MCGRATH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me this time to address the House. I am afraid yesterday I read a resolution in this House in which I requested the unanimous support of the House, which was granted, and I appreciate the fact that it was granted without me giving any proof that the statements made in the resolution had any merit. So for the benefit of the House, I wish to table the proof in this House according to the resolution which I read yesterday. (Applause) (Interruptions)

745

[Page 746]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. As all members are aware, we do not allow props or food in the House. (Interruptions) Order, please. I will have those delivered to the Speaker's office. (Laughter)

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order. I think you partly addressed it, Mr. Speaker, and that was that things that are tabled in the House normally stay in the Clerk's office. I was hoping that you would order that they be placed in the lounge area, so that not only members but also the staff who work and serve us so well in this House could also partake of the evidence that has been tabled.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is challenging your decision, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The decision of the Speaker stands. (Laughter)

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 20 - Entitled an Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia. (Hon. Ronald Russell)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 311

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

[Page 747]

Whereas the key to Medicare's success and cost-effectiveness is that medical care and other necessary health care is no longer treated as either a charity or a market commodity; and

Whereas Senator Michael Kirby is suggesting that the Liberal Party never intended to introduce universal medical care and that Medicare as we know it should be rolled back 40 years; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Tory Health Minister is following Senator Kirby's path by making nutrition for patients at Point Pleasant Lodge either a commodity or a charitable donation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Health Minister to reverse the decisions his government made, which are turning Nova Scotia patients at Point Pleasant Lodge into second-class citizens in a two-tier health care model.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 312

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 Cape Breton Screaming Eagles trounced the Chicoutimi Sagueneens 6 to 1 last evening in their Dilio Conference quarter final, winning the series 4 to 3; and

Whereas by rallying from a 3 to 0 deficit with four straight victories, the Eagles became only the third team in the 32 year history of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to come back and win a best-of-seven series after trailing 3 to 0; and

Whereas the Screaming Eagles victory was accomplished with hard-nosed perseverance before a crowd of 4,861 at Sydney's Centre 200;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia congratulate the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on their come-from-behind quarter final victory, and wish them well on their quest for Quebec Major Junior supremacy and ultimately on to win the Memorial Cup.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 748]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 313

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

Whereas volunteer firefighters risk their lives to protect the lives and property of their friends and neighbours, performing an invaluable service for their communities; and

Whereas volunteer firefighting is a job that requires a 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year commitment; and

Whereas the Great Village and District Fire Brigade recently celebrated its 75th Anniversary;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Chief Dave Lundie and the members of the Great Village and District Fire Brigade on 75 years of selfless dedication and professional service to their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 749]

RESOLUTION NO. 314

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

Whereas Judy Bhandari is an elementary school teacher at Astral Elementary School in Cole Harbour, where she has inspired the students to learn and explore; and

Whereas Judy has been teaching for 29 years, providing endless support and a guiding hand to our children, and always with a smile; and

Whereas Judy Bhandari is retiring from teaching at the end of this school year, but will continue her journey of learning and exploring;

Therefore be it resolved that his House congratulate Judy Bhandari on her retirement from teaching, thank her for her years of service, and wish her all the best in 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 Lunenburg West.

[12:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 315

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

Whereas 597 days ago the Hamm Cabinet was sworn in with the promise that the debt of the province would not grow during their time in office; and

[Page 750]

Whereas since then, the Finance Minister is projecting that the net-direct debt will grow each and every year of the mandate despite projecting surpluses in the next two years; and

Whereas this magical feat of growing the debt with surpluses is about as amazing as David Copperfield's Hurricane of Fire;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House remind the Finance Minister that reducing the debt when the government is in a surplus position is not a magic act, it is only good management.

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 Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 316

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

Whereas St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the founder of the Sister's of Charity and the first North American-born saint, lived her life heroically and remains a role model of giving, service, independence, simplicity and spirituality; and

Whereas the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award is presented to individuals who personify the values of the Sisters of Charity by providing physical, emotional and spiritual service to those in need, and by contributing daily to the betterment of society; and

Whereas today, Mr. Jack MacNeil and Sister Agnes Burrows, two individuals whose life's work serving the less fortunate has brought hope, kindness, relief and spirituality to many, will be awarded the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. MacNeil and Sister Burrows on their awards, thank them for their years of good works, and pause to consider the values of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

[Page 751]

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. 317

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

Whereas the Inter-collegiate Business Competition was held in Kingston, Ontario earlier this year; and

Whereas Garon Meikle, a student at Saint Mary's University, son of Brian Meikle and Maureen Coldwell of Stellarton, finished third in the competition along with fellow student Sandra Howe; and

Whereas Garon and Sandra had to submit a seven page case study response in order to qualify for the competition;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the duo of Garon Meikle and Sandra Howe on their top rate performance at the Inter-collegiate Business Competition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 752]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 318

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

Whereas the Englishtown ferry is out of service because of ice conditions and its annual refit;

Whereas the Department of Transportation and Public Works issued the notice to the public on Wednesday, April 4th, but the ferry was out of service since Sunday, April 1st;

Whereas because the minister didn't immediately notify the public, this is another example of his lack of concern for rural transportation in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that in the future the Minister of Transportation immediately notify the public when the Englishtown ferry is not operational.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 319

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

Whereas citizens across Nova Scotia continue to seek clarification from the Department of Natural Resources about the new C-1, C-2 and C-3 designation;

[Page 753]

Whereas the interest of the Highland Park community in Hammonds Plains, on these designations for Cox Lake and the Lands of Laziness, has been led by Colleen Cormier, Ardella Roode and Gwen Whitman; and

Whereas these area residents treasure their lands and want them preserved for community use;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate and thank Colleen Cormier, Ardella Roode and Gwen Whitman for their initiative and foresight.

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-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 320

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

Whereas Tartan Day, April 6th, has a special significance for all Nova Scotians of Scottish decent, because of the declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence, was signed April 6, 1320; and

Whereas the invaluable contributions and monumental achievements of the Scots, suffuse Nova Scotia's storied history, as it has countless countries around the world; and

Whereas the Federation of Scottish Clans has laboured with great success to ensure the great contributions of the Scottish people do not go unnoticed;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Melvin Baird and Jean Watson of the Federation of Scottish Clans for their great efforts and join them in celebrating the great Scottish ancestry so rooted in Nova Scotia.

[Page 754]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 321

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

Whereas the member for Kings South wants his constituents and all members of this House to believe that he is an honourable member and one whose word is his bond; and

Whereas this same member, when a municipal councillor in 1997, used a technicality to ignore a Kings County Council decision and proceeded with a plebiscite with the intent to eliminate VLTs in Kings County; and

Whereas the member for Kings South is now the Minister responsible for Part II of the Gaming Control Act, a position of considerable influence on the issue of VLTs in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved the member for Kings South publicly request the provincial government to call for a plebiscite on the use of VLTs in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 755]

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 322

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 Midget Girls Provincial Volleyball Championships will be held on April 6th and April 7th; and

Whereas the Argyle Midget Girls Volleyball Team is ranked number one in the province; and

Whereas the Argyle Midget Girls Volleyball Team won in the March 24th tournament held at the University College of Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House wish all participants well in the upcoming championship and congratulate the Argyle girls on their outstanding record this season.

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. 323

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

Whereas the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries proved once again in debate on Supply unto Her Majesty just how much he has no idea about the matters relating to the fishery in Nova Scotia; and

[Page 756]

Whereas the minister has been lobbied for two years to support the inshore fishermen of Richmond County by endorsing their efforts to keep shrimp draggers 8 to 10 miles offshore to protect the inshore shrimp fishery, an issue the minister said he has lobbied hard for; and

Whereas the minister showed his true understanding when he was duped into saying he would support the efforts of Richmond County fishermen to have shrimp trawlers dragging through Arichat Harbour;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House, on behalf of the fishing industry throughout Nova Scotia, call upon the Premier to show his government's commitment to our fishery by appointing a new Minister of Aquaculture and Fisheries.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 324

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 federal youth incentive plan was created to promote cross-cultural awareness and give youth from different parts of Canada a chance to gather; and

Whereas the 18th Dartmouth Lions' Air Cadet Squadron, based at CFB Shearwater, recently travelled to Toronto as part of the federal youth incentive plan and were hosted by the Georgetown Squadron of the Air Cadets; and

Whereas 34 youth who are part of the local squadron had an opportunity to meet the Mayor of Toronto and exchange perspectives with the Ontario squadron;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the 18th Dartmouth Lions' Air Cadet Squadron, their staff, including Master Corporal John Davidson, the parents, and other volunteers who have helped make the exchange a success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 757]

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. 325

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

Whereas the Tory member for Cape Breton North fooled his constituents into believing that he would be a strong voice in the Hamm Government; and

Whereas the Premier has recognized the capabilities of the member by relegating him to the deep bowels of the Tory backbench; and

Whereas the member further embarrassed himself on Tuesday by taking time away from the Opposition during debate on Supply to plead with the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries to tell him more about Tory policy in his riding of Cape Breton North;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House suggest to the member that he would do best to make friends with the Tory Ministers rather than bring any further embarrassment to the good residents of Cape Breton North.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 326

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

Whereas minor hockey is an inclusive sport; and

Whereas East Hants Minor Hockey encourages girls to play hockey; and

Whereas the East Hants Pee Wee A team made up of all girls won the 2001 Pee Wee A championship title with a resounding 6 to 1 win over the team from Inverness;

[Page 758]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate East Hants Minor Hockey officials, all the teams who competed in the Pee Wee A female provincials, especially the East Hants Pee Wee A female champions.

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.

Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber and it is hard to hear the members on the floor.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 327

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

Whereas on Tuesday, April 3, 2001, HRM officials at their regular council meeting expressed concern over the province's neglect of the traffic lighting issue on Magazine Hill between Dartmouth and Bedford; and

Whereas HRM's elected officials also expressed concerns over the Minister of Transportation and Public Works' lack of knowledge and comprehension of this serious issue by virtue of his letter to the HRM officials on this matter; and

Whereas Conservative backbenchers have been noticeably quiet on this pressing safety issue;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works direct his staff, in co-operation with Nova Scotia Power officials, to take corrective measures so as to ensure public safety is ensured on Magazine Hill.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 759]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 328

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

Whereas many secondary roads throughout the constituency of Timberlea-Prospect need immediate attention; and

Whereas such neglected roads as Club Road in Hatchet Lake, Leeward in Highland Park and Fox Hollow in St. Margaret's Village are in embarrassing shape;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation instruct his staff to upgrade these gravel roads and others in the constituency of Timberlea-Prospect as soon as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 329

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

Whereas the net debt of the province has gone up $1.3 billion since April 1, 2000; and

Whereas the last time I checked the current Minister of Finance was in the portfolio for the entire time; and

Whereas unfortunately, the minister seems to have forgotten that it is he and he alone, who must take responsibility for burying us under such a mountain of debt;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House admonish the Minister of Finance for his inability to accept responsibility for the current debt crisis.

[Page 760]

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:28 p.m. and will end at 1:28 p.m.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - AMHERST FABRICATORS:

INSPECTOR (ALAN ROSS) - DEMOTION EXPLAIN

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I want to table today a letter written to the Minister of Environment and Labour from the union representing the workers at Amherst Fabricators. It says that at a meeting on January 15th, representatives from the Occupational Health and Safety Division said they planned a team audit of the company and they said that Alan Ross would lead that team. On March 5th and 6th, that team entered the plant, but Alan Ross was no longer the leading investigator. The union is furious about the department's decision to demote Mr. Ross, a competent inspector of over 20 years. I want to ask the Minister of Environment and Labour to answer here and now, why did his department demote Mr. Ross?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for the opportunity to again point out the appropriate action that was taken by my department. There is a long history that was evolving in this situation and it was becoming quite clear, according to my sources and that is more than my deputy that there were concerns on behalf of both parties with regard to the situation and, appropriately, as we do by times, we sent in a whole team to work with the joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee and came out with 16 orders.

[Page 761]

[12:30 p.m.]

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the minister is incorrect, as usual. Yesterday the minister said his department demoted Mr. Ross because of complaints by the company and the union, which is patently wrong, an untruth, and the minister knows it. I want to ask the minister to retract that comment he made outside the House yesterday about the union and admit the sole reason his department demoted Mr. Ross was because of a call from the employer's solicitor and not the union.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, when something like this happens, one often inquires a little further down the chain. It is interesting that the honourable member makes this comment, because speaking with my director last night, at about 11:45 p.m. in the parking garage at Terminal Road, he even provided some detail as to the union's concerns.

MR. CORBETT: Let's do some history here, Mr. Speaker. In the House that minister said that that employee was demoted because of a call from the company's solicitor to the deputy minister, and now he is backpedalling. If he was in an industrial work site, they would have to put sirens or something on him so he wouldn't run somebody over, he is backing up so much.

I want to read a quote from the letter he received from the union today. The letter reads, "The thing I fear most is that an employer in Nova Scotia who doesn't like a certain government official can call you or some senior officials and have that person replaced. This is a very dangerous practice." The minister has had a day to think about it. Does he realize what he did yesterday jeopardizes workers safety in this whole province? Does he realize that?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I ask the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre to table that letter that he referred to and read from.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite once again for his concerns about occupational health and safety. I would say that whenever we encounter workplace situations that have concerns brought forward by all parties, and there is clearly a history of deficiencies, that sending in a complete team to address those problems was the appropriate response at the appropriate time and I stand completely behind my staff's decisions.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - TRANSITION HOUSES: RESOURCES - INCREASE

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, in Nova Scotia last year the number of women and children admitted to shelters for abused women doubled compared to 1999. This meant

[Page 762]

that over 8,400 women and children from our communities took refuge in those shelters. My question is to the Minister of Community Services. What is your department doing to increase resources for transition houses?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member. I can advise him that we have had a number of meetings with the people from the transitional houses. We have had a number of proposals for transitional houses in other parts of the province. We are working with them. We have had discussions with them on their budgets and we will continue that discussion to try to resolve all their problems.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I asked the minister a direct question; I don't know if I got an answer. You know, the old saying goes that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but last year the Department of Community Services cut the Family Violence Prevention Initiative, the very program that tries to stem violence in the home. Will the Minister of Community Services commit here and now to reinstating a family violence prevention program?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, last year we did make a change in the family violence program. The library that was at Community Services, we cancelled that program because we are working in another direction, and that is the direction of training all people in the Civil Service to recognize family violence and to take the appropriate steps. We continue to work with the Department of Justice on that initiative and we will continue to support that program and work in that direction.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the fact the department has an excellent library is cold comfort to the people who are most vulnerable in our communities. It is sad to hear that the minister won't make this commitment. This year Community Services funding to transition houses has been flatlined. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, in a department that has not increased funding to transition houses and has cut the Family Violence Prevention Initiative, how can Nova Scotians be assured that the number of women and children using shelters won't double again this year?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member indicated it was cold comfort that we had a library. What I indicated to him is that the library was housed at the Department of Community Services, and our department, at that point in time, took the lead in doing mail-outs and maintaining the library. We still have a strong commitment to family violence, we still work with the transitional houses to provide those different programs and we will continue to do so.

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

[Page 763]

ENVIRON. & LBR. - AMHERST FABRICATORS:

SAFETY INSPECTOR
- INTERFERENCE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I am tabling a letter from Cherubini to the Department of Labour in February. This letter says most of the orders issued by Mr. Ross in a December inspection have no merit. It hints that Mr. Ross's Occupational Health and Safety Committee minutes from the company say his attempt to carry out an inspection without being accompanied by a manager was an affront to management. Does the Minister of Environment and Labour recognize that by caving in to pressure to demote Mr. Ross in March, his department has shown this company and others across the province to complain in order to get a tough inspector off their backs?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite may recall, on more than a few occasions I pointed out that Mr. Ross has always remained an important part of this investigation. (Interruptions) He might be interested to know that to the best of my knowledge Mr. Ross had never led a team before, and it was felt, in view of the seriousness of the situation, that we wanted to have an experienced person in place. Therefore, he became an important member of a complete team that did this very important investigation.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this minister keeps spinning, and he is spinning in the wrong direction.

The Occupational Health and Safety Committee at Amherst Fabricators has had some interesting meetings recently. I will table minutes showing a disagreement between a worker and a manager over whether an employee was at fault when he lost part of his finger. The employer's representative says the Department of Labour has no jurisdiction in the matter of determining whether or not someone is at fault in an accident. Your own department has no jurisdiction, Mr. Minister, that is what the company says.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister why he and his senior officials are doing favours for a company that believes they don't have the right to determine who is at fault when there is an industrial accident?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for again giving greater credence to the importance of ramping-up this investigation and sending in a complete team. I would encourage him to bring more of that evidence forward because I think it reflects well on the wisdom of the department.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I will tell you what evidence we are bringing forward, the incompetence of that minister and his willingness to capitulate to an employer. That is what we are bringing forward. He and other senior officials of that government don't seem to care about worker safety. These minutes further reveal that the employees were under pressure to improve production and that this led to an unsafe atmosphere in that plant. Will

[Page 764]

the Minister of Environment and Labour admit he was wrong when he and his senior officials demoted the inspector just because he was doing a tough job on that company?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, sometimes it is a little hard to follow the logic of the member opposite. It would seem to me that unless he takes exception to the qualifications of the other officers who were put on the team that it is much better to have five than to have one.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC.: FUNDING FORMULA REVIEW - PROGRESS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Tory blue book from the last election campaign states, "During its first mandate, a PC Government will improve . . .", public education by, "Reviewing funding formulas to protect schools and areas of declining enrollments from detrimental and untimely reductions in the teaching staff;". My question to the Minister of Education is, can the minister tell me what progress has been made in accomplishing this Tory blue book promise?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the funding formula for schools stands at about 80 per cent of the formula, between 75 per cent and 80 per cent. It does protect areas with declining enrolment in small schools. It is the 20 per cent to 25 per cent that we try to move money with the kids. In fact, the base, the largest part of the money going to the board, is based on figures from 1996 and student enrolment has actually declined considerably since then, but no board is penalized for that in the bulk of the money they receive.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, officials of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and the Strait Regional School Board have said that unless further financial assistance is provided by the Department of Education, they will have to lay off teachers at the end of the present school year. My question is, can the minister confirm, here and now, that there will be no layoffs of probationary and permanent contract teachers at the end of the present school year?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, it is the school boards who hire teachers, not the Department of Education. I would say that there are many boards in this province, in fact, all boards - because the overall student population is going down - have to cope to some degree or another with the issue of declining enrolment.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians keep getting mixed messages from this minister. On the one hand she says, I am giving them money, they can do what they want with it, I am not responsible; and in their Throne Speech they said we need more accountability in the education system and they are going to get control of our education system. Nova Scotians are very confused by this minister and this government.

[Page 765]

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the next fear larger class sizes and closed schools. Because of the serious situation being faced by the two school boards that I have listed, has the minister instructed officials of her department to enter into negotiations with officials of these school boards to prevent any layoffs of probationary or permanent contract teachers this year?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, officials in my department are talking with officials in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board about what help we can give during this budget time. Those talks are ongoing.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR.: AMHERST FABRICATORS:

COMPLIANCE ORDER -
RESCISSION EXPLAIN

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we are already aware, and it has been confirmed by the minister, that he or his deputy were directly involved in demoting a lead health and safety inspector at the request of a company under investigation. That's bad enough. Today we found out, two weeks before Mr. Ross was demoted that same company was investigated by the Board of Stationary Engineers. Amherst Fabricators were shut down as a result of a compliance order requiring them to get certified crane operators. But only 24 hours later that order was rescinded. My question to the minister is, why was the compliance order rescinded in just 24 hours even though the company made no changes? They made no changes whatsoever. Why did they change it, Mr. Minister?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for expanding this out because it affords me the opportunity to shed a little bit more light on the necessity of ramping-up that investigation. This is a different area, it is under public safety.

First of all, I have to point out a couple of inaccuracies in the honourable member's statement. As I understand it, the company was not pleased with my decision not to certify the crane operators and as a result of that, they chose to close on Monday and Tuesday.

As to interfering with the officer, that is entirely the prerogative of the officer.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the political interference with health and safety that is going on under this minister is totally unacceptable. The board determined that there were no board certified crane operators at that work site to ensure lifting was done in a proper and safe manner. Somehow, 24 hours later, magically, it never happened. I want to ask the minister, did the command to rescind the order come from you or your deputy; who did the order, you or your deputy?

[Page 766]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for his concern once again. As the member might know, such decisions are entirely the prerogative of the officer. My understanding is that the company was the one that made the decision to close for the two days.

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we are talking about who rescinded the order. This minister does not understand questions in the House, how can he expect to understand complex questions such as health and safety? So when this minister rescinds orders or removes investigators at the request of companies being investigated, he completely undermines the department's ability to enforce health and safety standards. He has a smile so I guess that does not bother him. I want to ask this minister to explain how companies' workers and enforcement officials in this province can take health and safety seriously when you continuously undermine them. How can they take it seriously?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure how many ways I can explain this matter to the member opposite, but he seems to have a fixation that somehow or other I question the decision of the officer and, once again, I would reiterate that that is not the case.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC. - HRM SCHOOLS: HEALTH & SAFETY - MONITOR

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Teachers in the Halifax Regional School Board are reporting that their schools are becoming a health and safety risk because of dirty cafeterias, cluttered wheelchair ramps and filthy washrooms. The minister refuses to get involved in the labour dispute, but I want to know, what is the minister doing to monitor the health and safety in Halifax schools to make sure that this situation does not deteriorate any further?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is right, I am not interfering in this situation. I have though asked for regular reports from the Halifax Regional School Board. As a matter of fact, yesterday, the Halifax Regional School Board contacted 61 principals, none of whom reported serious problems in their schools.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this labour dispute is clearly causing great concern among both the students and teachers. The situation, if it continues, may threaten the annual spring fairs and fundraisers that many schools depend on to round out their budgets. Because of the minister's refusal to get involved, is the minister prepared today to help schools that may experience budgetary shortfalls as a result of this situation?

[Page 767]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I can but repeat that I am not going to get involved in this dispute and that neither the school board nor the union has asked me to interfere. The activities that normally would be taking place, I am sorry, as is everyone else, that they will not be, but this is something for the board and its employees to deal with, not the Department of Education.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the people who are asking the minister to get involved are the parents of these children; they are asking this minister to take some control. Once again, the minister says it is not her responsibility. The Throne Speech says more accountability, we will get control of our education system, yet this minister wants nothing to do with the education of our children or the health and safety of our children during this situation. Students or teachers should not be allowed to suffer as a result of this dispute. The government has clearly said it would seek more accountability and they would take control of the daily affairs of our education system. How much further out of control will this minister let the situation become before she takes some responsibility for the health and safety of the schools in the Halifax region?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the situation, obviously, is well under control. The Chief Medical Officer with the Central Regional Health Board has reported no problems in the schools. It is an unfortunate situation, but it is a real situation and it is being dealt with as it should be dealt with.

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

ALCOHOL & GAMING AUTHORITY - VLTs:

PLEBISCITE - MIN. ENSURE

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, as an up-and-coming Kings County councillor, the minister responsible for the Alcohol and Gaming Authority was quite vocal. We have seen and heard him vocal before in this House, but on this topic he was vocal about the need for a plebiscite on the banning of VLTs. In fact, he went to rather extraordinary lengths to ensure that his constituents were able to address the VLT issue in spite of the majority opposition from the county council on which he was serving. I want to ask the minister, will you now, as the minister responsible for VLTs in this province, ensure a province-wide plebescite on this particular nasty piece of business?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for his kind comments. I think, perhaps, if the member would have gotten to know me as a councillor, I represented my constituents and not the council. It was clearly the wish of my constituents that they wanted to voice their concerns about video lottery terminals and this afforded them the mechanism. He is quite correct that there certainly was some opposition from members at the municipality to my doing this.

[Page 768]

MR. ESTABROOKS: You called them a scourge, you called them a plague on society - a scourge, a plague on society - as a councillor. The minister was frequently heard to say that VLTs are a provincial issue. He further indicated that in a democracy citizens must be allowed to voice their concerns in plebiscites. Excellent! Wonderful! Now, let's change feet, because you have an answer to give out of that mouth. I ask the minister, will you live up to your personal convictions and commitments and establish a plebescite on this important social issue?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, actually I think it is Part II of the Act, which is the regulatory part. I think it would, perhaps, not be appropriate of me to speak for the Minister of Finance who is responsible for the Gaming Corporation, but I am very proud of the decisions that have been made by this government - excuse me, by this Party - including a moratorium that was passed by this minority government, and other subsequent decisions made by this government to curb the abuse of video lottery terminals. (Applause)

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I can't believe that members opposite would applaud that bobbing, weaving, ducking, shadow-boxing act. I haven't seen footwork like that since Muhammad Ali hung them up. That is inexcusable. I ask the minister, on behalf of a particular gentleman in this gallery, I ask the minister on behalf of Nova Scotians, why have you abandoned your views on VLTs and your commitment to your constituents and Nova Scotians to fight for a plebiscite now that you are a Cabinet Minister?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for his passion. I would suspect that if the member does not already have it, I will make him aware that I wrote a rather extensive article - back I think about 1997 - about video lottery terminals. As a Tory candidate for the 1998 election at that time, it was appropriate for me to make sure, before I published anything, that it was approved by our critic. I am pleased to say that George Moody had no problem with my article and I stand by my article.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - ROADS (SECONDARY):

BLUE BOOK COMMITMENT - INTENTION

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The Tory blue books says, "A Progressive Conservative Government will end the neglect of our secondary roads . . . This neglect has placed thousands of rural Nova Scotians in the position of second-class citizens." My question to the minister is, is it the minister's intention to live up to that commitment made in the Tory blue book?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 769]

MR. MACASKILL: Well, I am glad to hear that, Mr. Speaker. On February 28th, the Church Cross Bridge in Middle River, Victoria County, collapsed after it was hooked by a snowplow. As yet, there has been no attempt by your department to replace this bridge. Can the minister let me know today when his department plans to call tenders to replace the Church Cross Bridge in Middle River, Victoria County?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the bridge in question was one of the old steel truss bridges. Most of those bridges are about 100 years old and the majority of them have to be replaced. This particular bridge was struck by a snowplow and knocked off its abutment. In consequence, the bridge is no longer in use. I understand that the actual amount of detour required to get from one side to the other is very short so at the present time there is no plan to replace the bridge immediately.

MR. MACASKILL: If I understand what the minister said, I think something happened where he missed the 20th Century. The bridge was built 100 years ago. It was needed at that time. The river is still flowing under it and people have to get to the other side. (Interruptions) Do you mean to tell me that we don't need it? Is that what you are saying, we don't need it?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the cost of replacing that bridge is about $500,000 because we would also have to reconstruct the abutments at each end, they are just wooden abutments. Quite frankly, we do not have $500,000 to replace that bridge at the present time.

AN HON. MEMBER: What are you going to do, swim across?

MR. RUSSELL: The honourable member says are you going to swim across? No, they are not going to swim across. They are going to drive approximately two miles up the river and there is another bridge. So, Mr. Speaker, what we are suggesting to the people in that particular area - there are two houses, I believe, that are dependent upon that bridge - we are suggesting that at the present time we do not have $500,000 to replace the bridge. However, in the fullness of time when . . .

[1:00 p.m.]

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

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE:

SENIORS - CONTRIBUTIONS CRITERIA

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about the day many of us hope we will never see: the day when we can no longer live independently. The minister knows of the case that I will refer to and I would like to table for the House a copy of the letter addressed to him and to the Premier. This is the case of a 90 year old woman who suddenly

[Page 770]

fell ill and though she and her family always thought she would live her final years at home, the decision had to be made for her to go to a nursing home.

When the family met with the caseworker, they were told that all their mother's income had to go toward her care, but furthermore, all of the monetary gifts that she had given to them and to her grandchildren in the last three years prior to that had to be paid back. My question for the minister is, the minister knows this is not an isolated incident so I want to ask him, why is the government robbing seniors of their life savings?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I guess I am going to have to take a look at the letter to which the honourable member refers. To be quite candid, I do not remember the details of that. What I can say is that long-term care is not an insured service in Canada. The policy here, and in all other provinces and territories as far as I know, is that people contribute to their care as they are able to.

One of the risks that we run into is that people don't necessarily save their money so that they can give it to somebody else. This seems to be what the honourable member is implying. It is okay, give away everything you have; the state will always pay.

MR. DEXTER: I am amazed that the minister is so ill-informed about what goes on in other provinces with respect to long-term care. It is shocking. What I want to do is table here a copy of the document from the Northwood Family Council that opposes the present government policy. Seniors who sell their homes with the expectations that they can pass on to their children the fruits of their labour are penalized under this policy for their frugality. Unlike provinces like Ontario and Alberta, in this province she has to deplete all of her life savings and if she refuses, she is refused care. That is what happens in this province. My question to the Minister of Health is, why are you holding seniors hostage in this province for medical services that ought to be insured?

MR. MUIR: Many years ago, families used to take care of their seniors.

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, they don't now.

MR. MUIR: That is right. (Interruptions)

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

MR. MUIR: The situation has changed and the Government of Nova Scotia, like governments in other provinces and territories, spends a considerable portion in this case of the Health budget on long-term care. It is reasonable to expect people to contribute to their care as they can. The honourable member knows that if a person has a house, the principal dwelling is exempt from making a contribution to that care.

[Page 771]

MR. DEXTER: I have here a public document on nursing homes and nowhere in it - and this is distributed by the Department of Health - does it tell Nova Scotians about the three year income deduction period. This is information that is kept hidden from the public. It is an underhanded way for the government to steal the assets of seniors. I want to ask . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I suggest your use of the word steal is unparliamentary and I ask you to retract that please.

MR. DEXTER: Then I withdraw that comment, unapologetically though. It is a way for the government to abscond with the assets of seniors. My question to the minister is, when will you commit to ensuring nursing home care in this province?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member well knows, probably we make a very strong commitment to continuing care in this province including somewhere an increase in continuing care activities, here in this year's budget, of about $15 million.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - GLACE BAY:

WATER SUPPLY - SAFETY ENSURE

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, in a press release issued on January 24th, 2001, the Environment Minister rightly expressed concern for the health and well-being of the people of Garland. To his credit, the minister took an active interest in the file as a new eager Minister of Environment and Labour.

The minister I am sure is aware, however, that residents of Glace Bay and surrounding area are subjected to a daily assault on their health by high levels of trihalomethanes and you can add to THMs some generous helpings of silt and an annual boil order. You get the picture here, there is a health concern.

My question to the minister is, what is the minister doing to ensure that Glace Bay and area residents have access to safe, clean drinking water?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest the residents of Glace Bay have been well represented in this House in terms of their concerns and yes, I recall on more than one occasion a certain member has brought these matters forward. From the Department of Environment and Labour's point of view, I would point out to the honourable member that we are there to provide the expertise, to assist the municipality so that they can take the appropriate steps to ensure a safe water supply.

[Page 772]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I have yet to get any indication from any minister that this government takes the issue of Glace Bay water seriously. At the very least, I would hope that the government would at least pretend to be concerned. The minister is new on the job so I think he should put aside those political niceties and probably tell his Cabinet colleagues, particularly the Minister of Municipal Relations, that he considers clean drinking water for the over 20,000 people of Glace Bay and surrounding area to be a priority. Will the minister bring to Cabinet a deep concern for improving the water quality by making it a top priority?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the member opposite that I am glad that he not only shares my concern, but my government's concern with safe drinking water for the people of Glace Bay and all Nova Scotians, and that is precisely why we now have a waste-water discussion paper out there and there will soon be a water one leading to proper strategies to move us into this century.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I will keep bringing this issue to this House until something is finally done about it to correct a situation that should not exist in the Province of Nova Scotia.

To the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, under the Canada-Nova Scotia infrastructure project, will the minister ensure that a request for a treatment facility plant in Glace Bay be fast-tracked and make it his number one priority?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the honourable member's concern for the quality of water in Glace Bay. The honourable member would know that the workings of the Canada-Nova Scotia infrastructure program are established in a manner that allows municipal units to bring forward their priorities and we evaluate those priorities and I can tell you that quality of water and sewage - our green infrastructure in other words - is infrastructure that is receiving a priority. If the honourable member believes that that should be the priority item coming forward from CBRM then I would advise him to ensure that CBRM is aware of his views and that they make it their number one priority.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES. - PIONEER COAL: PLANS - TABLE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, in light of the Westray tragedy and also in light of the fact that we now have a Tory Premier from Pictou County, when we consider the recent history of subsidence in Pictou County communities it is not surprising that residents of Stellarton are alarmed at the prospect of John Chisholm's plan to operate an underground coal mine. My question for the Minister of Natural Resources is, will the minister today table the plan put forward by Pioneer Coal, regarding this project, involving the use of the automatic, high-wall coal miner?

[Page 773]

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for his question. Certainly the safety of people working in all industries, especially the mining industry, is of great concern to this government and all Nova Scotians. As the proposal by Pioneer Coal comes forward in regard to the high-wall miner and our officials have had time to look through the material, we certainly have no problem with releasing it at that time.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, that will be cold comfort to the residents of Stellarton. They are not convinced by this Party's history that this government will stand up to a mine owner who happens to be a major financial backer to the Party in power. My question to the minister is, what assurances can this government give that there will be no adverse effects for surrounding residents?

MR. FAGE: I thank the honourable member again for his question. Certainly this government is concerned about safety, and I would like to reiterate that once the evaluation is done, certainly then it is time to go to the public process; until we have all the pertinent facts, it would be premature to do so.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what would be premature about taking care.

Will the minister confirm that there is a sufficient bond posted to redress any adverse effects to these constituents of the Premier, and that this government will have the intestinal fortitude to seize this bond if problems arise?

MR. FAGE: As the honourable member knows, this is not a question of politics or of such issues, it is about standard regulatory practice where any mining company, anyone wishing to do those types of procedures, do post bonds, and the government does, if there is a problem, take those bonds.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

HEALTH - AMBULANCE SERVICE (BRIDGEWATER):

CUTBACKS - EFFECTS

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. After getting the runaround from the Department of Health last December, I finally was able to ferret out and find out that the ambulance service in Bridgewater is going to be cut back by six hours overnight as of April 1st of this year. That will leave just one ambulance serving Bridgewater and its surrounding area between 1:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. My question to the minister is, why is the minister allowing the safety of the Bridgewater residents and the residents surrounding the Bridgewater area to be put at risk?

[Page 774]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that if there is an adjustment in ambulance hours, and I take it that the honourable member is correct, then it is based on the call volume and the need for ambulance there. I can assure the honourable member that the safety and health of the residents of Bridgewater and area will not be compromised by this shift.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in trying to ferret out this information, one of the points was our public consultation. There was no public consultation in regard to allowing the general public to be aware of what was going on. The information that I have been able to receive shows that about 10 per cent of the activity of the ambulances between 1:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. represents 10 per cent of the overall activity. How can ambulance responses improve to our people and the people of my area at the same time that manpower and machinery is being cut back?

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the way the ambulance system works here in this province, the ground ambulance service, is that there is a circular thing; if an ambulance moves from one place, another one moves into position to cover for it. If the ambulance in Bridgewater happens to be engaged then there would be another ambulance moved from an appropriate place into position to cover for it should a second call arise.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is great to talk about dominoes if you are playing a game, but we are playing a game with people's lives here. The question really is, maybe somebody might be able to fill in one night but maybe not the second night. The ambulances in Bridgewater now cover a large area, and they are being asked to look after a larger area with fewer ambulances. To me, that is just simply not safe. Will the minister commit to stop this cutback of ambulance service until the community and the emergency care workers have a chance to voice their concerns on this matter, because they were never allowed to do it in the first place?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the decisions governing where ambulances are stationed, how many hours a particular ambulance would be in a particular location are really determined by evidence. I would suspect that the EMC, the agency which is responsible for that, has thoroughly reviewed all the evidence and is convinced that that does not contribute to an unsafe condition in that area. I am satisfied that it doesn't.

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

[Page 775]

HEALTH - POINT PLEASANT LODGE MEAL CUTS:

EATING DISORDER CLINIC - CONSULTATION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday the minister stated that he wouldn't let patients who stay at Point Pleasant Lodge go hungry. Well, for the minister's information, these patients include patients from the Eating Disorder Clinic. This morning I got a call from Dr. Pilon, who runs the Eating Disorder Clinic, and he told me that this new payment program will undermine the treatment of his patients, who are primarily young adults. He said that this disruption will be hard on persons with eating disorders who need regular access to good, nutritious meals. My question to the Minister of Health is, did you consult with the clinic before you approved this cut?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would assume that Dr. Pilon, who is the gentleman to which the honourable member referred, also passed that message on to the people who count. I can tell you that was not a decision made by the Department of Health, but I am assured, and speaking with representatives from the Capital Health Authority, as I said yesterday and I stand by it, those who need assistance with food, money, will get it, including those who are in the Eating Disorder Clinic. The other part of the story, of course, they don't want to put on the floor, is that anybody who has a five-day commitment there gets funded for every day they are in there.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, apparently this new policy became effective on April 1st. Dr. Pilon, this morning, met a distressed nurse in the hallway who said that because the day program ends today, the youth are on their own until Monday. These youth have no money to pay for meals this weekend. The Eating Disorder Clinic is scrambling to assure their anxious patients, but they don't have a clue what the plan is or what to tell their patients. I want to ask the minister, why is it that front-line staff are the last to know about this change?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, well, I could give a smart answer and say it is quite often because they don't care to listen to what is told to them.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this government promised to be open, accountable and consultative. They have proven over and over again that they operate to the contrary. I want to ask the minister, will you immediately suspend the $14 meal charge until you have: (a) reviewed the fee with the agencies and medical staff who rely on the services; and (b) table the evaluation in this House which clearly proves that it will not have any adverse impact?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, if I was to take his question literally he would be asking me to suspend the amount of money that is being given to people. I think he said, would you agree to suspend the $14 a day that is being given to people. I don't think that is what you meant. (Interruptions) No, that isn't what you said. Go back. We will get Hansard and look at his question. Anyway, the answer is, that is a matter for the Capital Health Authority, and I will not be doing what he asked me to do.

[Page 776]

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

SPORTS - COMMUNICABLE DISEASES: SPREAD - CONCERN

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission. I have a letter here from the Provincial Medical Examiner Officer, Dr. Jeff Scott, and it is addressed to the Director of the Sport and Recreation Commission of Nova Scotia. I would like to table that letter. Dr. Scott is obviously very concerned about the spread of diseases like meningitis when athletes share water bottles. My question to the minister is, does the minister share Dr. Scott's concerns?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have just received a copy of the letter. I had received a copy of that letter a couple of days ago. I do remember, in fact, and we do get a lot of correspondence, as a former coach, of course that would be of concern to me and I have asked staff to take a look at this situation because of the letter coming forward. I would be happy to come forward with a copy of my return letter to the doctor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question, again, is addressed to the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission. Does your department have any existing programs to deal with and address these concerns?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the general health and safety of the people and the young people in this province is of great concern, not only to this government but to the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission as well. We will continue working with communities, working with coaches, working with municipal governments to ensure that. In fact, we have a physical strategy coming forth this year and I would like to say something about that. We have made a commitment towards that. I believe that we will have federal support for that initiative. I look forward to it and we are going to be taking a look at just some of these very things that the member brought up today and I thank him for doing so.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question again is addressed to the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission. I take it the answer to my second question was no. Dr. Scott obviously wants sport organizations to encourage athletes not to share water bottles because of this health risk. My question is simple. Would the minister commit to a public awareness campaign to address Dr. Scott's as well as the parents' concerns regarding this issue?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I can certainly tell the member I have just received, I believe the letter was not recently sent. I have had the opportunity to see it. I have asked staff to assess the letter in question. I would be happy to report to the House what will be the response of myself. I would like to add, I will certainly bring forward and let community organizations and sports teams know what our position is and if there are any

[Page 777]

concerns, I will share them with this House and I will share them with the people of this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ECON. DEV. - PICTOU SHIPYARD:

REOPENING - PROPOSALS STATUS

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. The workforce at the idle Pictou Shipyard is getting desperate. Another proposal to open the yard just fell through. Pictou Town Council and the Steelworkers' Union have repeatedly appealed for some leadership from this government to help get the yard working. So far leadership is conspicuous by its absence. Can the Minister of Economic Development tell this House what is happening with regard to any other proposals to reopen the Pictou Shipyard? When are those tradespeople going to get back to work?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, we, in this province, are very concerned, as is Canada as a country with the shipbuilding industry. The member opposite is probably aware that Minister Tobin is bringing forward his federal strategy for shipbuilding in the province. The difficulty we face is trying to ensure that whatever proposal comes forward is sustainable in the long run. The very fact that we have had so many failed attempts is an indication of the magnitude of the problem. While it is small comfort to the people involved, we do want to put in place a plan and proposal that will see work in that shipyard and other shipyards in the province into the future.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, that and $1.07 might buy a cup of coffee but it is not going to translate into paycheques; vague assurances will not translate into paycheques. As well as a great shipyard, this site also has excellent steel fabrication facilities which could be used for any offshore work. What is the minister doing to ensure that the yard will be reopened, and I mean immediately?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite would seem to imply that the Province of Nova Scotia, the Government of Nova Scotia, should take on any proposal no matter how untenable that may be. What we have said we will do is work with whoever comes forward to ensure that the plan and the proposal is sustainable in the long run. He certainly is correct in saying that the future related to the offshore provides significant opportunities. I can tell the member opposite that we are working with any of the proponents to come forward. We are as anxious as anyone else to see that facility open in strong hands that will be viable without a continued reliance on the province's taxpayers' dollars.

MR. EPSTEIN: I hope, Mr. Speaker, that the minister is not even remotely suggesting that the future of this shipyard is untenable. The marine railway at the Pictou Shipyard is a provincially-owned facility and has long been in need of repair. Will the Minister of

[Page 778]

Economic Development tell us why his government has not acted to fix the marine railway and make this a more attractive shipyard?

MR. BALSER: Again, the object of investing in a facility is to ensure it is viable. If the member opposite would suggest that we put money into a plant that is not open and has no management in place to improve the railway, that is very short-sighted. If the opportunity presents itself to make a viable business operation there, we will work with that company.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond. You have about 25 seconds.

JUSTICE: ESCAPEE - RISK FACTOR

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, today we have learned that the former common-law spouse of the inmate who escaped from the Halifax Correctional Centre is scared to death of the individual the Minister of Justice deemed to be of low risk to the community. My question to the minister is, does the minister still consider the escaped inmate to be of low risk to the community?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice, you have about five seconds.

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

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, on an introduction.

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce to members of this House a friend in the east gallery, Wade Marshall. He is a resident of Sackville and a member of the Halifax Regional School Board. I wish you would all give him a warm round of applause. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I wish to rise on a point of clarification, if I could. It is in response to a question from the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. I realized my answer may have sounded like front-line people don't listen to what is coming down and that was certainly not my intent. If it does read like that, I would like to apologize. What the intent of my answer was, sometimes they don't, sometimes some don't. That is really what I was intending to say.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to participate in the debate going into Supply.

[Page 779]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I have been around this House long enough to know that that transition can happen so fast that a person doesn't get recognized. So I don't mind getting up a bit early. (Laughter) I am sure that wouldn't happen under your stewardship.

MR. SPEAKER: Not at all.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to participate a bit and talk about split-shifting at J.L. Ilsley High School and I will be sharing a part of my time with the member for Halifax Fairview, who will kind of give the perspective on behalf of the Halifax West High School students and parents.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as you and all members may know, when the decision was made, finally, let me say, to close Halifax West High School, which was clearly considered a sick school, it was a decision, in fact, that should have happened many years ago probably and a decision should have been made about an alternative school some years ago, but that is water under the bridge now. The fact is that finally that building that was making students and staff ill has been shut down and alternative arrangements have had to be made for the students attending Halifax West High School.

[1:30 p.m.]

The Minister of Education made the announcement in the fall I believe, that a new school will be constructed and her last information to this Chamber was that the new school would be completed sometime in the school year 2002-03. This is a matter that I want to talk about today.

[Page 780]

There has been a school advisory committee at J.L. Ilsley High School that pulled together a very elaborate presentation made by a number of different parents, some staff and some students. That was a presentation made to the executive council of the school board and all of that information has been forwarded to the Minister of Education and her staff. The crux of the presentation was that the parents, students and the staff at J.L. Ilsley High School are concerned about the impact that split-shifting has had on their school, the students who are attending Grades 10, 11 and 12, those who will be graduating this year and those who will be moving up to Grade 12 over the next couple of years.

As you know, the decision to go with split shifts at J. L. Ilsley to incorporate Halifax West High School students was made last summer. Certainly everyone involved - the parents, the staff at J.L. Ilsley High School, members of the community - agreed with that decision, perhaps somewhat reluctantly, but they agreed nonetheless because they knew a solution had to be found and it had to be found quickly and they have done their best to accommodate this very difficult situation.

Having gone through the fall term and through part of the winter, they - the parents, the students and staff - were recognizing that there were considerable negative impacts on the students and on the school which they were concerned about. Everything from the physical impact on the students, there was a letter from a doctor, a general practitioner, who has been monitoring some of the students at J.L. Ilsley High School who has said that the split-shifting, attending school at an early time in the day, and the pressure associated with a compressed school day and then the further addition of work that students are participating in or other activities is causing physical harm to some of the students. There is that issue.

The lack of instruction time, upwards of 50 minutes a day which these students involved in these split shifts are losing, which many people are concerned is going to have an impact or has an impact on their ability to not only learn, but to compete in that very difficult competition for spaces in universities or community colleges or for scholarships and work when they finally graduate.

There are those issues, there is the wear and tear on the building and equipment. You can appreciate going from one high school with the numbers between 700 and 800 students to double that is putting severe pressure on the physical plant at that school and all the equipment therein.

The issue for the people at J.L. Ilsley High School at this particular time is whether the Department of Education, who is responsible under their own public school programs' handbook which is associated to the Education Act for the Province of Nova Scotia, is responsible for the quality of education for all students. The parents would like to be involved with the Department of Education (Interruptions)

[Page 781]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much chatter in the Chamber. I would ask the members to take their conversations outside. The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic has the floor.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, what parents are looking for right now, parents and students, is for the Minister of Education and her staff to participate with them in trying to find a solution. They want to know that their concerns about the effect of split-shifting on their children and on their school is being taken into consideration. They want to have some definitive information about when a new school for Halifax West will be completed. They want to know what the plans are for next year, for September of the year 2001, what is going to happen with the Halifax West students? Are they going to continue at J.L. Ilsley and, if so, the parents, the students and the staff want to be part of that decision and they want to engage with the Department of Education and the school board in a dialogue which takes into consideration their concerns and tries to come up with some ways, if the decision is made that the Halifax West students will come back to J.L. Ilsley High School, then they want to participate in that decision by ensuring that some measures are taken to ameliorate some of the concerns that they have raised.

Mr. Speaker, I think that you and other members of this House would agree that that is only reasonable, that the years of high school are extraordinarily important for the future of these students and for their families, and everything that we can do in this House - the Minister of Education and other members of this House - to ensure that the right decisions are made and that they are made in the spirit of the future of these children is in all of our interests and is in the interest of the whole Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would conclude now and ask my colleague, the honourable member for Halifax Fairview, to wrap up with his perspective of Halifax West.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview, you have about six minutes.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I rose in the House the other day and I called this probably the single most important issue in the Mainland South region of HRM; it affects every single family with a child who is in high school or is about to go into high school. My constituency is made up partly of an area that sends its children to J.L. Ilsley and partly of an area that sends children to Halifax West High School. Certainly everybody associated with Halifax West owes a great deal of thanks to everyone associated with J.L. Ilsley High School. They have accepted the split-shifting arrangement with grace and it is only because of the efforts that they have made that the arrangement has worked so well, but it is not the complete answer.

[Page 782]

Many of the downsides of split-shifting have only become apparent to the parents of J.L. Ilsley since the arrangement started and is not something they knew in advance of course because they had never experienced it before. So they are very concerned about the future and the provincial Department of Education has a very important role in what happens in the future. For example, this question of the opening date. It is very important, Mr. Speaker, I believe, that this minister and this government come clean about the opening date.

In January of this year the minister announced that the new school would open in September 2002, and there is some serious question about whether that opening date was ever possible, whether it was ever realistic. That date was announced less than a week before a by-election was called in Halifax Fairview and I would like to think that the minister's announcement of that opening date was not motivated by the impending by-election.

There is a serious question about whether this new school can open in September 2002 and I would like the Minister of Education to know that is okay if she and her department come clean about when the school will open because the parents deserve that piece of information. Right now part of the problem with split-shifting at J.L. Ilsley High School is they simply don't know. People in positions of authority, like the minister in this House last week, say that September 2002 is still the opening date even though very few people involved in this process believe any more that that is in fact possible.

It is time to come clean and put the real story on the table because deadlines are coming up. The Halifax Regional School Board has the ultimate decision and responsibility for deciding what is going to happen in September of this year. Will split-shifting continue? If it does, will it be at J.L. Ilsley High School? If not, where will it be? That is the school board's decision and they have to make it by the end of this month, by the end of April.

So one of the essential elements is that the true facts around the new school have to be on the table but another essential element, Mr. Speaker, is that the province has a very real opportunity to increase the number of options that are available to people concerned about this issue. For example, one possibility is that the Department of Education could come forward with some very real improvements to J.L. Ilsley High School that will last long after this arrangement has ended, something that I would like to think of in terms of a legacy. There is an opportunity for this split-shifting, which has become a bit of a negative for J.L. Ilsley High School, to turn into a positive legacy but it is going to take money and resources from the Department of Education if that is to happen.

The Department of Education needs to be a full partner in this discussion about what is going to happen. So far the meetings have been largely between the Halifax Regional School Board and the parents' groups, parents' groups from J.L. Ilsley High School and parents' groups from Halifax West High School. The Department of Education has the power to improve the options that are on the table, perhaps by leaving a legacy for J.L. Ilsley High School, certainly by telling the truth about the opening date of the new school. I encourage

[Page 783]

and I plead with the Minister of Education to take that active role, to put the facts on the table, because after all, the students of J.L. Ilsley High School and Halifax West High School deserve nothing less. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring concerns on behalf of my residents to this House in regard to roads. Of course we all know roads are very important to each and every one of us. I think this province has many of the worst roads in the country. In fact, in late debates this last week, I indicated that I felt we had the worst roads in the universe and I really do.

The management of the roads have not been since this present government took over. Look at maintenance of the highways. For instance, all winter during my transportation to and from Cape Breton, I noticed the passing lanes are not being plowed. There is no wing-backing of the snow taking place. I would suggest these are measures to save money and, of course, particularly the overtime that is normally paid to workers. I think it adds to the safety issues that are on our highways. In fact, many motorists over the winter indicated to me in my own constituency, Mr. Speaker, that the snow banks were very high, it was hard to see, particularly around the intersections and that sort of thing. I think it is just another item that this government is obviously contributing to the unsafe road conditions right across the province.

Now of course in Cape Breton, and it is no secret that a major snowstorm just hit in the last few days, the minister will be pleased to hear there is not a pothole left down there, Mr. Speaker. In fact, they are all filled with snow. The bad news for the minister, of course, is the snow is going to melt and when that occurs, of course, then it will be his responsibility to ensure that these potholes are fixed - hopefully, that is the normal procedure. I really have to question the will or the inability of this minister. I have a great deal of respect for the minister personally, I am not challenging his abilities. It is quite obvious with his experience and the ability that he has obtained from his experience in this House that he is quite capable of managing the Department of Transportation and Public Works throughout the province, however, it is the will that I have the problem with.

[1:45 p.m.]

If we look at last fall in my constituency - actually there were flood conditions throughout Cape Breton, throughout most of mainland Nova Scotia last year particularly in Cape Breton - there were flood conditions on a regular basis. This minister saved a bundle of money because there was no maintenance done on gravel roads in my constituency and to my knowledge right across the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 784]

Now this minister saved quite a sum of money when you look at the gravelling and the trucking costs and grading costs of these side roads. We don't see that these savings are carried over. In the debate we had here in the House just the other night, the minister indicated that he was coming forth with $10 million new. That simply is not enough.

This department requires much more attention. Of course, in order to repair the problem at hand, it is going to require much more money. Given the fact that approximately the estimated cost to rebuild one kilometre of highway is approximately is $1 million, $10 million, I would suggest, will pave perhaps eight more kilometres of highway than the minister paved last year.

There are a couple of things I would like to know. Throughout the 20 months that this minister has taken over the portfolio, there has not been single tender for a secondary road project in Cape Breton County. Now, Mr. Speaker, Cape Breton County consists of a lot more than just my constituency. My constituency, I believe is the third largest rural geographical constituency in the province, however, there are other constituencies within Cape Breton County and they would include Cape Breton South, there are portions out there with rural roads, Cape Breton West, Cape Breton East, Cape Breton North and of course Cape Breton The Lakes.

Throughout any of these constituencies, this minister has not provided one paving project anywhere in Cape Breton County in the last 12 months. I want to recognize the minister's efforts and he has been very kind, particularly to myself in my capacity as the MLA for Cape Breton The Lakes, when an issue comes up on a main thoroughfare. The minister has continued, along with the MP for that area, Mark Eyking, developing Highway No. 125 and the making of a much safer highway and I support that initiative. I also appreciate the fact that he is doing some maintenance on some bridge structures in my constituency. However, I think it is important to note that these projects are cost-shared by the federal government. In fact, the federal government is contributing 70 per cent of the funding.

Mr. Speaker, also an issue in my constituency, and one that the minister brought up the other evening when we debated this issue, was that he blamed the feds. Well, projects in my constituency have been curtailed since 1993. We did under the previous MLA, the honourable Bernie Boudreau, get several roads paved. However, because of the amount of debt and the borrowing that the John Buchanan era contributed to the present day debt, I allot that to the difficulties we are experiencing in road development in this province. Because of the amount of interest that we are paying on this money and the amount of wasted borrowing that took place, our inability to control the cost, of course, is out of hand. As a result, roads and road infrastructure is one of the items that is paying a heavy price in this province.

[Page 785]

Mr. Speaker, in my constituency I have several roads. In fact, local staff have recommended that for several of these roads the grader be sent in and the pavement be removed. That seems a little awkward to me, because this is the year 2001. Of course, the residents I represent, as well as all residents in the province, I feel, look forward to moving ahead not backward, not taking a step back. In fact, in removing the asphalt from these roads, we would return to gravel roads.

Mr. Speaker, we all know, as elected officials, that the cost for maintaining a gravel road is much greater than maintaining a paved highway. So, this minister, in fact, will add to the burden that this government is facing in regard to road infrastructure in the province. If we remove the pavement from some of these roads the cost of maintenance will increase, therefore, we will not save any money.

Mr. Speaker, my residents, on a regular basis - and I am sure there are lot more MLAs here who share this problem - on a continuous basis, pay increased car repairs because of the state of our highways. That could be looked upon in different aspects. I would also suggest that because of the HST payments and that sort of thing, and the state of the roads, this government is actually profiting from the state of the highways and roads. Perhaps that is why the good Minister of Transportation and Public Works hasn't initiated the type of attention that our road infrastructure in the province requires.

In fact, if you look at just this past winter, although this government claimed that they had no control over the rising cost of fuel, I believe this government encouraged increased prices in the price of fuel, because of course it is no secret their revenue increased dramatically, to the tune of approximately $15 million.

Mr. Speaker, when we look at that particular issue right there, just the increased revenue this government brought in with respect to rising fuel prices, the revenue was $15 million above and beyond normal. When you look at the $10 million that this government put into road infrastructure in this province, $10 million new, of course, there is $5 million that they profited and spent somewhere else. They don't even spend back what they make as a profit from HST sales.

I know we are quick to criticize, or at least this present government is quick to blame the federal government for our woes. In fact, in every discussion that we have with the federal government, I know in my area, at least the local MP, Mark Eyking, is right on the issue. I look at Highway No. 125, that road is one of the most - and I believe I am correct when I say this - it has the highest amount . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley

[Page 786]

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I was wondering if the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes would entertain a very brief question.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes entertain a question from the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, yes, I will.

MR. SPEAKER: Oh, we have reverted back to Question Period.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is representing the fact that his Member of Parliament, Mark Eyking, is doing everything he can regarding the fact that the federal government in Ottawa siphoned off some $137 million annually from the Province of Nova Scotia, the taxpayers and motorists in this province. They put back less than $2.5 million. Would the honourable member tell the House how much Mr. Eyking and the government is planning to return to Nova Scotia immediately?

MR. BOUDREAU: I know the good member across the way is always quick to criticize the federal government, but the reality of it is that this agreement, whatever it may be, has been signed by previous governments, and I would suggest that that government has a responsibility to live up to that agreement.

They always direct their criticism somewhere else. In fact . . .

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. It should be duly noted on the public record that previous governments have been able to arrange a provincial-federal highway agreement. The Province of Nova Scotia could arrange an agreement with their federal cousins in Ottawa and the government in Ottawa today is failing to live up to the terms of the past practices and traditions of federal governments.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order, but certainly a disagreement of facts between the two members. I would ask that they would settle it other than on the floor of the House.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes. You have one moment.

MR. BOUDREAU: The reply to that question is quite simple. I would suggest that these guys sharpen up their abilities. They are the government here today. Today in this province, these guys, these honourable gentlemen across the hallway, they have the responsibility to deliver these programs to the people in Nova Scotia; it is not the Opposition. The Opposition, has not, there is no band-aid over here to fly to Ottawa and negotiate a new deal on highways for this government. They are the government and those members, and in particular that member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, went door to door in this

[Page 787]

province and told Nova Scotians that they had the answers, but the citizens of this province, as well as the members of the Opposition on both sides I may add, are learning very quickly that this government and these . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Unfortunately the time of the member for Cape Breton The Lakes has expired.

The honourable member for Queens.

MR. KERRY MORASH: Thank you for this opportunity to speak going into Supply.

I would like to talk a bit about the softwood lumber agreement, but before that maybe I would share a few points on the roads, considering they have some discussion . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: All you are going to get is 194 metres . . .

MR. MORASH: Yes, 194 metres.

I would just like to pass along that, with regard to the Department of Transportation in Queens County, the operational supervisors and the employees in that area have done an exceptional job this winter. I have had compliments on what a good job they have done for the Department of Transportation. (Applause)

Snow removal has been reported to have been better than other years and they have been very diligent and they have been out there working hard. We have two operational supervisors, Tim Crowe and Tony Harvey, who have worked very hard, along with their employees, to ensure that the roads in Queens County have been kept clear this winter and they have . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, would the honourable member accept a question on the issue of the roads?

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

MR. MORASH: Certainly.

MR. MACKINNON: As the honourable member well knows, in the Tory blue book called Strong Leadership . . . a clear course - I had trouble saying "clear course" because it is rather ambiguous from what is coming across - one of the initiatives outlined in their blue book was, "Dedicate all taxes raised through motor vehicle licensing and fuel sales to highway construction and maintenance to provide a solid base for highway spending which may be increased depending on public need and available revenues."

[Page 788]

Would the honourable member please explain why his government has refused to commit to that particular election promise?

MR. MORASH: There is no question that we are contributing more money to highways, $11 million more, which is certainly not something that the federal government has been doing.

[2:00 p.m.]

I would like to cover some other points with regard to the softwood lumber agreement. One thing I wasn't aware of before I started in this business was how large the forest industry, how big a business it actually was in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is a $1.4 billion industry, which encompasses every aspect of our province and covers all aspects of our province and most likely there hasn't been one of us in this room who has been on a highway for longer than one-half hour who hasn't passed either a truck carrying logs, pulpwood, stud wood or a finished product going to market. So it is extremely important and it touches everyone's life with regard to Nova Scotia.

There are 21,000 jobs associated with the forest industry in our province and those would be the direct jobs, as well there would be a tremendous amount of spin-off jobs for the people who service the industry and service the mills and the sawmills and the equipment that it takes in order to make this actually run.

We certainly need and definitely require the exemption from the trade limits that we currently have. Nova Scotia, I believe, would be crippled if we had to pay the tariffs on the forest products that were leaving our province. They would be extremely cumbersome. With regard to sawmills now that are having a hard time making ends meet and having a hard time making a profit with regard to their finished products since the prices dropped, this is something that is essential for our province and for the Atlantic Provinces. It is just extremely important and I wanted to emphasize that here.

The Maritime Lumber Bureau have done a tremendous job representing the needs of the lumber industry, of the people that they represent and Diana Blenkhorn certainly has done an exception job and is to be commended (Applause) for ensuring that the Atlantic Provinces' message gets through loud and clear to the federal government. That is certainly something that is important in these times when negotiations are taking place and especially since the agreement has expired and talks are going and it looks like everybody is going to be negotiating very, very toughly.

There has been a drop in the softwood lumber prices which has complemented or exaggerated the problem. There was a point in time that I remember in this House we talked about forestry and overcutting. That was certainly the issue, there are a lot of people who stood up, a lot of members who stood on their feet to express their concerns with regard to

[Page 789]

the amount of wood that was being harvested. Because of the lower prices of the finished products, there have been sawmills that have laid off their second shift or third shift. There has been a reduction in the amount of wood that has been cut, there has been a reduction in the workforce and there certainly has been a reduction in the profits made by the businesses in Nova Scotia. So they, therefore, have fewer dollars to reinvest and ensure that we have a strong and healthy industry in the future.

The comments from the Atlantic Premiers pressing the federal government for the Atlantic exemption is also something that is very important. It is also something that is very nice to see, the Premiers joining together as one voice, creating a document that they send to the federal government to impress upon them the importance of this issue and the importance to the Atlantic Provinces. It certainly is impressive to see that occur and back up the Maritime Lumber Bureau's position and certainly help us out with regard to the negotiations that we will be going through.

Mr. Speaker, 75 per cent of our lumber is produced from private land and that is something that is one of the reasons that we are exempt from the tariff. Unlike the remainder of Canada, where something like 10 per cent comes from private land and 90 per cent comes from Crown, then the issue really is how much Crown stumpage is being sold for and whether that is actually a subsidy to the industry or whether it is not. We are very fortunate here because it is not considered a subsidy, Crown stumpage prices in our province.

The spinoffs that we have from the reduced lumber markets and the reduced prices for two-by-four along the Eastern Seaboard is really quite substantial. This is a very complicated issue and it is very difficult to simplify it. However, this past winter there have been some things that have happened in my area that have helped to simplify the issue. If you can't get your money and make a profit on your product, and you have to reduce the amount that you are sawing or the amount you are cutting, that has a spinoff with regard to the rest of the industry.

As many of you may know, there is a newsprint mill in my constituency that requires a large number of chips in order to maintain its production quotas. When you have sawmills that are reducing staff, reducing their production, reducing the amount of chips they produce - and the chips are really a by-product of the lumber - when the chips are not available to go to the newsprint mill or the mills in this province, and there is a shortage of fibre in the province, it certainly makes a great deal of difference. There is no question that on some occasions, some mills have had to reduce their output because of a lack of supply in this province. That has the spinoff.

Unfortunately, it is said that because there were no hurricanes and no natural disasters in the United States last year, that is one of the reasons there is a glut in the market of wood. We certainly don't wish that anyone have any hardship, but if you do look at the history of the industry, in the past there have been hurricanes, tornadoes and things like that that have

[Page 790]

required a lot of construction material. Because of the requirement for that construction material, the prices have remained steady, and the demand has increased, which equated to pretty well full employment in our province for that industry, as well as a surplus of wood fibre and wood products for the secondary industries that require them.

This very winter we had additional impacts on some of the mills that required fibre. They were the result of road closures. It is typical this time of the year for paper mills or newsprint mills to stockpile for road closures, because we know to protect the highways, we need to keep the trucks off during the spring breakup or when the frost is coming out of the road. During this period of time, there is usually large inventories in all the yards, and they work through those inventories and have very few trucks active on the highway, bringing in fibre.

This year, because of the reduced amount of wood that was out there, the road closures added additional concern for producers. I have a couple of producers in my area who were very low on inventory and were running with only a day or two ahead, and working very hard on the phones all evening trying to secure some fibre supply. This is very time-consuming and not a very efficient way to run a business.

With regard to sawmills, there were some sawmills that had very few logs in the yard, and some of these sawmills were large employers of 100, 120 people. When you don't have an adequate supply of fibre and you are not sure what you will be doing for the next week, that makes it very difficult. As well, also, the newsprint mill was down to a day and a half or a two day supply in the yard, which is something that really is never heard of. Generally, a week would be having it really tight, and with regard to a day or so, something like that, with regard to chips, that is really a crisis situation. It comes to the point in time where if they have to slow down their production, their cost per ton certainly increases significantly. If your costs increase significantly, you certainly aren't going to be able to produce the product effectively and efficiently or at a profit.

The other issue with regard to the forest industry, which is something that I will touch on considering we are going into Supply on the Department of Environment and Labour, has to do with the improvements that we have in the forest industry and the improvements that have been made with regard to health and safety. I have been fortunate enough to be involved with some of those improvements in my previous employment. When I started, which was not that long ago, it was generally accepted for people to go in the woods and cut wood without cut-resistant pants on; a hard hat was sometimes an exception and today we have people who are wearing the full complement of safety equipment because they want to, not because they are regulated or legislated. It certainly did take some of that in order to get things rolling, but the educational programs through the Department of Environment and Labour have helped immensely and made a tremendous difference with regard to safety equipment and the wearing thereof.

[Page 791]

You just cannot have someone looking over someone's shoulder 100 per cent of the time enforcing a regulation or a rule. They have to want to wear a hard hat and safety glasses, chainsaw pants and the boots because they know it will protect them. It will reduce the risks of injury and it will reduce the injury if something does happen and that means that they will go home at night in one piece, the way we want them to, to their families and continue to be productive members of the province.

Also workers' compensation costs have been reduced with regard to the forest industry and certainly some of that has to do with mechanization in the forests. We have more machines that are doing harvesting now and we have fewer choppers or chainsaw operators who are out in the woods. There is probably no occupation, in my opinion, that is more dangerous than a gentleman with a chainsaw - as it has been explained to me - who has 34 or 35 inches of unguarded chain that is intended to cut whatever it comes in contact with and it is within five to six inches of somebody's leg. These days the chainsaws turn up to 20 or 30 miles an hour, the chain may be spinning, and anybody who has ever been to any woods competitions or anything like that can understand how quickly a chainsaw can cut into a piece of wood. There is no question that a person's leg is softer than the piece of wood that you see cut through and sliced through so quickly.

So it is really important that we realize that our changes or our improvements in safety have not been by happenstance and also it is very important to realize that the attitude that all accidents are preventable is something that is becoming widespread and it is certainly my belief that all accidents are preventable and we need to work extremely hard to ensure that we do prevent them. If we can prevent all accidents, we certainly can reduce workers' compensation costs, we can reduce retraining costs and the benefits to society and the benefits to us are exceptional. With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to take part. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[2:14 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Kevin Deveaux in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton South:

"Therefore be it resolved that despite promises to the contrary, income taxes have risen in Nova Scotia under the Hamm Government due to bracket creep, as well, unjust user fees have added to the tax burden meaning that Nova Scotians will have already paid for their 10 per cent tax cut if it ever comes."

[Page 792]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - INCOME TAXES: RISE - BRACKET CREEP/USER FEES

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Well, talk about creeps, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aw.

MR. DOWNE: Thank you very much. I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that it is my pleasure to stand here today to talk about what this government has been saying during the last 594 or 595 days, that they are going to be able to provide a 10 per cent reduction in income tax to Nova Scotians. They went on to say that they are going to be the government that is going to reduce taxes to Nova Scotia, everybody said, wow, how are you going to do that? How are you going to possibly do that? Well, the government was very clear. They said, just trust us, we will find a way. It is interesting that after just a little over a year and one-half, almost two years now, we are seeing exactly how this government is proposing to be able to provide a 10 per cent reduction, in their view, to Nova Scotia taxpayers. In reality, Nova Scotia taxpayers aren't going to get a reduction. At best, they are going to just get their own money back that they currently have been paying into the government. I want to make a couple of examples.

In the issue of bracket creep that this Minister of Finance and this government could have eliminated, as they have in most other jurisdictions in this country, this minister decided to keep bracket creep on. He said, no, we want to keep it there because it means additional revenue to the Province of Nova Scotia. He is right. It means that they are going to be able tax Nova Scotians more than they would have if they had eliminated it. For an individual making $30,000 a year in 1999, whose income stays the same, there is no raise in his income, that same person by the year 2002 will pay a higher tax. That is what bracket creep is all about. It is about the ability for this government to be able to charge more for an individual based on inflation on their income and they are not going to be discounted out for inflation. So, in effect, this government is going to be clawing out of the pockets of hard-working Nova Scotians some $25 million a year on bracket creep alone.

No matter how many ways the Premier and the Minister of Finance want to gloss over that reality, Nova Scotians will realize by the year 2004 that, in fact, they will be no better off. They won't be any better off than they were in 1993. After bracket creep we took the failure of the government to pass through the flow-through opportunities of the federal tax reduction. They said, we are going to give this 10 per cent reduction and then all of a sudden

[Page 793]

they decoupled from the federal tax. When they decoupled from the federal tax, they said, we just want to separate what the federal government will do with their tax reduction.

So when they decoupled and they separated from the federal tax, the federal tax went down, the provincial tax in effect went up because we were, historically, a percentage of the federal tax. In fact, we were 57.5 per cent. Now, we are at 60 per cent of the federal tax. We are now paying a higher percentage of the federal tax than we were just a few short years ago.

The bottom line, in my view, is that bracket creep and the fact that we didn't flow-through the other taxes means that Nova Scotians today are paying higher taxes than they were in 1998-99. Added to the bracket creep, every Nova Scotian will be paying higher taxes. No matter how many ways you want to slice or dice the issue, Nova Scotians will not be getting what they thought they were going to get in the last election. That is a full 10 per cent to where they were.

Now that we know about bracket creep, let's take a look at some of the other areas that this government has done to be able to claw money out of the pockets of Nova Scotians. I start off by saying that the Auditor General has indicated that government must be justified in user fees. They must be able to justify user fees as not being any more than the cost of administering those particular fees. If they are, then it is considered a tax.

That's another one of these policies that this government said in their blue book, no new taxes. I remember all too well this government in their blue book saying, no new taxes. Well, we got bracket creep. That is a new $25 million tax on Nova Scotians. They didn't flow through the federal reduction in the provincial portion of the federal reduction, another new tax on Nova Scotians.

Now I want to talk about user fees, which, in the year 2000-01, represented over $29 million of new taxes, Mr. Speaker, $29 million they call user fees that, in effect, are taxing Nova Scotians. You know, they don't mind who they tax. They have gone after seniors. I remember, during the election campaign, the Conservative Government went on a rampage about how they were going to protect seniors. Trust us. We will look after seniors. We will provide fishing licences for seniors. We will do this for seniors and we will do that for seniors. What have we seen so far? We have seen them go after seniors, whether it is to do with the user fees that we just talked about here today, the 20 per cent to 33 per cent increase in Seniors' Pharmacare co-pay. Or, of course, in the recent budget, going after seniors who are in a hospital and sick but they cannot stay in that hospital so they are going to tax them $50 a day simply because there is no place for those seniors to go.

They went after the seniors. They went after people for 911, a 43 cent tax. Actually, it was a 46 cent tax because they put the HST on top of that. Shame on this government - 911, my gosh. It is for emergencies. The emergency is that this government is taking money out of the pockets of Nova Scotians. Each and every day they have been power, they have

[Page 794]

been clawing taxes out of the people of the Province of Nova Scotia at a rate that is unprecedented. They are charging $5 million a year more for people that are in the hospital. For example, hospital user fees. If you need a fibreglass cast, you are going to pay more and so on and so forth. Driver testing handbook, they went after seniors for that. They went after the young people on that. To get a handbook, you are going to have to pay now. Almost $1 million more they are taking out of the pockets of individuals. Do you believe that? Almost $1 million more and who uses those books the most? Our young people. The ones who are going out for their driver's license for the first time. They are going after young people that are 16 years of age or they are going to go after seniors. At a certain age, they ask them to go back and get retested. They have to go. So who are they going after? They are going after young people and they are going after seniors. This is part of that $29 million tax grab that this government is doing. Can you believe it? Seniors and young people.

The list goes on here, Mr. Speaker. They go after environmental approvals, insurance agencies, ferry increases, some of which are valid. Some of those are valid, but, the bottom line is, $29 million on top of the $25 million in bracket creep, plus I don't know how many million on the flow-through. I thought it was over $20 million. This government is now up to $75 million to $80 million the first year in clawbacks and new taxes and benefits back to this government. This budget, that has yet to be passed, is another example of an additional $3 million of taxes. Even though the Auditor General made it very clear, if you are charging somebody a fee for something that costs more than it does to administer, then it is a tax. The Auditor General was wise enough to make that point very clear to this government and to this Minister of Finance.

So this Minister of Finance's plan, to deal with making a 10 per cent reduction, is no more than trying to give back to Nova Scotians the money that they have clawed out of the pockets of hard-working Nova Scotians, our young people, our seniors, our working population. Can you believe that they can try to get away with it? New user fees come less than one month after the Auditor General criticized this Tory Government for not being able to justify their user fees.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to be able to stand and speak on this resolution by the member for Lunenburg West, the Finance Critic for the Liberal Party.

I think it is a very good resolution because I think it puts in succinct form the real nature of what this government is doing. They are with one hand - ever since the 1999 election - quite frankly trying to bribe the people of Nova Scotia with their own money telling them that we will be tough, we will make the cuts, we will control spending and you will get a 10 per cent tax cut because of it in our last year.

[Page 795]

The real problem is, at the same time, the government has continued to increase spending in areas that are not directed to what Nova Scotians want, like health care and education. They have done it in things like consultants, media spin doctors, write-offs for profitable corporations, these are things Nova Scotians do not want our government wasting money on. They want money invested in things like health care and education.

They have also done it - as my friend noted - by increasing user fees. Over $30 million in new user fees. Now, they like to call them user fees, but to be candid, they are taxes. It is not only the Auditor General, it is the Supreme Court of Canada that has said, these are taxes. The Supreme Court of Canada in the Eurig decision made it quite clear that a user fee has to be tied to cost recovery. So, if it costs $10,000 to provide the student handbooks for getting your beginner driver's license then the government should be getting $10,000 back. I just use that as an example, maybe they are. But my point is, if they are actually getting from those user fees $20,000, $30,000, $2 million, $3 million then it is no longer a user fee because they are recovering much more money than the actual cost to the government. It is then a tax.

Quite frankly, it is illegal and the Supreme Court of Canada said so. Those things cannot be imposed unless the government specifically says, these are taxes and we are increasing them. The Supreme Court of Canada has basically told the Governments of Canada, both provincial and federal, that you cannot hide behind the words, user fee when you are imposing a tax. You must call it a tax. This government still has not, obviously, read the decision, or decided to change its perspective.

What we have is a government that continues to impose taxes on people, particularly the ones who can least afford it. Whether it is seniors at $50 a day to stay in a bed or whether it is other fees, Pharmacare increases, another example. These are all forms of taxation, a way of bringing money into the government. At the same time, we have a government that also, through decoupling with the federal tax system, created our own tax system. We would applaud that because it gives Nova Scotians an opportunity to have a tax system that reflects our values.

Some people say Nova Scotia does not really have a voice in Ottawa because we are only 3 per cent of the population in Canada. Whatever Ontario and Quebec want, they get. But maybe in Nova Scotia our values are different. Many would say they are. One of the things that is different is that we want more money in health care and education and we want the funds to be able to do that.

The decoupling of our tax system from the federal system where we used to have taxes based on a percentage of the federal tax and now we have our taxes based on our own income in Nova Scotia gives us that opportunity to reflect Nova Scotian values, gives us an opportunity to provide a tax system that says Nova Scotians want a progressive tax. That is what our Party would believe and I think that is what Nova Scotians would tell you. They

[Page 796]

want a progressive tax system that allows for those who earn the least, those are the ones who are working hardest, those are the ones who are providing for their families with very little disposable income. The working, middle-class families of Nova Scotia - give them an opportunity to keep as much of that as possible.

At the same time, those who earn more, those who are earning enough that they can pay their fair share towards what Nova Scotians need - health care, education - let that be reflected in a progressive tax system. That is one thing that I think is possible and I would suggest a decoupling of our tax system allows it. I know about a year ago that the member for Kings North, who maybe will be speaking on this resolution if we are fortunate enough, specifically suggested that. I thought it was a good idea. He talked about a surcharge that might have been used to help with the debt or the deficit.

These are things we need to look at and now that we have our own tax system, we have that opportunity. But, our government has not done that. Instead, they have decided where the federal government has cut the tax rate and addressed indexing so that there is now what they call "bracket creep". Our government has swooped in and taken over some of that tax relief, particularly for those hard-working, middle-class, working-class families in Nova Scotia.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that is wrong. That has related in a lot more money for our government and, quite frankly, between user fees or taxes, whatever you want to call them, and the tax grab they have gotten from the federal re-indexing of their income tax system and our decoupling of our income tax system, as the member for Lunenburg West stated, almost $80 million has been brought into the coffers of this government, more money because of these tax increases and tax grab. That is a problem.

When you add on top of that the wasteful spending, and I am only thinking of the last week, $3 million to help sell the botched Sysco deal to the people of Nova Scotia through PR fees and lawyers fees; $500,000 for a consultant to help sell and devise what they call the clinical footprint for health care, money that could have gone into front-line health care to hire nurses, to hire doctors, those are two examples. Mr. Speaker, $18 million in loan write-offs to very profitable corporations, corporations that, yes, are a key component of our economy in Nova Scotia but, no, we don't need to be writing off loans to them when that money can be put into other things. Those are just three examples. There are others.

The point is that our government, through wasteful spending on things that Nova Scotians don't want money wasted on, through tax increases and tax grabs, has accumulated a lot of money that they, in another year, are going to claim they are going to give back in a tax cut. The irony is it isn't a tax cut. All they will be doing is bringing our tax level back

[Page 797]

down to where it was when they first came into power. It is like a magic act; see with one hand and gone with the other.

Mr. Speaker, that is the real problem with this government. It isn't about tax cuts, well, it is, but it is not about real tax cuts. It is not about an agenda of being resourceful and spending wisely because they are clearly not doing that either. It is not an agenda of investing in health care and education because clearly they are not doing that either. It is about a government that, quite frankly, three years ago did not think it would get into power, laid out 243 promises without thinking they would ever have to meet them, put in a couple of clauses about a 10 per cent tax cut, and then when they got into power, they realized, my gosh, what are we going to do, and all they can think of is to the next election. How do we get ourselves re-elected?

Mr. Speaker, they have worked out a plan that goes no further than the end of their nose. We will raise taxes with a slight of hand. We will do it in a way that is hidden. We will talk about how good we are at not spending the people's money when, in fact, we are very wasteful in areas people don't want us to be wasteful in and, combined with that, then we will have accumulated enough money secretly that we can give them that tax cut and we can get ourselves re-elected.

That is what it is really about, Mr. Speaker, and that is what is so devious about this government; no vision, no direction, just about trying to keep promises that they never thought they would have to keep. That is sad, but Nova Scotians are paying the price, whether it is having to get paper for their schools because this government does not have the foresight to ensure there is enough funding in our education system; whether it is waiting lists for elective surgery, or having to be on a stretcher in a hospital, or having to pay $50 because they have not thought about creating more long-term care beds. This government is allowing this province to fall apart, whether it is lack of drinkable water throughout many parts of this province, whether it is West Chezzetcook, Garland or Glace Bay; whether it is health and safety regulations that are not being complied with because this government does not have the foresight to try and protect the workers of this province. All of these things are not being done because this government has no desire to do them and that is the real problem.

Mr. Speaker, I would hope with this resolution we will begin to see a government that will at least start to see that it has to do something differently and that maybe, just maybe, in the next two years we will begin to see a government that realizes it has to invest, it has to invest in the things Nova Scotians want. It can do it. It has two years before it has to make such promises of tax cuts, and I hope they do.

[Page 798]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to be able to join in the debate on this resolution. It is somewhat ironic, I find, that when I think back to last year, the Liberals were castigating this Party for spending cuts and for not spending on various aspects of the economy that they thought were important, and this year they have done an about-face and they are feeling that we are spending too much and they are castigating us for spending too much.

They remind me of the atheist who wrote his first novel and then prayed fervently to God that it would become a best-seller. There is an old saying about the Canadian - why did the Canadian cross the road? The answer is, to get to the middle. It is rather comforting in some sense, Mr. Speaker, to be attacked on one side from the NDP Party for not spending enough, and on the other hand by the Liberal Party for spending too much.

A little bit of history on this that everyone is aware of. When the John Savage Government took office, in spite of a promise not to increase provincial sales tax he did so by 1 per cent. He increased fuel tax by $.02 a litre. This was in spite of his pledge not to but he was faced with a very important fiscal problem and he tried to deal with it in his own way. When MacLellan took office after that many of these hard-won financial victories were reversed. As a result of attempting to placate voters and to win re-election, and the result of that abrupt reversal was that the government was defeated and we have the Government of John Hamm taking its place in 1999.

There has been an excellent book about this written by four academics called, The Savage years: the perils of reinventing government in Nova Scotia. I have read this book with great interest. It is a bit uneven in parts, some of the chapters are better than others. Through it all there is this common thread of what went wrong with the Liberal Party; the Savage Government followed by the MacLellan Government. It is very interesting reading. There are two lessons that come out of it, at least two lessons come out of it from reading this book and thinking about the recent past history of the Liberal Party who brought this resolution before the House this evening. I think the two lessons that need to be learned and the two lessons that our government has learned is that, one, you have to make a plan.

Alex Baumann, the great Canadian swimmer, loves to quote that saying which is very prevalent but it is still a good saying, it is a bit of a cliché but still it is worth saying that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I think that is very important advice. You have to have a plan and we have been derided and people have made fun of the blue book and held it up for some sort of ridicule, instead of being an object of ridicule, Mr. Speaker, it is really an object of honour. We have tried to plan and we have tried to tell people, we have told people what we would do if we took office and there is this plan and they can follow along and they can see the plan, they could see the plan before we were elected and I think one of the reasons

[Page 799]

why the citizens of Nova Scotia elected the Hamm Government, in part, was because it had the courage to put out this plan and to put it out for everyone to see.

One of the history lessons you can get on the rather strange events that took place in Nova Scotia political history under John Savage and Russell MacLellan is that you have to have a plan; and we have a plan and we put it this book, everyone can see it, they can react to parts of it, they can say they don't like that, we don't like this, but we have a plan. The second thing that comes out of the reading of The Savage years: the perils of reinventing government in Nova Scotia, is not only do you need to have a plan, Mr. Speaker, but you need to stick to your plan. You can't waffle. There is a biblical passage that if the trumpet blows an uncertain sound, who shall follow. What that really says is, if you plan and then you change here and there then people are going to get confused and they are not going to follow. We have a plan, and in that plan we are sticking to that plan. That plan was laid out in the blue book, the plan was very clear in terms of the finances, in spite of any sort of personal skepticism I had on whether they could reach it, the plan was stated in the book that by year three we would not be running a deficit and by the year 2003 we would have a tax cut somewhere in the tune of $136 million.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I hate to interrupt the member as he is going full steam ahead, but I wonder if he can explain to me the answer the Minister of Transportation gave to me today, that when the bridge falls in the river today, you don't replace it. I wonder if that was that the way it is worded in the blue book?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is not a point of order, but it is a question if the honourable member for Kings North would like to answer.

MR. PARENT: The honourable member has many opportunities to ask those questions of the minister many days; I have very few opportunities to speak to this House and so I will recommend to the honourable member that he use one of those opportunities he has and not be so selfish as to try and take away the very few minutes that are given to me to speak in this House. Liberals and selfishness I think probably go hand-in-hand. Honourable member, please take the question another time.

Anyway as I was saying, in The Savage years, which is good reading - I would recommend it to all the honourable members, please read it - you need to have a plan and you need to stick to the plan. This government is sticking to its plan fiscally, as this has been said, stated time and time again that we are going to have a balanced budget by next year, and by the year 2003 there will be a tax cut. This is the plan; the plan has been put out there and we are sticking to it. The problem that really is behind this motion, I think the problem that the Savage Government faced when it took office and that all governments have faced in recent years of Nova Scotia history, has been stated quite aptly by Stephen Lewis. I want to be serious here at this stage, it is just so easy to make fun of the Liberal Party, Mr. Speaker, that it is very difficult for me to rein myself in, but anyway this is a . . .

[Page 800]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I understand the member trying to make fun of things and have a good time, because he does not get a chance to say that much in the Legislature to begin with, but I think his remarks are somewhat derogatory, and I would expect more from that member.

MR. SPEAKER: Not a point of order but certainly a point.

MR. PARENT: I take that comment very seriously and I will withdraw that last comment.

I think that the problem is a problem that governments have faced across Canada. It is a problem that the Savage Government faced and that we certainly face. I think that Stephen Lewis really put it very succinctly when - in the Globe and Mail I believe - he put that we want American-style taxes and European-style services and the result has been Canadian-style deficits. Then he added, from which we are finally weaning ourselves.

I think that is what this government is doing. It is weaning itself from this impossible situation that Nova Scotians have been used to, and that Canadians have been used to, of wanting American-style taxes and European-style services, which result only in Canadian-style deficits. We are doing it in a balanced way and that is what I appreciate about this budget.

In the Throne Speech the phrase was used "a combination of heart and spine" and I think we have that combination of heart and spine in this budget. The heart is there, there are initiatives in child poverty, there are initiatives in literacy, there is $13 million more for schools, there is more money for the district health authorities, more money for health care, and there is more money for mental health. I will not go over, repeat the Budget Speech but there is heart in this budget, but there also is spine.

The spine is there in that there is a balanced budget by next year in spite of personal skepticism, that there is a tax cut in the year 2003 to the tune of about $136 million, somewhere around there, and we are doing it through controlling our own taxes - something that the honourable speaker before me stated was a very beneficial sort of thing - and through some strategic user fees. The Opposition have made fun of these user fees, saying that they are out of place. There is $3 million in the whole year, that is about the same amount we pay in interest payments for one year.

In conclusion, I understand the frustration of the Liberal Party. It is very hard when you are flat on your back, as they are, to see this government going ahead as it does. I would say that this resolution is really a resolution that should not take up the House time. We are sticking to our plan. We have a plan and we are sticking to it. It is there for the honourable

[Page 801]

members to read as they have read in the past, a good combination of heart and a good combination of spine. I thank you for the opportunity to address the House on this important issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[6:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. William Dooks in the Chair.]

[6:43 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 10.

Bill No. 10 - Order of Nova Scotia Act.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, when we last spoke about the Order of Nova Scotia, I think I had at that time concluded my remarks, as a matter of fact, but if I could add anything to it, I certainly will.

[Page 802]

Mr. Speaker, I think our position had been quite clear in the past, and again we are in favour of Bill No. 10, the Order of Nova Scotia Act. We think it is a good idea; as a matter of fact we think it is a very good idea that Nova Scotians be honoured with such a bill and we have made our position very clear on that. We did have some concerns, but I think the minister has addressed those concerns; we brought them to his attention here in the House. We have been told that the Order of Nova Scotia does not conflict with any other honours that may be bestowed upon Nova Scotians through other organizations, or whatever the case may be.

Again, just to wrap things up, Mr. Speaker, we made it perfectly clear that we were in favour of this bill. One aspect and one question that was brought up was regarding the income of Nova Scotians. I think that matter was raised with the minister; not by our Party, but by the New Democratic Party. We kind of thought that was a silly notion to begin with. Certainly, whether or not someone should be given the Order of Nova Scotia, as it is proposed, be based on their income and how much they make, I think, really doesn't make any difference whatsoever. Why that was even mentioned, our Party is certainly wondering and I am sure it has left the minister shaking his head, as well, as to why that was brought up.

[6:45 p.m.]

So, on that matter alone, Mr. Speaker, what we are saying is that, certainly, we would hope that there would be - and we are not sure - a committee that would review and take a look at the people who are being proposed for this award, the names that are put forward. We certainly hope and, furthermore, we certainly trust that the government, in no way, would use this for political purposes, for purposes of patronage and we have great faith that this government would not do that sort of thing with the Order of Nova Scotia, simply because it is too important to even think about doing any such thing.

Mr. Speaker, the people who receive this Order of Nova Scotia will be quite proud of it and will be getting the media coverage that goes with it and will be able, I would think, anyway, to include those initials after their name. It would be an honour that would carry with it that distinction, I think, that you would be able to put that after your name, much as you do with the Order of Canada or other medals that are handed out for bravery or whatever the case may be.

Again, Mr. Speaker, it is a matter of recognizing Nova Scotians and, I take it, recognizing what they have done for their province and what they have done for their country and, hopefully, their names will be put forward and we will take a very serious look at the names and judge them on the merits of what they have done for their province and what they have done for their country and certainly wouldn't even consider that because you make $30,000 or your make $130,000 in this province, that that would have any bearing whatsoever on whether or not you are worthy of receiving the proposed Order of Nova Scotia.

[Page 803]

Mr. Speaker, having said that and in conclusion, we, again, in the Liberal Party, think that with the establishment of the Order of Nova Scotia - may I add, too, a number of other provincial orders in this country that honour those who make some important contributions to different aspects of life in their provinces, as well - that this would certainly allow for a mechanism that would recognize significant Nova Scotians who have made significant contributions to this province. It is kind of motherhood and apple pie, I guess. I think, basically, it is about time, in this province, that we are recognizing that.

Obviously, the original model for this program was the Order of Canada; I would take it anyway. I am guessing that this was the model for this program. Certainly, as I mentioned previously, I know a number of constituents in the ridings, including my riding and the ridings surrounding my riding that have received the Order of Canada and they have never received anything that they consider more prestigious and an honour to receive than, indeed, the Order of Canada. I am hoping that one day, maybe not immediately because it will take some time over time in order to start naming people to the Order of Nova Scotia, but I would hope that one day the Order of Nova Scotia, indeed, would be as prestigious perhaps as the Order of Canada, to Nova Scotians. Certainly the Order of Canada is a great honour, that is not what I am saying, but to Nova Scotians it would be likened to the Order of Canada, in terms of what they have done for their province and the contribution made.

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe Buddy MacMaster would be a good one.

MR. WILSON: Perhaps we will get a chance to make some suggestions in terms of who could receive the Order of Nova Scotia. I don't know exactly how the application process will work, but certainly I would hope that every Nova Scotian, in one way or another, would be able to put forward names and make those submissions to the appropriate people so that everyone in this province would not only possibly have a chance of getting the honour of being in the Order of Nova Scotia but also would get the chance to put forward a name to be nominated to receive the Order of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, again, I don't want to beleaguer the point here, at the same time we have a very rich cultural society in Nova Scotia. Indeed, I am hoping that the Order of Nova Scotia would recognize that richness in our culture (Interruption) Yes, one of my colleagues has mentioned, for instance, that the minister himself is a rather renowned fiddler. We all know renowned fiddlers who have received the Order of Canada, for instance, Mr. Buddy MacMaster, his name comes to mind. Now, I am not saying that the honourable minister is in the same calibre of Buddy MacMaster (Laughter) I am sure if he continues to practise that some day he will be.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is practising some fiddling in here.

[Page 804]

MR. WILSON: We have seen the fiddling around of some of his honourable colleagues. We certainly know that they can fiddle around perhaps much better than the honourable minister himself but perhaps with more practice they will get better at it too, I am not sure.

Mr. Speaker, seriously though, I am hoping that people from all walks of life in this province will get the opportunity to have their name put forward and perhaps be eligible to become a recipient of the Order of Nova Scotia. It would be a great honour. We have said that it is a very good idea and certainly we are in favour of what the government has proposed in terms of the Order of Nova Scotia.

Again, I want to make it perfectly clear that this caucus is in full support of what is being proposed here, which is contained in Bill No. 10; An Act to Establish the Order of Nova Scotia. Arguably, it will affect all Nova Scotians; in other words, I don't think anybody could disagree with what is being proposed here in terms of the Order of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, we have a rich history here in Nova Scotia, many cultures and so on, so I am hoping that that will be recognized to the extent that it will be an exhaustive search for who would be selected or who is going to come forward to judge who is going to receive the Order of Nova Scotia. I think that is very important for the minister and for the government to understand here. I am not even trying to say that the minister would take this lightly, but I think this has the potential to go on and receive such recognition that, indeed, it would be perhaps one of the highest honours you could get as a Nova Scotian, to receive the Order of Nova Scotia. So in order to be careful about that, I hope the selection process would be open to public scrutiny, should we say, in terms of who is going to be making the selection and so forth - the forms that are available in terms of making application. Again hopefully this will be welcomed by every Nova Scotian and also it will be welcomed by all of the Members of this Legislative Assembly.

Also, if I may add, that as soon as possible perhaps this would come into effect. I am not exactly sure when it is going to come into effect but, the sooner the better, as a matter of fact, the sooner the better. The minister has not indicated an exact date but has indicated a time frame, I do believe, of perhaps before the end of the year, certainly that the Order of Nova Scotia would come into effect. I am not sure when the first recipient would receive the Order of Nova Scotia and I am not sure what goes with the Order of Nova Scotia either, perhaps there is a pin or something that goes along with it, a medal, great, one that would contain a ribbon that would hang around your neck and one that would be (Interruption) That is a very good question, one of the honourable members of the NDP asks what is going to be on that medal and I don't know the answer to that.

There are many questions that are being asked of me and perhaps we should have asked them earlier of the government but since I have some time remaining - if I have some time remaining - then I will ask them of the government and that is, where would the names

[Page 805]

of the people who receive this Order of Nova Scotia be displayed? Perhaps an appropriate place could be somewhere in Province House as a matter of fact that we could display and make sure there are photos taken.

In other words, Mr. Minister, I guess what I am saying is we should make this a class act. We want to make sure that this idea follows through properly and that we follow through by making this an honour that Nova Scotians would love to have and indeed would be privileged to have. Making it available to all ages in this province, I think, is important as well. Not only are we looking at all walks of life but we are looking at all ages, we are looking at average Nova Scotians who have contributed to their province and indeed because of that significant contribution they would be awarded the Order of Nova Scotia.

I would reply that certainly one of the honourable members has mentioned that maybe they would be above average if they received the award and indeed I suppose if someone received an honour like that, it would make them stand out, whether or not they would be above average I am not sure because average is always a word that is very hard to describe. You know, it is something like normal, what is normal? Average height or normal, you can describe many things with average. Average members of the Legislature, you can describe average leaders, average former leaders you can describe as well. We do not want to go there, we are talking about the Order of Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, again, may I ask you how much time I have left.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If the honourable member has something new to say he would have about 45 minutes.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I have been thrown that challenge before and I have met it but not tonight. In closing, we agree 100 per cent with what is being proposed, the Order of Nova Scotia. There may be possible amendments, we won't rule that out but we congratulate the minister on introducing the Order of Nova Scotia. We congratulate the government for possibly honouring Nova Scotians who, hopefully, are deserving of this award and with those final words, Mr. Speaker, I will take my chair. (Applause)

[7:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, very briefly, I just want to voice my support for this piece of legislation and I really condemn the minister (Interruptions) I commend the minister for bringing this piece of legislation forward. I will find another reason to condemn him, but not tonight.

[Page 806]

I think it is time Nova Scotia had in place such a program as this to recognize many Nova Scotians who made significant contributions to the province, but they have not qualified or probably have not quite reached the point where they would be eligible for the Order of Canada. So I think this is fitting. I think it is time it was brought forward and I congratulate the minister for bringing it forth at this time. To establish the Order of Nova Scotia is much like the Order of Canada, but it will be more in line with recognizing the many Nova Scotians who have made significant contributions. I am sure it will not overlap with the Order of Good Cheer which we find is very appropriate as we bring so many tourists into our province.

I know, Mr. Speaker, that I, myself, have presented hundreds of certificates with the Order of Good Times. I think that is a very valuable certificate to give to people who come from away to visit our province and that is what the Order of Good Time is. So I think this is fitting and I think it is time that we brought it to Nova Scotia. I don't see any reasons why I should stand here and belabour this piece of legislation. Again, I thank the minister for bringing it forward at this time.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, listening to some of the others who have spoken this evening motivated me to get up to say a few words on the legislation that is before us. Let me say right at the outset that I certainly am going to be voting in support of this piece of legislation. I think that it is extremely important that here in the International Year of the Volunteer that we, in all of our ridings, think how fortunate we are, especially in this day when governments are off-loading many of the responsibilities onto the volunteer communities and volunteers. I know and I am sure my colleague who shares the community of Sackville, I am sure that my colleague in Sackville-Beaver Bank would agree with me when I say that we are extremely fortunate, we are blessed to have so many men, women and young people who are prepared to dedicate so much, not only of their time, but also of their resources, of their valuable time that they could be sharing with their family members and loved ones, or on personal interests, but they give of themselves for the betterment of their community.

I know, Mr. Speaker, to me anyway, one of the most important events that takes place within the community of Sackville happens each year and this year, I believe it is May 2nd, and that is what is called Volunteer Appreciation Night. There is an opportunity when the Lake District Recreation Association, itself a volunteer organization, who through the efforts of their members have been responsible for helping to develop so many of the essential, recreational communities to service the residents of Sackville. This dinner is held each year at the Legion, another volunteer organization which also benefits.

[Page 807]

Did you know it is extremely important because what it does, it gives those volunteer organizations - whether it be the scouting movement or the guiding movement, a church organization, Meals on Wheels because they all appear, and many others. I am not even going to try to touch on the numerous groups. It gives those organizations an opportunity to honour one of their own who that year has been selected from their peers in that organization to receive an award as a volunteer of the year for that group. Plus, of course, the community as a whole gives out a volunteer of the year award. The people who have received it over the years are certainly pillars within the community.

They are average individuals who, with the support of their families, have been able to take a key leadership role in a whole host of areas to improve the quality of life for their fellow citizens. We are extremely fortunate and I would hope that the member for Shelburne and the Minister of Labour, who intimidated me so much when I saw him answering questions today - I was really intimidated to get up and ask questions - I am sure that he also has in his community - I know he does - dedicated, hard-working volunteers; whether they be in the groups like those I have mentioned or the volunteer fire persons in his community, those who are involved in planning processes from the community level, those who are visiting the shut-ins and the ill, those in the Lions Clubs and the Kinsmen Clubs across the community.

In fact, last weekend, the Lions Club of Sackville had an open forum and I believe that the Mahone Bay Lions Club had such a meeting the week before where they had a meeting. They spent of their own monies to advertise so that there could be a forum where different volunteer organizations, service groups within the community could set up displays so that members of the community could come in and find out what kinds of services are available within the community.

I would hope that all members on the government side as well will get to their feet and speak about the importance of voluntarism and how fortunate we are. Here we are, we are the politicians, we often get far more - I must admit - publicity than we deserve; certainly often more recognition than we deserve. But who doesn't get that recognition for what they do very often are the volunteers, the unpaid volunteers and their families.

I certainly am pleased to support this. Somebody pointed out that the process for selecting those who will be the volunteers of the year go through a far more vigorous selection process than who the members will be of the new Nova Scotia Business Inc. that this government is setting up. Especially, after the first members were appointed, the successive members will not have to go through a fraction of the kind of scrutiny that the person or persons who are going to be appointed and selected and I would suggest receive a well-deserved honour for this award.

[Page 808]

We all have to remember and I am sure that members do, I am sure that the member for Antigonish, the new member for Cape Breton North - and here is an opportunity for the member for Cape Breton North to get up and speak.

AN HON. MEMBER: I would love to hear him.

MR. HOLM: I would love to hear him again and I'd love to hear him speak positively about all the dedicated efforts being made in his community. The member for Preston wants to be able to speak and, Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the member for Preston through you, sir - because I am not allowed to talk to him directly across the floor - if he can get permission from his Government House Leader, he too will be allowed to get on his feet and speak on this bill. (Interruptions)

Somebody said that he has spoken once and that is all he is allowed to speak during the session. Well, Mr. Speaker, I seem to remember that the Tories, when they were over here - they had more vision then - they talked about the importance of having the opportunity to have free votes. They also talked about not stifling their backbench members.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Just to remind the honourable member that we are talking about Bill No. 10, the Order of Nova Scotia, and I would appreciate it if you would bring your comments back to that bill, please.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is out of order.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition is suggesting you are out of order but I will allow you to continue until we see how you bring yourself back to the bill.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you. I do appreciate, very much, you reminding me of the rules, and because, of course, I do not wish to trespass, bringing me back to the bill. So therefore, I have to make my comments relevant to the member for Preston.

What I say to you, Mr. Speaker, to make the comments relevant is that I know that the member for Preston has, within his community, and it is a community that is noted for their social activists and for those who will be fighting for justice and equality and all the . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: All the good things.

MR. HOLM: All the good things like that. I am not feeling very articulate tonight but the member for Preston knows what I am talking about and I think it would be appropriate, Mr. Speaker, for the member for Preston to have an opportunity to stand up and to speak about what is often the strongest strength in our community. This bill affords members that opportunity to talk about that. It does give them that opportunity.

[Page 809]

It talks about having an advisory council. It talks about, and I think this is important, that a vacancy on the advisory council does not impair the right of the remaining members to act with regard to the business in this bill, Mr. Speaker. I think overall that the process and the individuals who are to be appointed to the advisory council, the selective process is extremely important. Quite honestly, I think that the kind of selective process that is involved here, maybe the minister is setting a positive example for his colleagues.

Maybe the Minister of Economic Development will look at the leadership being shown by the Minister of Tourism and Culture. Now the Minister of Tourism and Culture is suggesting by his actions - I am not speaking to him, I am speaking to you, Mr. Speaker, but he is suggesting I am drawing a long bow. I don't think when I am suggesting that he is showing leadership, I mean if he doesn't want to accept a compliment, that is fine but I think that the process he is suggesting in bringing forward shows leadership compared to what I have seen, certainly from other government members.

Now I know that I have about 45 minutes left if I choose to use it but, Mr. Speaker, I don't choose to use it. That is why I didn't get up and say I wish to speak and say a few words tonight. That is usually a signal that I plan to talk for a long time. I have had a little bit of fun in the conversation this evening as well.

[7:15 p.m.]

However, I do, in my wrap-up comments, want to make a couple of very simple points. One, certainly I support the concept and what the bill is trying to do. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, there are many Nova Scotians, and I would suggest to you that in each and every one of our constituencies there are Nova Scotians who deserve this award and this honour; in fact often more than one. We are extremely fortunate. We also know that in each of our communities our jobs are made so much easier because of the work that is being done by those volunteers. We know that there are people in this province who are eating and having the opportunity to have a proper, nutritious diet because despite the fact that Community Services will not, and does not, provide enough money for many clients to be able to purchase a balanced diet, we have dedicated volunteers working in food banks. Hopefully, someday, those volunteers will no longer be needed.

We have volunteers in the fire departments who are raising money to pay for the equipment and the other supplies that are needed and used to defend the lives and properties of those who live within their communities. In so doing, they are also saving the taxpayers money because if they were not there - and the auxiliaries that help them by raising monies - if those services which are essential were not being provided, there would have to be a higher charge on the tax rate to provide that service. We have those who are going and visiting the sick and the shut-ins in hospitals, who are providing that essential service, because often the staff now are so overworked that they do not have the time that they once did to provide that individual attention. Not that they don't want to, but that they simply do not have that time.

[Page 810]

We are all extremely fortunate to have benefited from the volunteers. I think that it is appropriate in this year, the year to recognize the volunteer, that Nova Scotia is going to be establishing this award. It is going to be a tremendous honour to those who are going to receive it. We already have awards given out for the Volunteer of the Year Awards in different communities and groups, and each year we have a ceremony and the members are introduced in this Legislature who have often received those awards. We then have ceremonies in the community. So, when you are having this award for the entire province I think that it is extremely important.

I will be voting for this bill to go forward and I look forward to the Government House Leader signalling to his caucus colleagues - the member for Shelburne, the member for Queens, the member for Dartmouth South, the member for Preston, the member for Chester-St. Margaret's, and all the others - that here is an opportunity for you to stand on your feet and to sing the praise of the men, women, and youth in your communities who are working so hard and giving so much of themselves and of their family time for the benefit and service of their fellow man within their community. We all owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise this evening and recognize the efforts of the good minister who has brought this bill forward. Heavens know, at times I am a little critical of this good minister and this evening I have to sing praises for him because he has finally become successful in bringing something with good value into the House. In fact, although sometimes I criticize the minister from Cape Breton, certainly I would be one of the first to recognize his efforts on behalf of the entire province, particularly when it pertains to this bill. It is gratifying to realize and recognize that he is finally having an impact over there. Somebody is hearing him for once.

Mr. Speaker, I think this is a very important bill to bring forward, particularly this year because, as almost everyone now is aware, this is the International Year of Volunteers. When I think of volunteers, we should be so grateful that we have such a strong force in our voluntarism in this province. I look at volunteer fire departments, for instance, I am familiar with several in my own constituency, particularly South Side Boularderie, Boisdale, Christmas Island, Frenchvale, Florence, Westmount, Coxheath. We have so many. We are very fortunate that we have firefighters in our community who contribute a great deal to our community. In fact, of all the volunteers I had the pleasure of being associated with over my lifespan, volunteer firefighters are among the best in the country in this province. I think it is gratifying to see that their efforts are being recognized in the community.

[Page 811]

Of course, being a volunteer firefighter, whether it be a fire lady or a fire gentleman, Mr. Speaker, their contribution, of course, is equal. I know fire ladies who just recently became involved in the fire service in the CBRM and they are contributing a tremendous amount to their communities and, of course, to the individual fire departments they belong to and have decided to join. So for all those fire ladies out there, they are certainly having an impact on the fire service in the province.

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is also very important to recognize other volunteers throughout the province. We have volunteers within the Canadian Cancer Society, and I would like to recognize their efforts. I am familiar with many of the volunteers in the Cape Breton area who are providing their efforts in helping the Canadian Cancer Society reach its goal of raising money through individual efforts. For instance, April, is a good month for this to come before the House because as all Nova Scotians know April is Cancer Month.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes that we are discussing the principles of Bill No. 10, the Order of Nova Scotia. I would ask him to bring himself back to the principle of that bill.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, sometimes I do, I get in my thoughts, especially when we talk about volunteers, particularly in my own community of Cape Breton The Lakes and I am sure we all feel the same, that volunteers are a very important aspect of community life. That is why this bill is so important, because we now recognize the fact that their efforts are vital to our communities. As I was saying, I know it is difficult, April is Cancer Month here in Nova Scotia. In saying that, the Canadian Cancer Society volunteers, in their efforts, go door-to-door campaigning to raise money for cancer research.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, their contribution toward the difficulty in finding the cure for cancer . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. For the second time, I am going to remind the honourable member we are speaking on Bill No. 10, the Order of Nova Scotia, and I will remind him of irrelevance. If he continues along the line I will call for the next speaker.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, but in referring to those volunteers I am trying to get the message out that I feel that it is so important for this minister to bring this bill before this House this year, the International Year of Volunteers; this month, Cancer Month in Nova Scotia, the Order of Canada, I can continue on and on, but I know you want me to refer directly to the bill and I will try to keep my comments to the bill.

[Page 812]

Mr. Speaker, another important aspect, I know I spoke about cancer volunteers, firefighters and various volunteers throughout the community, however, it is important I believe to recognize that the benefit from this bill will be in our cultural life. Individuals within our cultural society in this province are eligible to win this award and to belong to this Order of Nova Scotia. I know my good friend and colleague, the honourable member for Cape Breton East, soon hopefully to become Glace Bay. There is a community there that I think it is important to recognize for 100 years that town was built on the backbone . . . (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think for the third and last time I will call upon the next speaker, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

Order, please.

I would just remind the honourable member that we are speaking to the principle of Bill No. 10, the Order of Nova Scotia. I know the honourable member did not take part in the debate earlier. It is just to remind you that is what is before the House at this time.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise and speak on Bill No. 10, An Act to Establish the Order of Nova Scotia. At the outset I would like to state that I will certainly be supporting this particular piece of legislation. I believe it is an excellent piece of legislation, perhaps one of the few excellent pieces of legislation that this government has brought before the House since its election a little more than a year ago.

Mr. Speaker, there are a variety of reasons as to why this particular piece of legislation has merit. First of all, we have many distinguished Nova Scotians, many native sons and daughters who have travelled throughout the world and have made a name for themselves and have made this province very proud. Not only on the provincial stage, but the national stage and internationally. That is why I will support this particular piece of legislation. (Applause)

I am not finished yet, Mr. Speaker, I am just getting warmed up. There are many very distinguished Nova Scotians. We have to ask ourselves what exactly does this particular piece of legislation set out to do? Obviously, it establishes the Order of Nova Scotia, much like the Order of Canada, or several other provincial orders to honour those who have made important contributions to different aspects of life in Nova Scotia; much the same as, for example, in our upcoming annual meeting for the Liberal Association of Nova Scotia, we

[Page 813]

will be honouring 11 very prominent Nova Scotians for their contribution, not just for the political Party, the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia but to Nova Scotia in general, coming from all different walks of life. Yes, Mr. Speaker, we would even consider nominating very prominent Tories should they so choose to see the light.

[7:30 p.m.]

To stick to the focus of this particular piece of legislation, we do have very prominent Nova Scotians who have received the Order of Canada and have made a very profound and longstanding commitment to their province, in a very unselfish manner. That is really what it is all about, giving of oneself for the benefit of others, not singularly looking for self-praise, self-gratification, self-financial gain but rather for the well-being of their community, of their county, of their province and to ensure that we have a better place to live.

That is really what it is all about. I commend the Minister of Tourism and Culture for bringing this particular piece of legislation forth. It is certainly an opportunity for us to stand tall with other provincial jurisdictions that honour their citizens, much in the same manner as other provincial jurisdictions, like in Edmonton, Alberta, when they renamed one of their boulevards Gretzky Boulevard, to honour a very distinguished Canadian who has made us proud worldwide, not just in North America. We have seen a lot of very prominent Nova Scotians and even not so many prominent Nova Scotians that have done this province very proud. I am sure each and every MLA, if he or she were to go back to their constituency, would find at least one, possibly many individuals, who would certainly be qualified to measure up to such a significant recognition.

Another good thing, keeping with the government's so-called agenda and election platform, this really doesn't cost a lot, does it? It is not going to raise our taxes, in fact, in many ways, it may help to lower our taxes. The more prominent we are on the national and international stage, people will want to come. As they come, they will have to stay in hotel rooms, they will go to restaurants, and all the goods and services that will be derived because of this particular piece of legislation. If you look at it from a positive perspective, positive things will happen. What about all the craft shops and gift stores. When these people, friends and relatives from all over the world will come. It may even raise the spectre of Sunday shopping. It may even do that. (Interruptions) We would certainly have to give some serious consideration to whether we would support that or not. I am not so sure we would.

I am glad the honourable Minister of Justice has finally decided to jump into the fray on this because he was the one who said, we haven't made a decision yet, but what he forgot to tell everybody is that he brought a request to Cabinet last fall asking for that to be approved. He forgot to tell the red tape task force that. So I am not so sure that he would qualify for the Order of Nova Scotia. That is not really what it is all about. That is a little misdemeanour and well, somebody says, he can sing, Out on the Mira. Would you recommend John Buchanan? Well, I am not so sure. We certainly would not recommend him

[Page 814]

for his ability to balance the budget. Even for those very distinguished Nova Scotians who have passed on such as Hank Snow, why not? There is nothing in the legislation that says you have to be living to be awarded this particular honour, because family, one year - you are only allowed to die one year before the order is (Interruptions.) Mr. Speaker, I hear the Minister of Justice say that if I were to pass on that the government would remember me fondly. I can certainly appreciate that but I don't know how fondly I would want to be remembered by certain members of the Opposition.

It is a very serious and a very distinguished honour that we as a government can bestow on our citizens. It is something that we can be proud of. It is something for the individual or individuals who receive this particular honour, that they make not only themselves proud, but their family, their children, their grandchildren and in some cases their great-grandchildren. We see it done at the universities when individuals who have made outstanding contributions in the field of education or community service, or the social sciences or what have you, they are bestowed honorary doctorate degrees. I think that is good because people respect these individuals. They are leaders and because they are leaders we as a province become a leader. That is good because that augurs well for each and every one of us.

As legislators sometimes we have a tendency to come into this House and get caught up in the flurry of activity and the business of the House and - maybe not intentionally - forget, really, who sent us here. It is the everyday, average Nova Scotian, the hard-working Nova Scotians who are out there toiling, paying the bills. In their own quiet way they are building our province, making it the great province that it is. That is why it was one of the four provinces that brought us into Confederation and this government is doing honour to all those individuals who have made this province what it is today. I commend the Minister of Tourism and Culture for this - it is probably one of the few times I will commend him, but you have to give credit where credit is due.

Mr. Speaker, I know you yourself have very distinguished Nova Scotians living in your constituency. If we go back 30 years, 25 years even, when Anne Murray was just trying to get a start in the music industry, going from one small music stop to the next at local town halls and coffee clubs and so on, she had to work as hard as hard could be, much the same as other very distinguished Nova Scotians, like Natalie MacMaster and . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Will the honourable member for Cape Breton West allow for an introduction?

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

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

[Page 815]

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and I thank the honourable member for Cape Breton West for permitting me to make this introduction. He was just in full flight and he was espousing the great virtues of our Nova Scotian constituency out there. I certainly agree with the comments that the honourable member made.

It gives me great pleasure, Mr. Speaker, through you and to all members of the Legislature to introduce some guests in the East Gallery and I would like to introduce, guests that are accompanying our very capable MLA for Queens, Kerry Morash. With him are Susan and Jordan Morash of Liverpool and Sherry MacPherson of Halifax. I would ask them to rise and receive a warm welcome from the Nova Scotia Legislature. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I would certainly welcome our guests here this evening and also that they could watch this interesting debate taking place on the floor of the Legislature this evening.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: You yourself, Mr. Speaker, when you won the Medal of Bravery, that in itself (Prolonged applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I should really call the honorable member on relevancy, but I will allow him a little leniency tonight. (Laughter)

The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: It is very relevant, Mr. Speaker, because isn't that how great Nova Scotians become recognized? It is for the little things they do all added together. They seem so insignificant at the time, but when you put that whole mosaic of your life together, perhaps someday you too, Mr. Speaker, will receive the Order of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

But, of course, we realize that there are certain limitations for elected officials. Well, Mr. Speaker, perhaps if I could be a little bit personal for a moment, I know a very distinguished Nova Scotian, a family member. My mother has been the longest-serving 4-H leader in Canada; sixty-four years. (Applause) (Interruption) I am one of 14 children so I will let the Minister of Justice decide for himself how old I am. Here is a very determined lady. Certainly a woman before her time when long before women were recognized as playing a very key role in the market place, she taught for 45 years and missed one-half day in 45 years. Now, that is a commitment. If it were me, I do not think I would be teaching for 45 years.

I am sure we can go around this province and there are many individuals such as Dr. Marion MacKinnon. (Interruption) I am not going there, it is a very important topic and it is a very serious topic and I see that within this particular piece of Legislation, there is to be an

[Page 816]

advisory council, which, as I understand, the president of the Executive Council - in other words, the Premier - is able to appoint five of them. Clause 8(1)(f) calls for, "one other person appointed by the President of the Executive Council;"

That is good because what we do is we involve everyday, average Nova Scotians in this process. This is the type of leadership that produces some of the finest leadership qualities to be brought to the forefront which puts us second to none in this country; some individuals that you would least expect have provided leadership in a very statesman-like fashion in manners and ways that we would not even think about: our very own Sergeant-at-Arms in his capacity with the native community, the leadership that he has provided. What about individuals such as Chief Donald Marshall, Sr., who is probably one of the most respected native leaders that this province, if not this country, has ever seen? (Applause)

[7:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I had the good fortune of knowing Chief Marshall and I can assure all members of this House that he was not just a great man, he was a superb, very honourable, distinguished and proud man who made all his native community very proud and, indeed, when you consider some of the trials and tribulations that he, not only as a leader of his people but as a family man, had to endure for years, for all the wrong reasons, and the grace and the honour for which he and his family dealt with that matter, that in itself would speak volumes as to why individuals, everyday average Nova Scotians, such as Donald Marshall, Sr., would certainly qualify.

Mr. Speaker, even in my own community, my own constituency, individuals such as Rita MacNeil, although she became (Interruptions) I know if the tea room was open today, she would invite everybody down for a cup of Salada tea; I think that is her favourite tea. But aside from the great notoriety that individuals have achieved, such as Natalie MacMaster, Rita MacNeil and Anne Murray, it is the process which they went through and how they handled themselves to attain such great honour, distinction and success, that is what it is all about and that is what this Order, I would hope, stands for. It is process. It is a measure of the people who we claim to be.

I am sure Joseph Howe would be very proud of such a piece of legislation before this House; he would certainly have qualified. Despite the fact that the Tory Government of the day tried to prevent him from speaking freely - freedom of the press - he fought them and I am sure a lot more Joseph Howes will come along.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind the honourable member that he is to be speaking to the principle of Bill No. 10, the Order of Nova Scotia Act. If he would like to submit his list to the minister, I am sure he would consider those names. I would ask the member to bring himself back to the bill, please.

[Page 817]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it is so very easy to get caught up because, as I have stated earlier during my dissertation, it is easy, if each individual member would stop and think, they could go to their respective community and identify some very distinguished Nova Scotians. I have just mentioned a few who I have come to know personally and some that I don't know personally. It certainly would make us stand tall with at least eight other provinces in this country that have a similar provincial order, and that is good. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, am I missing something here?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Yes, you are, actually. Again, we are speaking on the principle of Bill No. 10, the Order of Nova Scotia Act, and I would ask the honourable member to bring himself back to speak about the bill, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, what is the principle of the bill? The whole principle is to give some recognition in a very special way to some of our sons and daughters here in Nova Scotia. That is the principle that the bill represents. This is what the government tells us that this legislation is all about. The government should perhaps, and the minister, as my colleague has so rightfully injected in a very quiet fashion, expand a little more. What are the terms of reference going to be for an individual to qualify? That is not really spelled out. Is that going to be done by regulation? Where are we going to do it? Are we going to do it in Washabuck, Digby Neck or right here at Province House?

Mr. Speaker, it is important to know that. Will we honour them, much as they do in other provinces by having a certain place in Province House or some provincial institution where all their pictures are posted with a caption of who they are and a little bit of their background and what they have done to achieve that particular distinction?

Mr. Speaker, in 20, 40 or 50 years time, our children and our children's children will want to know who is that Murray Scott who received the Order of Nova Scotia, who was he? It is not just good enough to come to the House of Assembly and see him marked on a plaque here as a Speaker. That is not the same thing. So what special institution, in what hallowed halls will we be placing these portraits? This particular issue, will it be included in the curriculum of Nova Scotia's educational program that will help us in our civics to know our history and our people and where we have come from and what we have become and really what this province represents.

I think, Mr. Speaker, we could even nominate a socialist at some point in the future. It is a possibility. It is a very remote possibility. It is a very remote, remote possibility, but not likely. But where there is life, there is hope; that is what I always say. Hope springs eternal. (Interruption) That is another issue. We are now doing everything by the Internet. Shall we be posting these (Laughter) (Interruptions)

[Page 818]

Mr. Speaker, I am so proud of this legislation. It's the glasses. I have seen the light. But, on a serious note, and I think all members would certainly concur, that this is something that, despite all the levity that has been put before the House here, despite all the different rationales to support this particular piece of legislation, I believe that it certainly sets the stage for something even more important, and that is that we, as Canadians, can demonstrate to the powers that be within our capital city that we are just not the poor cousins in Canada from a have-not province, that we are proud of our history, our culture, who we are as a people.

We are so fortunate. When you turn on the TV and you see all the death and destruction and the desecration around the world and we are in a position to be able to even debate this particular piece of legislation. To encourage the average Nova Scotian to feel that just because they haven't the money and the power or the opportunity to be able to stand in places like this, that they are as equal and as important as anyone else in Nova Scotia. That's what is important. Because it makes us all equal. That is what Nova Scotia is. We have to be proud.

I congratulate the Minister of Tourism and Culture because with his background, Mr. Speaker, he understands. His background in music and culture and that is very important particularly when we recognize the history of where we came from, even before we were a part of Nova Scotia, when we were a separate colony, between 1784 and 1820, when we were not a part of Nova Scotia. We had our own capital. We had our own seat of government. I would daresay there would be a fair number in this Legislature that wouldn't even be aware of that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Because of the hour, would the honourable member for Cape Breton West like to move adjournment of the debate, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Yes, I will, Mr. Speaker. I so move.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate.

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 Government House Leader.

[Page 819]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet on the morrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. The House will sit from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. or until we have completed four hours of estimates.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

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

[The House rose at 7:57 p.m.]

[Page 820]

NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 330

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas the agriculture industry is an important contributor to economic growth and prosperity in rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Knol Farms, through its owner Henry Knol, proudly employs 50 seasonal workers and many additional full-time employees to process 340,000 kilograms of fresh strawberries and 227,000 kilograms of rhubarb each year; and

Whereas Knol Farms was recently awarded the prestigious Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) certification in recognition of the high quality of Knol Farms' agricultural products;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House proudly recognize the hard work and integrity of Knol Farms which resulted in their HACCP certification, which assures their customers of a high level of food safety and quality.