The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 01/02-80

HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Second Session

TUESDAY, APRIL 9, 2002

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother: Nat'l Day of Mourning -
Proclamation, The Speaker 8013
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Commun. Serv. - Women's Resource Centre (Antigonish): Budget -
Approve, Mr. D. Dexter 8014
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2976, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother - Remembrance,
Hon. M. Baker 8014
Vote - Affirmative 8015
Res. 2977, Yom haShoah, Holocaust Mem. Day: April 9, 2002 -
Recognize, Hon. R. Russell 8015
Vote - Affirmative 8016
Res. 2978, St. Patrick's-Alexandra - CD Release: Participants -
Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 8016
Vote - Affirmative 8017
Res. 2979, Tourism & Culture: Industry - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8017
Vote - Affirmative 8018
Res. 2980, The Event: Participants - Congrats., Hon. G. Balser 8018
Vote - Affirmative 8019
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2981, Doucet, Lesley Anne - Yarmouth Cons. Mem. HS:
Staff/Students - Fundraising, Mr. D. Dexter 8019
Vote - Affirmative 8020
Res. 2982, Helmet Legislation - Smith, Dr. James: Commitment -
Thank, Mr. Manning MacDonald 8020
Vote - Affirmative 8022
Res. 2983, Vimy Ridge, Battle: Anniv. (85th) - Remembrance,
Hon. R. Russell 8021
Vote - Affirmative 8022
Res. 2984, N. Sydney Credit Union - Women: Participation -
Urge/Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 8022
Vote - Affirmative 8023
Res. 2985, Credit Union - Anl. Meeting: Opening - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 8023
Vote - Affirmative 8024
Res. 2986, Gibson, Joe/Freedom Fdn. - Congrats., Mr. T. Olive 8024
Vote - Affirmative 8025
Res. 2987, Doucet, Lesley Anne - Commun. Serv.: Funding -
Restoration Congrats., Mr. J. Pye 8025
Res. 2988, Helmet Legislation: Importance - Recognize, Dr. J. Smith 8026
Vote - Affirmative 8026
Res. 2989, Sports: Port Hawkesbury Strait Pirates Jr. Hockey Club -
Congrats., Mr. Ronald Chisholm 8026
Vote - Affirmative 8027
Res. 2990, Gov't. (N.S.) - Ship Building/Offshore Ind.: Import Duty -
Maintain, Mr. H. Epstein 8027
Vote - Affirmative 8028
Res. 2991, Nat'l. Wildlife Wk. (07-14/04/02) - Recognize,
Mr. K. MacAskill 8028
Vote - Affirmative 8029
Res. 2992, Harrowsmith Country Life - Wolfville: Recognition -
Congrats., Hon. D. Morse 8029
Vote - Affirmative 8029
Res. 2993, Macdonald, Sir John A., HS: Improv Team - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8030
Vote - Affirmative 8030
Res. 2994, Sysco - Cleanup Fund: Gov't. (N.S.) - Expend,
Mr. P. MacEwan 8030
Res. 2995, Rector, Lloyd "Animal": Silver Spoke Award - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 8031
Vote - Affirmative 8031
Res. 2996, Rockingstone Elem. Sch.: Citizenship Court/Citizens -
Congrats., Mr. Robert Chisholm 8032
Vote - Affirmative 8032
Res. 2997, Atl. Burn Camp: C.B. Firefighters Burn Care Soc. -
Congrats., Mr. B. Boudreau 8032
Vote - Affirmative 8033
Res. 2998, Estabrooks, William: Melvin Jones Award - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Corbett 8033
Vote - Affirmative 8034
Res. 2999, Vimy Ridge, Battle - Remembrance, Mr. D. Wilson 8034
Vote - Affirmative 8034
Res. 3000, Health - New Waterford Hosp.: Urgent Care Ctr. -
Concept Reject, Mr. P. MacEwan 8035
Res. 3001, Econ. Dev. - Loans: Write-offs - Accuracy, Mr. H. Epstein 8035
Res. 3002, Brennick, Mary Frances: Can. Down Syndrome Soc. -
Poster Representative, Mr. B. Boudreau 8036
Vote - Affirmative 8036
Res. 3003, Sports - Clare Bantam B Team: Birthplace of Hockey -
Championship, Mr. W. Gaudet 8036
Vote - Affirmative 8037
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 827, Fin. - Books: Cooking - Admit, Mr. D. Dexter 8038
No. 828, Commun. Serv. - Transition Houses: Bed Closures -
Status, Mr. D. Wilson 8040
No. 829, Fin.: Budget (2002-03) - Accuracy, Mr. D. Dexter 8040
No. 830, Commun. Serv. - Small Options Home (Dart.): Situation -
Resolve, Mr. D. Wilson 8042
No. 831, Health: Research - Funding, Mr. G. Steele 8043
No. 832, Health - Northside: Acute Care - Needs, Mr. B. Boudreau 8044
No. 833, Fin. - Deficit ($50 M): Secretiveness - Explain, Mr. D. Dexter 8046
No. 834, Tourism & Culture: McConnell Fam. Fdn. - Status,
Mr. D. Downe 8047
No. 835, Commun. Serv. - Transition Houses/Women's Centres:
Funding - Return, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8049
No. 836, Health - Budget (2002-03): Adherence - Assure, Dr. J. Smith 8050
No. 837, Commun. Serv.: Masonview Homes - Funding, Mr. J. Pye 8051
No. 838, Econ. Dev. - Seagull Pewter: Sale - Status,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8052
No. 839, Nat. Res. - Sustainable Forestry Fund: Buyers -
Compliance, Mr. J. MacDonell 8053
No. 840, Health - Capital Dist.: Wait List - Numbers, Dr. J. Smith 8054
No. 841, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Budget Lockup -
Info. Dissemination, Mr. W. Estabrooks 8056
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8057
Mr. B. Boudreau 8061
Mr. B. Taylor 8065
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:32 P.M. 8069
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 5:59 P.M. 8069
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Tourism & Culture - Arts Council: Operation - Resume:
Mr. H. Epstein 8070
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8074
Mr. D. Downe 8076
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 10th at 2:00 p.m. 8080
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3004, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Minister's Award -
Petite Passage Ferry Crew, Hon. G. Balser 8081
Res. 3005, Dart. Seniors' Ctr. - Volunteer Awards: Recipients -
Congrats., Mr. T. Olive 8081

[Page 8013]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 9, 2002

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. By proclamation of the Governor General of Canada, today has been declared a National Day of Mourning for the people of Canada to honour the memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

As a sign of our respect and affection for the Queen Mother, and in sympathy with Her Majesty The Queen, I invite the House to rise while the Sergeant-at-Arms drapes the Mace for the remainder of today's sitting, after which we will stand for one moment of silence in respect for the Queen Mother.

All rise, please. The Sergeant-at-Arms will drape the Mace.

[The Sergeant-at-Arms draped the Mace.]

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Queen.

8013

[Page 8014]

[God Save The Queen was sung by the members.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect:

Therefore be it resolved that the government should admit its mistake and permit the duly-appointed Arts Council to resume its operation.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 963 residents of the Town and County of Antigonish, the operative clause of which reads, "As citizens and residents of the Town and County of Antigonish, we call upon the Honourable Angus MacIsaac, as our elected representative in the provincial legislature, to ensure that the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre is adequately funded and that the budget submitted to the Minister of Community Services for April 1, 2002 to March 31, 2003 is approved in the amount requested." I have affixed my name to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 2976

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

[Page 8015]

Whereas it is with sorrow that the Commonwealth marks this day as the Royal Family buries its most cherished member, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother; and

Whereas the rituals and ceremonies have come to and end and the Queen Mother is laid to rest, yet the fondness and admiration felt by millions will live on; and

Whereas for many Canadians, the Queen Mother, or the Queen Mom, as she was affectionately known, exemplified pride in tradition and, at the same time, embraced life and the world in which she lived;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House remember with respect the life of Her Majesty Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, buried today at the age of 101.

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 Deputy Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 2977

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

Whereas in March 2000, this Legislature unanimously passed Bill No. 27, the Holocaust Memorial Day Act; and

Whereas over 6 million Jewish men, women and children were killed in the Holocaust; and

Whereas this day, Holocaust Memorial Day, or Yom haShoah, provides all Nova Scotians with an opportunity to remember the victims of the Holocaust;

Therefore be it resolved that this House have a moment of silence to recognize today, April 9, 2002, as Yom haShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day.

[Page 8016]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Please be seated.

The honourable Minister of Education.

[12:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2978

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

Whereas in March, five junior high students from St. Patrick's-Alexandra School released a CD and performed a concert before friends, family and classmates; and

Whereas this is the second CD the school has produced as part of its School House Music Project; and

Whereas the project was supported by the 4Cs Foundation, which works to build meaningful relationship between students in the HRM and their communities through fine arts projects;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Alicia MacNeil, Allison Chaulk, Alishia Clayton, Madison Murray and Melissa Lutz for their accomplishment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8017]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce to the members of the House some visitors from a fair distance. The honourable Dr. Michael Armitage, from South Australia, is in the east gallery. I should say that he's no stranger to a Legislative Chamber, having served four years as the Minister of Health for South Australia. (Applause) Accompanying him from South Australia (Interruptions) Probably Progressive Conservative. (Laughter)

Mr. Speaker, accompanying him from South Australia is Bruce Linn. Bruce is a consultant with EDS Australia, which is a company that is no stranger to Nova Scotia. They are accompanied by two Nova Scotia representatives of EDS, Ron Swan and David Carrigan, who is the Vice President for the Altantic Region. I would ask all members to give these individuals a very warm Nova Scotia welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our guests to the gallery today. We hope you enjoy your stay with us here in Nova Scotia.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 2979

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's 2002 Spring Advertising and Promotional Campaign is now underway in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas this campaign consists of television advertising, a spring vacation ideas booklet and a spring feature on our Tourism Web site, NovaScotia.com; and

Whereas the Atlantic Canadian market represents over 50 per cent of non-resident visitation to Nova Scotia;

[Page 8018]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House help spread the word about all that Nova Scotia offers visitors, and congratulate our tourism industry for working for the benefit of all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 2980

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

Whereas the film, The Event, produced by Thom Fitzgerald and Bryan Houfbauer and starring Sarah Polley, Don MacKellar, Olympia Dukakis, Jane Leeves and Nova Scotians, Rejean Cournoyer, Chaz Thorne and Glen Michael Grant has recently wrapped up production in Halifax; and

Whereas the film industry in Nova Scotia has created 1,900 jobs and injected a record $137 million directly into Nova Scotia's economy this year; and

Whereas this government recognizes and supports the growth of the film industry as evidenced by the recent expansion of the film production tax credit to 2005, and by the leading of a trade mission to New York where the Premier visited the production site of this film;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize producers Fitzgerald and Houfbauer, and the entire cast and crew of The Event for the contribution to Nova Scotia's growing film industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8019]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by making an introduction, if I may. I would like to introduce to the House of Assembly, sitting in the west gallery, the members of a group that is visiting with us. They are legislative interns in the Province of Ontario. They are: Sara Lyons, Maria DiFabrizio, Lyndsey Saunders, Peter Hargreave, Samantha Majic, James Cairns, Nathan Fisher and Karim Burdeesy. I wonder if they could stand and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Again, we certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery today and to Nova Scotia.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2981

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday I got a bit of a taste of what it must be like to be on the other side in Question Period because they had plenty to ask. (Interruptions)

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

Whereas (Interruption) What's that? (Interruption)

Whereas we heard last week (Interruption) Mr. Speaker . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Leader of the Opposition on your notice of motion, please.

[Page 8020]

MR. DEXTER: Whereas we heard last week that Yarmouth student Lesley Anne Doucet was no longer eligible for food supplements from the provincial government, a situation that has been recently remedied; and

Whereas her fellow students and staff members from Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School banded together to raise $860 to send Lesley's parents, Norman and Susan Bethune, to help with the costs necessary to keep Lesley alive; and

Whereas all Nova Scotians can be proud of this compassionate gesture shown by the staff and students of Lesley's school;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and congratulate the staff and students of Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School for their donation to assist Lesley Anne Doucet.

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2982

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 Tory Government recently adopted mandatory helmet legislation for scooter riders, skateboarders and in-line skaters; and

Whereas this legislation has been enacted to save lives of young people in this province; and

Whereas significant discussion about this issue was brought to House debate by the honourable member for Dartmouth East, Dr. Jim Smith;

[Page 8021]

Therefore be it resolved that the Legislature thank Dr. Jim Smith for making the government see the viability of this legislation and his commitment to ensuring safety of our young people in Nova Scotia.

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 Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, before reading a resolution that I have here, I would like to introduce three guests in the Speaker's Gallery, three members of the Royal Canadian Legion - Mr. Stan Appleby, Mr. Cliff Young and Ms. Pat Peterson. I would ask all members to join with me in welcoming these comrades to the House today. (Standing Ovation)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 2983

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

Whereas today marks the 85th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge - a massive offensive by the Allies in the First World War where 7,004 Canadian soldiers were injured and 3,598 lost their lives; and

Whereas the Battle of Vimy Ridge occupies an important place in the history of Canada and Nova Scotia and has become synonymous with the concepts of sacrifice and heroism; and

Whereas many Royal Canadian Legions are named after this battle in recognition of Canada's collective values of freedom, of peace, and of tolerance;

Therefore be it resolved that today we remember the countless Canadians who fought and those who made the ultimate sacrifice 85 years ago today at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. (Applause)

[Page 8022]

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.

We certainly appreciate the attendance of the very special guests in the gallery today and, on behalf of all members, we would like to thank you for your service to this province and, indeed, to this country, thank you.

There has been an indication that the resolution by the honourable member for Cape Breton South - could you read the resolution part of it only, please, the Therefore be it resolved.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Therefore be it resolved the Legislature thank Dr. Jim Smith for making the government see the liability of this legislation and his commitment to ensuring safety of our young people in Nova Scotia.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 2984

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

[Page 8023]

Whereas women make up a large percentage of bank and credit union employees across Canada; and

Whereas the North Sydney Credit Union has 2,300 members and a 22.5 per cent asset growth this year, along with an 11.8 per cent loan growth increase; and

Whereas the credit union is completely staffed by women;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House make a commitment to assist in creating opportunities that encourage more women to become involved in management and policy-making and congratulate the women who successfully run the North Sydney Credit Union.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2985

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

Whereas the official opening of the Credit Union Annual Meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 9, 2002 at the Westin Nova Scotian; and

Whereas as 100 per cent locally owned, managed and directed financial institutions, the primary responsibility of credit unions is to invest in Nova Scotia, building jobs, businesses and communities; and

Whereas there are 45 credit unions with 84 branch locations and 52 ATMs across Nova Scotia serving approximately 166,000 credit union members;

[Page 8024]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the official opening of the Credit Union Annual Meeting here in Halifax and recognize the valuable role credit unions play in communities throughout Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2986

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

Whereas the Freedom Foundation's Dartmouth residence at 15 Brule Street is celebrating its 13th year providing temporary lodging and guidance for recovering addicts; and

Whereas the founder of the Freedom Foundation, Mr. Joe Gibson, recovered fully from alcoholism 25 years ago, and on returning home to Nova Scotia from Alberta, he first established Talbot House and later founded the Freedom Foundation, a transition house supporting adult men in recovery from alcohol, drugs and gambling abuse; and

Whereas since 1989 the Freedom Foundation has assisted more than 480 individuals by offering services which foster recovery from addictions and the development of positive self-image and self-worth in a secure and nurturing environment;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Joe Gibson and the Freedom Foundation for their compassionate work in assisting individuals who suffer from addictions to become contributing members of the community once again.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8025]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2987

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

Whereas Yarmouth resident Lesley Anne Doucet's terminal illness and rare degenerative brain disorder forced her to receive all her nutrition through a feeding tube at prohibitive cost to her family; and

Whereas the Department of Community Services recently informed the family that they would no longer cover the cost of Ms. Doucet's food after her 18th birthday; and

Whereas after this case came to the public eye and the Leader of the Opposition grilled the Minister of Community Services over his department's callous treatment of Ms. Doucet and her family, the minister relented and restored the funding to Ms. Doucet's family;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Minister of Community Services for doing the right thing and restoring the funding for the basic necessity of food to Lesley Anne Doucet.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 8026]

RESOLUTION NO. 2988

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

Whereas the government has introduced helmet legislation for scooter riders, skateboarders and in-line skaters; and

Whereas the legislation shall assist in reducing the number of head injuries with brain damage to young people; and

Whereas it is of the utmost importance for the government to be proactive in the prevention of injury to the people of this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the importance of this legislation be recognized and supported by the members of this Legislative Assembly.

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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

[12:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2989

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

Whereas after winning the provincial title before suffering a narrow loss in the Atlantic Junior "B" Hockey Championship game last year in Windsor, the Port Hawkesbury Strait Pirates were even hungrier this year for another Nova Scotia title and one more trip to the Atlantic Championships; and

[Page 8027]

Whereas the Strait Pirates defeated the Sackville Blazers for the Nova Scotia title less than two weeks ago before suffering another heartbreaking loss in the Atlantic Championship final Sunday afternoon in O'Leary, Prince Edward Island; and

Whereas the Strait Pirates, despite this loss, bring a strong and proud junior hockey tradition to the Strait area and have put forth formidable teams now for more than 30 years;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly applaud the significant accomplishments of the Port Hawkesbury Strait Pirates Junior Hockey Club despite their season ending loss Sunday afternoon, and wish them every success over the summer as fans await the 2002-03 hockey 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 Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 2990

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

Whereas in Halifax yesterday, European Free Trade Association negotiators met with members of the Nova Scotia offshore industry; and

Whereas negotiators commented that the only benefits for Canada in the proposed free trade agreement with Norway and Switzerland are greater access to markets for our horse meat, soup and potatoes; and

Whereas on the other side, Norway would benefit enormously by having Canada's 25 per cent import duty removed from offshore supply vessels and offshore marine services;

[Page 8028]

Therefore be it resolved that this House directs the Hamm Government to use its best efforts in lobbying the federal government to strengthen or at the very least maintain the import duty that protects our Nova Scotia shipbuilding and offshore industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 2991

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

Whereas this week from April 7th to April 14th has been designated National Wildlife Week; and

Whereas National Wildlife Week was created in honour of one of Canada's most influential naturalists, the late Jack Miner; and

Whereas established by an Act of Parliament in 1947, the week provides Canadians with an opportunity to celebrate wildlife and to take action to protect wild plants and animals;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize this week as National Wildlife Week and that all members be urged to participate in one way or another of the many local events that are taking place throughout the province as a result of National Wildlife Week.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8029]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2992

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

Whereas the magazine Harrowsmith Country Life recently recognized Wolfville as one of the best small towns to live, visit or escape to in its March-April edition; and

Whereas Wolfville's citizens are comprised of a wonderful multicultural mosaic, greatly enhancing an already delightful rural community; and

Whereas this small town is also the proud home of our own ivy league Acadia University and the world-class Atlantic Theatre Festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge and commend Harrowsmith's recognition of Wolfville as a very special and unique Canadian treasure, something Nova Scotians have known for quite some time.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 8030]

RESOLUTION NO. 2993

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

Whereas the Canadian High School Improv Championship is being held in Ottawa this week, from April 8th to April 13th; and

Whereas this year, for the first time, high schools from Nova Scotia competed in a provincial improv event; and

Whereas Sir John A. Macdonald High School's Improv team captured a gold medal at this competition, earning a berth in the Canadian championship;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Sir John A. Macdonald High School Improv Debating Team and Coach Lorraine Cantwell with best wishes for good luck in the national championship in Ottawa this week.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2994

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

Whereas the Sysco Environmental Remediation Fund of some $230 million is the largest unspent asset available to this government; and

Whereas instead of using this money, in large part the government just sits on it as a means of supposedly balancing their budget; and

[Page 8031]

Whereas to sit on such money, instead of addressing the serious environmental aftermath of steelmaking in Sydney, to keep financiers happy and to convince The Chronicle-Herald that this government has actually balanced its budget is unjustified and scandalous;

Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this House this government should spend the $230 million earmarked for the Sysco cleanup fund, and admit that if this were done its budget would have a deficit of $230 million rather than a claimed $1 million surplus.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2995

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

Whereas Lloyd "Animal" Rector of Bible Hill will become only the second Canadian east of Montreal to receive a coveted Silver Spoke Award from the National Coalition of Motorcyclists; and

Whereas Lloyd "Animal" Rector will receive the Fred Hill International Award, which is presented to a motorcycle activist who has furthered the cause of bikers internationally; and

Whereas the award is given for positive action on behalf of bikers, and previous recipients include Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and the late Dave Thomas;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Lloyd "Animal" Rector on earning a Silver Spoke Award and thank him for his many years in the biking fraternity of Nova Scotia as the Provincial Director for the Organization of Responsible Bikers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 8032]

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 2996

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

Whereas the Rockingstone Heights Elementary School in Halifax Atlantic is hosting a Citizenship Court on April 11, 2002; and

Whereas a total of 41 new Canadians from 19 different countries will receive Canadian citizenship on that day; and

Whereas as the MLA for Halifax Atlantic I have the honour of offering a welcoming address;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer congratulations to our newest citizens and to Rockingstone Elementary School for providing a welcoming environment for the Citizenship Court ceremony.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 2997

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

Whereas the annual Atlantic Burn Camp will take place August 18th to 25th at the Bible Camp location in New Campbellton, and has been organized by the Cape Breton Firefighters Burn Care Society; and

[Page 8033]

Whereas about 45 young people between the ages of 6 to17 participate in the annual camp; and

Whereas this camp provides an opportunity for young people to develop strong friendships with youth who return year after year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Cape Breton Firefighters Burn Care Society for their efforts and hard work in organizing the Atlantic Burn Camp and wish them success with their upcoming camp.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 2998

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

Whereas the Melvin Jones Award is the highest award in Lions International; and

Whereas the award recognizes a commitment to the community and to the idealism of Lionism; and

Whereas Bill Estabrooks of the St. Margaret's Bay Lions has been named as the Melvin Jones Fellow;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Bill Estabrooks on receiving this prestigious Melvin Jones Award from Lions International.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8034]

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.

Certainly, on behalf of all members, I offer congratulations to the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 2999

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

Whereas 85 years ago today marked this country's first major military battle; and

Whereas Vimy Ridge is Canada's most famous single victory of the Great War; and

Whereas the significance of this piece of history seems to be sadly slipping away from us;

Therefore be it resolved that we made a promise to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and those who are still with us, that promise being, "Lest we forget" the battle of Vimy Ridge.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 8035]

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3000

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

Whereas the Minister of Health has now explained the urgent care centre concept he plans to introduce at the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital; and

Whereas the minister states that this amounts to a centre that can operate 16 hours a day or 12, or eight, or be moved somewhere else altogether if this lackadaisical approach does not generate a positive response; and

Whereas if firefighting services were run the same way, this province would lose its firefighting capacity overnight;

Therefore be it resolved that the lack of care implicit in the urgent care concept, as defined by the Minister of Health, is not suited for New Waterford or for anywhere else in this province and ought, on grounds of principle, to be completed rejected.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 3001

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

Whereas this Tory Government deliberately underestimated the amount of money it will lose on bad loans this year; and

Whereas the government budgeted for only $500,000 in bad debts when previous experience shows that bad loans average an excess of $10 million yearly; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development surely has stretched the bounds in budgeting for one-twentieth of the average bad loan write-offs and our exposure on Orenda alone already far exceeds this ridiculously Pollyanna budget figure;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development acknowledge he has fudged the figures and tell this House what the real numbers will be in terms of write-offs for bad loans this year.

[Page 8036]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton the Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 3002

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

Whereas Mary Frances Brennick, of Bras d'Or, Cape Breton, is the poster representative for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society; and

Whereas Ms. Brennick was chosen from hundreds of other individuals, her picture is now on pamphlets across Canada and the United States; and

Whereas Ms. Brennick is very involved in her community, playing the violin, bowling, participating in the Special Olympics, and altar-serving for 15 years;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mary Frances Brennick of Bras d'Or, Cape Breton, on being the poster representative of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, and having her picture on pamphlets across Canada and the United States.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3003

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

[Page 8037]

Whereas the 7th Annual Birthplace of Hockey Tournament was held in Windsor, Nova Scotia, on March 8 to 12, 2002; and

Whereas in the championship game of this tournament, the Clare Bantam B Team defeated the West Hants Team 8 to 2; and

Whereas Ghislain LeBlanc, defenceman for the winning team, was named the MVP in the championship game;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Clare Bantam B Team, MVP Ghislain LeBlanc and all the coaches and parents for a job well done.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, just before you go into the business of Question Period, I wonder if you could ask the ministers who are absent - but who are in the House - to come back in because the benches over there are pretty scarce. Oh, here comes the star.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[12:45 p.m.]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: They're on their way, I think. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, just before we go into Question Period, I would like to rise on a point of order. Last Friday, a member indicated that I had papers in front of me and was reading on an answer that I replied to on Thursday. I did not read from

[Page 8038]

any piece of paper, but to clear up any confusion, I'm happy to table those pieces of paper here in my desk that might have caused that confusion. If that helps the issue, I'm happy to do so. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. While we're waiting (Interruptions) Order, please. While we're awaiting other business, if I could - in light of what the honourable Minister of Community Services has brought forward, one point I would like to clarify is that there were actually two points of order raised by the honourable member for Halifax Needham. On the first point, providing documents that were cited or referred to, obviously the minister - I want to make it clear to the House - has submitted that information voluntarily, because I did not rule that it had to be tabled. I didn't have the opportunity to.

The second part of it is that the honourable member for Halifax Needham brought forward the issue, during Question Period, of questions asked and information supplied by the minister to the House. After reviewing the information asked and supplied, and after reviewing Beauchesne as well, it's pretty obvious that it's not a point of order raised by the honourable member for Halifax Needham, although it is obviously a disagreement over the facts that are provided to this House by the honourable minister. On the point of order raised by the honourable member for Halifax Needham, it is not a point of order. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:47 p.m. and will end at 1:47 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - BOOKS: COOKING - ADMIT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, to no one's surprise, in public reports today, the Minister of Economic Development admitted that the province's estimates do not reflect actual spending. (Interruptions) What he admitted was that his department knowingly underestimated provisions for write-offs of bad loans by about $18 million. Well, what the minister admitted is that this budget isn't balanced at all. The government knowingly underestimated the write-offs in order to show a surplus. So I want to ask the Minister of Finance, why won't you come clean with your colleague and admit that you just cooked the books? (Interruptions)

[Page 8039]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The wording used by the honourable Leader of the Opposition borders on questioning the integrity of the minister. I will allow the honourable Minister of Finance to answer.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to point out to the honourable member - who obviously, as Leader of the Opposition, has a substantial group of researchers - that he should have done the research, because the amount of allowance for doubtful accounts in this year isn't $0.5 million, it's $3 million. I would ask you to go back to your research staff and have them do the work properly.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, regardless, the actual amount should be something like $18 million. The Minister of Finance lives by the motto that you can fool some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time, but he has to know that he can't fool all the people all the time. I want to ask the minister how could he possibly go about trying to trick the people of Nova Scotia into believing he had a balanced budget when he knew full well that he was running a deficit? (Interruptions)

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to stick to the question. In the last fiscal year the provision for doubtful accounts was higher than it was this year. This year we have made provisions for $3 million; $0.5 million in the Department of Economic Development and $2.5 million in Nova Scotia Business Inc. I would point out that last year was a difficult year for business; the events of September 11th had an impact on many different companies. Because of that, the numbers in the last fiscal year were higher than this year. The facts speak for themselves.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister is right about the facts speaking for themselves. Every year for the past five years the average write-off has been $15 million; $3 million is a made-up figure. It's imaginary. The Finance Minister's own Minister of Economic Development has given up the game. It's over, you cooked the books, you know it. It was an attempt to keep the truth from Nova Scotians; you know you didn't balance the budget. So I want to ask the Minister of Finance, will he come clean and commit to tabling the actual deficit that he plans to run this year?

MR. LEBLANC: We have tabled the right number. I want to point out that NSBI did take over the loan portfolios from the Minister of Economic Development's department and when they went through that, every account was reviewed and that would lend as to why the number is higher.

I should point out that over the last four or five years, commencing with the previous administration and continuing with this administration, we have moved more and more to performance-based types of incentives. The fact is that one of the major incentives that we are now using in this province to draw jobs here is to pay after the job has been created - something that the NDP wouldn't know anything about. The fact . . .

[Page 8040]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Glace Bay.

COMMUN. SERV. - TRANSITION HOUSES:

BED CLOSURES - STATUS

MR. DAVID WILSON: My question is for the Minister of Community Services. The Minister of Community Services is giving two differing accounts of the numbers of beds that will be closed at transition houses throughout this province. Can the minister clear this matter up today and inform Nova Scotians as to the number of beds that are going to be closed?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: As the honourable member knows, we have arranged a meeting next week for transitional houses and the women's centres to talk about where we're going to go on it. What I have said in this House and what I have said to other people is that we know that there is over-unused occupancy in the province and that's one of the issues we're going to address.

MR. WILSON: The minister knows full well that outside of this House he mentioned a figure that was as high as 70 but he has yet to repeat it since mentioning it outside of this House. I'm going to ask the minister again, yes or no, can he indicate the number of transition house beds that are going to close across this province?

MR. CHRISTIE: In discussions with the press the other day, we were talking about the unused capacity in beds. I don't know how many beds will be closing because we haven't completed the redesign with the regions and we will be starting to do that soon.

MR. WILSON: Well, if the minister cannot tell us, or refuses to tell this House the number of beds that are going to close, then perhaps what the minister can do is enlighten this House as to the contents of a report that deals with changes to the framework dealing with family violence. My question to the minister then is, will the minister table that report today before the end of this Question Period?

MR. CHRISTIE: In talking with the department this morning after we started to arrange the meeting with the transitional houses, the department is preparing agendas for the meeting and putting papers together to share with those people. Those papers aren't put together yet. When those papers are ready, they will be mailed out to the department.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN.: BUDGET (2002-03) - ACCURACY

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: I want to bring to the attention of the House the fact that the Minister of Finance's budget hid three major construction projects and the purchase of hospital equipment. These expenditures, which last year cost some $30 million, were simply

[Page 8041]

taken out of this year's estimates. If this minister had told the truth as he did in the previous three budgets, he would have been forced to report a deficit in the 2002 budget. My question to the minister is, why didn't you tell the truth in the budget you tabled last week?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, we did tell the truth and we did table a balanced budget. Those projects have been accounted for and they are included in the amortization in the Department of Health, so the member opposite is misstating the facts.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, he's going to sneak them onto the debt next year, but he is not going to account for them this year. The minister said himself, he promised Nova Scotians would get the truth, warts and all. Last year the estimates had $31 million for hospital equipment and construction; this year there is only $1 million. The true cost of new equipment and construction appears to be nowhere in the budget - nowhere at all. It's the Liberals who balance the budgets by hiding health care spending. My question then is, why has the minister decided to change the rules so that he can hide health care spending and claim a balanced budget?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious from the comments of the Leader of the Opposition that he has not done his homework. There has been a change from last year in how we did capital projects. Last year they were shown as an expense in the Department of Health and they were shown as a revenue in the DHAs. So they netted themselves out, which means it has no effect on the bottom line of the province, and for the member opposite to say so, he is misleading Nova Scotians.

MR. DEXTER: This is just so unbelievable. They are going to spend money, but it is going to have no effect on the bottom line. That is Tory economics. Well, he can twist and he can turn and he can shout and spin, and it doesn't make any difference because he can't hide the simple truth. The Liberals hid their deficit by leaving it in health board books and then quietly adding it to the provincial net debt. He's hiding a major piece of government expending in exactly the same way. My question is, when will the minister amend the estimates so they include hospital infrastructure, just as they did last year? When will he tell the truth, warts and all?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious from the questions from the Opposition, whether I told him the truth he wouldn't listen to it. I have stated, very clearly, that those capital expenditures will be done on those hospitals this year, that is part of our government commitment to those two hospitals. The fact of the matter is the amortization of those two projects are included in the estimates of the Department of Health. The numbers that we have tabled are accurate; for the member opposite to say otherwise is not the fact.

[Page 8042]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

COMMUN. SERV. - SMALL OPTIONS HOME (DART.):

SITUATION - RESOLVE

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Recently we heard that 15 residents of a small options home in Dartmouth will be discharged. While the department determined that 14 of those residents need constant supervision, the request for funding to provide that care has gone unanswered. Could the minister please confirm whether he has made any attempt today to resolve that situation before it is too late?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I am going to assume that the member's question is for a facility located in Dartmouth where people need special services and treatment. If that is the case and I am correct in what his question is, the answer is the department is still talking with them, we are still working our way through and we expect to have it resolved in the very near future.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the minister, if you recall, went through great fanfare to announce the release of the Kendrick report. However, like many other reports undertaken by this government, the recommendations so far have meant absolutely nothing. A government press release that was issued on February 13th of last year states, "While the report favours more resources for community-based options, it urges that new resources be invested in modernizing the system before expanding it." My question to the minister is, would he agree that paying staff for 24-hour care, as recommended by the department, would be a positive step in modernizing that system?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member brings forward the Kendrick report that has a great number of recommendations in it. It recommends a lot of changes and a lot of things that we need to do in the future. It also tells us that we have to stabilize that whole sector and that we have to not rush in doing it. The Kendrick report is a valuable report to the government and we are going to use it as we move forward.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, if the minister meant what he said, he would have implemented the recommendations of the Kendrick report a long time ago instead of letting it gather dust on a shelf somewhere, Mr. Minister. In a few weeks the residents of the home that I referred to, the small options home in Dartmouth, will be separated. Presently they are receiving appropriate care in the appropriate setting. So my final question to the minister is, will the minister endeavour to provide a positive resolution to this issue as soon as possible so that the residents of that home can rest easy and the staff can continue to provide the quality care?

[Page 8043]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in the answer to the first question, that's what the department is doing, working with the staff and the people from the home to be able to work through it to come to a resolution. Those people have special needs. They need to have a particular kind of care and we're working to make a resolve in that situation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

HEALTH: RESEARCH - FUNDING

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I have another example of how this government's budget is just hocus-pocus. Two years ago the province allocated $2.5 million to the Health Research Foundation, but actually gave them $5 million. Last year, strangely enough, the same thing happened, $2.5 million budgeted, but $5 million actually given.

Mr. Speaker, I couldn't help but notice that in this year's budget, the allocation to the Health Research Foundation is again $2.5 million. So my question to the Minister of Finance (Interruption) No, it's not.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before the honourable member asks his question, I just want to warn him to get into detail on the budget will be reserved for estimates. However, put the question, please.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I am well aware the minister won't want to answer this question, but he can't dance out of it that way. The question is, is it this government's policy to cut health research in half or is the minister cooking the books, which is it?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I find myself at a loss as to why we're doing estimates during Question Period, but I will point out that in the opening question the Leader of the Opposition stated that we had only made $0.5 million in provisions for doubtful accounts. I will table Page 52 of the Crown Corporation's business plans where it clearly outlines there's $2.5 million in there for NSBI's provisions. That shows the amount of research they're doing on that side.

MR. STEELE: Everybody watching and listening, I just hope everybody noticed that the minister didn't address my question at all because he knows what I'm saying is true. He gave an answer to the previous question that is completely misleading, Mr. Speaker, because he knows that the average spent on doubtful accounts over the last five years, Liberal and Tory, is $50 million. You set aside $3 million and it still doesn't cover it, but it is not the only way (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Fairview on your first supplementary, please.

[Page 8044]

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the Agriculture budget is fresh out of the oven as well. The minister, yesterday, admitted that he moved some of this year's spending on to last year's books - $2 million worth of national income stabilization payments. So my question to the Minister of Finance is, at what point in the budget process did this government decide to start fiddling the books to create a false surplus?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on Budget Day in regard to the Department of Agriculture, I did state up front that the Minister of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries had the opportunity to take part with a federal program prior to the year and we took advantage of that, but what he's talking about here I spoke very clearly and very concisely on Budget Day and if he didn't listen, I'm sorry about that.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, if the minister can point in Hansard to where he said that, that he had taken this year's spending and put it into last year's deficit, then let him table it. Let him table it today.

Mr. Speaker, the minister could stand on his pedestal if he had honestly reported the changes he had made in his accounting policies and if he had honestly reported the spending that he knows about. Instead, Nova Scotians are being forced to ferret out the information again to find out the real story about this budget, and the tragedy of the budget is that they have put good, solid common sense and good public policy to the side in order to produce this made-up surplus. So my question to the Minister of Finance is, what is the real bottom line of the province, and when are you going to level with the people of Nova Scotia?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I find the honourable member opposite's questions sort of confusing. He was in the Red Room when I answered questions to the press before I tabled the budget. He was present when I gave that explanation regarding the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. If he didn't know that, then he should talk with his researchers and review the question. The bottom line is that we brought the books of the province into accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. They may not like that, but having them open and transparent is something that Nova Scotians asked of us and we delivered. Obviously, they don't like it.

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

HEALTH - NORTHSIDE: ACUTE CARE - NEEDS

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last night, I attended a local meeting about the type of health care that residents can expect to receive in the future at the Northside General Hospital. They learned that approximately 40 per cent of the beds at the Northside have now been changed to long-term care beds. Former Premier Russell MacLellan had approved an expansion to the Miners Memorial Manor in Sydney Mines and the Northside Community Guest Home to deal with this

[Page 8045]

situation, expansions that this minister cancelled. Why is this minister ignoring the acute care needs of the people of the Northside when he could be honouring his Premier's first-year campaign promise to increase the number of long-term care beds in nursing homes?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, indeed there was a meeting on the Northside last evening at which those questions were discussed. I know that the question that the honourable member just asked received an answer last evening from the people on the ground there. Why he is asking it today, I am not sure, but I can tell you that the district health authority up there is managing the number of beds very well and using resources very wisely.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the residents didn't receive any answer in this regard and that's why I am asking the minister here today.

During the heat of the by-election, the minister visited the Northside hospital and made a commitment to the residents. My question to the minister is, could the minister please repeat the commitment he made to the residents of the Northside on Friday, March 2, 2001 while visiting the Northside facility?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I don't know the statement to which the honourable member is specifically referring, but indeed I have met with residents and representatives at that facility and also at long-term care facilities in that area on two or three occasions, at least, since I've been the Minister of Health. I believe what I would've said is that the Northside General Hospital has an important role to play in the health care system of the Cape Breton District Health Authority.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, if the minister can't recall, I can tell you that the people sure do. As the member for Cape Breton North was reminded last evening, they will remember come election time.

Mr. Speaker, these residents have seen acute care beds close, emergency rooms closing at different times of the day and evening and night, the maternity ward being closed for a year. The nurses are not being able to practice the skills in the maternity ward. The list goes on. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. It's very difficult to hear the honourable member who's on his feet right now. The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor, on his final supplementary, please.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question, why should the people on the Northside have any confidence in the ability, in your ability, Mr. Minister, to manage their health care needs?

[Page 8046]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, clearly the Department of Health does provide direction, but I'm reminded, in response to the honourable member, one that was given, I understand, to a local councillor up there the other night who raised the same issue, and a representative from the health authority stood on his feet and said, the Department of Health does give us money to run our business and provide overall direction, but the management of the health system belongs to us.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - DEFICIT ($50 M): SECRETIVENESS - EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, well, the Minister of Finance's performance today would make the auditors at Enron blush. We've demonstrated today that the Minister of Finance cooked the province's books. We've demonstrated that his claim of a balanced budget is, without a doubt, false. He hid capital costs in Health; he hid loan writeoffs; and he hid spending in Agriculture. This is what we've been able to ferret out so far. When you add it all up, the Minister of Finance is running a deficit of more than $50 million. My question to the Minister of Finance is this, why did you keep a $50 million deficit from the people of Nova Scotia?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I didn't. It is obvious from the questions from the Leader of the Opposition that he hopes that the province has a deficit position. This government says that we will be held accountable by our actions, something that I don't think those people would be prepared to do.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia doesn't have a balanced budget, and the Minister of Finance doesn't have any credibility. The minister can rant all he wants, and he can lose his temper like he always does, but the fact remains, he smudged the budget ink so that he could cover up a deficit. My question is this, why did the minister add cruelty to deception by cutting transition homes to support a budget he knew wasn't balanced anyway?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the budget is balanced. Those are the facts. For the member opposite to say otherwise is not the truth. The fact of the matter is that we have asked all Nova Scotians to take part in it. Obviously, that also refers to transition houses, to individuals, to travelling motorists of this province, to people who also use services of the province. It is all their province, collectively; and, collectively, Nova Scotians balanced this budget. For that, I think we all owe them a debt of gratitude.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance knows that what is at stake here is his credibility. We've just produced more than 50 million reasons why the minister has no credibility. I want to ask the Minister of Finance this simple question, when are you going to give the bottle of black ink back to the chamber of commerce?

[Page 8047]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I find this line of questioning unbelievable. I want to say that the first question he asked was in regard to how much allowance we had placed as a province in regard to bad debts. I have pointed out to the Opposition that their numbers were wrong. That probably points out that every other thing they said here today is wrong also. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

TOURISM & CULTURE: MCCONNELL FAM. FND. - STATUS

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Tourism and Culture. The former Nova Scotia Arts Council, that that particular government has just destroyed, was receiving close to $100,000 in grants from the McConnell Family Foundation for the inFusion Program which is now seriously in jeopardy. This funding was provided to the arts program for students, however, the McConnell Family Foundation does not fund agencies of government, especially those that aren't even at arm's length anymore with regard to its funding allocation. My question to the minister is, can the Minister of Tourism and Culture confirm for the members of this House that the donation by the McConnell Family of some $100,000 in their foundation has been cancelled, or will soon be cancelled, because of this government's decision to take over the Nova Scotia Arts Council?

[1:15 p.m.]

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member brings up a good question and that is regarding the Arts inFusion Program. The Arts inFusion Program is an important program such as the paints program is very important. We are now working with the McConnell Foundation to find out what exactly will be happening with that investment they have made in past years and we will continue. I will update the House as soon we have anything further to mention.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, just so that the minister can be aware, our caucus office has contacted the representatives of the McConnell Family Foundation and I will table their information in regard to funding for government agencies. The arts program is a very important program in the school system. It allows students to develop their creativity and learn to express themselves in a variety of ways. Now students are in jeopardy of not receiving the program. My question to the minister is, is this program going to be maintained by the Department of Tourism and Culture, or will such an important program be scrapped like he scrapped the Nova Scotia Arts Council?

[Page 8048]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I made a commitment to continue those programs and we will continue with that commitment. We will not let a program like that not continue. It is an important program. I also want to make a very clear difference between that government when they were in government and this government. That government believed in duplication of administration. This government doesn't and believes in investing in culture and the arts in this province.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, that minister better wake up because it was this Liberal Government that brought in the Nova Scotia Arts Council and it is your government that is tearing it apart and you will hear that from one end of this province to another. You are a disgrace to the cultural community of the Province of Nova Scotia. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West would know full well that that is an attack on an honourable member in this House and I would ask him to retract it, please.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, he is a disgrace to the arts community . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member for Lunenburg West to retract that statement, please.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I will retract that and I will add the word that he is a disappointment . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: The minister has just indicated that he will find $100,000 to deal with that program that he just lost the funding for. My question to the minister is, if the Department of Tourism and Culture is going to administer the program, will the minister explain to the House how the department will save $270,000 in administration and still find an additional $100,000 in its department for the arts community in the Province of Nova Scotia, or are you losing $370,000 to the arts community and to the people of Nova Scotia?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have listened to what the member has had to say over the past couple of weeks. Obviously, he hasn't been listening to what we have been saying. What we have said is that $0.25 million will be reinvested back into cultural arts and activities in this province. We will continue with that commitment. I said that program will continue. That program will continue. The new Arts and Culture Council will continue with the same programs. In fact, we will continue with the foundation that was put in place by the Nova Scotia Arts Council and we will build on that by including the arts and culture community in this province, not only in those programs, but also in other

[Page 8049]

programs like cultural activities and the art bank program. I can see the member is quite upset. It's another sign, once again, of the lack of . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

COMMUN. SERV. - TRANSITION HOUSES/WOMEN'S CENTRES:

FUNDING - RETURN

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this is a bully's budget, as well. It picks on those among us who are least likely to fight back, women and children. Because of their situation, many women whose lives are saved by transition houses often can't go public to tell their story and women in poverty who are looking for housing, employment or training at the women's centres, they simply have other priorities so we have to fight for them. I want to ask the Minister of Community Services, when is his department going to give the nearly $1 million that they've taken from transition houses, women's centres and mens programs back?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: As I indicated to a questioner earlier, we are going to meet with the transition houses, women's centres, men's programs next week to start to look at the options and to look at what we need to do to deliver all those programs.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: It's a little late for that. Last week the minister in this House said his department had consulted with those organizations and he said they were in agreement with the cuts and with the redesign. Mr. Speaker, we know now that simply isn't the case. In a meeting with representatives of transition houses and women's centres it was made clear there was no consultation and there is no agreement. I would like the Minister of Community Services to explain to this House the difference between his story and that of over one dozen people?

MR. CHRISTIE: Last week, on a question from the honourable member, I had indicated that I had had an opportunity to talk with people in women's centres and transitional houses over the last year. I meet with the women's centres representatives every year, I've had the opportunity to visit a number of transitional houses, I have had a chance to go to men's centres and to visit those. I have had an opportunity to talk with them over the last couple of years and that's what I was referring to. What I had indicated was that as our regional administrators talked to some people, they had indicated they wanted to be part of the redesign program.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Let's clarify when those people from his department talked to the centres. They talked to people in the centres around 2:00 p.m. on Thursday after $1 million had been ripped out of those organizations. Members of this

[Page 8050]

minister's department have told these organizations there is a framework document, a strategic plan on family violence that outlines the redesign. I want the minister to explain why he's unwilling to table today in this House a document that exists and that they're using to justify these cuts.

MR. CHRISTIE: As we indicated at the budget debate last week when we started to talk about getting the programs done, we indicated our plan was to have discussions between now and June and to discuss how we were going to redesign. As we looked at the design, when I met with the people yesterday, we indicated we would send out the agenda and the papers that we had, that we would start to talk as discussion points.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - BUDGET (2002-03): ADHERENCE - ASSURE

DR. JAMES SMITH: My question is to the Minister of Health. First, I wish to table a document that shows the minister missed his budget targets, on an average, by $146 million in the first three budgets. That's an average. Given that this minister has yet to even come close to making his budget over the past three years, my question to the minister is, what assurances can he give that his department may be somewhere on budget this year?

HON. JAMES MUIR: I must say I'm a bit mystified by the statement made by the honourable member. He could be talking about the regional health board deficits - we had to pick up $300-some million when we came in which was run up under his government. But I think, according to the figures that were tabled in the document the other day, I think the Health budget was about $26 million this year and a good portion of that is a result of over expenditures in the DHAs. I don't know what he's talking about - $100-some million.

DR. SMITH: Well, he doesn't understand what I'm talking about and I don't understand what he's doing and that's a bad mix, Mr. Speaker. So my supplementary - on June 25, 1999, the now Premier made the following statement and I will table that statement, "Health care providers have told us that about $1.5 million is enough money to run a quality system in this province if it is used properly." My question to the Minister of Health, since this year's budget is almost $2 billion, could the minister inform the House why he is not properly allocating the health resources of this province?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would table this, but I think everybody would have had it. I'm just looking at the estimate for 2001-02, the Health budget was $1.819 billion and the expenditures are $1.846. If you subtract 19 from 46, you get-around-27. So I don't know where, going back to that first question, he got the figure of $100-some million, but they were very poor at their arithmetic, we knew that, we knew how . . .

[Page 8051]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Again, I will allow general questions relating to the budget, but not specific questions. It should be reserved (Interruption) or answers. Order, please. Would you wait, please, until I finish. You're not allowed specific questions or specific answers directly related to the estimates of the budget. So I would ask that the honourable members save that for estimates, please. (Interruption) I agree.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East on your final supplementary, please.

DR. SMITH: . . . ready to go on the budget. Everybody has got issues in their own area, but it's kind of hard to follow the answers when he's answering the question, two questions previously, so it's getting difficult, but I will try to be short.

Mr. Speaker, the issue that we're talking about is that this government has not had a plan for health care over the last two and a half years despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars more. I'm talking about spending more on health, not less. This government is spending more on health and Nova Scotians are telling us that the health care system is worse now than it was two and a half years ago. Emergency rooms are closing. Long-term care, people are in acute care beds, and more and more medical services are being subject to user fees. My question, forget about the budget today, why won't the minister simply table a plan for quality health care instead of throwing money at the system without any improvement in the quality of care?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we have tabled a number of documents which talk about improvements in the system. Our clinical services plan was one, the nursing strategy was another. We are developing a document in long-term care. As a matter of fact, what we're trying to do, of course, is to make up for the deficiencies that that bunch left us when they were escorted from office.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV.: MASONVIEW HOMES - FUNDING

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. I have yet another example of how this government's fiscal measures are affecting those in our province who need our support. Masonview Homes in Dartmouth offers a group living setting for 15 mental health consumers, many of whom are also deaf. Due to a chain of indecisions, inadequate funding, Masonview Homes is not able to meet the increasing care needs of its clients. Fifteen people will have to find somewhere else to live. I ask the Minister of Community Services why the funding for these residents has not been increased with the stricter regulations for care imposed by his department?

[Page 8052]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to another honourable member on the same question, we are in the process of discussing that and we hope to come to a satisfactory resolution.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, it would be great to have a proactive minister for a change. This minister always acts in a crisis situation. He leaves it to the very last minute to respond. Masonview Homes needs $129 per day to function at the bare-bones level. They get between $55 to $100 a day. The Regional Residential Services Society provides similar services to clients with developmental delays. Their per diems range from $84 to $455 per day. I ask the Minister of Community Services, when is his department going to fund Masonview Homes equitably?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I just indicated, we expect to have a satisfactory resolution of that situation in the very near future.

MR. PYE: That is the problem, Mr. Speaker. This should never reach this Legislative Assembly. The minister should be on top of it now. If some of these clients are going to go into institutional settings, it will cost the province more than $129 a day. My question to the minister is, why has his department turned its back on the residents of Masonview Homes?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as far as - the honourable member suggests we turn our backs on people. The honourable member says, why don't you take some initiative? That is why we are doing secure treatment. That is why we are looking for other facilities for people with needs. That is why we are looking at programs that will develop for people who have special needs. There are people who need things all across this province, and we will work to a satisfactory conclusion.

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

ECON. DEV. - SEAGULL PEWTER: SALE - STATUS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. We all know that Seagull Pewter is vital to the economic success of Cumberland County, and losing some 200 jobs with that company will be devastating to economic development in that part of Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, has the minister received correspondence from any Canadian company that has indicated that it is interested in purchasing Seagull Pewter and operating the company from its current location?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. Yes, we have.

[Page 8053]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary is again to the Minister of Economic Development and it has to do with the fact that a company from Montreal has expressed an interest in acquiring the assets of Seagull Pewter. Now that the minister has informed the House that he has received a letter to that effect, that there is indeed a company interested in operating that plant in Cumberland County, my supplementary question to the minister would be, is the minister prepared to meet with this company and conclude a satisfactory arrangement to have this company operate Seagull Pewter in Pugwash?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I can harken back to the days when that member was a minister and he would say that it is not appropriate to discuss and negotiate deals on the floor of the House. However, I will remind the member that Seagull Pewter is currently in receivership and any proposals would have to go through Ernst & Young.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that is what I wanted to hear. Once again, this minister is abdicating his responsibility and turning over the future of the workers of Cumberland County to a headhunter organization called Ernst & Young. The minister is once again abdicating his responsibility as a minister of the Crown. I will remind that minister that when we were in government, we supported Seagull Pewter with financial assistance to maintain jobs in Cumberland County. All I am asking this minister is to live up to his responsibility and support those workers in Cumberland County by meeting directly with this Montreal company.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I will tell you that a great deal of my ministerial time has been spent cleaning up messes that were brought forth by that man.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

NAT. RES. - SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY FUND:

BUYERS - COMPLIANCE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Last week I questioned the minister about the Sustainable Forestry Fund and he tried to paint the picture that all is rosy in the forestry industry. He claimed that all the registered buyers in the program, all 1,500, are in compliance with the regulations. So my question for the minister is, can he explain to Nova Scotians how he knows the registered buyers are in compliance?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: The member's response to last week's question is a broad interpretation. I will though, in response to the question, reiterate this is the first government that has had the will to establish forest practices through the sustainability fund to ensure that there's a sustainable supply of forest products and fibre into the future, and that process is moving forward very well. (Interruption)

[Page 8054]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid; the minister obviously doesn't know the answer to the question.

It's clear, and I guess from the minister's tutelage of the Department of Natural Resources in his time as minister, that cuts to the department, he would know, have made it impossible for that department to ensure that the registered buyers are in compliance. There's nobody in his department to ensure quality control. With the potential for a lot of work for silviculture contractors, because of the sustainability fund, then why is it - if the minister can tell me this - if the funds are there, that silviculture contractors are going broke?

MR. FAGE: I would like to explain to the member opposite and to the House that the system is set up under a credit system, not an actual dollar system. The majority of work is done by contractors and the owners of the property, and under the supervision of the registered buyers. That entire system is up and running now and the actual audits will be conducted by staff in the upcoming months of this summer to ensure that compliance is being achieved.

MR. MACDONELL: To ensure that compliance is being achieved in the upcoming months - you said they were in compliance as of February 28th of this year. (Interruptions) Mr. Minister, the credit system isn't working for silviculture contractors in Nova Scotia. This is an opportunity for jobs in rural Nova Scotia. Will the minister assure the people in rural Nova Scotia and in particular silviculture contractors, that he will see that this system is adjusted so that they can get the work and get it at a fair price?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member appears to be confused again. On February 28th registered buyers were required to be in compliance; this summer we will be doing the audit to ensure that they are.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - CAPITAL DIST.: WAIT LIST - NUMBERS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Quite simply, could the minister please confirm, for all members of the House, the number of people who are on the wait list for a long-term care bed in the capital district?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I did not bring that information with me; I will provide it to him. What I know, and I'm going back from memory, from a briefing this morning, is that if we count the people who we know are out there, there are new beds. I think there are 153 beds that are coming back into the system that were taken out because of renovations. There are, I think, 50 people, the Northwood people are going to be moved, there are the Mother Berchmans people, and there are some coming out of the Capital Health

[Page 8055]

District that are on their rolls. I can't give an accurate number, but I can provide a very close approximation to what we know.

DR. SMITH: I was wondering what that approximation was, but it's very . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Is that the honourable member's supplementary?

DR. SMITH: I think in all fairness, Mr. Speaker, you would have to agree that it was more vague than approximate. There are people in the QE II waiting for long-term care beds, that's my point. Yesterday, in addition, we heard that Northwood Manor will be closing 52 beds - the minister has alluded to that - beds that are unlikely to ever open again. Yet we hear that the replacement beds coming on-line were the same number that was in the system two years ago - approximately 462. I have a letter from the Premier's Office that would confirm that. My question to the minister is, how is the minister going to accommodate everyone knowing full well that there are 52 less beds in the system as of yesterday and in addition to the long waiting list that's already before us?

MR. MUIR: I did find some notes that I didn't think I had brought with me. The number of people on the Capital District Health Authority waiting list, completely assessed and ready to move, remains about 40. In the course of the next two or three months, including this month, Armview Estates is being renovated and will be bringing back 25 beds; Northwood will be beginning to take out 52 beds on a staggered basis as space becomes available. (Interruption) You say 92? I have 52. Parkstone Place, which is a new facility out in Clayton Park, later this month will be opening up 185 . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth East on your final supplementary, please.

DR. SMITH: With the media reports such as one today, 153 extra nursing home beds, there's a lot of confusion swirling around. Maybe we could through estimates be able to get some of the right information. You notice how the minister crept around the figures - he said those that are assessed are a particular number, there are those waiting to be assessed and there are those taking up acute hospital beds now being threatened with $50 a day. There will be less beds in the system - and this is the issue here today - with the closure of Northwood and just bringing back the ones that were already out of circulation. The minister can mix his figures however he wants to - those are the facts, Mr. Speaker. The new beds coming on the system, after renovations, are the same number that were in the system prior to the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth East on the final supplementary, please.

[Page 8056]

DR. SMITH: How can the minister ensure that the wait list in the capital district is not going to grow as a result of the 52 beds closing from the system?

MR. MUIR: The number of people in the capital district that are assessed and ready to be placed is around 40. The feeling that we have at this particular time is that there is sufficient capacity in the capital area to accommodate those who need nursing home care. I want to tell the honourable member though, we continue to make the assessments of that and if the need comes for additional beds in this area, we have plans to move ahead.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: BUDGET LOCK-UP -

INFO. DISSEMINATION

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: My question is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. At the pre-budget lock-up, representatives of CUPE Local 1867 were notified by senior Transportation Department officials of the layoffs arising from the closure of four repair garages. This government hasn't learned anything from Bill No. 68. Will the minister explain why his department chose to ambush the union by first telling them about immediate layoffs while they were in the lock-up and could not immediately communicate with their workers?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: The workers were notified - I noticed the member is listening carefully - the members were notified that morning at 10:00 a.m.

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Nothing indicated closures of the facilities in Amherst, Baddeck, New Glasgow and Port Hawkesbury. The Liberal example is not the one to follow when treating highway workers in such a manner. Equipment from throughout this province must be repaired and it must be returned to the roads, especially in winter conditions. Who's going to do the work, Mr. Minister, friends of your backbenchers throughout the province? Will the minister explain why these facilities have become expendable, and at what cost to the areas across the province?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker - to put it simplistically - if you have a plow that has broken down in a certain area, it is broken down and it cannot move, it makes more sense to have a mechanic come to the truck than to try to push the truck down to a garage. (Laughter)

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I see members over there applauding and laughing. You tell that to the 10 members of those families who received pink slips; you laugh in their faces. You tell them that, the 10 people who are being laid off. You make sure that you go and explain it to them. Those members over there who laughed, who derisively made those

[Page 8057]

comments, you explain it to the people in Baddeck, Port Hawkesbury, Amherst and New Glasgow.

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

The honourable Government House Leader. (Interruptions)

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Has time . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If the members had been listening, that's what I said. The time has expired, and I call upon the Government House Leader for Government Business.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I didn't think the time was expired because I had a ready answer for that member, about jobs being available for those people who were laid off.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I'm aware of the fact that at times in this House I do show a bit of emotion, a bit of passion, and today I want to tell you of something personal, something that affects me and affects the community that I represent. This morning, on my way to my office, I made my regular morning visit to Sir John A. Macdonald High School that sits empty in Five Island Lake, that sits with a parking lot that's dug up, that sits in back of where an old Transportation garage was at one time. There has to be full remediation work done on an empty high school.

[Page 8058]

Mr. Speaker, it's personal and emotional for this member from Timberlea-Prospect, because that's where I began my teaching career, that's the school where my children graduated, that is the school where, last year, I had the privilege and the honour of being the graduation speaker for the class of 2001. I make no apologies for my passion; I make no apologies for my anger. In fact I am going to table for the Minister of Education and members opposite some letters from people that I've heard from.

I would like to share the first one. It comes from Sandra Hennigar, a concerned parent. Ms. Hennigar writes: "I urge you to take my concerns, along with those of my fellow parents forward with a loud, strong voice that clearly speaks to our anger, frustration, and sense of helplessness in this matter." - of Sir John A. Macdonald High School. So, Sandra, from Brennan's Road, here it is.

This is an issue that I'm asked of constantly. In the run of a week I receive at least a dozen calls from parents, from students who ask what's going to happen at Sir John A. Let's be clear of the reaction of the community. I would like to share in particular, with you, Mr. Speaker, the reaction of a young woman who graduated in 1995 from Sir John A. Macdonald High School. That young woman currently works in the CBC, for CBC North. That young woman, once she heard about Sir John A. Macdonald High School, called her father and said, what's the big deal? It should have been closed back when I was president of student council in 1995.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you and I will tell you proudly who that young woman is. The young woman is my daughter. She works for CBC North. She was president of student council in 1995. She called her father, who just happens to be the MLA and said, Dad, what took them so long? We know of this problem. We have known of it for years. Young men and young women have brought this concern forward for years about the environmental concerns at that high school. What have respective governments done, especially that Liberal Government before? They did absolutely nothing.

My daughter, in 1995, wrote to the Minister of Education at that time and was basically dismissed with, well, how would she know? She's only a student. I would like to point out, at that time, I was the principal of a local school in the community. I was not the principal of Sir John A. Macdonald High School. So that government at that time did nothing. The tough decision has finally been made and now we see politics creeping into the replacement of schools throughout Nova Scotia.

I would like to, at this stage, share this letter from Bruce Harnish. I will table it in a moment. Actually, I believe it comes from Bruce's wife, Jenny, but it is from Bruce at his e-mail address. This is what he said and you might not like the sounds of this letter, but I would like to read it into the record. "If we lived in a tory riding would it be much easier to get a new school or accommodate our students with a more feasible solution. Yes, I bet it would.", writes Bruce or Jenny, "The money spent transporting these kids to CPA could have

[Page 8059]

been put to much better use. The way you handle the funds of the taxpayers are ridiculous." That, incidently, was sent to the Minister of Education with a copy to myself.

The question constantly comes up, what is the plan? Where are we in this province when the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, Mr. Speaker, can stand up at a public meeting in Windsor in front of the CEO at the time and say, don't worry, people of Windsor and area, about the problems that you are having with your school, I promise you we will have a new school? I want you to know that the CEO of that school system, who is a Mount Allison graduate that I know personally, was completely taken aback by the response. He was pleasantly surprised, to put it candidly.

Where have we come that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works can make announcements at a public meeting, you will get a new school? What happened to priorities? What happened to the plans? What happened to renovation schedules? No, in old-time Tory politics, a minister with a lot of clout and a lot of experience can stand publicly in a meeting in his home constituency and announce, you are going to get a new school. We are not supposed to do that in the year 2002. We're supposed to be concerned about the health - we're supposed to be concerned about the overcrowded conditions in schools throughout this province.

Mr. Speaker, you are well aware of the fact that Timberlea-Prospect is one of the fastest-growing communities in this province. On the way out, on Highway No. 103, you can turn at Exit 3 and you can see Westgate being built. There are 3,000 homes scheduled for that part of my community; 3,000 homes with the potential of having over 6,000 residents and I know who's going to move into Westgate and members opposite know who's going to move into Westgate. It's going to be young couples who are going to be having children and those children will eventually go to our already overcrowded schools.

Mr. Speaker, in back of Sir John A. Macdonald High School - and I encourage members opposite to take a tour with me someday; you have to get through the parking lot that has all been dug up, but go in back of Sir John A. - and you will see that there are two portable classrooms because of the growth in the community that I represent, and it is only going to get bigger.

So where's the plan? Many, many times we have asked. When it comes to building schools, you certainly don't have to be Einstein. You know that where there are young couples in new housing developments there are going to be more and more children. So there's a compounded problem at this high school of ours. The problem is, of course, the environmental problems that have gone on for years, and now we have a current overcrowding problem at this legendary old school, this school that has had band-aid after band-aid applied to it.

[Page 8060]

Now, Rob Foley is a friend of mine. He might even admit it publicly, but Rob Foley's young daughters were students of mine when I worked at Brookside Junior High and Mr. Foley has written us a letter. I am not going to read from it extensively, but he has at least nine points there that I feel obliged to bring to the Minister of Education. The question that comes down again in a fast growing school area that has environmental problems, surely we can get to the top of some lists for some tough decisions by the Minister of Education. So as a compliment to Mr. Foley and to his children, I would like to table that letter at this time, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, currently the over 1,000 students from Sir John A. Macdonald High School, which represents from Hubbards, which is part of the riding of Chester-St. Margaret's, to Beechville, from Terence Bay, up the Hammonds Plains Road, through all those growing subdivisions, the students from that school are currently on an afternoon shift with the students from C.P. Allen. At this time I feel I must publicly thank the principal of C.P. Allen High School, Raymond Whitman, and Mr. Whitman's two daughters, outstanding athletes that they were, graduated from Sir John A. Macdonald High School, but Ray is currently the principal of that high school in Bedford and I want to thank the people of Bedford, I want to thank the surrounding communities of Bedford for the co-operation that they have shown by allowing us and our children to go to that school on the afternoon shift.

Now, you think of this, Mr. Speaker. These young people who have been inconvenienced, these parents have been inconvenienced, the community has been inconvenienced, when now these young people go to school at 11:45 a.m. and they come home, when they get home some nights - I can recall seeing the buses going by as I'm coming home at 6:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. Is that a good way to educate young people in this community? Of course it's not, but Mr. Whitman and his staff and the community of Bedford have made us feel welcome. I've taken the opportunity to go to the school and see how the school is operating. So to the people on the morning shift at CPA, I want to thank them on behalf of the community.

Now, the afternoon shift - that's the Sir John A. shift - Mr. Speaker, has a principal, a young woman who on many days has given great service to the Halifax Regional School Board, as we now call it today. Her name is Muriel Tupper. Muriel Tupper's first year as the principal of Sir John A. Macdonald High School, Muriel Tupper has had to deal with some of these problems. She has come into this school where she originally began her teaching career - with me, incidentally - and Miss Tupper has taken a leadership role. She has taken a leadership role demonstrating that the problems at this high school once and for all have to be settled. They have to be addressed and they have to be taken care of.

Mr. Speaker, Lorraine Huston has written another letter, an e-mail, and I have all kinds of these and I know I have limited time, but I want to bring Lorraine's letter to the members present, I want to bring it to their attention and I want to bring it to the attention of the Minister of Education specifically. Her concluding paragraph says, "My battle does not end

[Page 8061]

here as I have one more daughter who will need a school to attend in her OWN . . ." capitalized "own" ". . . community. If we do not educate our children we have no future." Lorraine, you've hit the nail on the head and I would like to table that letter, that e-mail, for the Minister of Education's attention.

That's the issue, Mr. Speaker. These young people are our future. I was speaking to an outstanding young man named Joey McCarthy this morning. Joey has just been chosen for the honour of going to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in May to represent this province in the team sport of volleyball. Joey McCarthy was one of my volleyball players when I had the occasion to coach him at Brookside Junior High. Try Joey McCarthy's schedule. Joey McCarthy leaves C.P. Allen High School and he goes to volleyball practices. Joey McCarthy, representing the Nova Scotia Lakers volleyball team, has a schedule which is balanced between, at one time, trying to have a part-time job - which these students are no longer able to have - to participating in athletics, and, of course, his academics. To the McCarthy family's credit, they have been completely supportive of Joe McCarthy.

[2:00 p.m.]

There are many stories like that. The issue has come down to a matter of leadership. It's time for some tough decisions. It is no time to play politics with the education of young people in the growing constituency of Timberlea-Prospect. No time at all. I would invite the Minister of Education and her staff to review this situation. We are waiting for the environmental assessment. To the credit of the Halifax Regional School Board and its Chairman, Mike Flemming, Mike is a resident of Timberlea-Prospect, Mike Flemming has shown the leadership. He made the tough decision, along with board staff, that we have to close Sir John A. Macdonald High School.

With a sigh of relief, that afternoon, we were told that. At first parents were angry, but then parents began to understand that this has a history. This is something that goes way back. To Mike Flemming, to the parents in Timberlea-Prospect, our fight has only begun.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it's certainly an honour for me to rise today on behalf of my colleagues in caucus. It was interesting that my colleague from the NDP indicated band-aid solutions. I want to talk today about something similar to band-aid solutions, only I believe it's destruction, not a band-aid. I'm referring to the meeting last night in North Sydney that was held by the honourable member, of the government, for Cape Breton North and the residents I speak to on a regular basis in that area were very concerned about the direction that Northside General Hospital facility is turning to. Nobody is sure.

[Page 8062]

To begin with, every single aspect of the hospital has been tampered with in one regard or another since this government took office. We all recall, local people of course recall, the by-election last year in which the minister, the Premier and the candidate for their Party at the time made strong commitments to the people, both inside and outside that facility. The member for Cape Breton North went about the community campaigning, saying, vote for me; it's only a two-year term, and if I don't do the job, you can throw me out after two years. I want to go to Halifax, and I want to tell that John Hamm what he's doing to health care on the Northside and in particular at the Northside General Hospital. When they don't listen, I will huff and I will puff and I will blow all the houses down in Halifax, and they will have to listen.

Mr. Speaker, I haven't heard any huffing and puffing yet. As the good member for Cape Breton North was reminded last night, the people will not forget. They reminded that member, and I will remind the minister here today, that election day is coming. The people in that area will not forget the activity that's being carried on by this group here in regard to health care in the Northside. Health care in the Northside has 35,000 people in the catchment area, approximately. It has 750,000 visitors who travel through the community, to and from Newfoundland, each year. Approximately 750,000 went through there two years ago. Last year there were approximately 600,000.

Mr. Speaker, there is an industrial park with over 600 employees in close proximity to the hospital. There are several industrial sites that employ many individuals such as the Prince Mine and the Nova Scotia Power plant at Point Aconi which employs approximately 125 people. The statistics are there to justify this facility. This should not be a band-aid facility. At any given time of the day or night an emergency could arise. In fact, with the closing of the maternity ward at the hospital, many expectant mothers have been calling me, concerned about the extra travel to the regional hospital, particularly at the time of an emergency. For instance, given the length of time and the length of travel during the winter months, the service being provided by the Department of Transportation there, the roads aren't even plowed. So how in the heavens can this minister and this government expect women who are expecting to give birth to travel the extra kilometres on roads that are not maintained or serviced?

Acute beds. Now we've learned that approximately 40 per cent of all the beds in the hospital have been turned over to acute beds. Now the plan the previous Liberal Government had approved - approved - was to build additions on to the Miners' Memorial Manor in Sydney Mines and the Northside Guest Home in North Sydney. The statistics are there to justify these additions. This minister and this government cancelled that construction program and in response to that, they are changing acute care beds over to long-term care beds at the Northside General Hospital.

[Page 8063]

Another thing that local management is forced to do is to extent vacation times during the summer, down time and March break and at Christmas. What happens to the waiting times now? What happens to the wait times when you're waiting for an acute care bed? What does this do? Nobody seems to know over there. It's obvious they don't know and the impression I've received from them when I've asked them questions and they sit here and they smirk and smile - they simply don't give a darn. They don't care.

The maternity ward. Something that this minister can't fathom is that the nurses must continue to work in this type of environment - and this is what my colleague, Dr. Smith, has been saying since day one - they need their skills. They need to work within this environment in order to not only continue the skills that they have today but to enhance their skills further. The plan by this government and this minister is to take those nurses and transfer them to other facilities in other departments which will do nothing for the skills of these nurses or to enhance their skills for the future.

It appears that this government has no interest in nurses achieving their training ability that they want and if they did, the minister would at least transfer these nurses to maternity wards in the other facilities. I want to remind the House that the Northside General Hospital delivers more babies than any other community hospital in Nova Scotia and this is the type of attention that it receives from this government.

The emergency ward, basically there is no confidence left. If you require an emergency on the Northside, you take a gamble to go the Northside General Hospital because, in reality, no one knows at any given moment whether it is open or closed. Mr. Speaker, what is worse than that is that the residents are losing confidence in that facility and the service being provided by that government.

Mr. Speaker, divide and conquer. The honourable member for Cape Breton North, of course, only invited the residents for Cape Breton North to this meeting last night, but in fact this facility serves people in Victoria and Cape Breton The Lakes as well - but not one invitation went to those people. Mr. Clarke would rather have 25 or 30 of his personal supporters . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: A cheering section.

MR. BOUDREAU: A cheering section to express his rhetoric to, Mr. Speaker. The cheers turned to jeers, even from his own supporters. I think the people in the Northside recognize just last week here in this House when the people of the Valley came forward, came up here in the hundreds to protest cuts that minister initiated in the Valley board, during those days the doctors, local management, nurses, and the residents came here to Halifax and pounced here on the entrances to ensure that their message was heard by this government. Every piece and parcel of their community except their elected provincial representatives, which were nowhere to be seen, and as was indicated by my colleagues in the House last

[Page 8064]

week (Interruptions) The MLA signed, and the minister wouldn't even sign the document, so that is how much support that they have in their own caucus over there.

Mr. Speaker, people are concerned. People are very concerned. We don't want the Northside General Hospital turned into an ambulance attendants' garage. We recognize the need in this caucus, in this former government, and I wasn't part of it, but my colleagues in this caucus were and they recognize the needs for the acute care beds at the Northside and their reply to those needs was to construct additions to both of those nursing homes to deal with it. Not this government. They want to change the acute care beds into long-term care beds. People on the street are concerned. They do not want their hospital turned into a nursing home. They don't want that.

When we look at the doctors - in a reply to a question that I forwarded last night - when will doctors be paid the same amount of money at the ER at the community hospital in North Sydney as they do at the region? Dr. Murray recognized this as an urgent issue and to let negotiations begin immediately. Mr. Speaker, I didn't ask the minister today because I know the answer. He has done nothing in that regard. He has taken no direction. He has given no direction to his staff. He has done nothing. Mr. John Malcolm indicated last night that he had the problem corrected. Beginning April 1st, those doctors will receive the same amount of money. But, a second question, when will this new agreement end? The reply was the middle of June. Now imagine, a long-term care facility, a major facility like the Northside General Hospital and they can come up with a six week plan to pay doctors compatible salaries.

Mr. Speaker, we don't need a band-aid station on the Northside. When someone gets hurts in an industrial accident at the Northside Industrial Park they need and require health care and the emergency services that the hospital was providing until this year. If you really needed the hospital and you needed to go, there was never second-guessing, never, never ever a second guess in that hospital. Now this government, it's like fungus growing, and this whole government is like a fungus.

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, as the good member for Cape Breton North was reminded last night, other individuals have attempted to tinker with this facility, but they're no longer to be seen. I will make a prediction here today that after the next general election, the good MLA for Cape Breton North will be nowhere to be seen because the people in Cape Breton North will not accept the fact that this member is playing in the same crib as this minister and this government because of health care. People have supported and the proof is there, all the minister has to do is talk to the people at the Northside Hospital Foundation and he will get a first-hand opinion of how and what type of support that hospital received throughout history in the Northside area from the residents, the doctors and the nurses who work there.

[Page 8065]

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

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, before I make some interventions and comment, I would like to yield the floor to the honourable Minister of Economic Development to make an introduction.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my honourable colleague. It's somewhat appropriate that I would be introducing some people in your gallery today who are involved in the film industry, and watching the proceedings here is very much like theatre of the absurd. To the members of the House, in the gallery we have Timothy Merback, Steve Hillier, Bryan Houfbauer, Thom Fitzgerald, all from the film The Event. I read a resolution earlier on and talked about what an important part of the Nova Scotia economy the film industry is. So I would ask the members in the House to give a warm welcome to our guests and I would ask them to rise. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the floor.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am honoured to rise this afternoon for a few minutes and speak about perhaps one or two topics that are near and dear to my heart and, I trust, of some concern to other MLAs in the Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, as you would know because you've been into the riding several times, is very much reliant and dependent upon our resource-based industries, forestry and agriculture especially, and we also have some mining that provide jobs and economic benefits, in fact, to the province. We're very grateful to the employers and the employees who help Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley sustain.

Friday of this week, Mr. Speaker, will mark one year since we had the VIA Rail disaster in the Town of Stewiacke and I would like to, once again, point out how disasters, be it something of that sort or the terrible tragedy of September 11th in New York City, it helps, I think, all people understand and better appreciate just how important our volunteers are. There's a lot of people who somehow believe that movie stars, recording artists and professional athletes are heros and, in fact, we do look to those people and look up to those people, but I think when you have disasters, be they big or be they small, it reinforces that the real heros in our community are volunteers, especially our volunteer fire departments.

[Page 8066]

I know when the rail disaster took place up in the Town of Stewiacke that the Stewiacke Volunteer Fire Department was on the scene almost immediately. They provided a lot of assistance to the injured passengers on that train. There were other volunteers, perhaps who weren't members of any organization, that provided a lot of help and a lot of comfort. I feel it very appropriate, as we approach that one-year - I hate to use the term - anniversary, but actually that's what it will be on Friday. I just wanted to reiterate that I feel we're very fortunate in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley to have 15 volunteer fire departments. At any given moment those people would rush out to help and assist their neighbour or a stranger in their time of need.

The volunteers in our fire departments train very hard. All you have to do is look at the dedication of those people who make up our various volunteer fire departments. Not only do they train hard, they take courses to meet different required levels of certification; they work hard to maintain their equipment; they study current firefighting procedures; and they participate in fundraising activities, which are needed to pay for their specialized trucks and equipment. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, it seems as if the member for Cape Breton West is asking, why do they do it? Well, I will tell the member for Cape Breton West why they do it. They don't do it for the money, they don't even do it for thanks, it's just because that's the way they are. They're always thinking of other people first.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The point I was making is quite simply, where's the $500 tax credit the Tories said they were going to give to volunteer firefighters? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: That's not a point of order. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the floor.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, when that honourable member was the Minister of Labour, he promised the volunteer firefighters across the Province of Nova Scotia, to provide them with, a motor vehicle registration exemption. You know what? He misled the volunteer firefighters across this province into believing that he had to effect legislation. He misled the volunteer firefighters because you didn't have to, you do not have to, and our government had the courage of our conviction and did provide that exemption for our volunteer fire departments. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The fact of the matter remains that the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley voted against giving the license plate, tax free, to the volunteer fire departments. That's public record.

[Page 8067]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That's not a point of order. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the floor.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure what he said, but it certainly sounded like a lot of hogwash to me. I want to point out to him that I had an opportunity to meet with the then honourable Minister of Natural Resources, Kennie MacAskill. Kennie and I got our heads together, and we decided that it would be very important for our ground search and rescue members to receive the same exemption. The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations of today had the courage of his conviction too. We provided the exemption, and we didn't need to put legislation in place. You misled Nova Scotians. We fulfilled one of your false promises. It was this government. You made the promise, and we kept it. So you best better sit down.

Mr. Speaker, I want to politely take the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, my colleague, to task a little bit. Earlier on he seemed to imply, in fact he was a bit explicit when he said that decisions relative to new school construction are somehow political. Am I not correct?

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: That's right.

MR. TAYLOR: I am right. I just want to let the honourable member know, I just want to invite the honourable member out to the NDP-held riding of Hants East on April 23rd, where this government will open the first new school paid and financed by traditional means in the Province of Nova Scotia; in an NDP riding. The honourable member and Leader to be is shaking his head. (Interruptions)

Don't get up and spout off poppycock like that when you didn't do your research, because it's absolutely nonsense. The first school is going to be opened in Hants East, an NDP riding, that was financed by traditional means; it's not by the old P3 funding system. I'm sorry, but those are the facts. Let's speak to the facts.

Now, Mr. Speaker, like I said, this dissertation will be somewhat disjointed, so I would like to move around a little bit and speak about a very effective standing committee of this Legislature, and that is the Standing Committee on Economic Development. Today I would like to say that I was unable to attend that meeting because of an appointment I had, and the Vice-Chairman, I understand, from all reports and accounts, as per usual, did a superlative job filling in for the normal Chairman. We want to thank Brian Boudreau for his great job of presiding over that committee.

Back on March 7th, Mr. Speaker, we entertained a delegation from the Town of Canso. The MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury quickly requested an opportunity to substitute for a regular member, and he's very concerned about the Town of Canso. But on that day I remember so well, a large delegation came into the Standing Committee on Economic

[Page 8068]

Development. We had municipal leaders and the Mayor of Canso. We had some councillors, I believe, from the County of Guysborough. There were members of the clergy, the Canso Trawlerman's Co-op, et cetera.

Mr. Speaker, many comments were made during the course of that hearing, but SeaFreez and the Canso Trawlerman's Co-op put together a proposal requesting an enterprise allocation of 3,000 metric tonnes for red fish. We at the committee level co-operated and sent a letter off. Even the Liberal members of that committee agreed to the Chairman writing a letter to the federal Minister of Fisheries, Robert Thibault, asking him to approve that 3,000 tonne enterprise allocation of red fish. Even the Liberal members of the Liberal caucus signed that declaration and request.

Now, Mr. Speaker, did you know that over the last 30 years, the red fish quota out in Zone 30 has not been caught? Only a small percentage of the red fish quota has been caught, and what we were saying and what the SeaFreez business folks and the community are saying is, look, we believe that the biomass out there, based on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' own statistics, is somewhere around 100,000 metric tonnes. We are only asking for 3,000 tonnes. If you do the math, you will quickly find that, based on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' own statistics, it is the foreign fleets out there fishing in the 200-mile limit that are catching the majority of that quota. So what we were saying is, look, you don't have to impact Newfoundland. Give the Town of Canso the red fish quota that it wants. Let them fish. Don't you believe that Nova Scotia fishermen and fishers, as some people like to call them, should be fish (Interruption)

Well, the NDP tells me I am politically correct now; that's a first. Mr. Speaker, what I am saying is if there is a 100,000-tonne biomass and the Town of Canso, SeaFreez and the Canso Trawlerman's Co-op asked for an opportunity to fish 3,000 metric tonnes, why in the goodness did Mr. Thibault say no? I have had some communication, because of the standing committee's meeting, from Newfoundland and unfortunately some Newfoundlanders misperceived that the committee was somehow wanting to compromise a community in that province to assist Canso. Nothing could be further from the truth. The MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury clearly understands that the 3,000 tonnes could be allocated to the Town of Canso and not impact Newfoundland one little bit. So I question the federal government in Ottawa, and more especially Robert Thibault, as to why they didn't approve that allocation so 100 plant workers could go back in the plant and 13 or 14 trawlermen from Canso could go back on the SeaFreez boats?

[2:30 p.m.]

Yes, Mr. Speaker, we stood together in Economic Development, as a committee, as we usually do, put a request together - and I really appreciated the support of all colleagues on that committee - and unfortunately our request was flatly turned down and still the question begs to be asked, why? Why?

[Page 8069]

Shifting gears a little bit, as I indicated, there were a couple of different topics I wanted to speak a little bit about. (Interruption) Yes, and I always double-clutch, with a diesel you're supposed to double-clutch, in case you guys didn't know. Mr. Speaker, as you would know and the NDP should know, the truckers out there that drive the diesels, the big rigs, (Interruption) Well, of course, because diesel didn't go up two cents - why wouldn't they be happy? Diesel didn't go up two cents. Did you know that? Diesel fuel didn't go up two cents.

What I wanted to talk a little bit about, speaking of standing committees, is Public Accounts. I had an opportunity to fill in for one of my honourable colleagues on Public Accounts recently and we had an opportunity to bring in some members of the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board and I would just like to say again for the record that I thanked that delegation for coming into Public Accounts. Yes, the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect once again chaired that committee and there seemed to be a certain amount of comraderie, too, on that committee, but unfortunately, the chairman of the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board has accused different members, especially members of government and I believe one honourable member of the Liberal caucus of somehow advancing a political agenda or playing games, asking frivolous questions. I have to tell you, nowhere did the chair of that committee . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Thank you. The honourable member's time has expired and the motion is carried.

[2:32 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. William Dooks in the Chair.]

[5:59 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 progress and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We are looking for the House hours tomorrow.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 8070]

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I believe tomorrow is our Opposition Day. The hours of the House will be from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. After the Orders of the Day we will be calling Bill No. 63 and Resolution Nos. 2949 and 2970. We will proceed through those as time permits.

I move that the House be adjourned until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

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 subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

TOURISM & CULTURE - ARTS COUNCIL: OPERATION - RESUME

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the resolution for this evening is, "Therefore be it resolved that the government should admit its mistake and permit the duly appointed Arts Council to resume its operation."

I would like to thank my colleague, the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, for having brought this forward. It seems to me this is just an excellent resolution, and one that gets to the heart of a serious problem that we saw last week associated with the budget that the government just brought in. But it goes further than that. What we've seen is an unprecedented coup against the Arts Council of the Province of Nova Scotia. This is a move that has occasioned outrage amongst the interested arts and culture community in Nova Scotia, and yet that outrage goes well beyond, as I think the minister well knows, the ambit of those who are directly concerned with arts and culture. The outrage is shared by those of us who are interested in what is appropriate public process in what is an appropriate way to exhibit respect for entities that have been legislated in Nova Scotia.

[Page 8071]

I noticed the other day there was a full page, open letter to the citizens of Nova Scotia that was published in the newspaper. I have a copy here. What is striking about this is the large number of individuals and groups who added their name. Clearly, I would say, at least 1,000 individuals and groups who put their names on this advertisement.

I had a quick look at this and since I am going to quote from it very slightly, I will be happy to table an extract from it if the Clerk wishes to come forward and gather it up. I was struck by the number of individuals and entities of stature who signed this open letter, the thrust of which is to rebuke the Minister of Tourism and Culture for having moved in such a unilateral and undemocratic way against the Arts Council of the province. I recognized a number of the organizations and the individuals - ACTRA, the union that represents many performers here; Al Chaddock, a well-known painter; Alvin Comiter, photographer; Andrew Terris, who is with the Cultural Network; Chuck Lapp, with the film community; the Dalhousie University Art Gallery; Gwen Davies, who is an editor; Gwen Noah, the dancer; The Khyber Centre for the Arts; Lara Morris, who is a lawyer; Mulgrave Road Theatre, Neal Livingston, who is a film maker; the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour; Sheree Fitch, a poet; Ship's Company Theatre; Spider Robinson, a novelist; Stephen Osler, in the theatre; Storme Arden, a painter; Sue MacLeod, an award winning poet; Susan Crowe, a singer.

Mr. Speaker, these are only names that I happen to know above the line. It continues below the line, below the fold and there are many more individuals and groups that I know and whose opinions should command our respect. If these people are outraged, the minister ought to pay attention. The minister and his government should take warning. The minister and his government should ask themselves, what have we done, why have we done it, why have we offended so many people?

Well, the minister has offered an explanation. I know this because he has, through his department, responded to the e-mails and letters that he has received in a set piece, a formulaic response and, of course, I and many of my colleagues in our constituency offices are receiving the same e-mails from concerned citizens and letters and phone calls and we have had numerous meetings. But they passed on to us copies of what they have been receiving back from the minister. What does the minister say? "Our government is restructuring", he says, "the way in which arts and culture investments are made in Nova Scotia.".

Well, restructuring isn't the half of it, Mr. Speaker. It is not restructuring, it is taking apart an entity that was lobbied for, discussed, finally put in place after many years. I attended a number of public sessions about this. I attended one that the Cultural Network organized and I attended one of the formal sessions that the minister's own department organized; I attended the session that was held in Dartmouth at the Alderney Landing Theatre. I read the documentation that was circulated by his department by those who were given the mandate to go out and consult the public about the Nova Scotia Arts Council and

[Page 8072]

the thoughts the government had about what else it might do. You know, Mr. Speaker, nowhere in that document and nowhere in the discussion was there any suggestion that there was about to be unilateral elimination of the Arts Council. To the extent that there was anything in that document, what they talked about looked very much like an add-on to the existing Arts Council in order to set up some kind of regional advisory bodies, what was called a partnership framework. So there would be a provincial advisory committee with various other advisory committees.

The option of completely shutting down the Arts Council as we know it today was not on the table. It wasn't in the discussion document. There was no one there to stand up and say, this is what the government is thinking of doing and I assure you, Mr. Speaker, and Mr. Minister, there was no one in the audience who jumped up and said, this is my heartfelt wish, I would like to see this happen. That was not, in fact, what was on the table. So what on earth does the minister and his government think they are all about if, under the guise of a public consultation that is meant to get the views of the interested members of the community, all of a sudden they ignore what it is that they're hearing. Clearly, there was a different agenda, there was an unstated agenda, there was something that was at work that was not said to the people who were concerned there.

The minister goes on in his response about working to ensure a smooth transition. No one wants a smooth transition. No one wants a transition at all. What they want is the continued existence of the Arts Council. I have to say that I think that what the minister has done and his government has done is probably not just an outrage, it's not just something that offends one's personal sense of what's fair and appropriate. I think it's probably illegal. We have a Statute here. There is a Statute that was adopted by the Province of Nova Scotia a number of years ago that set up the Arts Council. It's there, there's been no repeal of that Statute, the minister has not come in front of this House to say here is a new bill to repeal the Arts Council Act. It's not there. Never mind that bill hasn't been brought forward, it hasn't been debated, it hasn't been enacted. It just hasn't been adopted and, yet, there is this action in which the minister acts in advance of legislative authority in order to wipe out the Arts Council, to take people, lock up their offices, say to them, to an executive director who came here from another part of the country, uprooted his family, moved here in good faith in order to take a job, sorry, finished, no, we don't have a Statute, we're not going to do it.

What's the purported justification? If you look at the Order in Council, they say that they're acting upon some obscure section that allows the government, if it appoints people, to take people away from the positions that they've appointed them to. Well, I have to say that I don't think that that fragile read will support what the government has done. It isn't strong enough as a legal justification. Furthermore, I would say, not only should a Statute be passed here, or if the minister doesn't want to pass the Statute to repeal the Arts Council Act, or he can't get around to it until maybe the Fall, what he should do is recognize that there should be some form of fairness for these people. I take it further. I take it that, in fact, since the members of the Arts Council were appointed through a proceeding in this House, that is

[Page 8073]

to say, their appointments went through the Human Resources Committee for the minister or the Cabinet to move in the way they have without coming back to the Human Resources Committee, which is a committee of this Legislature, is an affront to the privileges of the House of Assembly. I'm saying that, in fact, he's violated the privileges of the House of Assembly and that's an illegality and, if it isn't, in any event, it's wrong. It's the sort of step that ought never to have taken. There should have been a fairness of process. It should have been open.

Now what on earth, we are left asking ourselves, is the government trying to accomplish by doing this? What is the thrust of the idea? If there is a good idea behind what it is that the minister has in mind, he has seriously undermined his credibility by taking such nasty unilateral action. He's offended everyone in the arts and culture community all across this province. What does the minister say he's trying to accomplish? On the one hand he says he would like to put more money into the hands of those who are actually the potential recipients of grants. Well that would be wonderful. He could increase the budget of the Arts Council. That would have helped. There has long since been a plan to have the budget of the Arts Council grow substantially over a period of years. Well, if the minister could come up with some money, that would be great. That would be a wonderful thing to do, but this isn't the way to do it and it's not necessary.

What else does he want to do? Does he want to set up some more advisory committees around the province? He could have done that without this unilateral putsch of an attack on the Arts Council. That was wrong and that's the point about this resolution, and that the government should admit its mistake and permit the duly appointed Arts Council to resume its operations. Bravely, I think. they have attempted to meet and carry on - that's the right thing. They are very worried that the principles of independence from government and peer review, and fairness and transparency, will not be respected by the mechanisms that the government is proposing to put in place of what we have had so successfully for a number of years, and I have to say I share that concern and I think the minister should take those concerns seriously. Thank you.

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

Normally the government goes second.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: What way is it going?

MR. SPEAKER: Obviously, I don't think there's ever any set rule. Normally the government goes second, but if the honourable member for Lunenburg West would like to go. (Interruptions)

[Page 8074]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like thank the member for Halifax Chebucto for his comments. This is an issue that I do take very seriously and I have taken very seriously since I came into government regarding culture, along with the tourism part of my portfolio.

Before getting into politics, Mr. Speaker, as an educator I've always felt that the arts were very important in our education system as well as in my local community and, as a musician, as someone who was involved in the arts and the cultural community in my area I felt strongly about it before getting into politics. That's why I was very pleased in 1999 when our government made a decision to establish a separate department that would be responsible for culture, cultural programs, heritage, and also for tourism in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, if you wind back the clock to when we first came into government and take a look at the programs that were offered through Culture, there were a variety of programs - in fact there were probably 14 or 15 - and the problem at that time was that very often programs were made to fit organizations. I felt, and I know many people felt, and many of the things I heard around the province was that people wanted to see an open process, an accountable process. They wanted to see the programs; they wanted to see the deadlines.

Mr. Speaker, we moved forward in a direction that saw a change in those programs. We saw a change in the programs to focus on five key entry points - on youth, on organizations, on facilities, on anchor organizations, and also on cultural industries. Along with that, we started to restructure our department to fit what I believe within the parameters that make sense, not only with the programs but make sense for the arts community and the cultural industry across this province, and taking into account how we work with the various levels of government, including the federal government.

Mr. Speaker, getting a little closer to where we are today, we had a consultation process, as the member for Halifax Chebucto mentioned. In that process one of the main items that I feel that government and our department should be doing is getting out there and talking to people and getting input. In those consultations the idea of let's go out and talk about our program, talk about what the programs are all about, get input. One of the things that the member for Halifax Chebucto mentioned was the regional advisory council idea and that didn't fly and that's why we didn't do it. We made a decision, I made a decision that I felt that there was a lot of input provided to that and decided not to move in that direction.

Getting to where we are today with respect to the issue at hand and the Arts Council, Mr. Speaker, I want to make some things very clear in this process. The member talked about the very principles of the Arts Council. One of the very principles, peer assessment - something I, too, feel very strongly about - that is why, in the setup of the new Arts and Culture Council, the very basis of peer assessment will still be there, so that it's not the

[Page 8075]

Minister of Tourism and Culture or anybody on the front benches making a decision on a creation grant, it is the peer assessment process. That very principle is still there.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the new Arts and Culture Council will be comprised of people from the arts and culture community across this province, along with two government members. There has been some discussion about that. Some people think that's a great idea; other people have some reservations about it, and that's understandable. I think, for many years in this province, people have had varying views. They've had varying views, and often there was mistrust between government and the arts community. As someone who was involved in the arts community, I find that unfortunate. I see this as a partnership. I see this as an inclusive process. I see it as a process that we have to move forward on, together, for the betterment of the arts community.

In the new Arts and Culture Council, we are not only making use of the current programs which were available through the Nova Scotia Arts Council, we are also including them in more programming within the department. We are also including them in the cultural activities program through our department, as well as the Nova Scotia Art Bank Program. As some of you may or may not know, the art bank program was being reviewed, and the committee which was struck to review that - their first recommendation was to reinstate it. Not only have we reinstated it, but we're going to be reinstating it using the very principles of the Arts Council to judge that art.

There are various components that made up the Nova Scotia Arts Council. I realize there have been many people who put many years into making the Nova Scotia Arts Council. I realize that the very principles which made it up were very important. I also realize that we are carrying those principles forward. I believe we are not only expanding on those principles, we are indeed strengthening them by including them in more programming.

In addition to that, there have been many other issues that have arisen. One of the issues raised today - including the McConnell Family Foundation, was with regard to the Artscapes Program. That's a very good program, and it will be one that will continue. At present, our department is in discussions with the foundation, and I hope to have some more information on that within the next two to three days. Regardless, that program will continue. I want to make that very clear. I've said that the programs which were in place will continue. There's no doubt about that.

Mr. Speaker, the endowment fund is being protected. It's being protected through a special fund that will be done through the Department of Finance and administered through the advice of the Department of Tourism and Culture based on the framework around which the endowment fund was originally set up, as it was set out under the previous government at that time with the legislation. It will be following the very same framework. That money

[Page 8076]

will not be touched until such time as the new Arts and Culture Council is set up. Upon those very principles - one of the principles, if you look at that, is peer assessment. That is something that, again, as I mentioned, I feel very strongly about.

Mr. Speaker, there's another issue at hand with regard to the Arts Council, and this has been brought up in the media quite a bit over the last few weeks. The issue is with regard to administration. There are two varying views on what administration means. There are different figures being thrown around. I've been using the figure of roughly $370,000 that would have been spent on administration in the upcoming year. There are those who say the administration was a little over $200,000. Administration and program delivery, when you add it together, either way, it's still administration to me. It's administering funding.

Mr. Speaker, $370,000 this year would have been spent to administer roughly $1.2 million. As a responsibility to the taxpayers of the province, I do not feel that is the best use of funds. I believe, with our current structure in place and with an expansion of that, we can administer those dollars more effectively with the same principles. That is the whole idea of this. We're saving administration, and we're reinvesting the dollars on the savings. It's not

simply savings for government, it's being reinvested back into the program. What we've heard in the consultations were people wanted peer assessment, people wanted more input into the process. They wanted more dollars. I couldn't agree more. Dollars are limited, there's not a doubt. We have to find creative ways of reinvesting back into the cultural community, the arts community and, Mr. Speaker, this is one of those ways.

Mr. Speaker, roughly $0.25 million will go back into programs. I think that's good common sense. I think it's good common sense by government, I think it's sensible government. I think we owe it to the taxpayers to make the most effective use of those dollars. I feel quite strongly about the decision that we made.

There is no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that the transition process we're going through will not be easy but that transitional process will be carried over as smoothly as possible for the clients involved because at the end of the day they are the most important element of this entire question.

I would like to thank the member for bringing this issue up. I'm sure we will talk about it again. It's certainly a subject that I'm quite interested in as I feel that the culture side of my department often doesn't get enough discussion in this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, if this minister wants to have culture be more discussed in the department, you would think he would try to pick a more positive way than to literally gut the whole cultural community of the Province of Nova Scotia by what

[Page 8077]

happened on March 27th by this poorly conceived plan of this Minister of Culture and Tourism.

If you listen to what the minister is saying that everything is in place then, obviously, the only reason he had a problem with it is he didn't trust the people involved on the council. Maybe that is why he dragged his feet for so long; for a year and a half, members of the council begged the minister to bring forth names to the Human Resources Committee to have them put in place and this minister refused time and time again because it wasn't a matter of whether or not that independent body was doing its job, it was that that particular independent body was not going to be controlled by that minister and by that government. I believe that the arm's-length opportunity of the Nova Scotia Arts Council is being destroyed by what this government is doing. It's a step backwards in time. It's the only jurisdiction in this country whereby now the government can control, in their view, the outcome of the arts community in the Province of Nova Scotia with regard to who and what gets what program. I think that is absolutely a regressive step in the future of the arts community in Nova Scotia.

This minister talks about truth and honour. That's the same minister that brought security guards from the Department of Transportation and Public Works, lawyers from the Department of Justice and locked the Nova Scotia Arts Council door so nobody could get in. That is the same minister that talks about the fact that all calls be reverted back to a departmental office. That was the same minister that actually came after the arts community as if they were convicts or criminals in the Province of Nova Scotia instead of leaders in the cultural community of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Shame on that minister and shame on that government. The minister knows he is wrong on how he approached - the lack of respect to the community is unbelievable. It is unparalleled anywhere in this country. The lack of respect, Mr. Minister. You talk about being in that community and you care, well, I can tell you something, if that's how you care about the community, I would hate to see you not care because it would even be worse on how you would approach the issue. March 27th is a black day to the Nova Scotia Arts Council. It is a dark day for the arts community in the Province of Nova Scotia and it's a darker day for the people of Nova Scotia.

When I asked the minister the question in regard to what's going on, the minister indicated that the community will be happy with this basically; the arts community will be happy with the changes that he has made. Well, I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, that if the minister isn't reading the newspaper, at least try to get some of your staff to read the papers and listen to the commentary on the radio and elsewhere, listen to what the people are saying in the audience, listen to what the people are saying on the streets of Halifax, whether they're in the business community or in the private sector community, whether they're in the Public Service, whatever they are, they are coming and telling our caucus office, as they are the

[Page 8078]

Opposition's caucus office that this government's cold-hearted attack on the cultural community is wrong.

This government is saying that the only reason they changed it was because of budgetary issues. Well, I think the Minister of Finance said to the Minister of Tourism and Culture, you figure out how to do your budget.

This is the same minister who went around the province in a very quick period of time and said, we're going to have these public consultations. I met with the arts community a month ago about their concern that this government had an agenda and the agenda was to shut down the Nova Scotia Arts Council. They were concerned then and they have been concerned for a year that this government had an alternative plan. Well, shortly after the public consultation, this minister turns around and, snap, shuts her down. I don't know of one person who attended those meetings that said to the minister, we want you to lock the doors of the Nova Scotia Arts Council, we want you to throw away the key, we want you to disband the board, we want you to take all the programs in place and change them to go under the auspices of a minister who can politically manipulate the process.

In fact, what they said was they wanted to retain the arm's-length process that existed under the Nova Scotia Arts Council that was brought in by legislation by the previous Liberal Government that said that we will give the respect to the arts community and the autonomy to govern themselves and to police themselves with the respect of the fact that government will not intervene and will not manipulate the outcome. That's the way it's done in every other jurisdiction in this country. What we have now with this Conservative Government approach to the arts community is that we've stepped back in time to the Buchanan era where they want to control the community, and the community will not put up with it, Mr. Speaker.

This arts community will fight this battle today, tomorrow, next week and all the way through until this minister stands in this House and admits to Nova Scotians that he was wrong, he made a mistake. The honourable thing for that minister to do is to stand up in this House and admit he is wrong and say to Nova Scotians and members of this House that he apologizes for the lack of respect he is showing to the arts community in the Province of Nova Scotia and he will rescind the decision that he made and he will allow that process to have integrity and openness and public consultation in a proper way. The minister is young and inexperienced, and the way he's taking that inexperience out is on the backs of the community, and that is wrong. (Interruption)

Oh, now he's accusing the government of missing its fiduciary responsibility to the arts community. I want to tell you, Mr. Minister, you are the ones who dragged your feet on appointments. You are the one who showed lack of respect to anybody, and you know it, because you didn't want anybody appointed to that council because you did not want that council to function, you didn't want that council to do its job and you still don't want those

[Page 8079]

people on that council to represent the community. You're afraid of them because they aren't your backroom boys. That's the problem, Mr. Minister, they aren't your backroom persons.

This government talks about the fact that they are going to have the endowment fund protected. Well, there's legislation that brought that protection in. I'm going to find it very interesting to see how they are going to deal with that endowment fund. I think you are flying in the face of what the endowment fund process was set up for, and how are you going to deal with that? Oh, well. You slipped it through to the Minister of Finance so that the Minister of Finance, in fact, will be able to say, well, the endowment fund, which was set up as an independent fund for the arts community, is now going to be under the control of the Minister of Finance, through you, so that you can control where those dollars go. Well, I think there might be some challenges on that, Mr. Speaker. There might be some challenges to you, Mr. Minister; just because you want to control a $1 million fund, go right ahead, but I think there are going to be some challenges in the community.

George Elliot Clarke was renowned in this House and renowned across the province and all over this country and North America as an outstanding poet and an author, and the list goes on and on for the people who have stood up and said they were prepared to stand up and speak out against this government, against this minister and against this policy. Now, Mr. Minister, either you're the only one in this province who's right and everybody else is wrong, or you have to admit the fact that you have screwed up, you made a mistake, you listened to the wrong persons and, quite frankly, you're prepared to repent your sin today and say that you're going to reinstate the council.

Why don't you do the honourable thing, Mr. Minister? Admit that you were wrong; admit that you are in over your head; admit to the fact that you have made a mistake; admit the fact that you have bit on a bone that is a lot bigger than what you thought, and that bone is going to come back to get you. I have one minute left? (Interruptions)

[6:30 p.m.]

I'm glad I have a minute left. I only hope that the minister, between now and before this House closes, admits the fact to the public of Nova Scotia that he has gone in the wrong direction and that anybody in this country who has seen the decision that has been made by this minister to make a Draconian, regressive move as he has, to turn back the clock of time in Nova Scotia and say that the Nova Scotia Arts Council does not exist as an independent body, separate of government anymore, to realize that you are the only province in this country that has made that decision, Mr. Minister. I hope that you will reconsider your decision. Thank you.

[Page 8080]

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable members for the discussion in this late debate tonight. We are adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:31 p.m.]

[Page 8081]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3004

By: Hon. Gordon Balser (Economic Development)

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

Whereas on March 20, 2002, three employees of the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation Ferry Service - Charlie Thibodeau, Captain; Frank Gillis, Engineer; and Todd Anderson, Mate - were honoured with the Minister's Award at the official opening of the 20th Annual Nova Scotia Safety Council Conference and trade show in Halifax; and

Whereas these members of the crew of the Petite Passage Ferry between Digby Neck and Long Island in March 1999 were involved in the rescue of a diver who ran into trouble while collecting sea urchins; and

Whereas the ferry crew spotted him as he was being carried out to sea by an ebb tide and the diver was swept more than a kilometre from his own boat before he was plucked from the water by the ferry crew;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join with the Minister of Transportation and Public Works in acknowledging that their quick response averted what could have been a very tragic event and recognize their ability and courage.

RESOLUTION NO. 3005

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas I was honoured to present on Saturday, April 6, 2002, the Dartmouth Seniors' Service Centre Volunteer of the Year 2002 Award to Kay Rowlings; and

Whereas also recognized for their volunteerism at the 2002 ceremony were finalists Susan McNulty and Jessie Murphy; and

Whereas the Dartmouth Seniors' Service Centre is a vital community resource for the many active area seniors "Where", as its motto states, "Old Friends Meet New Friends" and is dependent on the time and talents of its numerous faithful, hard-working volunteers;

[Page 8082]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Kay Rowlings, Susan McNulty and Jessie Murphy on this important recognition for their contributions to the lives of Dartmouth seniors.