The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 03-21

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

Available on INTERNET at http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Third Session

MONDAY, APRIL 28, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Environ. & Lbr. - Off-Hwy. Vehicle Use: Voluntary Planning Board -
Research Initiative, Hon. R. Russell 1501
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 876, Environ. & Lbr. - Nat'l. Day of Mourning for Cdn. Workers:
Killed/Injured - Honour, Hon. R. Russell 1504
Vote - Affirmative 1505
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 877, Environ. & Lbr. - Nat'l. Day of Mourning for Cdn. Workers:
Killed/Injured - Recognize, Mr. D. Dexter 1505
Vote - Affirmative 1506
Res. 878, Fin.: Min. - Legacy, Mr. Manning MacDonald 1506
Res. 879, HMCS Montreal: Crew - Commend, Hon. R. Russell 1506
Vote - Affirmative 1507
Res. 880, Brown, Rosemary: Death of - Tribute, Mr. D. Dexter 1507
Vote - Affirmative 1508
Res. 881, Gov't. (N.S.) - RRSS Strike: Inaction - Condemn,
Mr. W. Gaudet 1508
Res. 882, Glooscap Curling Club: Successful Year - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 1509
Vote - Affirmative 1509
Res. 883, VON - Service/Congrats.: Fundraising - Support,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1509
Vote - Affirmative 1510
Res. 884, Health - Care System: Hamm Gov't. - Promises Condemn,
Dr. J. Smith 1510
Res. 885, Corbin, Tony/Students: Innovative Prog. - Congrats.,
Mrs. M. Baillie 1511
Vote - Affirmative 1511
Res. 886, Shannon Pk. Chapel - Closure: Regret - Express,
Mr. J. Pye 1512
Vote - Affirmative 1512
Res. 887, Environ. & Lbr. - Nat'l. Day of Mourning for Cdn. Workers:
Killed/Injured - Remember, Mr. K. MacAskill 1512
Vote - Affirmative 1513
Res. 888, Colville, Ruth & Paul - Goodspring Organic: Product -
Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 1513
Vote - Affirmative 1514
Res. 889, MacNeil, Elsie & Allen: Anniv. (60th) - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1514
Vote - Affirmative 1514
Res. 890, Fin. - Prem.: Debt Growth - Broken Promises,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1515
Res. 891, We Care Soc. - Telethon: Success - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 1515
Vote - Affirmative 1516
Res. 892, McKay, Leo, Jr. - Twenty-Six: Success - Congrats.,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 1516
Vote - Affirmative 1516
Res. 893, Educ. - Wk. (28/04-02/05/03) - Support, Mr. D. Wilson 1517
Vote - Affirmative 1517
Res. 894, Hefler, Brenton/Belgian Draft Horse Assoc. (N.S.):
Commun. Spirit - Congrats., Hon. G. Balser 1517
Vote - Affirmative 1518
Res. 895, Naugle, Mort & Kay: Retirement - Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 1518
Vote - Affirmative 1519
Res. 896, Prem. - Borrowings: Office - Retention, Mr. M. Samson 1519
Res. 897, Commun. Serv. - PC Gov't.: Actions - Condemn,
Mr. W. Gaudet 1520
Res. 898, E. Hants Mun.: Model Vol. Commun. Award - Congrats.,
Mr. J. MacDonell 1520
Vote - Affirmative 1521
Res. 899, Health - Care System: Prem. - Re-Evaluate, Dr. J. Smith 1521
Res. 900, Nat'l. Vol. Wk. (27/04-03/05/02): Vols. - Honour, Mr. J. Pye 1522
Vote - Affirmative 1522
Res. 901, Educ. - Assess. Results: Gov't. (N.S.) Investment -
Failure Acknowledge, Mr. D. Wilson 1523
Res. 902, Yom HaShoah: Holocaust Mem. Day - Observe,
Mr. H. Epstein 1523
Vote - Affirmative 1524
Res. 903, Fin. - Tax Scheme: Loan - Recognize, Mr. M. Samson 1524
Res. 904, Empire House: Opening - Applaud, Hon. M. Baker 1524
Vote - Affirmative 1525
Res. 905, Elizabeth Fry Soc. - Rebels With A Cause Awards:
Recipients - Congrats., Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1525
Vote - Affirmative 1526
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1526
Mr. M. Samson 1529
Mr. W. Dooks 1534
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 3:30 P.M. 1539
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:31 P.M. 1539
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 41, Appropriations Act, 2003, Hon. N. LeBlanc 1541
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 41, Appropriations Act, 2003 1541
Hon. N. LeBlanc 1541
Vote - Affirmative 1542
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 41, Appropriations Act, 2003 1543
Vote - Affirmative 1544
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 36, Financial Measures (2003) Act 1544
Amendment [debate resumed] 1544
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1545
Mr. M. Samson 1551
Adjourned debate 1567
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Apr. 29th at 12:00 noon 1568
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 906, Educ.: Special Educ. Implementation Review Comm. Rept. -
Implement, Mr. D. Dexter 1569
Res. 907, McGarry, Eleanor "Nell": Birthday (100th) - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 1569
Res. 908, Macleod, Chief Edgar: Gov.-Gen.'s Police Force
Order of Merit - Congrats., Hon. C. Clarke 1570
Res. 909, Bishop, Dwight L.: Gov.-Gen.'s Police Force Order of Merit -
Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 1570
Res. 910, Purcell, RCMP Insp. Robert: Gov.-Gen.'s Police Force
Order of Merit - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 1571
Res. 911, Sherwood, RCMP Insp. Ronald Keith: Gov.-Gen.'s
Police Force Order of Merit - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 1571
Res. 912, Ryan, Comm. J. Terry: Gov.-Gen.'s Police Force
Order of Merit - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 1572
Res. 913, Grant, Mike: Jr. Achievement Comp. - Congrats.,
The Speaker 1572
Res. 914, Ferguson, Alan: Jr. Achievement Comp. - Congrats.,
The Speaker 1573
Res. 915, Bowes, Stephanie: Jr. Achievement Comp. - Congrats,
The Speaker 1573
Res. 916, Spence, Daniel: Jr. Achievement Comp. - Congrats.,
The Speaker 1574
Res. 917, Concours d'Art Oratoire - ORHS Sr. Students: Medals -
Congrats., The Speaker 1574
Res. 918, Concours d'Art Oratoire - ORHS Jr. Students: Medals -
Congrats., The Speaker 1575
Res. 919, Ship's Co. Theatre: Merritt Awards - Congrats., The Speaker 1575
Res. 920, Christian Child Care Int'l.: Work - Congrats., The Speaker 1576
Res. 921, Stora Enso: Supercalendered Machine - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Russell 1576

[Page 1501]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, APRIL 28, 2003

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Third Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that the Voluntary Planning Board, a non-partisan citizen policy forum, has accepted government's request to conduct a public consultation and research initiative on off-highway vehicle use in the province. This government is concerned about the rapid growth of the use of off-highway vehicles and particularly their impact on public safety and the environment. Since off-highway vehicles have become a part of so many people's lives in Nova Scotia, we feel it is important to go to the public to help us develop sound solutions on this complex issue.

1501

[Page 1502]

Mr. Speaker, the concerns surrounding off-highway vehicles are widespread, from public and user safety to environmental damage to enforcement and others. It is a very complex issue. It is such a broad issue that affects almost every department in government in one way or another and as a result, we will be providing Voluntary Planning with an interdepartmental resource committee to help them understand how this issue affects all the different government departments.

We have asked Voluntary Planning to lead this consultation and research exercise in an effort to make recommendations to government on several issues. Some of these issues include recreation opportunities, legislative and regulatory changes, the role of public stewardship, trail development, insurance, enforcement, and education and training.

I'm pleased to say, Mr. Speaker, that Voluntary Planning is beginning this project immediately and a consultation schedule will be announced very shortly. I encourage all Nova Scotians to get involved in this process, especially those who have knowledge, experience and interest in the issue of off-highway vehicle use and we ask that those persons contact Voluntary Planning. We value their input. They can contact Voluntary Planning toll free at 1-866-858-5850 or they can check out their Web site at www.gov.ns.ca/vp.

Mr. Speaker, I think that this is a worthwhile endeavour. It affects a great many departments, as I said in my remarks, but also we have to remember there are about 40,000- plus all-terrain vehicles on the roads, on the fields, and in the woods in this province. That's a lot of vehicles and certainly it is a way of life to many Nova Scotians in winter and summer to get out and enjoy the countryside on their ATVs. We want them to be able to do it within certain limits.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I am one of those Nova Scotians who has knowledge, experience and interest in the issue of off-highway vehicle use. I think probably every member of this House will have knowledge, interest, experience and I would add concern about off-highway vehicle use. This is a subject which is long overdue for examination. I think it has probably been at least two years since members of our caucus raised the issue of concern over ATVs. The minister is correct to draw our attention to the fact that there are so very many of these vehicles in our province. Probably many of us have had the experience at the very least of being on highways, including 100-Series Highways, and seeing users of ATVs at the side of the road and indeed crossing the road in what I think can only be described as a fairly dangerous manner, but it's not just on highways that one is able to see ATVs. Anyone who has hiked even in the remotest parts of the province will probably have been dismayed to find evidence of the presence of ATVs in remote areas. This includes not just on worn paths, on existing paths, or small dirt roads, but through the wilderness itself and, unfortunately, these vehicles do a lot of damage when they move around in the wilderness areas.

[Page 1503]

We're, of course, very pleased that the issue is being looked at but I think we can only say, with some regret, that it's about time. I wonder really if further study is necessary. It's not as if this issue only arose for the first time now, we have been aware of it in Nova Scotia for a long time, other provinces have been aware of it for a long time. Indeed, at least two provinces, I think both Quebec and Newfoundland, have introduced legislation that is designed to regulate the use of off-highway vehicles, so it might have been possible to move without further delay.

I'm also concerned that something wasn't included in the minister's statement and this is the problem of what we do in the interim. While this matter is being studied, would it not have been possible to bring in interim controls? I think particularly about our wilderness areas. This has been an active issue with the minister's department, he knows, I think, that many representatives of environmental organizations have been urging his department to act promptly for some time to deal with this issue. What I'm concerned about is that if too much time goes on, more damage will be done.

We are approaching the season at which these vehicles will be used a lot more, so what I'm suggesting to the minister is that he think about the possibility - if he's going to continue to study this matter - of bringing in interim controls, certainly interim controls and I would urge him very stringent controls, in all of our parks and protected areas to make it clear that ATVs should not be there. Furthermore, this should be reinforced with clear postings at all entryways.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, let me express my thanks to the minister for having advised me in advance of his intention to make this statement today. Thank you.

[2:15 p.m.]

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister, as well, for providing a copy of his statement in advance. I believe the Voluntary Planning organization is a very worthy organization to have delve into this particular issue. It would have been nice to have some greater insights, through the minister's statement, on what, in fact, the Department of Transportation and Public Works did in the last four years on this particular issue. It would have been nice to know what the Department of Natural Resources, through the minister's statement, did on this issue over the last four years. It would have been nice to see what the Department of Environment and Labour did on this particular issue over the last four years.

[Page 1504]

It's a very serious issue. There's one about safety, there's one about increasing concern about the number of deaths across not only Nova Scotia, but our sister provinces. There's the issue of liability. Also, too, there's the issue of the rights of the individual ATV operators to be able to travel without considerable encumbrance which, through many of the regulatory processes that were put in through these protected spaces and through the Department of Environment and Labour and through the Department of Natural Resources, makes it very difficult for good, well-intended and safe-operating ATV operators and indeed the provincial body to enjoy this recreational sport.

It's ironic, as the minister was making his statement about worker safety today, out in the courtyard, we looked across the street, on the fourth floor of the Johnston Building, and we saw a worker on a scaffold without all his safety equipment. I guess the question and the point being, is the minister always aware of what's going on around him? That's the same with this particular issue. Putting it off to Voluntary Planning for a future day, with some substantive results, that's great, but another deferred action plan is really a little disappointing. I do thank the minister for at least moving in that direction. Any effort ahead in a positive way is a good effort.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 876

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 at noon, we joined together on the grounds of Province House in a ceremony to honour those who have died as a result of a workplace accident or illness in this province; and

Whereas April 28th is designated throughout Canada as a Day of Mourning for workers killed and injured on the job; and

Whereas there were 28 workers killed because of workplace accidents and illness in Nova Scotia in 2002;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Environment and Labour continue to work with our many partners, and with employees and employers, to create safe working environments and to reduce occupational injury and illness.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1505]

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 Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 877

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

Whereas 1,000 Canadian workers die each year at work, 1 million more are injured and thousands die from diseases caused by toxic substances in the workplace; and

Whereas April 28th, the National Day of Mourning, allows Nova Scotians to remember and mourn all those workers killed or injured at work; and

Whereas this day reminds us that we must be ever vigilant in strengthening and enforcing health and safety rules in the workplace;

Therefore be it resolved that this House, on this National Day of Mourning, recognize and mourn for the many Canadians who have died or been injured in the workplace, and vow to make workplace health and safety a paramount concern.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 1506]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 878

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

Whereas today's budget vote marks the last budget vote for the member for Argyle as Finance Minister; and

Whereas after four years, $1 billion in additional revenues and $500 million worth of debt, the Premier still has to borrow more money than he is taking in; and

Whereas the current minister was also a member of two previous governments that racked up a $1.1 billion deficit in 1993, a legacy of high unemployment, crumbling schools and inadequate health care;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize that the Minister of Finance missed a golden opportunity to make up for his past sins against the Nova Scotia people and that instead of a legacy of stability, he is leaving a legacy of uncertainty and debt.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Deputy Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 879

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

Whereas HMCS Montreal steamed into Halifax Friday after completing the longest mission ever undertaken by a Canadian Navy ship; and

Whereas the 261 sailors and air crew left for the Persian Gulf last September 9th as part of Canada's contribution to the war on terrorism; and

Whereas the frigate was the flagship for a naval task force of as many as 10 warships and boarded over 100 ships and hailed over 3,000 ships during its mission;

[Page 1507]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature commend the crew of HMCS Montreal for the sacrifices they have made to protect our freedom and offer them a well-deserved Bravo Zulu.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 880

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

Whereas Rosemary Brown was a passionate advocate of human rights and equality, esteemed author, professor of women's studies, founding member of the Vancouver Status of Women Council and a recipient of the Order of Canada; and

Whereas she was the first black woman elected to political office in Canada in 1972 and later ran as a candidate for the federal leadership of the NDP in 1974; and

Whereas at the age of 72 Rosemary Brown died on Saturday, April 26th of an apparent heart attack in Vancouver, British Columbia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House pay tribute to Rosemary Brown, the tireless champion of social democracy and extend sympathy to her brother, Gus Wedderburn, residing in Halifax, and to the rest of her family.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1508]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 881

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

Whereas one of the few statements in the famous Tory blue book that has any validity is the statement made on Page 37 which states that Nova Scotians are a compassionate people; and

Whereas the blue book continues with the statement that Nova Scotians believe that their government must work to enhance the quality of life for all people, including those who are mentally and physically challenged; and

Whereas this government's complete lack of interest and inaction on the current strike of Regional Residential Services Society is proof that the words of the government were just that, words;

Therefore be it resolved that this government be condemned for their lack of action in enhancing the quality of life for those who are physically and mentally challenged by allowing this strike to continue.

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 Kings North.

[Page 1509]

RESOLUTION NO. 882

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

Whereas it has been an extremely successful year for the Glooscap Curling Club; and

Whereas the Corey Boudreau junior rink won the right to represent Nova Scotia at the Canada Winter Games and Yvonne Martin won her third provincial senior women's championship in five years; and

Whereas within hours of each other, Mr. Boudreau and Ms. Martin also won provincial men's and ladies' Masters titles in Windsor and Middleton respectively;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join me in congratulating the Glooscap Curling Club on a very successful year and wish them many more successful years of curling in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 883

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

Whereas the Victorian Order of Nurses has a long proud history of service in the homes and communities of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the VON supports the Romanow proposal to integrate properly funded home care under the Canada Health Act and make it a fundamental part of a modern health care system; and

[Page 1510]

Whereas until that proposal is realized, the VON will continue to raise scarce funds for its charitable programs through activities such as its Caring for Life Walk 2003 in communities across Nova Scotia on May 24th and 25th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the VON on their long and excellent service to Nova Scotians and wish them well with their Caring for Life Walk 2003 fundraiser this coming May.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 884

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

Whereas in June 1999, Premier Hamm and the Tories stated that $1.5 billion was enough money to run a quality health care system in this province, if used properly; and

Whereas in 2002, the Health Budget for the Province of Nova Scotia reached an all time high of $2.1 billion; and

Whereas for this $2.1 billion expenditure, Nova Scotia has fewer nurses, longer wait times, cancelled surgeries and emergency room closures on a regular basis;

Therefore be it resolved that Premier Hamm and his government be condemned for telling the people of Nova Scotia that he could manage the health care system for $1.5 billion when it is clear that they can't even do it with $2.1 billion.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1511]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 885

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

Whereas during the winter months, it is often difficult for this province's rural students to have the opportunity to be active outside because of limited access to outdoor activities within a reasonable distance; and

Whereas Physical Education teacher Tony Corbin and his students at River John Consolidated School have discovered a fun and simple winter activity, snowshoeing; and

Whereas the Program Development Assistance Fund - a partnership between the Nova Scotia Teachers' Union and the Department of Education - has made this heart-healthy activity possible by providing funds to purchase 35 pairs of snowshoes;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating teacher Tony Corbin and his students for finding innovative ways to stay active and healthy year-round.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

[Page 1512]

RESOLUTION NO. 886

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

Whereas continued reductions in the Canadian military has seen the closure of bases all over the country, and Nova Scotia has been no stranger to the cuts; and

Whereas as part of this reduction, this weekend marked the sad deconsecration and closure of the Shannon Park Chapel; and

Whereas the chapel served the parishioners of the Shannon Park area, both Catholic and Protestant, since its opening in 1957;

Therefore be it resolved that the House express its sincere regret at the closure of the Shannon Park Chapel, and its sympathy go out to all those parishioners who had to say goodbye to this beloved church.

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. 887

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

Whereas throughout Canada, each and every year, the 28th day of April shall be known under the name of Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace; and

Whereas there were 28 lives lost in Nova Scotia from workplace-related accidents; and

[Page 1513]

Whereas workplace health and safety is the business of every Nova Scotian - employers, employees, families, industry and government;

Therefore be it resolved that we remember those workers who have been killed or injured in the workplace and begin the week with a renewed commitment to create a safer, healthier Nova Scotia.

[2:30 p.m.]

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 888

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

Whereas Ruth and Paul Colville came to Moshers Corner more than 30 years ago with a dream of a better lifestyle and of farming the land organically; and

Whereas after 30 years of trial, sweat and plain hard work, the Colvilles, along with the help of good farm workers, have established a growing market for their certified organic produce and meat; and

Whereas Coldspring Farm is now successfully competing in the local market with California produce and is expanding the business into new markets with a new brand name;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ruth and Paul Colville on making their dream farm a reality and wish them much success breaking into new markets with their new brand, Goodspring Organic.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1514]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 889

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

Whereas Elsie and Allen MacNeil of Upper Tantallon will celebrate 60 years of marriage; and

Whereas the MacNeils are wonderful friends and neighbours to all in our community; and

Whereas this legendary couple has set examples of dedication and commitment for all of us to follow;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Elsie and Allen MacNeil of Upper Tantallon on their 60th Wedding Anniversary with wishes of many more great years together.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 1515]

RESOLUTION NO. 890

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

Whereas environment debt continues to escalate, along with our increasing financial debt, because of the ever-amounting broken promises by this Premier; and

Whereas on Page 32 of the Tory blue book it promises to establish, after thorough consultation with Nova Scotians, an environmental "green" plan for Nova Scotia; and

Whereas as of today the people of Nova Scotia are still awaiting the Premier's green plan four years later;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge that the Premier's track record undoubtedly shows his lack of concern for future generations by allowing the fiscal debt to grow and by ignoring the growing environmental debt.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 891

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

Whereas the We Care Society recently held a telethon at the New Glasgow amphitheatre, exceeding their goals by raising over $40,000; and

Whereas the six-hour telethon featured dozens of entertainers playing a variety of music to audience members and viewers watching the broadcast on EastLink television; and

Whereas individual donations were up this year, showing the great generosity of the citizens of Pictou County;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the members of the We Care Society on the success of their telethon and thank all those who donated to this very worthy cause.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1516]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 892

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

Whereas Leo MacKay, Jr., of Truro, his novel, Twenty-Six, has within a week of its release vaulted to number six on the Maclean's bestseller list; and

Whereas his novel is inspired by the tragic Westray disaster in Stellarton and explores the tragedy of losing a loved one in a mining disaster; and

Whereas Cape Breton writer Alistair MacLeod says, "the novel is about memory, loss, guilt, and the light of redemption - sometimes, but not always, before it is too late . . . Leo MacKay, Jr. has a clear, distinctive voice which needs to be heard . . .";

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Truro's Leo MacKay, Jr., on the success of his novel, Twenty-Six, and look forward to his continuing success as a Canadian writer.

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 1517]

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 893

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

Whereas April 28th to May 2nd is Education Week; and

Whereas we should encourage all members from our community to support public education; and

Whereas with the support of parents, teachers, trustees, support staff, administrators and members of advisory committees we can raise awareness and support for an adequately funded education system;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House show their support for this year's Education Week and encourage our constituents to be active in our educational system.

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 Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 894

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

Whereas today's Belgian horse is a big, powerful fellow that retains the drafty middle, a deep, strong foot, a lot of bone, heavy muscling and an amiable disposition, besides being a superb worker and a great wagon horse; and

[Page 1518]

Whereas Nova Scotia can be proud of the number of championship Belgian horses that exist in this province; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Belgian Draft Horse Association and their various members with their teams of horses attend numerous agricultural exhibitions, Santa Claus Parades and other events around Nova Scotia annually;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs congratulate President Brenton Hefler and the Nova Scotia Belgian Draft Horse Association for their community spirit and always wanting to show these beautiful draft horses anywhere they can.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 895

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

Whereas Whare's Store has been a fixture in Eastern Passage for over 60 years, having been opened at Quigley's Corner in 1942; and

Whereas Kathleen "Kay" Naugle has operated the store for several decades, first with her husband George Whare and, after his passing, on her own and later with her husband Mort Naugle; and

Whereas Whare's Store, which has been in the heart of the community and close to the hearts of its residents for generations, is closing for good on April 30, 2003;

[Page 1519]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mort and Kay Naugle, operators of Whare's Store, on their upcoming retirement, recognize their many years of service to their business and the community of Eastern Passage, and wish them all the best in the years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 896

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

Whereas on April 28, 2000, the Premier said, "We have to stop piling up debt before it's too late. We have to start living within our means . . . stop mortgaging our children and grandchildren. Otherwise we're going to end up financially . . . and morally bankrupt."; and

Whereas the Premier went on further to say, "As government we only have a couple of revenue sources. The taxpayers of today (that's you) and the taxpayers of tomorrow (that would be your children and grandchildren)."; and

Whereas in the same speech the Premier said, "We don't think it's fair to borrow the money and, in effect, spend more of your children's or grandchildren's income.";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize that the Premier is willing to borrow against his grandchildren's future in a last-ditch effort to remain Premier of Nova Scotia instead of doing the right thing and maintaining his personal integrity.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

[Page 1520]

RESOLUTION NO. 897

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

Whereas Premier Hamm's opening statement in the blue book states that political Leaders must see government as a responsibility and an opportunity to serve their province; and

Whereas to date this government has failed women and children by threatening services offered by women's centres and transition houses, reduced provincial contributions to social housing programs, and abandoned the physically and mentally challenged in the HRM; and

Whereas the measure of any society is how we treat the most vulnerable among us;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government be condemned for their actions when it comes to community services and be reminded that they have a responsibility to all Nova Scotians, not just their chosen few.

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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 898

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

Whereas volunteerism is an example of altruistic acts on behalf of others that makes it perhaps the highest expression of public service; and

Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia recognizes communities based on their level of volunteerism with the annual Model Volunteer Community Award; and

[Page 1521]

Whereas on March 23, 2003, the Municipality of East Hants was presented with the 2003 Model Volunteer Community Award;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Municipality of East Hants on receiving the 2003 Model Volunteer Community Award and all its volunteer residents for their shining example of selfless public service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 899

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

Whereas on June 17, 1999, the then-Leader of the Third Party, now Premier stated, "I have dedicated my life to the provision of quality health care in this Province"; and

Whereas in that same speech, it was stated, "I believe that health care must be the number one priority of government"; and

Whereas the legacy of this Tory Government, when it comes to health care, is fewer nurses, longer wait times, cancelled surgeries, increased Pharmacare premiums and co-pays, increased ambulance fees, and emergency room closures on a regular basis;

Therefore be it resolved that Premier Hamm re-evaluate his vision for a quality health care system and admit that health care was never a priority of this government.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1522]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 900

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

Whereas National Volunteer Week is celebrated this year in Canada from April 27th to May 3rd; and

Whereas this is a time to honour the many people who volunteer their time and energy to enriching the lives of their fellow citizens and communities; and

Whereas the Canadian volunteer and non-profit sector consists of more than 180,000 organizations and 6.5 million volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House honour and congratulate the thousands of volunteer and non-profit organizations and the millions of volunteers who give so much and so readily to make our lives much richer and fuller.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

[Page 1523]

RESOLUTION NO. 901

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

Whereas earlier this year the government released Nova Scotia's student assessment results; and

Whereas this government announced our junior high school math scores which were an appalling 32 per cent, and our elementary math students scored 42 per cent; and

Whereas the Tory Government's Learning for Life plan is a hollow empty plan conjured up by the previous minister to appear as though she had done something during her time as Education Minister;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge that this government has failed to invest in our children over the last four years, as evident in the recent assessment results.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 902

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 evening, Shaar Shalom Synagogue will hold a Holocaust Eve ceremony to mark April 29th, Holocaust Day or Yom HaShoah, a day of great pain and remembrance for the Jewish people; and

Whereas this day invokes remembrance of the Holocaust, the most fearsome tragedy to have befallen the Jewish people in its long history, in which 6 million Jews, fully one-third of European Jewry, including 1.5 million children, were murdered; and

Whereas this ceremony reminds us all that the degree of evil exhibited in the Holocaust may have no equal in all of human history;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join with the congregation of Shaar Shalom Synagogue to observe Holocaust Day, April 29th, and mourn the 6 million Jews who died in Europe between 1930 and 1945.

[Page 1524]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 903

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

Whereas the people of Manitoba were treated to a so-called tax cut by the provincial NDP last week, just like here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas despite all the hoopla, the NDP in Manitoba and the Tories in Nova Scotia are merely giving a one-time tax loan because of a stealth tax measure known as bracket creep; and

Whereas bracket creep has been defined by the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation as, "akin to legalized theft and the provincial government has made off like bandits";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize that the Tory tax scheme is nothing but a loan that will be clawed back because of bracket creep, leading to higher taxes, not lower taxes as has been said in the Tory propaganda.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 904

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

[Page 1525]

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas in Lunenburg and Queens Counties, youth at risk have a greater chance to achieve their potential and to make a successful transition to independent living; and

Whereas Empire House, a six-bed facility for youths aged 16 to 21 who are homeless or at risk of being homeless, is now operating in Bridgewater under the Family and Children's Services of Lunenburg County; and

Whereas the support from the Department of Community Services, along with HRDC and the Family and Children's Services of Lunenburg County, young people now have a hand up as they are enrolled in an academic program and learn to become contributing members of the community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House applaud the opening of Empire House and acknowledge the youth who live there as they work to overcome obstacles and to get the grounding they need for happy futures.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 905

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

Whereas the Elizabeth Fry Society works with and on behalf of women involved with the justice system, particularly women in conflict with the law; and

Whereas each year the Elizabeth Fry Society honours women for their community work through their Rebels with a Cause awards; and

[Page 1526]

Whereas the awards will be given on May 9th this year and the honourees will be: Yvonne Atwell, community development activist; Carrie Boudreau, social worker and community development worker; Darlene Jamieson, lawyer; Sister Dorothy Moore, education consultant; and Lorna Pendleton, leader for community change;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend Yvonne Atwell, Carrie Boudreau, Darlene Jamieson, Sister Dorothy Moore and Lorna Pendleton on being this year's recipients of the Rebels with a Cause awards from the Elizabeth Fry Society.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to take a bit of time to actually reflect on the life of Rosemary Brown who earlier today, the Leader of my Party introduced a resolution paying tribute and expressing our condolences to Rosemary's family.

[Page 1527]

In that resolution the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, I think, laid out quite well the attributes and accomplishments in Rosemary Brown's life. But one of the things that was neglected in that resolution that I would like the record to reflect is that Rosemary Brown was a social worker.

Rosemary Brown taught at the Maritime School of Social Work at Dalhousie in the early 1970s and I was privileged to be in her class as a 22-year-old student. I can say without any hesitation that it is unlikely that I would be here today in this Legislature, representing the community of Halifax Needham, if I had not met this remarkable woman, remarkable social worker, remarkable teacher, remarkable Canadian.

In 1984, when I ran for electoral office for the first time, I was very privileged to have Rosemary come to my nomination meeting and be my guest speaker at that meeting, and I remember well that warm summer evening at Veith House, in August. There are many lessons that I have taken away from my association with Rosemary Brown and I don't think there is any greater lesson that I have learned than the fact that if you, as a social worker, want to address issues of poverty and inequality, you need to look for the solutions in the ways that government behaves to protect the privileged and the wealthy. That is the lesson I learned from Rosemary Brown, that poverty in fact is not the fault of those who live in poverty but the responsibility for maintaining poverty in our society rests, quite often, with the rich and the powerful.

I can remember so well many of the lessons in our social work courses where we spent a great deal of time looking and analyzing and trying to understand the failures of our economic system to provide enough employment at a living wage for so many people whose only desire was to be able to support themselves in the labour force. One of the things Rosemary Brown was very big on was talking about understanding our economic system and understanding the fact that markets do often fail, particularly in a society where there are boom and bust cycles and when you have the downturn in the economy is when people are thrown out of the labour market through no fault of their own. This was a lesson that was learned in the Depression years and those years, of course, were the years when we built a social safety net in the country because people were able to make the connections, that the incredible economic failure that was occurring throughout the industrialized world was not the fault of individuals who could not get employment, but, in fact, represented a very stark failure in the economic system.

Rosemary also was an amazing feminist. She had a very amazing passion to help people understand that women in our society are often left poor and disadvantaged because our society heaps on them the expectations to be responsible for the care of others without any compensation, without wages, without pensions. Therefore, the vast majority of people who would be poor in their senior years, in particular, would be women for whom there weren't adequate public protections in the pension system. As well, often, getting into the labour market was very difficult for women when they were placed in the situation of having

[Page 1528]

to find accessible and affordable and dependable and high quality child care for their children.

She certainly brought to her work and the practise of social work, the teaching of social work, the work on public policy, a very strong analysis that suggested that governments needed to pay more attention to the position of women in our communities and the fact that if we continually ask women to be responsible for the care of others that, we have to ensure that they don't have to pay the price for that by being poor in their old age because they weren't in the labour market contributing to a pension plan, et cetera.

Another issue for which Rosemary Brown was a passionate advocate, of course, was the issue of race and racism in our society. As a person of colour, as a Black woman, she had experienced many, many barriers. She was a strong advocate to tear down barriers that saw people of colour marginalized, segregated, discriminated against and facing attitudes of prejudice for no other reason than their ethnic origins or the colour of their skin. The impact that she made on people both from communities that experienced racism, but for people like myself, from the Caucasian community, to believe in the importance of integration and providing more equitable opportunities and life chances as widely as possible to everybody in our society and to reduce and eliminate inequality wherever we can, was just so important. I think this probably formed a key body of Rosemary Brown's work.

Mr. Speaker, as someone who represents a constituency with a very large African-Nova Scotian community, I can only thank Rosemary Brown for opening my eyes to these issues. I think without having had the experience as a young person in the education system at the university level, if I had never met Rosemary Brown, if I had not been taught by somebody like her who raised these issues and presented them so clearly, so passionately, so forcefully, and with the information that supported her arguments, I doubt very much that I would feel and understand these issues in the way that I do today. She made an incredible impact on me and I know on others as a human rights activist and as someone who believes fundamentally in the importance of human rights.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, Rosemary Brown was an immigrant to this country. She came here from Jamaica. She often talked about carrying a triple kind of oppression in having to deal with being female, being Black and being an immigrant. She spent a great deal of her life trying to improve the public policy for newcomers and immigrants to this country but she also had a profound commitment to people in the developing world. Rosemary Brown, I believe, was the first Executive Director of an organization called MATCH, which was an organization that raised money here in Canada to support women's organizations doing community and economic development in developing world countries. She travelled this country relentlessly talking about the position of women in the developing world, encouraging men and women in this country to commit some financial resources to assist people in developing countries, start worker co-ops, community health centres, transition houses and shelters for women who were abused and beaten in their own home. I think the

[Page 1529]

work of that organization and, certainly as well, working for peace and international awareness and understanding is a legacy of Rosemary Brown.

Mr. Speaker, I think I was, like many other people who knew Rosemary, quite shocked to learn of her death, an untimely death of a woman who had mentored and had taught and had certainly encouraged and who was a ground breaker in so many areas. I know that certainly for women in my Party, the New Democratic Party, we have in our hearts a very special place for this extraordinary woman who always had time for the younger members of our Party, new people coming into the Party like myself, and her sense of what was right and wrong and being able to behave in a principled way, never forgetting the responsibility that we have to act for the interests of people who are often voiceless in the political process and that I think is the lesson that I will take away from this extraordinary life.

So, Mr. Speaker, I really wanted an opportunity to stand here today in my place and pay tribute to the life of this wonderful woman. With that, I will take my place. (Applause)

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to congratulate the member for Halifax Needham. I, like many members in this House, did not know Rosemary Brown, but I am sure she would be quite honoured by the very kind comments provided by the member for Halifax Needham today.

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity, as you know today is going to be an important day in Nova Scotia, we are going to have the vote on the budget, and I wanted to take this opportunity, not only as the Finance Critic for our Party but also as the MLA for Richmond, to make some observations about the budgetary process we have just gone through and what this budget will mean to Nova Scotians. I can tell you, having been home on the weekend, in Richmond County, there is no shortage of opinions as to what people have to say, about this budget. I can assure you, which I am sure is being reflected in the polling numbers that this government is receiving, that they're not very favourable or complimentary, to say the least.

Nova Scotians and the people of Richmond County alike see exactly through this budget and see through this rebate cheque, as nothing but a cynical attempt to buy votes from Nova Scotians. Mr. Speaker, what's ironic is that someone commented before about the old days of the rum bottle, well, at least when the Tories came with the rum bottles before, it was the Tories paying for it. Now they're coming with a cheque, and guess who's paying for it? It is us, the taxpayers, the people of Nova Scotia in general. That's one of the things that they find most appalling.

[Page 1530]

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to make a bit of a summary of some of the items that we've discovered as a result of this budgetary process. Let me go first to the Department of Health. Here we had a minister who, in 1999, underwent what I would describe as the most cynical, crass campaign that I have ever seen in my time of following politics here in this province. Where a politician at the time said, a vote for me means a vote for me to put people out of work and in return for that, I will open up hospital beds for you.

Now what we saw during the estimates, it took a number of questions to get the minister to admit that she had not actually opened any hospital beds, but she refused to answer for it. What we did find out was that not only did she not open up any beds, not only did she not maintain the status quo of the beds that there were in 1999, because she changed her story later and said, no, I didn't mean I would open up new beds, I meant I would keep open the beds there were in 1999, well, we found that wasn't true either, because, in fact, under this government we have 179 less hospital beds than we had in 1999.

I would be curious to see if the new Minister of Transportation and Public Works could tell us how many new nursing home beds we have under his government. I remember when he sat over here, he would continually go after the member for Dartmouth East, saying we need more nursing home beds, more nursing home beds, lift the moratorium, more nursing home beds. I would challenge him to tell us now after four years of having been in Cabinet, how many nursing home beds have been opened under his government. It's a very simple answer, none. Yet they had all the answers when they sat over here, Mr. Speaker.

Also, the Minister of Health - when the minister was asked, have you - I should retreat a bit. In 1999, the Premier made a fundamental promise. He said, vote for me, I am a family doctor, I have the answers to health care, I don't need any more money, we can run health care on $1.5 billion, a vote for me means that I will fix the health care system. Now, when I ask the Minister of Health, okay, four years, have you fixed the health care system? Do you know what her answer was? We have stabilized the health care system. When I asked, well, did you fix it? She would come back and say, well, we have stabilized it.

Mr. Speaker, I've looked throughout the blue book, I don't see the word stabilized, but I see the word fix. Have they done that? No, they haven't, and the minister admitted that herself by saying, we've stabilized, we've brought some funding. The word fix has disappeared, because they haven't fixed it. Nova Scotians know that. The people of Richmond County know it well. Under this government, the emergency room at the Strait-Richmond hospital remained closed longer than it remained open. That is the legacy this government has left.

Then, Mr. Speaker, the people of Richmond County especially were saying, well, now the member for Halifax Citadel, when she was in Education, it was a treat to see what blunder would happen week in and week out. They said, well, in Health, we're just waiting,

[Page 1531]

and, lo and behold, here comes SARS. The minister gets up and tells everyone don't go to Toronto and by the end of the evening telling everyone, no, no, no, feel free to go to Toronto.

I would say, depending on if the election is not too soon, more to come from that minister, more to come.

What have we seen in education? In education we have seen first the disasters from the previous minister, then we get a new minister, the MLA for Antigonish. Immediately the people in the Strait Regional School Board said, well, now we have a Minister of Education from our board and let's look at the blue book, what does it say? It says that we will bring in a plan to deal with boards that have large decreases in enrolment to ensure that there is not a negative impact on the classroom. Okay, that's in their blue book. I didn't say it, they said it. Four years later when I asked the minister where's your plan, he said we don't have a plan. Then I asked him, well, okay, the Strait Regional School Board is going to lose over 300 students again this year. They will need to eliminate 16 teaching positions. Will you guarantee that the funding will be in place to make sure these teaching positions are not cut? What does the Minister of Education, the MLA for Antigonish say? No, I will not make that commitment. Once again another broken promise.

Then reading through the blue book, Mr. Speaker - and again these are not my words, they're the words of this government - I read through it and it says that there's going to be tax relief for graduating students to help them defer that towards their student loan payments. So I ask the minister where is that plan, are you ready to go with it? What does he say? The Minister of Finance told me bad idea, we're not going ahead with it. So there's another broken promise. Then I asked him, well, under your blue book under education, post-secondary education, it says you have a plan for university employment so that students going to university can work to try to pay down some of their debt and make some money. I asked the minister the status of that plan - nothing, haven't done anything in four years. Well, I said, okay, so that's two or three, let's try another one.

It says again in the blue book that they will have a program in place for graduating students to assist them with job search and place them in the proper employment. I asked the minister again could he tell us the status of that promise. Once again, we have done nothing in four years on that promise. So another broken promise. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's important that they listen to the amount of broken promises that Nova Scotians will remind them when they get to the doorstep so they can keep a running count of that. Maybe Mr. Batherson, or others, will give them answers like he gives to the Premier to recite to Nova Scotians. I'm curious if it will work well on the doorstep.

[Page 1532]

Let's go to the Department of Environment and Labour. I asked the minister, a long-time minister here, you've had four years, how many protected spaces have you and your government added since you've been minister in four years? What's his answer? None. I said, okay, but we already had protected spaces, our government when it was there had done a significant amount of work in establishing protected spaces and was recognized by different environmental groups with awards and commended for it. So I said, well, what about management plans for these protected spaces? Have you done anything on the management plans? Four years later, what was the answer from the minister? None, no management plan and no work has been done on it. Another broken promise.

Then, Mr. Speaker, lo and behold, we arrive to the Department of Finance and what interesting revelations we have had. At first the Tory spin doctors continued to put out the word that the $155 cheque was being sent out because Revenue Canada hadn't been given enough notice to implement the tax break. That was the unofficial word. It was the word being given by senior staff in Finance and a budget lockup and then, lo and behold, we find out . . .

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member opposite has stated that the senior staff had said that a cheque is being sent because of the fact that we couldn't make the changes. That is not the case. The member opposite has said that before in the House. I have corrected him in the past and I will continue to correct him in the future.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order, but it's a clarification of the facts.

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as the minister will continue in his stance, I will continue in mine in stating that that is clearly what was told to us. Yet the Tories have been spinning back ever since and saying, look, we know that the gig is up. They went out and they have done some research because what did we find out from Revenue Canada? Well, no, they said they could have changed the tax rate July 1st. They had lots of time. In fact, the minister tabled his budget April 3rd. He had up to April 15th and they said they could have waited another week or two after that, we could have worked with them. Yet it was a strategic decision made by the Tory Party not to give a tax cut on July 1st. The decision was made to send out the cheque.

The big question is, Mr. Speaker, who made that decision? Was it senior staff in the Department of Finance? Was it Tory strategists outside? That's a question I hope the minister will answer for us, as to whose idea was it? You can look in the blue book and, again, it never talks about mailing out a cheque to Nova Scotians. It talks about a cut, yet they made the decision to send out a cheque. So maybe the Minister of Finance will be able to clarify that for us, as to who is behind the idea of mailing out this cheque.

[Page 1533]

This is again a government and this is the Premier who many people said, John Hamm's integrity and everything is rock solid and any word he has said he has kept. How we have been able to lift the veil on that this session. On Page 1, the Premier has all of a sudden forgot or he has torn it out of his blue book where he says, I believe that a government " . . . must live within its means."

After four years, this government has clearly proven that it was unable to live within its means. Not only has it been unable to live within its means, it has gone out and continued to borrow money year in and year out. In it the Premier says, I will not mortgage the future of my grandchildren. Then he stands here in this House and defends having added a half billion dollars to the debt and says, next year I will borrow another $118 million. But will it end there? No, the Minister of Finance said, I have borrowed, I'm borrowing today, and we'll continue to borrow tomorrow with no end in sight. What have we seen though? We have seen that within a few years, the yearly cost for servicing the debt of this province will reach $1 billion and yet the Minister of Finance would have us believe that his budget and his government's administration of these finances has been manageable.

I challenge the Tories to go out on the doorsteps and tell Nova Scotians, do not worry, that we're going to take $1 billion to give to banks that won't stay here in this province; we feel that is manageable and we're proud of that. I challenge them to make that statement because we will certainly be reminding Nova Scotians of the fact of what this government has done. Keep in mind, on top of that, they had $1 billion in addition revenue since they entered government in 1999, an extra billion dollars. Yet, the Premier likes to talk about the economy in 1993, and rather than taking account for his four years in government, he talks about the previous administration in 1993-94.

All Nova Scotians know you cannot compare today's economy and the growth we see in this economy with what there was 10 years ago. Why does he do that? Because that is an act of desperation from a Premier who knows that the fundamental promises he's made to Nova Scotians are unravelling every day. They no longer say they're going to fix health care, they use the word, stabilize; they no longer say they're going to live within their means, they say they're going to try to manage the finances.

Bit by bit we have been able to lift the veil on this government so that Nova Scotians can truly see. One has to ask, were they naive when they set out in 1999? On a few points, maybe they were. My contention would be these statements were intentionally made for the purpose of gathering votes from Nova Scotians on promises they knew they had no reasonable ability to be able to succeed. Now, rather than admit that they have failed, rather than admit to say, no, we were unsuccessful in doing that, what we get now is more spin doctors. We saw that in the plan that was brought forward when we obtained a leaked copy from government, where senior departments were brought in, senior officials. The message wasn't, look at our success and we need to go out and inform Nova Scotians of our success, that wasn't the message. The message was, we need to convince Nova Scotians that we have

[Page 1534]

been able to deal with the debt, we need to convince them we have been able to work on health care, we need to convince them that we have been a good government.

Mr. Speaker, what Nova Scotians are saying is, provide us with good government through your actions and we'll pass judgement on that. There's no need for spin doctors. Bring us more medical doctors. We can certainly use them in Richmond County where, under this government, we have continually had shortages of physicians, not only at the Strait Richmond but in the communities of L'Ardoise and the communities of Louisdale and Isle Madame areas. Yet, more spin doctors is the order of the day from this government because on the eve of an election, rather than admit defeat, rather than admit failure, it is an attempt to use taxpayers' money through ads, through TV advertisements, through radio spots and through the hiring of more communications personnel to try to convince Nova Scotians they have had good government, when Nova Scotians clearly know that the actions of this administration prove to them that they have had wasted opportunities, lost opportunities and at the end of the day, a government whose legacy will be adding more debt. Again, the message Nova Scotians say today when it comes to Tory Governments - very simple - I have trusted too many to my sorrow, so pay today, not tomorrow. Thank you.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to talk a little bit about the fine riding of the Eastern Shore. As you all know and have heard me speak often of it, it starts at the west side at Lawrencetown, Porter's Lake and continues down to Ecum Secum - a long, long way. A very different type of riding, it has sort of a suburban approach on one end and a very rural approach on the other.

What I have to talk about today is more or less on a positive note and how the Conservative Government is making positive steps in the riding I represent. Before I touch on that, I would like to talk a little bit about what's taken place over the last year down on the Eastern Shore in relation to redistribution.

Being the municipal representative for the area of Ship Harbour to Ecum Secum, a change has taken place.

AN HON. MEMBER: You still are?

MR. DOOKS: Thank you, my fine colleague to the right. Because of the realignments of the boundary, the Eastern Shore has lost a fine part of the riding, a very large geographical part of the riding from Ship Harbour to Ecum Secum. I would like to say I'm very sad to lose those wonderful constituents of mine. Those constituents played an important part in my political career and I must say, since becoming a representative of the Progressive

[Page 1535]

Conservative Government, we have made a difference in the lives of the people from Ship Harbour to Ecum Secum.

First we have to talk about the announcement over a year ago about the $17.2 million that was allocated to our highways down there. We stood in Sheet Harbour last year with the Premier, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, and the Minister of Tourism and we made an announcement with my colleague, the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury down in Sheet Harbour stating that this government was going to invest $17.2 million in the highway system from Musquodoboit east. It was a great day, there was a lot of celebration, but you know what happened, Mr. Speaker? Shortly after that, a couple of constituents came up and they said, Bill, that would probably be just a promise. I said, I think it's more than a promise because I've been involved in consultation and in planning with the government for a long, long time.

Well, I can tell you today, it has been more than a promise. First of all, the bridge in Musquodoboit Harbour has been revamped and will allow now heavy B-train trucks to travel across. Pavement out of the $17.2 million has been put out for tender in the Lake Charlotte area, we have paved 10 kilometres between Spry Bay and Sheet Harbour. Tender has just been put out for 15 kilometres for Ecum Secum east.

These are more than promises. This is a positive step. This will promote opportunities for tourism and economic growth for that community. That tells you that this government believes in the rural parts of Nova Scotia. This government has made a difference in the Eastern Shore riding and this government has not forgotten the people in that part of the rural riding.

We also can talk about many other issues. We could talk about the Ship Harbour Long Lake issue. I know that is an issue that's very sensitive to my colleagues across the way and they know the work that I've completed in protecting and fighting the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Environment to maintain some protection in that area. I'll tell you, I feel good, even though I'm leaving that part of the area, I'm not going to forget that part of the area. I'm going to work in concert with the member for Guysborough when he's elected, the member for the Sheet Harbour-Guysborough area when he carries the views of the good people of Sheet Harbour and area to this government.

We could talk about protected areas - I just heard about protected areas. It was the Liberal Government that brought in the bill to protect these areas and we appreciate that, but it's more than that. We have to create a balance. It's not that you're either against the ATV users or for the ATV users, we have to create a balance. The Speaker has played a big part in this - my colleague to the right, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and myself, we have met with government officials, we have talked to community groups and we have asked them to create and to find a balance so that all people, all constituents, all people of Nova Scotia can use and enjoy these protected areas.

[Page 1536]

It isn't about looking at one group's interests and saying we're going to support that group. It's about creating that very important balance that makes us Nova Scotians, (Interruption) that we enjoy together.

Mr. Speaker, as I stand here, my colleague to the right, he keeps talking about it, I don't know if he has a question for me today but if he has one I would ask him to stand and ask the question.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member extended an invitation to me to ask him a question and never one to decline, especially to the honourable colleague for the Eastern Shore, I would just ask the honourable member if he would sum up his views on this new-found position that the NDP has relative to the federal Firearms Act?

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I didn't really want to talk about that today but I will talk about it I will try to answer his question. As this House knows, we traveled to Ottawa a number of weeks ago and met with Mr. Easter, the Solicitor General, who just recently received the portfolio. We did talk about the long-arm registry. It is very clear that the position of this government. I was there with the Attorney General and the member for Cumberland South, we were there in opposition of long-arm registration. What we asked him, at that particular time, was to put a moratorium on it for Atlantic Canada until the federal government has had an opportunity to review and understand the mistakes it has made with this long-arm registration. In saying that, we also asked him not only for the moratorium on that but we asked him to decriminalize the code and that would encourage people, if worst came to worst that they could register.

But the question asked was what do I think about the NDP's stand on this gun registry. Well, I would have to say, Mr. Speaker, that they have taken a different stand than the Conservative caucus. Their stand is that they have asked the federal government for them to prosecute violators of the Act and it is our stand on this side of the House, for no one to be prosecuted. That's the difference there. It is one of these . . .

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is important to put on the record as a point of order. It was your bill when you were in Opposition with regard to the firearms registry. Our Party at that point made our position quite clear. Gun control, yes; gun registry, no. That has always been our position.

MR. SPEAKER: It is not a point of order but certainly a clarification of facts.

MR. DOOKS: Are you for long arms or are you against the act or are you for the act? Are you for protected areas or are you against protected areas? Are you for the $155 cheque given back by this government or are you against the $155 cheque from this government? We hear the Opposition talk about that and I'm telling you that the government has made a

[Page 1537]

decision and this government has made a decision that they are going to stand by. I have asked my constituents of the rural area and I said, are you happy with the $155 cheque? Well, a guy said, Bill, I'll have to tell you, the $155 cheque we welcome and next year it is going to double, we have two people in our house who are earning an income of approximately $600. That will be an insurance payment, that will be a barrel of oil, that will help our household, I'll tell you this. Do you know what he said to me, don't really worry about the $155 cheque, this year the government did not increase provincial income tax and that is a benefit to all Nova Scotians. Actually, with the work that we're doing some Nova Scotians would think that we're going to increase the provincial income tax but instead we cut back 10 per cent. I'll tell you, most rural people who are making a living in rural areas appreciate the rebate or the cut in income tax. There's no question about that. This is not a political issue. These are dollars in people's hands in the rural areas.

You know that. My colleague is over there smiling. He represents a rural area. You either have $600 more in your household account or you do not have $600 more in your household account. It is whoever interprets how this is going to turn out. Now, I know, well, $300 and $300 is $600. It's however you want to interpret it, it could be $900 if you had that many people and they all contribute. But, Mr. Speaker, I really meant today to talk about the good constituents of the Eastern Shore from Musquodoboit, Jeddore East, because of the redistribution, what's taken place, but I will tell you what, I will wander across now and talk about the people who live on the Eastern Shore, a riding after this election.

The people would be from Lawrencetown-Porters Lake now, down to (Interruptions) Yes, Ross Road - down into the Newcombe Brook area. These people will benefit, there's no doubt, by this new realignment, because their MLA has a very short area now to represent, totally different than what has been historic in the past. I will tell you, there are differences taking place already in this riding. The pavement is taking on, the surveyors are out, people are seeing a difference in the riding. (Interruptions) Yes, pavement. Pavement that has been short coming in the past.

Of course, I've made the Eastern Shore my home. I was born there and brought up. In my short life, I've never really seen major paving projects. It was always, well, there will be some given to the Eastern Shore, if there's a little bit of time left. Anyway, there's a difference in the Eastern Shore. People are proud . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: There's one of your constituents. Look, there's one of your constituents over there.

MR. DOOKS: Yes, a constituent over there, smiling at me. (Interruptions) People are alive. People are well in the Eastern Shore riding. People are positive people. We don't have the cloud that hangs over some people who speak in this House. People are looking towards positive movements from this government.

[Page 1538]

I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, it is important to have a progressive, aggressive government ruling and watching over and partaking in government in Nova Scotia. This government is making a difference in the lives of Nova Scotians. They either are or they are not. Well, I can tell you they are making a difference. We are making a difference as a government. We are making a difference in the lives of people of Nova Scotia. When we look at bridges being built - I could talk about bridges all day here. I was involved in a bridge in Chezzetcook in which I had quite a struggle, but I want to tell you this government stood beside me. That Canterbury Bridge is on-line and will be replaced May 30th. (Interruptions)

I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, there are so many good things to talk about this afternoon. We have pavement, we have prosperity, we have the RIM program, new signs, new ditches (Interruptions) New schools, well, that's quite an interesting thing. I know that this government believes in education. I know this government understands the needs of the people of the Eastern Shore. I understand that we have some of the smartest children, some of the smartest young people, not only in Nova Scotia but in Canada, living on the Eastern Shore. I know this government will meet their needs so that they can face the future as they meet the world's needs, for sure.

I believe all good things come to those who wait. Only you have to be appropriate. You have to be appropriate. When you're a representative of a fine group of people, Mr. Speaker, you just can't run off at the mouth, you just can't go around spitting out this and that and stuff, you have to do your research, you have to understand what's in place, you have to understand how the system works, but the first thing you always have to understand as a representative is that you must be for your people and with your people.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I was wondering if the member can explain to us whether a school that was on the Halifax Regional School Board's list, the school in Jeddore, I believe, that was supposed to be built, is still on the list for this government to be built in the next year?

MR. SPEAKER: Obviously that's not a point of order, it's a question. Would the honourable member for Eastern Shore like to answer it?

MR. DOOKS: . . . been in this House a long time, that member understands the protocol of this House, that member sat in there in estimates and listened to the Minister of Education talk about this. Mr. Speaker, it wouldn't be appropriate. I will stand here and say it. I won't hide away from it. The people of the Eastern Shore know they have a representative who knows education is important, that the children are important, and I want to tell you they know their representative is doing their work in this seat in this House here right now, and they know, when the time is appropriate, positive news will come to the people of the Eastern Shore. That member, I thank him for the question and I hope I've answered it.

[Page 1539]

Mr. Speaker, education, roads, hospitals - I can talk about hospitals. I hear about that. Our hospitals on the Eastern Shore, two of them, are both stable, and I will tell you they have the community support and they have the support of this member and they have the support of this government. Our hospitals are doing well, and we thank you for the people who work there. So we talk about hospitals and education and highways, we talk about the economy growing (Interruptions)

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

The motion is carried.

[3:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. James DeWolfe in the Chair.]

[4:31 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 completed its deliberations in the Committee of the Whole House on Supply and had come to agreement on 42 Supply estimates, and the Chairman has been instructed to recommend them to the favourable consideration of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House concurs with the report of the Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye.

A record vote has been called for.

We will ring the bells to the satisfaction of the Whips.

[4:32 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion is before the House and a recorded vote has been called for. All those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay. The Clerk will call the roll.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[Page 1540]

[5:33 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Rodney MacDonald Mr. Corbett

Mr. Christie Mr. MacDonell

Mr. Baker Ms. Maureen MacDonald

Mr. Russell Mr. Dexter

Dr. Hamm Mr. Holm

Mr. LeBlanc Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. Muir Mr. Gaudet

Miss Purves Dr. Smith

Mr. Fage Mr. MacAskill

Mr. Balser Mr. MacKinnon

Mr. Parent Mr. Wilson

Ms. McGrath Mr. Samson

Mr. Ronald Chisholm Mr. Steele

Mr. Olive Mr. Deveaux

Mr. Morse Mr. Robert Chisholm

Mr. MacIsaac Mr. Estabrooks

Mr. Clarke Mr. Epstein

Mr. DeWolfe Mr. Pye

Mr. Taylor

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Langille

Mr. Chataway

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

Mr. Boudreau

THE CLERK: For, 31. Against, 18.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1541]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Introduction of Bills.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 41 - Entitled an Act to Provide for Defraying Certain Charges and Expenses of the Public Service of the Province. (Hon. Neil LeBlanc)

MR. SPEAKER: When should this bill be read a second time?

AN HON. MEMBER: Now.

MR. SPEAKER: Somebody has to move second reading.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I was speaking to the Premier, and I think I usually listen when he speaks to me.

I move second reading of Bill No. 41.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance moves second reading.

A recorded vote has been called for.

Ring the bells to the satisfaction of the Whips.

[5:37 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: A recorded vote has been called for on second reading of Bill No. 41. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[The motion is carried.]

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[Page 1542]

[6:36 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Rodney MacDonald Mr. Corbett

Mr. Christie Mr. MacDonell

Mr. Baker Ms. Maureen MacDonald

Mr. Russell Mr. Holm

Dr. Hamm Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. LeBlanc Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Muir Dr. Smith

Miss Purves Mr. MacAskill

Mr. Fage Mr. MacKinnon

Mr. Balser Mr. Wilson

Mr. Parent Mr. Samson

Ms. McGrath Mr. Steele

Mr. Ronald Chisholm Mr. Deveaux

Mr. Olive

Mr. Morse

Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. Clarke

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Taylor

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Langille

Mr. Chataway

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

Mr. Boudreau

THE CLERK: For, 31. Against, 13.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[Page 1543]

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to move third reading of Bill No. 41.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance moves third reading of Bill No. 41.

A recorded vote has been called for.

The bells will ring until the Whips are satisfied.

[6:38 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: A recorded vote has been called on third reading of Bill No. 41. All those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay. The Clerk will call the roll.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[7:38 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Rodney MacDonald Mr. Corbett

Mr. Christie Mr. MacDonell

Mr. Baker Ms. Maureen MacDonald

Mr. Russell Mr. Holm

Dr. Hamm Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. LeBlanc Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Muir Dr. Smith

Miss Purves Mr. MacAskill

Mr. Fage Mr. MacKinnon

Mr. Balser Mr. Wilson

Mr. Parent Mr. Samson

Ms. McGrath Mr. Steele

Mr. Ronald Chisholm Mr. Deveaux

Mr. Olive

Mr. Morse

[Page 1544]

Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. Clarke

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Taylor

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Langille

Mr. Chataway

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

Mr. Boudreau

THE CLERK: For, 31. Against, 13.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

Ordered that the bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed. (Applause)

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 36.

Bill No. 36 - Financial Measures (2003) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: As the members know, we are now on the six months' hoist amendment.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 1545]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have an opportunity to stand here and speak in support of the hoist amendment moved by the House Leader of the Liberal Party. I think that if there is ever an appropriate use of the hoist amendment, then certainly this is it. If, in fact, this amendment is successful, the government will have six months to hold discussions with the casino operators, and that, I think, will be much more productive than having received a telephone call from the casino operators to the Premier or the Minister of Finance saying, jump and having the response, is this high enough . . .

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

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, I would say to the Minister of Education that if he wants to get up and participate in the debate, I would look forward to that. I would look forward to hearing from many members of the government caucus about what their perspective and their position is with respect to giving this special treatment to the casino. I'm quite sure that Nova Scotians would like to know why Casino Nova Scotia merits such special treatment.

For many people in this province, this is a question of fairness and, definitely, people I speak to ask what is so special about the casino that they get to be exempted from legislation that is designed to protect the health and safety of workers. Specifically so that people are very clear about the amendment to hoist the Financial Measures (2003) Bill, if this bill passes without being amended, then there are provisions in this bill brought forward by this government that will override the municipal bylaw that will protect workers at Casino Nova Scotia here in Halifax and the casino in Cape Breton from being exposed to second-hand smoke. This is not just about fairness and the question of treating service sector operators fairly, it's very much a question of protecting the health and safety of workers and treating all workers in Nova Scotia with the fairness they deserve.

It wasn't that long ago that we had a visitor here in our Legislature, a woman who I was very pleased to have an opportunity to introduce to the members of this Legislature. Frankly, it was sort of a bittersweet occasion because this is a woman who is suffering with terminal lung cancer, as a result of being exposed to second-hand smoke. Of course, you know that I'm speaking about Heather Crowe. Heather Crowe originally hales from Nova Scotia, but who has lived outside Nova Scotia, in Ontario, for a number of years and currently lives in Ottawa, has worked for many, many years as a waitress in a number of establishments. She has never been a smoker, yet, she currently suffers from lung cancer and without any question - there's absolutely no question - that the kind of cancer that she has is cancer that is directly attributable to second-hand smoke. That has been the finding of her physicians and experts in the medical field. This has been presented before an administrative tribunal and there has, in fact, been a landmark case finding that she suffers from cancer as a result of exposure to second-hand smoke in the work place. She is being included now for

[Page 1546]

compensation benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act in Ontario as a result of that situation in her case.

[7:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, when she came here, I believe she met with all of the Party caucuses. She met with the government caucus, with the Liberal Party caucus and with the NDP caucus. She said to us and I'm sure she said to other caucuses that she would like, its her hope that she would be the last worker to die from second-hand smoke. She says that I want to be the last person to die from second-hand smoke at work and she appeared in front of the HRM Council with respect to the bylaw that they introduced which, in fact, would protect workers at the casino.

I think that we need to pay attention to people like Heather Crowe and not only Heather Crowe, I think we need to pay attention to people like Andrea Skinner, who we saw in the news last week. This is a young woman with a history of cancer in her own family. This is a woman who has been working at the casino for more than five or six years. She's a dealer at one of the tables. For long periods of time she may be surrounded by many people who are smoking and she developed headaches, dizziness and nosebleeds and generally was feeling unwell. She attributed her feelings of unwellness to the exposure to second-hand smoke. Of course, we're all becoming more aware of the impact of not just smoking but of being exposed to second-hand smoke.

Mr. Speaker, in October 2001, the Premier basically said that this government, his government, was committed to smoke-free legislation and that his government would take the time to do it right, to bring in smoke-free legislation and to do it right. "We will work to ensure Nova Scotia's legislation is at the forefront of national and international efforts to reduce smoking and to reduce exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke." This provision in the Financial Measures (2003) Bill that takes away the impact of HRM's bylaw, I mean, HRM actually ended up doing what this Premier and what this government should have done in the legislation they introduced, when the Premier said his government would take the time to do things right, well, they didn't do things right. They exempted the casino under their smoke-free legislation and they left municipalities around the province, including HRM, having to examine whether or not what the province did was the right thing.

HRM Council, I think quite correctly, have found that what the province did, what this government did, in fact, wasn't the right thing. It didn't put us, as the Premier said, in the forefront of national and international efforts at all, to reduce smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, and that there was this big hole in the government's legislation that allowed the situation where workers at the casino are not afforded the same occupational health and safety provisions and protections as workers elsewhere. So HRM Council saw fit, Mr. Speaker, to address that inequity, in terms of the health and well-being of workers at the casino, as well as the concerns that people in the service sector, in the service industry, the

[Page 1547]

hospitality industry, I think, quite rightly have with respect to the inequity between their establishments and Casino Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I think that the hoist, if we were to take six months, there is a lot of work that we could do as a Legislature. The government could enter into discussions with the casino operators. Not the knee-jerk kind of reaction that we've seen as a result of what the Minister of Finance says was a phone call where the casino operators basically say, jump, and the government says, is this high enough, how long would you like us to stay up, can we come down yet? This is not the way to make policy in Nova Scotia, especially policy that will have a profound impact on the health and safety of people in the workplace.

Mr. Speaker, Smoke-free Nova Scotia have provided an enormous amount of information to government and to the various Party caucuses here. We all know the evidence is there, that second-hand smoke kills approximately 200 Nova Scotians each year through heart disease and lung cancer and other forms of cancer. It also causes more than 1,000 respiratory tract infections, pneumonia, bronchitis and these kinds of diseases. It certainly worsens asthma for people who have those kinds of conditions.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia is a place where we have dreadful levels of cancer and many of these bronchial and asthmatic conditions. I think that we need to start thinking seriously about all of the ways that we can reduce the exposure that people in this province have to known carcinogenics. It's well known that employees who are exposed to second-hand smoke at work, in particular in restaurants, bars and at casinos, are among the highest-risk workers to diseases as a result of secondhand smoke.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's very important that we take the opportunity to hoist the Financial Measures (2003) Bill for a period of six months, to allow for a fuller public debate, to ensure that the government can actually justify the special treatment for the casino. I think that it's incumbent on them to address what is so special about the casino, and why is it that workers who work in that environment don't deserve the same protections that other workers do in the province.

Mr. Speaker, we all know that there's a huge financial cost to second-hand smoke and to the illnesses that come from second-hand smoke. The financial cost is the burden that is placed on our health care system when people suffer the various illnesses and their symptoms that result from exposure to second-hand smoke. I think it is somewhat hypocritical for this government to have introduced an Office of Health Promotion, which they provide little or no funding for in terms of real programming, and at the same time we see this government not at all serious about dealing with something which is very much within their power and that is protecting workers in places like Casino Nova Scotia. So you have to question just how serious is the Hamm Government about improving the health status of Nova Scotia with these kinds of half-hearted measures and the kinds of contradictions that you can see between what it is they say they want to do and what it is that they actually do.

[Page 1548]

Mr. Speaker, we had many, many groups and individuals come here to Province House during the government's bill on smoke-free places and I had an opportunity to watch quite a few of the presentations at HRM Council from some of the same people who were here, but quite a few different presentations than what we saw here. Without a doubt I think the public opinion on this, what people in our community want is, they want healthy workplaces, they want smoke-free public places and they want a level playing field for people who are in the service sector.

Over and over again at HRM Council the people who were presenting, from young people in the high school, who I really congratulate for their civic mindedness, to get involved and to participate in that process, many of these young people came very well armed with information and they had done their research and they had looked at what the numbers were with respect to the number of deaths and the kinds of illnesses and kinds of diseases that result from second-hand smoke. They had looked at some of the research that had been done around the impact of having smoke-free legislation on business and industry. They did a very good job and I think they would really appreciate, many of these young people, an opportunity in this six months if we were to hoist this Financial Measures (2003) Bill, an opportunity to speak directly with government about their concerns.

After all, they're the next generation and we need to take time to hear from the youth of our province. Especially since this government and the Premier say that their emphasis is on young people and tobacco. Well, let's hear from the young people in this province. I can tell you that I rather suspect that they would find it more than a little ironic that this government talks about protecting people and promoting health while allowing the casino to carry on business as usual exposing people in that setting to second-hand smoke.

Mr. Speaker, without exception, I think the restaurant, bar owners and lounge owners are feeling very abused, I guess you could say, by this entire process. First of all, this government did not do the right thing in its own legislation but created a situation that in fact opened up exactly what we here in the Opposition said would occur, that municipalities all across the province would come in to fill the void that was left by the fact that this government wasn't prepared to do the right thing and to do what the Premier said he was going to do, to introduce legislation and do it right.

[8:00 p.m.]

That piece of legislation has failed so miserably that we now have this patchwork of different rules applying to different kinds of establishments all over the province - different time frames for when bylaws are coming into effect, different levels of government responsible for enforcing bylaws in the same jurisdiction, and people out there in the field who are provincial inspectors while you have municipal inspectors responsible for different kinds of bylaws and regulations. It is an absolute mess. A real level of disorganization for those folks, and you can imagine what it's like for operators and for workers in those settings

[Page 1549]

to try to keep track of what government has decided what regulation is going to have what impact when.

On Friday evening, I was in an establishment where there was a fair amount of smoking going on before 9:00 p.m. I noted that one person not too far away from me approached one of the wait staff around 8:30 p.m. to ask for an ashtray and was told, I can't give you an ashtray until 9:00 p.m. - even though there was lots of smoking going on in the establishment which raises the whole question of how serious this government has been about enforcing their own legislation. I certainly hear this from other people.

We have a situation where the government's own legislation has failed to level the playing field, it has failed to create a clear set of standards province-wide and we now have the debacle, really, of seeing municipalities who have rushed in to fill the vacuum left by the failure of this government to provide adequately for the protection for all workers in public spaces. We now see government putting in the Financial Measures (2003) Bill, a provision to exempt the casino from municipal smoke-free bylaws. How odd is that, Mr. Speaker? Can you imagine? What exactly does this amendment have to do with the Financial Measures (2003) Bill and the budget of the province?

I think it really shows the level of disorganization, the lack of a clear committed perspective from that government in terms of what smoke-free legislation should really be about, which is protecting the health and safety of people in the workplace and it's also about creating a kind of environment in public that sends a very loud message and signal to our young people and other people that smoking is hazardous to your health. We as a community will not tolerate having people exposed to second-hand smoke or to be endangering their own health in public places by smoking.

I think if we hoisted the Financial Measures (2003) Act for six months we would have an opportunity to reflect more on the views and the perspectives of bar and restaurant owners. I think clearly they would have a lot to say about the disorganization and the patchwork that has developed across the province since this government's failed Smoke-Free Places Act.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I'm wondering if the member would allow for an introduction?

The member for Dartmouth East on an introduction.

DR. JAMES SMITH: I thank the honourable member for Halifax Needham for yielding the floor for a very important introduction. Three scouts for the Woodlawn scout group - Gavin Druhan, Jack Dawson and Adam Barnett, accompanied by their leaders, Gail Shea and Lorinda Barnett and also a mother, Virginia Clark-Druhan. I'd ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House and welcome to the House of Assembly. (Applause)

[Page 1550]

MR. SPEAKER: There would be a couple of Beavers among the group, just to make sure that we get that right. Thank you honourable member. The member for Halifax Needham has the floor.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to belabour much longer the points that I've made. I think that this is a question of fairness in terms of providing a level playing field to all those hard working folks who are in the hospitality industry. Casino Nova Scotia should not enjoy special status with respect to provisions that will protect the health and safety of workers. The health and safety of workers needs to be the paramount consideration here and I think that we also need to be very clear that the government cannot get away with saying one thing that they're concerned about - they're concerned about wellness and health promotion while they are essentially selling the souls and the health of some of these workers for a few gold coins. I think that's not acceptable.

People in Nova Scotia understand that's not acceptable and they would like some answers from this government. They would like this government to say what's so special about the casino and why won't they protect workers who work in that environment just as much as they are looking at workers at Wendy's or any other service sector workers in the hospitality industry.

I hope that while we have this motion here on the floor, we'll have an opportunity to hear from members of the Government Party. I would be very interested in hearing from the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank who, during the government's Smoke-Free Places Act certainly demonstrated that he is a independent thinker when it comes to matters of health and issues around smoke-free places. I know that member also has a lot of respect for the municipal governments because he came from municipal government. I think that he is a member who believes in the integrity of the municipal government process and I would be very interested to know precisely what he thinks about this kind of intervention by his government to take away the decision-making power of HRM Council.

I would be quite interested to hear maybe the member for Kings North who writes such enlightening columns in The Daily News, perhaps he would give us the benefit of his critical thinking on this particular issue. He seems to have a flair for dealing with ethical issues and perhaps he could lay out some explanation for the ethics of protecting workers in some parts of the service sector and some parts of the hospitality industry, but not in others. I would be particularly interested in hearing from him what he thinks is so special about Casino Nova Scotia that they deserve an exemption from municipal legislation. I think that that's a column that I would very much look forward to.

Mr. Speaker, with those few remarks I will take my place. Thank you.

[Page 1551]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to say that it's a pleasure to rise today to speak on this amendment in regard to Bill No. 36 but once again, unfortunately what we have here is a bill which is made up of broken Tory promises and again is an attempt to try to convince Nova Scotians that they have received good government when in fact the facts clearly show that they have not received good government.

I spoke earlier today in regard to the Minister of Finance, in regard to what legacy he will leave and we all know what role the Finance Minister played in the previous administration, well-known to Nova Scotians, an administration which said, don't worry about tomorrow, we're just going to live for today and someone else will take care of the issues that might be left tomorrow because of our actions.

At the end of the day, I have to say I almost find it amusing when either the Minister of Finance or the Premier or any member of Cabinet gets up and tries to refer to the previous administration and which looks at the hypocrisy coming from this government when one regards the fact that they have numerous members sitting in their government that were part of the Buchanan Administration and what that government did. It was well-known and well documented that Mr. Buchanan had a hard time saying no to different projects and making announcements and having his plaque put up.

How ironic that over 10 years later, after he has left we have a government that's got the same sort of affliction; a government that first said that they were going to stand on their principles; a government which I must say took our paramedics to the strike line, saying we will not give in; a government who took our nurses, our valued nurses. and had them striking around here at Province House, made us sit 24 hours a day and took the nurses all the way, saying we will not give in. Yet now, on the eve of an election, when it comes to other issues which they've said they would stand fast on, watch them cave.

What was more amusing than to watch the Premier's about face on Sunday shopping? When he was first elected the Premier said the only thing that he bought on Sundays was his newspaper and he shouldn't have to buy anything else. Then the government came in and said, we're not going to discuss Sunday shopping. Then, lo and behold, the then Minister of Justice and now Minister of Transportation came out and said, we will not discuss Sunday shopping until 2005, don't ask me about it, don't talk about it, 2005 I say. Well, now, Mr. Speaker, in a Cabinet shuffle out went the Minister of Justice. My colleague, the member for Cape Breton South, has already found his new portfolio is a junior ministry, a demotion from what he had before and then the Premier turns around and says, pay no attention to what the then Minister of Justice said, we're now going to talk about Sunday shopping. I've read the polls and Danny Graham is getting too high in the polls, he has a better pulse of the people. So all of a sudden a fundamental commitment that he made in 1999 is out the window. The then Minister of Justice, the now Minister of Transportation is left to keep his head down and

[Page 1552]

say, aw, shucks, the Premier once again trumped me and I guess I've got to sit back and the word I gave about not to talk about it until 2005, I guess that's lost.

Mr. Speaker, I've got to tell you, the six months' hoist would give us an opportunity maybe for the Premier to explain because he's flip-flopped so much on Sunday shopping we're not quite sure where he's at any more. I can tell you, out of this, one question has been answered for us. You may remember at the Tory annual meeting their president - I think it's Mr. Galbraith, I think is his name, if I'm not mistaken - indicated at one point to the Tories assembled that he had found a pair of shoes and he wasn't sure whose shoes they were and he said that they were flip-flops and he couldn't identify whose shoes they were. Well, as far as Sunday shopping is concerned, we now know where he found those shoes, he found them under the Premier's bed at the hotel. That's whose shoes they were, they were the Premier's shoes. Mr. Galbraith should stand up now and say, I now know whose shoes they were, my God, they were our Leader's shoes. On Sunday shopping, he only bought his newspaper, wasn't going to talk about it, would only talk about it in 2005 and now all of a sudden, we want to talk about it on the eve of an election.

Well, we know whose shoes those were, Mr. Speaker, and I say more to come because when it comes to debt, all of a sudden the Premier doesn't want to read Page 1 of his blue book, he wants to go to Page 18, or Page 28, or whatever page that Rob Batherson tells him that he should be reading because, all of a sudden, he has forgotten that he said that he would live within his means and he wouldn't mortgage the future of his grandchildren. Well, my, my, my, where did that Premier go? Where did he go? Nova Scotians are wondering by the day, as the Premier continues to change his policy on everything, what happened?

What happened, Mr. Speaker, is that the Tory spin doctors have taken over. They are now clearly saying that here is what he needs to say to get elected. So while Richmond County, the Truro area, Glace Bay, North Sydney and so many other areas are short of medical doctors, this province goes out and hires more spin doctors. Now, again one has to ask why more spin doctors? If you provided Nova Scotians with good government, like you said you would, when you've got a track record, why would you need spin doctors to go out to try to do any spinning for Nova Scotians. Your track record should speak for itself. When you go out and you start getting spin doctors, it's a clear admission that you have not provided good government, you have not kept the word that you said you would to Nova Scotians and, therefore, you need to bring in outside sources, use taxpayers' money to pay for people to try to convince Nova Scotians and to try to fool them into believing that they have received good government.

[Page 1553]

[8:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I can say that I was a member of a government that sat and listened to the then Leader of the Third Party say how a terrible thing it was for the government to be using taxpayers' money to advise Nova Scotians about government decisions. The then Leader of the Third Party said that it's politically-motivated advertising using taxpayers' money. I have no doubt that my good friend, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, will well remember those days of how he blasted the Liberal Government of the day saying you're using taxpayers' money for politically-motivated advertising.

Mr. Speaker, let me tell you, this Premier, since elected, has used more taxpayers' money than any previous administration when it has come to politically-motivated advertising. I will give you one example. They started advertising about their tax plan and saying how the tax plan would save Nova Scotians money, re-invest in that. Now, this was before they had even announced what it would look like. So here they are spending taxpayers' money that, if you read the plan, it refers to the blue book on numerous occasions. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember the blue book ever being known as a government document. It's a Tory propaganda document. Yet, here we are with taxpayers' money paying for a Tory propaganda book with taxpayers' money. Yet the Premier stands in his place and says, no, no, no, bad Liberals, they were doing politically-motivated advertising, but no, no, no, what we're doing is nowhere close to that.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians have had enough of watching this Premier flip-flop from one decision to the next and then try to justify what he is doing. Anyone who thinks that the advertising that we have seen, the blue brochures showing up in your mailbox, the fancy little ads talking about the 10 per cent tax cut, the ads during the nurses' strike, the ads during the paramedics' strike, the ads during when the teachers were prepared to go on strike, you're not going to find one Nova Scotian who doesn't think that that was politically-motivated advertising. It was. Yet here is the Premier who said himself, no one else, he is the one who stood up and said I will not spend taxpayers' money for politically-motivated reasons.

Yet, he has been tripping over himself, tripping over himself to try to get out those ads as much as possible and, again I say to you, Mr. Speaker, before the election, more to come, more to come on that, they are not done yet. Do you know what's coming next? The Minister of Education is going to stand and finally announce his much-awaited school construction plan. Yet, what the six months' hoist allows us, it allows us and it allows Nova Scotians to ask the Minister of Finance how much money is in this year's budget to pay for the minister's plan on new schools that he's going to announce.

Do you know what, Mr. Speaker? There's none - I shouldn't say that, there's a little bit of planning money. How much is there to pay for bricks and mortar and classrooms? There's none. When are these schools going to start being built? In 2005. Clearly, this is an

[Page 1554]

opportunity to lift the veil and to show Nova Scotians, more and more, what kind of government they have.

We have seen, since January, over $700 million of taxpayers' money committed to projects that, again, when you ask, how much money is in this budget to pay for the $700 million in commitments? There's not one cent, not one. This is money this government is committing beyond its mandate. If a new administration is to come in, it is that new administration that will have to answer and will have to try to be responsible for the promises made by a government on its way out of office, in a desperate attempt to use Nova Scotians' money to try to curry favour to get back in office. That is exactly what this government is doing.

Again, here's the Premier who said, in the blue book, what a terrible thing it was in the last election that the Liberal Government was using $200 million in election promises to try to win the election. He said that was terrible. I will respect voters, I will respect the intelligence of voters, and never will I use taxpayers' money to try to get re-elected. It's $700 million and counting, that's what we're left with. Again, I stand and say here to you, Mr. Speaker, more to come. The $700 million figure will soon continue to increase. It has increased now. I would ask, for example, maybe the Minister of Tourism and Culture could stand in his place and tell us how much money is in this budget that we voted on today for the new civic centre in Port Hawkesbury? The answer is none. How much money for Stora is in this budget? The answer is none. How much money is in how many other projects that they've announced in this budget? The answer is none.

Mr. Speaker, that is the reality. Now, it's 2003. We have a very well-educated population in Nova Scotia. Unfortunately we have a population that has become very cynical of the political process, because of the type of actions that we've seen in this government. Nova Scotians thought that those days were gone. They figured government won't act like that anymore. John Hamm told us he would not act like that. Yet, what do we see here? A government that is prepared to do anything it can to hold onto office and to hold onto power. That is exactly what we see.

Mr. Speaker, I would submit to you that they get more desperate by the day, more desperate by the day. I would tell you, more to come on the promises that they will make on their way out of office, knowing that the electorate is starting to turn on them. The old adage that a government is usually safe for two terms in Nova Scotia is about to change because Nova Scotians have become fed up with this administration. Even after taxing Nova Scotians to death, adding user fees in an unprecedented fashion, raising $1 billion in additional revenue on the backs of Nova Scotians, at the end of the day, the Minister of Finance stands here and says here is a budget, and I need to borrow another $118 million.

[Page 1555]

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are saying, just as our Leader is saying, that it's time to cut the Tory credit card, it's time to put an end to the borrowing. It's time to put an end to the mismanagement that this government has been providing Nova Scotians after all of the commitments that they have made over the years. For example, when he was in third place, the Leader of the Third Party at the time said $1.5 billion is enough to run the health care system. He said I will go in, I will cut the administrative fat in health care, because the Liberals have not trimmed it enough, too much administrative fat. I don't need any more money, no more money is required, $1.5 billion is enough.

The other key thing is in the blue book. It says that the Tory Government will fix health care. The word, fix, health care. That's what the Premier said, I'm a family doctor, trust me, I can fix health care; even better than that, I can do it by $1.5 billion by cutting administrative fat. Well, here we are today, a budget has passed today, the Department of Health's estimates are nearly $2.1 billion. When the Minister of Health was asked quite pointedly by me and by others, has your government fixed health care, what was the answer? We have put in more funding to stabilize the system.

Now, I would challenge you and others to read throughout the blue book and find the word stabilize under health care. The word was fix. The word fix has now been downgraded to stabilize. By who? By the spin doctors who are saying that you need to use this language to try to cover up for the fact that you have failed in your commitment to Nova Scotians. You have not been able to fix health care. Excuse me, Dr. Hamm, but all of the answers that you had that were going to fix health and you knew what was required to fix health care, no, no, Dr. Hamm, after four years it is clear you did not. After four years it is clear that even after all the transfers and the millions of dollars from Ottawa, you're still incapable of saying that you have fixed health care.

Mr. Speaker, from a local flavour as the MLA for Richmond, as I've said before, the Strait Richmond emergency room under this administration, this Tory Administration, remained closed longer than it remained opened. That is the legacy that they have left. The Premier, when he was Leader of the Third Party, spoke on behalf of the Strait Richmond Hospital and implored the government of the day to find solutions, and we did. We did find solutions until this government came into office and then all of a sudden we were back to physician shortages. Continual physician shortages is what we have seen from this very government and again, unfortunately, I must say more to come.

Mr. Speaker, six months gives an opportunity for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works - for example, when he sat as a member of the Third Party, he was saying there was a need for more nursing home beds, and more nursing home beds, and more nursing home beds. Lift the moratorium, he continually told the then Minister of Health, the member for Dartmouth East, more nursing home beds is what we need. I challenge him today to stand in his place and tell us exactly how many new nursing home beds have been opened by his

[Page 1556]

government. Again, none; another broken promise not only by this government, but by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

Again, Mr. Speaker, this was the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, when he was in the Third Party, who said volunteer firefighters should get a $500 tax credit. When the Minister of Labour of the day said we are going to bring in free licence plate renewal because more volunteer firefighters qualify for this than would qualify for the $500 payment, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works sat here on this side of the House and said, no, no, $500, that's what our government will do, $500. Yet, today he stands with his head down because why? He knows that the $500 was not the right way to go. What has the government done? They have offered free licence plates to volunteer firefighters, exactly what the government in 1999 said it would do.

Another example of a broken promise from this administration and the list goes on. This was the Minister of Justice, when he sat here in the Third Party, who talked about protecting local courts and protecting local jails and yet, when he got into office, he closed them all, he closed them all. Again, I ask you for examples. How much money is in this budget for the new jail in Yarmouth? Is there funding in there in this budget? How much is there? Will it cover the entire cost of that project or is that one more of the $700 million of promises that's not included in this budget? How easy it is to stand there and say, look, I'm going to build this and I'm going to build this and I'm going to build that. Yet, don't ask me where I'm going to get the money. We will pay for it tomorrow, somebody else will be responsible for it. That is the message that we are continually getting from this government and clearly Nova Scotians are saying they've had enough.

Six months might give the opportunity for the Minister of Health to go to her constituents in Halifax Citadel and say I'm sorry, I told you in the last election, in my nice little postcard that Mr. Palmeter did for me, that if we closed Sysco we would open hospital beds. When I asked her how many beds had she opened, she refused to answer. The Minister of Justice came to her rescue. The Minister of Education came running, saying, oh my God, he's being nasty to our Minister of Health, please, Mr. Speaker, please protect her. Then at the end of the day, when I asked how many beds did she open, she refused to answer. I believe I asked it 17 times and she refused to answer.

Then in the media scrum she said, oh, no, no, the member for Richmond got it all wrong. I didn't say I would open new beds if we closed Sysco. I said I would keep the amount of beds we had in 1999 open. But, lo and behold, Mr. Laroche from CBC Radio, the good researcher he is said, hold, on, Minister. I have here from the Department of Health figures that show that not only have you not opened any new beds, but 179 beds have closed under your government. You said you would keep them open. Not only have you not opened any, you haven't kept open what was there in 1999, you've closed beds.

[Page 1557]

Then, lo and behold, they get some hack from the Department of Health who comes out and says, thinking that just opening hospital beds is a solution to saving health care, that's backward thinking. What she should have done, that Communications Director, is go tell that to this government that in 1999 said vote for us, we'll open new hospital beds and that will fix health care. It is too bad that communications officer was not there to tell the Minister of Health and to tell the previous Minister of Health and to tell the Premier that back in 1999 when they said we'll open up new hospital beds and that will fix the system. Tell the Minister of Transportation today who wanted to open all sorts of new nursing home beds, yet hasn't opened one in four years, that the idea of opening new beds was not the solution. Now they've got their own communications people saying that's a backwards way of thinking of fixing health care.

Too bad that person wasn't there in 1999 when the blue book was written or when the Party said here in third place and was making all these commitments and was attacking the good member for Dartmouth East saying that by not opening up more beds, what a terrible minister he was. How ironic. The poetic justice that we see here today, when those members and those ministers have to sit with their heads down in their place knowing what they said as a third-place Party. What their government has done in four years, they know that they haven't been able to keep the commitments that they made as a Third Party, back in 1998. Four years that they have had, yet, when we asked the Premier, Mr. Speaker, about the debt, about his commitments, does he talk about what he has done in four years? No, he talks about a government in 1993. He talks about previous administrations. He talks about everybody but him.

[8:30 p.m.]

Then, again, Mr. Speaker, I have to qualify that statement by the fact that it is very rare that we'll get that Premier to answer any questions. Who does he refer them to? He refers them to his Minister of Finance, who has already announced that for personal reasons he will not be offering again. So one would expect that if he is not offering again that the Premier is going to say, look, I will answer these questions because I am re-offering and I hope to be held responsible for the decisions my government is making.

What are we to deduct from the fact that the Premier refuses to answer questions about his government's decisions? Is he ashamed of what his government is doing? Can he not justify on his own the decisions being made? Does he leave it to the Minister of Finance to answer for those decisions hoping that he will wear any political negativity that will come from knowing that he's not re-offering? Has there been a deal arranged saying, look, Mr. Minister of Finance, you will take all of the political heat knowing you're not re-offering to try to save the others and spare some of the others? I don't know. If the Premier answered the questions we wouldn't have to be guessing at whether those are the deals that have been made or not. But that is the reality that we face here today.

[Page 1558]

Mr. Speaker, this is a government that with six months the Minister of Education would have an opportunity to return and meet with the Strait Regional School Board and explain to them why his government has not implemented the plan that he said in the blue book they would implement. Give them an opportunity to explain when they said in the blue book that they would have special funding arranged for boards with high declining enrolments so as to avoid the negative impact on the classroom. This is what they said in the blue book. Yet now, the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury remains silent. The Minister of Tourism remains silent and the Minister of Education refuses to even discuss the fact 16 teachers, again, were cut from the board. The member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury can stand and say what he has done for the Strait Regional School Board in light of the fact that another 16 teachers are on their way out of the classroom again this year.

Mr. Speaker, it has been quoted today, the numbers that have come from provincial testing for students in Nova Scotia. I think it is safe to say that we are all, collectively, concerned about the marks that are being received by our Nova Scotia students when it comes to provincial testing and national standards. We have prided ourselves, over the years, on providing a top-quality education system, of having some of the best and brightest graduates coming out of our schools, from one end of this province to the other. To start seeing marks of 33 per cent in math, in the 40 per cent range for chemistry, that is just not good enough. For a government to sit back and say, look, don't worry, be happy, that is just not good enough when a government said that they would do more for education.

The spectacle that we have seen from this government when it comes to student relief programs is unprecedented. First, the government said that they would be there for post-secondary students, to turn around and cancel the Loan Remission Program and to wait three long years before coming in with a watered-down version of the program, and then to say it only applies to students starting university in September 2003. I have heard from parents in my riding who have students going to university. They have had some of their children benefit from the Loan Remission Program, and then they have some of their other children who have been stuck in the Tory program of denying loan remission.

Mr. Speaker, the figures are alarming, as to how much additional debt those children are having to absorb as a result of this Tory Government. Students and parents will not forget what this government has done to the debts that students will be left with in this province. I have already spoken in my place, giving examples of a young couple from Richmond County, two students, two graduates from St. F.X., two education graduates, who are now left with a monthly student loan payment, their combined loans, of $1,200 a month.

Mr. Speaker, that is atrocious. It is absolutely atrocious. How can we possibly expect these young people coming out of university, who wish to remain in Nova Scotia, to be contributing to our economy when $1,200 is going to the banks, out of their monthly incomes? It's $1,200 that could be reinvested in our communities that is gone. Is this a short-term measure? You can be guaranteed that they have at least 10 years of this to look forward

[Page 1559]

to. How can we possibly grow our economy if these individuals are burdened with these types of debts? What has been the answer from the Minister of Finance? Let's continue to increase user fees. Let's put an extra two cents on gas - what's two cents? Really, what's two cents - Nova Scotians won't be bothered by that - two cents.

Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you. I was alarmed to find out that two cents a litre brought in $25 million of additional revenue to this province. Who paid for that $25 million? Average Nova Scotians. It's seniors, it's the working class, those on disability, the youth of this province - they have paid into that $25 million. Yet, with the cheque that is coming in the mail, there's a hell of a lot of them that won't be seeing that cheque for $155 because of the policies of this government.

AN HON. MEMBER: You're not allowed to say that word, are you?

MR. SAMSON: Oh, yes I am.

AN HON. MEMBER: I think the Speaker is not paying attention.

MR. SAMSON: I've used it many times, I'll use it many times again.

Mr. Speaker, let me tell you, when you come to look at the $155, we have lifted the veil on this. At first, the government spinned out that this was a policy that they wanted to put money into the hands of Nova Scotians. What we've now found out from the Minister of Finance is that it is Cabinet, not employees of the Department of Finance, senior civil servants who have many years of working towards protecting the finances of this province and providing sound financial advice. Did they go outside and bring in accounting firms or different establishments to say, what is the best value for our dollar on this? None of that. Cabinet. The Minister of Finance from the Buchanan era, the House Leader from the Buchanan era, the Minister of Education from a long-ago era, sat there and said, how can we get the best political bang for our buck? How about we send out a cheque?

Then, their political spin doctors tried to spin that - well, we had no choice with the cheque, Revenue Canada, we're not really sure about how that works, they need some time and everything. What we've been able to establish is that clearly, they had the option of doing a 10 per cent reduction on July 1st. They made the decision not to give that reduction and to instead send out the cheque to Nova Scotians.

I certainly do not claim to be a financial analysis. I come from a legal background, but we have already had representations made to us that the results of this cheque coming out all at once into the economy - $68 million being injected all at once - will actually have the effect of raising inflation in this province. The Minister of Finance doesn't like to talk about that, he doesn't even like to acknowledge that. In fact, they have gone further to explain that in the end, by injecting $68 million in one shot into the economy will, over the long run, have

[Page 1560]

a negative effect over the economy of the province and, in fact, will have a very detrimental effect on the 10 per cent tax cut coming in January.

Again I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, more to come. There are much more learned people in the financial field who will be able to explain that much better than I ever could and I certainly don't purport to try to do that, but again, I submit to you, more to come on the $155 cheque. Look at the reaction. Over the weekend I was in Richmond County and a few people stopped and they said, how much is it costing for that $155 cheque? I said, well, the Minister of Finance tells us $68 million. Do you know what the answer is? How many roads could we pave in Richmond with $68 million? How many more nurses could we pay for with $68 million? How many more doctors could we have with $68 million? How many more beds could we have with $68 million? How many more teachers could we put in the Strait Regional School Board with $68 million?

That is what they are saying, Mr. Speaker. They're not saying that they're looking forward to this $155 because at the end of the day we all know that this is the government that as a result of their user fees, they've got you from birth to death, is what this government has done. They've increased fees from your birth certificate right to your death certificate and everything in between. That is the Tory legacy. That is the legacy that the Minister of Finance will leave - that he has nailed you from birth right to your death. That is what this government has done. Yet with all that additional revenue, they present a budget saying we want to add another $118 million onto the debt.

On top of that, Mr. Speaker, what we've been able to reveal, is that within a matter of years the debt servicing costs to this province will reach $1 billion per year. How many government departments could that pay for - $1 billion? If I'm not mistaken, I believe $1 billion is more than what the Department of Education has. I believe $1 billion is much more than the Department of Transportation and Public Works has, $1 billion is probably more than what the Department of Community Services has or it's very close.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if the member for Richmond would entertain an introduction?

MR. SAMSON: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for allowing me to make an introduction. I call the members' attention to the gallery opposite, we have some visitors, the mom and dad of one of the Pages, Mr. and Mrs. Cox are visiting with their son, I think, and spending the evening watching the proceedings. So I would ask everyone to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

[Page 1561]

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to all our guests in the gallery.

The honourable member for Richmond who has 27.5 minutes left.

MR. SAMSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I certainly want to welcome the Cox family to this House also. I know that their son has been doing a terrific job for us here in this House for a number of years now and we're certainly pleased to have him with us again for this session. They can certainly be proud of how he has handled himself in a very distinguished way over the years and serving the members of this House. So I welcome them here and I'm sure the Coxes, like everyone else in this province, are very concerned about what Bill No. 36 is going to do to Nova Scotians and what message it sends out to all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, six months would give this government an opportunity to maybe answer a few of the questions about their blue book. We've had the opportunity to review their blue book. They were quite fond of it in 1999 and they appear now to be wishing to forget a lot of sections of that blue book. For example, when you look under post-secondary education, as I said before, there's a section there that would provide for income tax relief for graduating students who had student loans, to help them defer the cost of their loan payments. When I asked the Minister of Education during estimates what is the status of that program, he said, well, I talked to the Minister of Finance and he told me to drop it, bad idea, we're not doing it. That was it for that promise.

Well, I said, you know, maybe it just happens, that's one promise, let's check on a few others. There was another promise that said that they would put in a plan to provide employment for students attending university, while they're at university, and yet when I asked the minister, well, what's the status of that program, he said we haven't done anything on that yet either. So I said okay. So that's two broken promises, maybe that's just a fluke, let's try another one. There was another commitment in there to provide a job search program for graduating students to try to match them with appropriate employment. I asked the minister, could you tell us what the status of that program is - again we haven't done anything on that. So on one page of the blue book, three broken promises.

[8:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, another this the six months hoist would do, and I'm sure that the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations would be very curious and very interested in this, is the six months might give him an opportunity to explain to the people of Richmond County how they came about the assessment for Nova Scotia Power. As many members would know, and I'm sure the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury would be aware and the Minister of Tourism, Richmond County is the home of the Point Tupper Generating Station for Nova Scotia Power. This government underwent a review to try to determine how the assessment for Nova Scotia Power would be determined. Lo and behold,

[Page 1562]

even though Richmond County is the home to Nova Scotia Power Generating Station in Point Tupper, Richmond County is the only municipal unit that, under the Tory plan, actually lost money under the new assessment procedures under the new sharing of Nova Scotia Power's taxes.

Needless to say, the people of Richmond County are very upset at the thought that here they have a generating station and their assessment has gone down whereas other municipal units, who don't have a significant investment from Nova Scotia Power as Richmond has, it has gone up. But, how ironic, who is the one in the local paper saying, how unfair this Tory Government has been? None other than Councillor Richard Cotton who has said, how can this Tory Government do a plan for Nova Scotia Power's tax revenues that pretty much puts the screws to Richmond County? Because we are the only one who actually lost money under this Tory plan.

Not only can they not content the people of Richmond County or the people of Nova Scotia, they can't even content their own candidates running for their Party who are saying that this government is misdirected, that this government has not put together a plan that addresses the needs of Richmond County, or other areas.

Again, on the issue of assessment on the Sable offshore plants and infrastructure. Four years this government has had to come up with a plan and to come up with a settlement with the Sable partners and again, here we are, four years later, still nothing settled. They've settled on the pipeline, but as far as a fractionation plant, as far as the onshore plant in Goldboro, nothing is settled yet. Four years later. The member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury is quite content to sit there quietly and not say a word. I can't recall hearing him once in four years, rising to talk about the impact this would have on his municipal unit in Guysborough, the potential benefit it would have, or to even call upon his government to take action. He's remained silent and I can assure you that the good people in the new riding of Guysborough-Sheet Harbour will not forget that in the upcoming election. I assure you.

Six months would also give the Minister of Finance the opportunity to come back to the Strait area. He was there last week and he told the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce that in his view the Strait area was going to be the new industrial heartland of Nova Scotia. What a profound statement that the Minister of Finance would say. Imagine. What a pleasant surprise for the people in the Strait. Four years under this government and they now come in and say, we think you're going to be the next industrial heartland of Nova Scotia.

So, let's look at what they've done in Nova Scotia Business Inc. How many people have they put in the Strait area to develop the Strait area's economy? One. How about the Department of Economic Development? How many employees have they dedicated to the Strait area to develop the economy? One. How many people have they put from the Department of Energy into the Strait area to help develop the economy, help develop Goldboro, help develop the fractionation plant, help develop the liquid and natural gas

[Page 1563]

industry? None. Yet, the Minister of Finance comes in and says, I think you're going to be the next industrial heartland of Nova Scotia. What a mockery. What a mockery that has been provided when you see what this government has done in the last four years.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member opposite is displaying why the Liberal Party has no confidence in the economy. I did go to the Port Hawkesbury area, and I did say that my vision for the Strait area is that it will become the industrial heartland of Nova Scotia. When the member opposite is probably replaced by Richie Cotton, hopefully we will have somebody there . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. Order. Order. That's not a point of order. (Interruptions) Order. Order. I understand that members may have, at times, the desire to have disputes between members and call them points of order, but I would hope that we wouldn't start also suggesting what will be happening in the next election as we go through these points of order.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that prior to the 1993 election, the member for Argyle was probably making those same assertions about his re-election chances in 1993, so he might want to be careful. I am sure he would be familiar with a good Acadian saying, "crache à l'heure, tombe sur le nez." If he's not familiar with it, I can explain it to him a little bit later. It's a very simple statement that pretty much explains what advice the Minister of Finance might want to adhere to when it comes to that subject.

Again, Mr. Speaker, what a hollow statement, to come in four years after the fact and say, I think you're going to be the next industrial heartland. We have been fighting for that for years, we've been fighting to try to get government to put the necessary resources in the Strait area to help the economy develop. We've seen the Ministers of Energy here - the previous one, the current one - say there is not enough liquid natural gas coming into Nova Scotia to justify a petrochemical industry. We have heard that time and time again, not enough. The member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, he agreed with that. The minister from Inverness, he agreed with that. The minister from Antigonish, no, no, we can't have a petrochemical industry in the Strait, there's not enough gas. That's what the government is telling us.

Yet we read in The Herald last week that the Irving empire plans on building a liquid natural gas facility in St. John, New Brunswick, to use Nova Scotia's liquid natural gas to develop a petrochemical industry, with construction to start in the near future. This government tells the people in the Strait, no, you don't have enough gas, there's just not enough coming ashore, yet the Irvings can start building a plant to use Nova Scotia's gas to create their own petrochemical industry. That's the legacy, after four years, this government has had.

[Page 1564]

If you want to see, and I challenge the members from the Strait area, the Tory members, if they want to see what this government's legacy is for the development of our offshore gas, then they should stand at the Causeway and watch the train going along the causeway with all those bullet cars, with the liquid natural gas, leaving Nova Scotia. It's not going to the U.S., but under the Irving plan it will go to New Brunswick, yet this government continues to tell the people in the Strait area that you should be the next industrial heartland, but no, no, we can't do a petrochemical industry, we can't help you put a new pier in the Strait area, we can't help you get the necessary cranes and that to develop a new port in the Strait area. Look, we just can't do that, we're going to provide one employee from NSBI, one employee from Economic Development, and from Energy, none.

Mr. Speaker, it is a sad day, and that's what the people of the Strait area, like people throughout all of Nova Scotia are saying, wasted opportunities, wasted opportunities. When this government came into office, we had a vibrant offshore, we had lots of excitement, we had lots of potential, and yet what do we see today? The Minister of Energy, almost on a week-by-week basis saying, aw, shucks, this company is going home, aw, shucks, this other company is going home, aw, shucks, here goes another one that's not going to drill their wells. That is what they've been relegated to.

They've been relegated to accepting defeat, but then again we know where the defeats are. When it came to the offshore dispute with Newfoundland, the Premier stepped in and said, I'm going to defend the interests of Nova Scotia, I'm going to testify, I'm going to make sure to tell them that Nova Scotia has the best case, and we're going to win. History shows what happened in that case. Not only did we lose, we lost big time; in fact I remember when the decision came out, my good colleague, the member for Glace Bay, was afraid that Newfoundland's boundary line had actually taken up the riding of Glace Bay, that's how much they came off the coast of Cape Breton in that boundary decision. He feared his riding was going to be lost.

That is what the legacy is when it comes to this government standing up for Nova Scotians in light of other provinces. They watched as Bernard Lord and New Brunswick said he was going to have a New Brunswick-first gas policy, that he would make sure that Nova Scotia gas met the needs of the people in New Brunswick, or there would be no Nova Scotia gas. They sat by and said, oh my God, what do we do? This Bernard Lord, he's way ahead of us. They sat back. Where was the Premier then, to defend our interests? Where was he, to put up a fight for us? Just didn't happen.

As I said, six months would give this government an opportunity. We have a Minister of Finance who has already admitted that by allowing bracket creep, he increased taxes in this province. We have a Minister of Finance who has said that if he allows bracket creep to continue that his 10 per cent tax cut, effective January 1st, will in very little time disappear. When they ask him, will you commit today to ending bracket creep so that your 10 per cent tax cut is a real tax cut? He said, no, I'm not prepared to commit to that.

[Page 1565]

The veil is being lifted, Mr. Speaker. Nova Scotians are truly seeing what is happening with this government, how these are hollow promises. The 10 per cent tax cut, the cheque they've sent out, is nothing but a mere attempt of smoke and mirrors to confuse Nova Scotian voters about issues such as Bill No. 68 that brought nurses here to Province House, rather than being in our hospitals. They brought our paramedics. We all remember the ambulance parked here in our parking lot, with its sirens on, rather than addressing emergencies of our loved ones throughout the province. They were here picketing at Province House because of this government. Where we now see people who worked with some of the most special people here in this province, the Regional Residential Services Society workers, this government has also brought these people to the picket lines.

It's an absolute disgrace, to say the least. For a Premier who said, I will respect Nova Scotian voters, I understand the priorities of Nova Scotian voters, he has spent four years doing the exact opposite of what was the priority of Nova Scotians. History will judge him and his government on that.

Mr. Speaker, on an other issue, there has been a lot of talk about nursing home fees. It is an important issue for those who are forced to go to nursing homes. One of the issues forgotten there are the issues that surround our seniors who do not go to nursing homes but stay in their own homes. Where has the government been on the issues of the in-home support program, which provided funding for loved ones to take care of their elderly parents at home? Where has been the discussion on housing programs that would allow seniors to build washrooms on the main floor so they didn't have to climb up the stairs, to fix their leaking roofs, to fix their bad wiring? Where has been the discussion on increased home care services, not only the current level that we have now, but addressing some of the particular needs of Nova Scotians? Where has been the discussion on including the Alzheimer's drugs on the provincial formulary so that our loved ones who suffer from Alzheimer's can maintain a quality of life longer, rather than having to suffer the affliction that Alzheimer's brings? Where has that discussion gone?

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you, in Richmond County there are many individuals who rely on nursing homes, but there is a lot more who stay in their homes who face these issues every day, yet, where are the discussions on their behalf? Not only do they stay at home, they pay the high cost of home heating fuel, they pay the high cost of insurance. If they have the privilege of owning a vehicle, they pay the high cost of insuring that vehicle, the high cost of gas. They have worked all their lives, they've provided for their children, they've grown this economy, yet what does this government say when it comes to giving some of that money back? It says to them, you're not good enough, you are not worthy, you are not deserving of receiving any of that money back.

That is the message I will certainly be bringing to the people of Richmond County, to the seniors, to those who are on disability for whatever reason they can no longer work, to the single parents who are trying to work to provide for their children, who do not pay

[Page 1566]

provincial income tax yet are faced with the user fees, faced with the increased taxes. Yet, when it comes to getting some of that money back, the government says, you're not good enough.

Mr. Speaker, well, I say, on my part and on the part of our caucus, that this government's actions in this regard are not good enough. This is not what Nova Scotians expect from a government, they expect better, and from a Premier who said on the first page of his blue book that I will respect voters, I will respect their intelligence and I will respect their priorities, again this is an administration that has done everything but that.

[9:00 p.m.]

Those are the facts of the matter, Mr. Speaker, that is why we want to see an additional six months to bring that message to Nova Scotians because I want to tell you I know this government wants to get to the election before the cheques start getting in the mail. Why? Because they are afraid that the many Nova Scotians right now who think they are receiving this cheque, they want to go to the polls before they find out without a doubt that they're not getting this cheque. I can tell you I've been encouraging seniors and people on disability in my riding to call my office and we will find out if you're eligible to receive this payment. More and more are calling and more and more are finding out that they do not qualify for it and the anger is very apparent as a result of that which is why this government wants to make sure that they do make it to the polls before those people find out that they will not get any money back regardless of how much they have been paying for the revenues that this government is enjoying.

Mr. Speaker, the six months will provide them with the opportunity. The Minister of Finance says that the decision to send out cheques of $155 had absolutely nothing to do with the upcoming election. He says it just happens by chance we're sending out cheques with an election coming, but there's no correlation between the two. Now, we all know there's not one Nova Scotian, other than a die-hard Tory, who believes that. They all know that when they could have implemented a 10 per cent tax reduction effective July 1st, they made the decision to send out cheques in the middle of an election campaign. For the Minister of Finance to now say, oh, no, look, you know, that's not really the case, we just decided to send out cheques to grow the economy, yet financial analysts tell us it will not have that effect, there are numerous negative effects that this decision could have.

That is the reality that we face here, Mr. Speaker, and that is why we as an Opposition want to give Nova Scotians an opportunity, when they have entrusted a government with over $5 billion of Nova Scotians' money annually, and said we are entrusting you to invest this in our priorities and to spend it in a fiscally prudent way and not to have to borrow money or mortgage our grandchildren's future, clearly Nova Scotians are saying they've given this government an opportunity, they've given them four years. They've had four years of a strong economy, four years of an extra $1 billion in revenue and after four years we have

[Page 1567]

had failure in addressing the most pressing needs of Nova Scotians and that is why it is my hope that we will have an opportunity to further debate Bill No. 36 and further debate the negative aspects of this and how the government has failed to get a hold of the pulse of Nova Scotians. I look forward to continuing discussions on that.

Mr. Speaker, with that I would now like to move adjournment of the debate on Bill No. 36.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

There's a motion to adjourn debate. I hear two members asking for a recorded vote. I will say that if the House agrees, we can just adjourn the House now or do we want to ring the bells for an hour to call all the members who are available? (Interruption) Okay, there will be a recorded vote and we will ring the bells.

[9:04 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. Are the Whips satisfied? There's a request for a recorded vote so I think officially we have to at least have unanimous consent to waive a recorded vote and go with a verbal vote.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of adjourning debate on the Financial Measures (2003) Act hoist amendment please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader to announce the hours of debate.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 12:00 noon and the House will sit until 8:00 p.m. and the order of business following Question Period will be resumption of the debate on the Financial Measures (2003) Act, Bill No. 36.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Is there a motion to adjourn the House?

MR. RUSSELL: I so move.

[Page 1568]

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

The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned until tomorrow at noon.

[The House rose at 9:12 p.m.]

[Page 1569]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 906

By: Mr. Darrell Dexter (Leader of the Official Opposition)

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

Whereas special education was so neglected by the former Liberal Government that in February 1998 the Education Funding Review Work Group reported that, "special education is significantly underfunded"; and

Whereas the Conservative Government ignored this overall funding shortfall and cut still more from Nova Scotia classrooms; and

Whereas the Special Education Implementation Review Committee then confirmed that it would cost some $20 million to meet the minimal improvements it recommended;

Therefore be it resolved that after 10 years of shameful neglect, this government and the Liberals should commit themselves to the implementation of the Special Education Implementation Review Committee Report so that every child in a Nova Scotia classroom gains the attention and resources they need.

RESOLUTION NO. 907

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Kentville resident Eleanor "Nell" McGarry celebrated her 100th birthday on December 8, 2002; and

Whereas Nell is still very active in her community and as a member of the St. Joseph's Catholic Church; and

Whereas she has a keen interest in world events, politics and the stock market and stays in shape by exercising three times a week;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Eleanor "Nell" McGarry on the occasion of her 100th birthday and wish her many more happy and healthy years.

[Page 1570]

RESOLUTION NO. 908

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Economic Development)

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

Whereas Canadian Police Forces have a long history of dedicated and often dangerous service to the people of Canada and many officers and employees have still demonstrated a dedication beyond the call of duty; and

Whereas the Governor General's Order of Merit of the Police Forces is a fellowship of honour that recognizes exemplary police service and pays tribute to the distinction these men and women have made to policing over their careers; and

Whereas for his contributions, Chief Edgar Macleod of Cape Breton Regional Police has been appointed Officer of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Chief Edgar Macleod and applaud the years of exemplary service which have earned him this fine honour.

RESOLUTION NO. 909

By: Hon. James Muir (Justice)

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

Whereas Canadian Police Forces have a long history of dedicated and often dangerous service to the people of Canada and many officers and employees have still demonstrated a dedication beyond the call of duty; and

Whereas the Governor General's Order of Merit of the Police Forces is a fellowship of honour that recognizes exemplary police service and pays tribute to the exceptional contributions these men and women have made to policing over their careers; and

Whereas for his contributions, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Dwight L. Bishop has been appointed Officer of the Order of Merit;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dwight L. Bishop and applaud the years of exemplary service which have earned him this fine honour.

[Page 1571]

RESOLUTION NO. 910

By: Hon. James Muir (Justice)

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

Whereas Canadian Police Forces have a long history of dedicated and often dangerous service to the people of Canada and many officers and employees have still demonstrated a dedication beyond the call of duty; and

Whereas the Governor General's Order of Merit of the Police Forces is a fellowship of honour that recognizes exemplary police service and pays tribute to the distinction these men and women have made to policing over their careers; and

Whereas for his contributions, RCMP Inspector Robert Purcell has been appointed Member of the Order of Merit;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Inspector Purcell and applaud the years of exemplary service which have earned him this fine honour.

RESOLUTION NO. 911

By: Hon. James Muir (Justice)

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

Whereas Canadian Police Forces have a long history of dedicated and often dangerous service to the people of Canada and many officers and employees have still demonstrated a dedication beyond the call of duty; and

Whereas the Governor General's Order of Merit of the Police Forces is a fellowship of honour that recognizes exemplary police service and pays tribute to the distinction these men and women have made to policing over their careers; and

Whereas for his contributions, RCMP Inspector Ronald Keith Sherwood has been appointed Member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Inspector Sherwood and applaud the years of exemplary service which have earned him this fine honour.

[Page 1572]

RESOLUTION NO. 912

By: Hon. James Muir (Justice)

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

Whereas Canadian Police Forces have a long history of dedicated and often dangerous service to the people of Canada and many officers and employees have still demonstrated a dedication beyond the call of duty; and

Whereas the Governor General's Order of Merit of the Police Forces is a fellowship of honour that recognizes exemplary police service and pays tribute to the exceptional contributions these men and women have made to policing over their careers; and

Whereas for his contributions, RCMP Commissioner J. Terry Ryan has been appointed Commander of the Order of Merit;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Commissioner J. Terry Ryan and applaud the years of exemplary service which have earned him this fine honour.

RESOLUTION NO. 913

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Mike Grant, member of the Junior Achievement team from Springhill High School, Springhill, Nova Scotia, did, along with his team, earn top honours in the Provincial Junior Achievement Competition in November 2002; and

Whereas Mike, as part of the Junior Achievement team, used economic and business skills they learned in the classroom to create a successful pen company; and

Whereas Mike and the team defeated 24 other Nova Scotia squads in a competition in Halifax to earn the honour of moving on to compete in the world championships;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mike Grant for the important contribution he made to the Junior Achievement team that brought them to the top of the provincial competitions and wish them continued success in the future.

[Page 1573]

RESOLUTION NO. 914

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Alan Ferguson, member of the Junior Achievement team from Springhill High School, Springhill, Nova Scotia, did, along with his team, earn top honours in the Provincial Junior Achievement Competition in November 2002; and

Whereas Alan, as part of the Junior Achievement team, used economic and business skills they learned in the classroom to create a successful pen company; and

Whereas Alan and the team defeated 24 other Nova Scotia squads in a competition in Halifax to earn the honour of moving on to compete in the world championships;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Alan for the important contribution he made to the Junior Achievement team that brought them to the top of the provincial competitions and wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 915

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Stephanie Bowes, member of the Junior Achievement team from Springhill High School, Springhill, Nova Scotia, did, along with her team, earn top honours in the Provincial Junior Achievement Competition in November 2002; and

Whereas Stephanie, as part of the Junior Achievement team, used economic and business skills they learned in the classroom to create a successful pen company; and

Whereas Stephanie and the team defeated 24 other Nova Scotia squads in a competition in Halifax to earn the honour of moving on to compete in the world championships;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Stephanie for the important contribution she made to the Junior Achievement team that brought them to the top of the provincial competitions and wish them continued success in the future.

[Page 1574]

RESOLUTION NO. 916

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Daniel Spence, member of the Junior Achievement team from Springhill High School, Springhill, Nova Scotia, did, along with his team, earn top honours in the Provincial Junior Achievement Competition in November 2002; and

Whereas Daniel, as part of the Junior Achievement team, used economic and business skills they learned in the classroom to create a successful pen company; and

Whereas Daniel and the team defeated 24 other Nova Scotia squads in a competition in Halifax to earn the honour of moving on to compete in the world championships;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Daniel Spence for the important contribution he made to the Junior Achievement team that brought them to the top of the provincial competitions and wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 917

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas five senior high school students from Oxford Regional High School competed in a French public speaking contest at E.B. Chandler Junior High School on March 24, 2003; and

Whereas the five students participated and did extremely well in the speeches, earning them medals in their respective categories; the students included Christie McClelland, Allison Moore, Megan Rector, Rachel Brookins and Chelsea Allen; and

Whereas Christie McClelland was an overall winner in her combined category and will represent the Chignecto Family of Schools at the provincial competition in Halifax;

[Page 1575]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Christie McClelland, Allison Moore, Megan Rector, Rachel Brookins and Chelsea Allen on participating and winning medals in the Concours d'Art Oratoire and wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 918

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas three junior high school students from Oxford Regional High School competed in a French public speaking contest at E.B. Chandler Junior High School on March 24, 2003; and

Whereas the three students participated and did extremely well in the speeches, earning them medals in their respective categories; and

Whereas Virginia King, Ryan Fahey and Chelsey Brooks all won medals in their categories;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Virginia King, Ryan Fahey and Chelsey Brooks on participating and winning medals in the Concours d'Art Oratoire and wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 919

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Ship's Company Theatre was honoured with three Merritt Awards in a ceremony at Dartmouth's Alderney Landing Theatre on March 31, 2003; and

Whereas all three awards went to last July's mainstage drama, Mary's Wedding: it was named best production, Bruce MacLellan was honoured as best lighting designer and Ship's Company Theatre artistic producer Scott Burke was honoured as best director; and

Whereas this year marks the company's 20th Anniversary in Parrsboro and counting down to getting the new theatre building up for season 2004;

[Page 1576]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Ship's Company Theatre on receiving these three Merritt Awards and wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 920

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Christian Child Care International, founded by Father Patrick Cosgrove of Springhill, Nova Scotia, represents 30 projects aiding poverty-stricken children, sick and aged in 14 countries; and

Whereas the 17,500 people that CCCI helps are from India, Africa, Haiti, Ukraine and Chile; and

Whereas the Christian Child Care International's staff are Roger Russel, Fern Rector, Jill Jackson, Jackie Mahoney, Sonny Tubo, Linda Ward, Cathy Fisher, Linda Rector and Clare Canning;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Christian Child Care International on the important work that they do and wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 921

By: Hon. Ronald Russell (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas Point Tupper can lay claim to the world's largest supercalendered paper machine; and

Whereas owned by Stora Enso, the billion dollar venture, PM2, turns pulp, potatoes and clay into 500 tons of paper used by retailers for their catalogues; and

Whereas the plant supplies close to 10 per cent of North America with its paper and has recently begun selling into China;

[Page 1577]

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of this House congratulate Stora Enso on its supercalendered paper machine in Point Tupper and wish them continued success in their ventures.