The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

HANSARD 03-32

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

TUESDAY, MAY 13, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Public Service Commission Accountability Report, 2001-02,
Hon. G. Balser 2657
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Savage, Dr. John Patrick: Death of - Tribute, The Premier 2658
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1345, Savage, Dr. John: Death of - Tribute, The Premier 2660
Vote - Affirmative 2661
Res. 1346, Savage, Dr. John: Death of - Tribute, Mr. D. Dexter 2661
Vote - Affirmative 2662
Res. 1347, Police Officers: Respect/Admiration - Demonstrate,
Hon. J. Muir 2662
Vote - Affirmative 2662
Res. 1348, C.B. DHA Health Awards: Recipients - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Purves 2663
Vote - Affirmative 2663
Res. 1349, Agrologists Instit. (N.S.): Anniv. (50th) - Recognize,
Hon. G. Balser 2663
Vote - Affirmative 2664
Res. 1350, Erskine, Hugh - Jr. Achievement Bus. Hall of Fame (N.S.):
Induction - Congrats., Hon. T. Olive 2664
Vote - Affirmative 2665
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 52, Cosmetology Act, Hon. A. MacIsaac 2665
No. 53, Massage Therapy Act, Mr. K. Morash 2665
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1351, McLellan, Luke/Corbin, Ilona - Forum for Young Cdns.:
Participation - Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 2666
Vote - Affirmative 2666
Res. 1352, Sports - Sydney Acad. Wildcats: Cheerleading Champs. -
Congrats., Mr. Manning MacDonald 2667
Vote - Affirmative 2667
Res. 1353, Gov't. (Can.): Secretiveness - Condemn, Mr. C. O'Donnell 2667
Vote - Affirmative 2668
Res. 1354, Caume, Melissa et al: Concours d'art Oratoire - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Corbett 2668
Vote - Affirmative 2669
Res. 1355, Englehutt, Jeff: Athletic Endeavours - Congrats., Dr. J. Smith 2669
Vote - Affirmative 2670
Res. 1356, McEachern, Fred & Betty: Anniv. (50th) - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Barnet 2670
Vote - Affirmative 2671
Res. 1357, Educ.: Student Debt - Lessen, Mr. W. Estabrooks 2671
Res. 1358, LeBlanc, Capt. Donald - Body: Recovery - Assist,
Mr. K. MacAskill 2671
Vote - Affirmative 2674
Res. 1359, Newcombe, Brian & Edna: Outstanding Young Farm Couple -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 2672
Vote - Affirmative 2673
Res. 1360, NADACA: Dance Troupe - Congrats., Mr. Robert Chisholm 2673
Vote - Affirmative 2674
Res. 1361, Ryba, Antonia: Death of - Tribute, Mr. P. MacEwan 2674
Vote - Affirmative 2675
Res. 1362, Armstrong, Alyn & John: NHRA Event - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 2675
Vote - Affirmative 2676
Res. 1363, Gov't. (Can.) - Sea Kings Replacement: Tendering Process -
Details, Mr. K. Deveaux 2676
Res. 1364, Jessome, Joan - NSGEU Pres.: Re-Election - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2677
Res. 1365, First Baptist Girls Choir: Anniv. (20th) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 2678
Vote - Affirmative 2678
Res. 1366, Environ. & Lbr.: Violence in Workplace Regs. - Implement,
Mr. F. Corbett 2679
Res. 1367, Graham, Father John: Ferguson Award - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Wilson 2679
Vote - Affirmative 2680
Res. 1368, Laurence, Anna: Fencing Champ - Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 2680
Vote - Affirmative 2681
Res. 1369, Woodside Trades Training Facility: Opening - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 2681
Vote - Affirmative 2682
Res. 1370, Fin. - Code of Silence: Min. - Contribution - Recognize,
Mr. M. Samson 2682
Res. 1371, Sea Kings - Gov't. (Can.): Inaction - Condemn, Mr. B. Taylor 2682
Res. 1372, Fin. - Tax Scheme: Author - Reveal, Mr. M. Samson 2683
Res. 1373, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Marion Bridge Hwy. - Repave,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2684
Res. 1374, Gillis, Jennifer: Gymnastics Career - Congrats.,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2685
Vote - Affirmative 2685
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 54, Funeral Service Association of Nova Scotia Act, Mr. J. DeWolfe 2686
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 298, Educ.: Special Needs Groups - Concerns Address,
Mr. D. Dexter 2686
No. 299, Educ. - Special Ed Rept.: Time Frame - Details, Mr. D. Wilson 2687
No. 300, Insurance - Rates: Reduction - Min. Suggestions,
Mr. D. Dexter 2688
No. 301, Educ. - Special Ed.: Plan - Consultation, Dr. J. Smith 2689
No. 302, Insurance - Facility Assoc.: Acceptance - Plan Details,
Mr. D. Dexter 2690
No. 303, Insurance - Boys & Girls Clubs: Rates - Freeze, Mr. J. Holm 2692
No. 304, Educ. - Millennium Scholarship Fdn.: Gov't. (N.S.)
Disbursement - Details, Mr. D. Wilson 2693
No. 305, Educ. - Loan Remission: Implementation - Lack Explain,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2694
No. 306, Educ. - Teachers: Numbers - Increase Confirm,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2695
No. 307, Educ. - System: Improvement - Failure Admit, Mr. W. Gaudet 2697
No. 308, Environ. & Lbr. - RRFB/East. Recyclers Assoc.: Meeting -
Details, Mr. W. Estabrooks 2698
No. 309, Educ. - Tuition/Student Loans: Increases - Parity Achieve,
Mr. M. Samson 2699
No. 310, Commun. Serv. - RRSS Strike: Action - Time Frame,
Mr. J. Pye 2701
No. 311, Educ. - Debt Load Reduction: Promise - Breach Explain,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2702
No. 312, Justice - Shelburne/Truro: Compensation Claims -
Legal Fees Justify, Mr. K. Deveaux 2704
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 1:56 P.M. 2705
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. 2705
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Rural Roads - Conditions:
Mr. M. Samson 2705
Mr. W. Dooks 2709
Mr. J. MacDonell 2712
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 6:30 P.M. 2714
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:57 P.M. 2714
CWH REPORTS 2714
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., May 14th at 2:00 p.m. 2715
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1375, Pier 21 Soc.: Expansion - Fund, Mr. Robert Chisholm 2716
Res. 1376, Thomas, Beverley - Cumb. DHA: Recruitment - Commend,
The Speaker 2716
Res. 1377, McInnis, Jena - Princess Kentville: Anna. Valley Apple
Blossom Fest. - Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 2717
Res. 1378, Trinacty, Melanie - Princess Berwick: Anna. Valley
Apple Blossom Fest. - Congrats., Mr. J. Carey 2717
Res. 1379, Yarmouth Hosp. Fdn.: Fundraising - Commend,
Mr. R. Hurlburt 2718
Res. 1380, Gov't. (Can.): Can. Post. Corp. Act (Sec. 13.5) - Repeal,
Mr. W. Dooks 2718

[Page 2657]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, MAY 13, 2003

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Third Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that rural roads are still being neglected by this government.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a copy of the Public Service Commission Accountability Report for 2001-02.

2657

[Page 2658]

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I plan to deliver a statement on the life of Dr. John Savage but I would invite Dr. Jim Smith to begin with his statement.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: I thank you, Mr. Premier, for the honour of being the first to pay tribute to our past Premier, Dr. John Savage.

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in my place to express on behalf of our Liberal caucus and our Leader Danny Graham, to extend our sincerest condolences to Shelagh, Michael, Jane, Phillip, Patrick, Barney and Brigid Savage on the death of their father, former Premier John Savage. Many of us in this House of Assembly had the pleasure of working with John both inside this Chamber and in the community that he loved. I personally have very fond memories of working with John, first in medicine and then in politics. John brought his beliefs as a physician to his positions as Mayor of Dartmouth and Premier of Nova Scotia, the most prominent being that everyone was equal in his eyes. John exemplified a caring and a gentle strength that oftentimes went unnoticed. He, at all times, demanded the very best of himself and of all others. Whatever project he was involved with, whatever tough decisions John had to make, he handled the adversity and the challenge with dignity, honesty and with grace.

Our province today lost a true champion, a champion of literacy, a champion of modern community college system, a champion of daycare, a champion of a world-class emergency health system, a champion of a comprehensive public health system, a champion for a better Nova Scotia. John was a unique, one-of-a-kind individual. He will be missed by all of us here in this Chamber. John will be missed by those in his community, people of this province and countless citizens around the world.

Today, Mr. Speaker, we pay our deepest respects to an individual who shared so much of himself with others. On behalf of our caucus, I'll ask that we have a moment of silence in memory of former Premier John Patrick Savage, after other speakers who choose have spoken. Thank you.

[Page 2659]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, today I rise in this House to pay tribute to the late Dr. John Savage. It goes without saying that John Savage's role in life depended on who you were. To many, John Savage was a doctor; to others, he was a community activist; to the people of Dartmouth, their mayor; to the people of Dartmouth South, their MLA; to members of the Liberal Party, their Leader; and to all Nova Scotians, their Premier, from 1993 to 1997.

Regardless of his public role, the guiding principle of any job John Savage took on was to do what he felt was right.

Since he came to Nova Scotia from his native Wales, John Savage gave far more to his fellow Nova Scotians and Canadians than he received in return. When he left politics, he continued to be an active citizen of the world, offering his medical expertise to the people of Gambia and Russia.

While most Nova Scotians will remember the public John Savage, it's important to remember the very private John Savage. Knowing John Savage in his many roles over the last 30 years, I know how much he valued his private life, his family. Let us never forget that John Savage was also a father, a grandfather, and a husband to his beloved wife, Margaret. Despite his prolonged fight with cancer, John Savage took care of his wife, Margaret, in her final months. Perhaps the most fitting end to Dr. Savage's life was putting others - in this instance his partner in life and his partner in love - above himself.

In A Psalm of Life, Longfellow said:

"Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time;"

I can think of no better lesson we can draw from the life of Dr. John Savage. Thank you.

[12:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of myself and the members of my caucus, I would first like to begin by saying that we would very much like to associate ourselves with the remarks that were made first by Dr. Smith and then by the Premier.

[Page 2660]

All of us understand that John Savage was a physician, a mayor, a Premier, and people may not remember but he was on the school board as well. He was a community activist, a person who sought every day to improve the life of people in his community. He worked, I can say, relentlessly, and I know that in my association with him over the years, it was always the case that I witnessed, first-hand, the way in which he dealt with people, forthright, in a manner with great integrity. I know that when he ran for mayor, I was his Ward 7 co-ordinator at that time, it was largely a ceremonial position, because he was, at that time, cruising to victory, as we would say. It brought me in close contact with him on a fairly regular basis.

I grew to appreciate a person of tremendous strength, of tremendous faith, who always did what he thought was best for the community that he lived in and for this province. As well, he was a provider to the Third World. In his thoughts were always those in other countries who did not have the benefits that accrue to us in this society. I believe that he leaves behind a legacy of community service and will be sadly missed. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. I would ask the House to rise now. We will observe one moment of silence in memory of the late Dr. John Savage.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Please be seated.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 1345

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am going to read a resolution on the life of Dr. John Savage and, with your agreement and the agreement of the House, perhaps those who have similar resolutions could follow my resolution.

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

Whereas for close to 40 years, John Savage served the people of Nova Scotia with distinction as a physician, a mayor, an MLA and a Premier; and

Whereas since emigrating from his native Wales, John Savage gave far more to his fellow Nova Scotians than he ever received in return; and

[Page 2661]

Whereas Dr. Savage's many contributions were recognized through his memberships in the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all Nova Scotians pay tribute to the life and memory of Dr. John Savage, a great Nova Scotian and Canadian.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1346

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

Whereas today Nova Scotia lost former Premier John Savage; and

Whereas John Savage, physician, mayor, Premier, provider to the Third World, carried on his many careers and his family life with warmth, resolve, and always with integrity; and

Whereas John Savage leaves behind a legacy of community service through his practice of medicine, in his political career, and in his community activism, that few have attained;

Therefore be it resolved that this House express its deepest sorrow to the family and friends of John Savage and know they find comfort in knowing he lived a full life, that he did not go gentle into that good night, but raged, raged against the dying of the light.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2662]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1347

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

Whereas this is National Police Week across North America; and

Whereas police forces across Nova Scotia are holding public events to highlight their contribution to our justice system, such as the Police Expo here in metro, and similar events in Bridgewater, Westville and Cape Breton; and

Whereas the men and women in law enforcement unceasingly provide a vital public service;

Therefore be it resolved that this House show its respect and admiration for police officers who serve our communities throughout Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 2663]

RESOLUTION NO. 1348

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

Whereas people who go beyond the call of duty in demonstrating leadership are what makes a strong health care system in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Father John Graham is the winner of the Donald Ferguson Health Leadership Award for his commitment and service to Addiction Services in Cape Breton as a lecturer, counsellor and spiritual adviser; and

Whereas Mary Beth LeBlanc is the winner of the Health Care Provider of the Year Award for her commitment to improving the overall health of the community as Manager of the district's four Youth Health Centres, District Coordinator for the Nova Scotia TeleHealth Network, and the many other projects she has helped to initiate;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate these winners of the Cape Breton District Health Authority Health Awards, and thank them for their compassionate contribution to the health and well-being of the Nova Scotians they serve.

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. 1349

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists is a provincially legislated authority that monitors the credentials of professionals working in the province's agri-food industry; and

[Page 2664]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists was established in 1953 and marked its 50th Anniversary on May 7th and May 8th at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College; and

Whereas a wall of honour is being unveiled in Cumming Hall at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College to recognize the many distinguished individuals of the institute for their dedication, hard work and valuable contributions to the agricultural industry;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists on its 50th Anniversary.

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 Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1350

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

Whereas Hugh Erskine, Chairman and CEO of MacTara Limited, will be inducted into the Junior Achievement Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame in recognition of his commitment to the growth of rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas beginning as a lumberjack, Mr. Erskine now owns and operates Nova Scotia's largest sawmill and is recognized as a true innovator who ensured MacTara was the first Nova Scotia sawmill to offer a sustainable forest management program aimed at helping small woodlot owners responsibly care for their land; and

Whereas through the corporate annual scholarship program, Mr. Erskine has generously donated $140,000 to over 60 students pursuing post-secondary education, and in 2000 he facilitated the construction of the largest wooden playground in the province;

[Page 2665]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Hugh Erskine on his induction into the Junior Achievement Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame and thank him for his tireless commitment to our province.

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 Eastern Shore on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, before I introduce our guests, on behalf of the people of Eastern Shore, I would like to pass along our regrets to the Liberal caucus and especially the family members of the past Premier John Savage.

Today in our east gallery, I'm pleased to introduce 24 students of the Eastern Shore District High School who are shared by the member for Preston and myself. We are very pleased to have them with us today. Mr. Speaker, they will always remember this very solemn day, and they also had the opportunity to meet our Premier and Lieutenant Governor Myra Freeman earlier this morning. In saying that, I also would like to introduce Dennis LeBlanc. Dennis has a reputation, I'm sure, of having visited this House with students more than any other teacher in Nova Scotia and we take great pride in that. With him, Alexis Little is also here with us today, and our school bus driver, Rod Conrod. I don't see Rod up there but I know he's somewhere. We are very pleased to have you folks with us today and I would ask you to stand and receive the warm welcome of this very fine House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you for that. We certainly welcome our guests to the gallery today and hope they enjoy the proceedings.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 52 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 5 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Cosmetology Act. (Hon. Angus MacIsaac.)

Bill No. 53 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Practice and Regulation of Massage Therapy. (Mr. Kerry Morash.)

[Page 2666]

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1351

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

Whereas the machinery and workings of our federal government are often a mystery to many people; and

Whereas Forum for Young Canadians brings students from across Canada each year to the nation's capital to be introduced to government institutions such as the House of Commons, the Senate and the Supreme Court, among other important and interesting governmental processes; and

Whereas Mr. Luke McLellan of Noel Shore and Ms. Ilona Corbin of Upper Rawdon, honour students, with distinction, from Hants North Rural High, were accepted by Forum for Young Canadians to travel to Ottawa last March to see how government works;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend students Luke McLellan and Ilona Corbin of Hants North Rural High School for being chosen by the Forum for Young Canadians to visit the federal seat of government in Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

[Page 2667]

RESOLUTION NO. 1352

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Schools Athletic Federation High School Cheerleading Championships were held at Auburn Drive High School in Cole Harbour; and

Whereas after a year of dedicated training, the Sydney Academy Wildcats competed in the competition after placing third in the Highland Region Championships to qualify; and

Whereas after competing against 11 teams from across the province, the Sydney Academy Wildcats won the competition, taking home provincial championships for the first time since 1985;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature acknowledge the hard work and dedication it takes to succeed at this level in cheerleading and congratulate the Sydney Academy Wildcats for a job well done.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[12:30 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 1353

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

Whereas the federal government has added further insult to injury when it shut down debate on changes to the national firearms registry; and

[Page 2668]

Whereas this unprecedented move by the Senate to split the Commons bill is even opposed by members of the federal government's own Party; and

Whereas this country's Auditor General has found that Parliament has been kept in the dark about the ballooning costs of this billion dollar debacle;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in condemning the federal government's secretive actions that infringe on the democratic rights of Members of Parliament and all Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1354

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

Whereas several students from New Waterford, Cape Breton, were among the 700 students from across the province recently participating in the regional French Language Speech Competition; and

Whereas this annual event, Concours d'art oratoire 2003, is sponsored by the Canadian Parents for French and was held at Mount Saint Vincent University; and

Whereas Melissa Caume, a Grade 6 student at Greenfield Elementary School, tied for first place and Joanna Gallant, also a Grade 6 student at Greenfield Elementary School, placed second and Caitlin Gardiner, a Grade 6 student from St. Agnes Elementary School, placed fourth;

[Page 2669]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Melissa Caume and Joanna Gallant of Greenfield Elementary School and Caitlin Gardiner from St. Agnes Elementary School for their sterling performances in the Concours d'art oratoire 2003.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed? (Interruption)

I believe there was a request for the member to read the whole thing in French. (Laughter)

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. 1355

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

Whereas Jeff Englehutt of Dartmouth East has won six provincial track and cross-country titles in the past two years and has, as well, placed second at the nationals in the 1,500-metre event; and

Whereas Jeff won the high school mile at the Maine Middle Distance Festival last summer, missing the event's record time by only one-hundredth of a second; and

Whereas in the Fall, Jeff will be joining the running team at Dartmouth College, an Ivy League school in New Hampshire;

[Page 2670]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate Jeff on his athletic achievements and wish him well in his future endeavours, including his last high school provincial meet on June 6th and June 7th this year where he will attempt to break the provincial 1,500-metre record, a record set in 1976 by his father, Robert Englehutt.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1356

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

Whereas the 50th Wedding Anniversary is a significant landmark for a couple and Fred and Betty McEachern of Lower Sackville are celebrating this momentous anniversary on May 16, 2003; and (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

MR. BARNET: Whereas their long marriage has produced 5 daughters, 10 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren; and

Whereas Mr. McEachern also served faithfully at Province House as Head Commissionaire from May 1991 until January 2000;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations to Fred and Betty McEachern on reaching the milestone anniversary of 50 and wish them many more happy years together.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2671]

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. 1357

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

Whereas a recent survey of 1999 Maritime university graduates by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission concluded that "a university degree continues to be a wise investment"; and

Whereas the survey also noted that "compared to the class of 1996, we've seen significant changes in student debt . . . the average amount borrowed is up 30% and the proportion of graduates who borrowed $30,000 or more has doubled"; and

Whereas the driving force behind the Maclean's guide to Canadian universities, Ann Dowsett Johnson, noted that Nova Scotia has the highest undergraduate tuition rates in Canada and that the struggle of "the haves and the have nots will become the knows and know nots";

Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government recognize that "a university degree continues to be a wise investment" and then take meaningful measures to lessen student debt and prevent the erosion of post-secondary infrastructure.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1358

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

[Page 2672]

Whereas on February 8, 2003, a tragic accident at Englishtown Ferry claimed the life of ferry operator Captain Donald LeBlanc, a popular resident of Alder Point, Cape Breton; and

Whereas after many hours of searching by local fire departments and volunteers under difficult weather conditions and severe ice conditions, they failed to recover Captain LeBlanc's body; and

Whereas now that the weather has improved and the harbour is clear of ice, another search is planned, hopefully with the support of the Department of Transportation and Public Works;

Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of all members of this House the government provide the necessary assistance in an attempt to recover the body of Captain Donald LeBlanc, and hopefully bring closure for the LeBlanc family.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the honourable member defer asking for waiver for a few seconds. I want to confer with him on something. It may be helpful.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member agree with that?

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1359

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

Whereas Cornwallis Farms' Brian Newcombe represents the ninth generation of Newcombes to operate the Port Williams farm; and

Whereas the farm, established in 1760, is a mixed-farm operation with dairy cows, broiler chickens, laying hens and grain crops; and

[Page 2673]

Whereas Brian and his wife Edna were named Outstanding Young Farm Couple in Atlantic Canada at ceremonies held in Moncton last month and will go on to the National Awards Program in Vancouver;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Brian and Edna Newcombe on being named the Outstanding Young Farm Couple in Atlantic Canada for 2003, and wish them much success as they travel to British Columbia to compete in the National Awards Program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1360

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

Whereas the Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council Association Boys and Girls Club Dance Troupe from Eskasoni is the first all-Aboriginal ballet group in Canada; and

Whereas the troupe of 56 dancers, aged 4 to 12 years, performed at the Millennium Dance Festival held on Friday, May 9th at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax; and

Whereas in this, their first competition, the junior and senior groups of dancers took bronze medals in ballet, jazz and tap performances, and a silver medal for solo ballerina performance;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the entire Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council Association Dance Troupe, Donna Prosper, organizer, Susan Gallop, dance teacher, the Eskasoni Band Council, and all the parents and supporters for their dedication and commitment to the performing arts.

[Page 2674]

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, on the 'therefore be it resolved' clause of his resolution, again, for the appreciation of the House.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of all members of this House the government consider providing the necessary assistance in an attempt to recover the body of Captain Donald LeBlanc, and hopefully bring closure for the LeBlanc family.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1361

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I wish to read this resolution out first in Polish and then in English. I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Panie Prezydencie, niniejszym owiadczam, e Pani Antonina Ryba, ktra mieszkaa w domu o numerze siedemdziesit pi na ulicy Henry na Whitney Pier i zmara w wieku dziewidziesiciu jeden lat;

[Page 2675]

Niniejszym owiadczam, e Pani Ryba z emerytury po mu Sydney wychowaa czworo dzieci;

Niniejszym owiadczam, e z czwrki dzieci, dwoje ukoczylo szko redni i dwoje uniwersytet, Pani Ryba powicia cae swoje ycie dla dzieci, dla Kocioa i swojego piknego ogrodu;

W wietle powyszego proponuj, aby parlament uczci zmar Pani Ryb, Wieczne odpoczywanie racz jej da Panie, a wiato wiekuista niechaj jej wieci na wieki wiekw. Amen.

Whereas the late Mrs. Antonina Ryba lived at 69 Henry Street in Whitney Pier for 75 years, and passed away at the age of 91; and

Whereas the late Mrs. Ryba brought up four children on her husband's salary from the Sydney Steel Plant; and

Whereas Mrs. Ryba's four children were educated, two graduating from college and two from university, and she dedicated her life to them, to the church and to her love for gardening;

Therefore be it resolved that this House honour the memory of the late Antonina Ryba, rest eternal grant unto her, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon her. Amen.

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. 1362

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

[Page 2676]

Whereas in the sport of National Hot Rod Association sanctioned international drag racing, few Canadians rise to the top of the ladder; and

Whereas over the last 30 years, brothers Alyn and John Armstrong of Melvern Square, Annapolis County have done just that; and

Whereas at a recent National Hot Rod Association major event at Lebanon, New York, Alyn won top eliminator and John set a world record time in Super Stock/B;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Alyn and John Armstrong for their competitive spirit, their technical ingenuity and their long-overdue recognition.

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. 1363

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

Whereas the federal Liberal Government has continued to place roadblock after roadblock on the road to replacing the Sea King helicopter; and

Whereas the most recent concern came from the former Commander of 12 Wing Shearwater, Colonel Brian Akit, in a paper written for Canadian Forces College in 2002; and

Whereas Colonel Akit notes that the tendering process chosen by the federal Liberals will create a "significant risk to a safe and credible operation" with the new Maritime helicopters;

[Page 2677]

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the federal Liberal Government to choose a tendering process for the new Maritime helicopters that ensures the best helicopter is chosen to replace the Sea King.

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 Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1364

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union (NSGEU) is the largest union in the Province of Nova Scotia and is the recognized bargaining agent for 21,000 public and private sector employees; and

Whereas President Joan Jessome has been a stalwart proponent of workers' rights in this province; and

Whereas Joan Jessome has been re-elected to her third term as President of the NSGEU;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and recognize the achievements of Joan Jessome upon her re-election for a third term as President of the NSGEU.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 2678]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

[12:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1365

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

Whereas the First Baptist Girls Choir, founded and conducted by Jeff Joudrey, celebrated its 20th Anniversary on May 9th, May 10th and May 11th, which culminated in an outstanding concert - Still the Song Lives On! - which featured present and past members; and

Whereas this multi-denominational choir is made up of girls between the ages of 12 and 18 within Truro and surrounding areas; and

Whereas the First Baptist Girls Choir has performed throughout Canada, the United States, England, Wales, Iceland, Finland, and the Netherlands, has been a regular guest on CBC Radio and released five recordings;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate the First Baptist Girls Choir on its 20th Anniversary and recognize the marvelous contribution of conductor Jeff Joudrey, and piano accompanist Cynthia Davies, to the musical arts in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 2679]

RESOLUTION NO. 1366

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

Whereas on May 15, 2001, a 19-year-old store clerk, Yancey Meyers, was stabbed to death while working alone at a Needs convenience store in Antigonish; and

Whereas violence in the workplace regulations that could have protected Yancey Meyers that night, have been before this government since it came to power in 1999, but Cabinet has chosen to ignore them; and

Whereas this government has shown its disdain for workplace health and safety by having failed to act on even one recommendation from the Minister of Environment and Labour's Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Safety;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand that this government show its support for workplace health and safety by immediately declaring, in force, the violence in the workplace regulations.

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 Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 1367

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

Whereas the Cape Breton District Health Authority has recognized Father John Graham with the Donald Ferguson Health Leadership Award for significant contributions to the promotion and improvement of public health and safety; and

Whereas since the 1960s, Father Graham has worked on various local, provincial and national committees to ensure that the needs of those with addiction issues are addressed; and

[Page 2680]

Whereas Father Graham gives selflessly of his time to visit individuals and provide them with addiction counselling;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the contributions of Father John Graham in addressing addiction issues at all levels and for improving the public's health and well-being in Cape Breton.

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1368

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

Whereas 17-year-old Anna Laurence of Halifax recently took first place in the Under 17 Foil Event at the New Brunswick Provincial Fencing Championships held in Moncton; and

Whereas this talented and determined young lady was one of 19 Maritime competitors in the U17 Foil Event of this competition; and

Whereas Ms. Laurence is also the granddaughter of Mr. Roy Laurence, a former clerk of this Legislative Assembly;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Anna Laurence on winning first place in the U17 Foil Event and wish her well in her future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2681]

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. 1369

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

Whereas Local 56 of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada has planned, constructed and opened a state-of-the-art trades training facility in the Woodside Industrial Park; and

Whereas members of Local 56 funded this outstanding facility entirely from membership dues, without any public financing whatsoever; and

Whereas Local 56 secured the support of many industries through the donation of equipment;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 56 President Tommy Scanlon, business manager Mel MacIntyre, Local 56 members, and the businesses that contributed to their visionary training facility in the Woodside Industrial Park that will provide skills training for Nova Scotians to meet the changing needs of an evolving economy.

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 2682]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1370

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 government shares a dubious honour as one of those governments that has been nominated for a Canadian Association of Journalists' Code of Silence Award; and

Whereas in a best supporting role, the Minister of Finance has been brilliant in trying to hide pension losses from the people of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the code of silence continues as the minister steadfastly refuses to release pension details or their impact upon the overall debt of the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the Minister of Finance for his contribution to the Tory Government's code of silence.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1371

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

Whereas the federal Liberal Government continues to fail our military in securing a replacement for our 40-year-old Sea King helicopter fleet; and

[Page 2683]

Whereas the latest disappointment was noted in today's media based on information which arose from an internal government memo indicating changes were made to technical specifications because of political interference; and

Whereas one military source suggests that the new helicopters will not even be able to carry de-icing and air conditioning systems at the same time. In fact, a report prepared by former director of Maritime Helicopter Projects says, the process has become an abject failure;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly condemn the federal Liberal Government for their action and inaction which continues to delay and aggravate the vital need for replacement of a helicopter fleet which has performed for four decades.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1372

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 code of silence continues to be the order of the day for this government; and

Whereas this has become more apparent as the government fails to disclose the dubious genius behind the $155 tax scheme; and

Whereas the code of silence is also apparent in the refusal of the government to release details on the performance of its investments over the last year;

Therefore be it resolved that the government and its employees break the code of silence and reveal who was responsible for the tax scheme and how much has been lost by government investments this year.

[Page 2684]

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 Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1373

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

Whereas Joe Boudreau, Tory candidate for Cape Breton West in the 1999 provincial election erected a billboard sign on the Marion Bridge Highway declaring his Party's commitment to repaving the Marion Bridge Highway once the John Hamm Government was elected; and

Whereas officials within the Department of Transportation and Public Works have consistently identified the Marion Bridge Highway as the number one priority for repaving over the past four years; and

Whereas motorists travelling the Marion Bridge Highway are incurring considerable damage and cost to their vehicles because of the deplorable state of the Marion Bridge Highway;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately call tenders for the repaving of the Marion Bridge Highway and stop playing politics with the health and safety of residents and motorists travelling this vital piece of infrastructure.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the government members for support.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 2685]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1374

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

Whereas the Eastern Canadian Gymnastics Competition consists of gymnasts from the four Atlantic Provinces and Ontario and Quebec; and

Whereas 14-year-old Jennifer Gillis from Coxheath represented the University College of Cape Breton Dynamics and Nova Scotia in the Eastern Canadian Gymnastics Competition; and

Whereas this is an incredible opportunity for Jennifer to show the skills she has developed while studying gymnastics;

Therefore be it resolved the members of this Legislature acknowledge the hard work and dedication it takes to succeed at this level and wish Ms. Gillis every success in her gymnastics career.

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 Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, with the concurrence of the House, can we revert back to the order of business, Introduction of Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2686]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 54 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 71 of the Acts of 1978. An Act to Incorporate the Licensed Embalmers and Funeral Directors Association. (Mr. James DeWolfe.)

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

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:56 p.m. - as the clock is just about to turn - and end at 1:56 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

EDUC.: SPECIAL NEEDS GROUPS - CONCERNS ADDRESS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, students with special needs are not getting the help they need because schools are understaffed and under-resourced. Parents, teachers, and community groups came to the House today to tell this government that it has failed the children of this province - and I would like to table a copy of the report card, showing three Fs and a D to the government. The special needs advocacy groups have criticized the Department of Education for stalling, for refusing to talk to them in any real way, for poor funding, and for misleading the public. Today, we heard parents, teachers, and community leaders say that even this government's most recent announcements are too little, too late. My question is for the minister. Front-line educators and parents have brought some serious allegations to this House, how do you plan to address their concerns?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we have been working with, and will continue to work with, all of those involved - including parents and teachers - in developing programs to deal with students with special needs. We have made considerable resource commitments and will continue to work towards addressing these concerns.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what the report card does is highlight a record of failure by this government. The government fails to realize that what is at stake here are lives. Mary McCully has an 11-year-old son who needs the help of this minister. His public school couldn't give him the help he needed because they just didn't have the resources. About four months ago, his mother sent him to Thomas Aquinas Centre. She says that she has seen a complete turnaround - he is learning, he is reading at a Grade 7 level, and he is happier. The problem is that the school is expensive and the Minister of Education refuses to help. The mother is now looking at selling her house to afford next year's tuition. My question for the

[Page 2687]

minister is, parents like Mary McCully are being driven into poverty to pay for supports that should be provided by your department, how are you going to help her?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in answer to the previous question, we are adding considerable resources to the public school system. We will be spending $17 million over three years to address concerns. There were 34 recommendations made by the group and we are acting on all of those 34 recommendations.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister and the Department of Education have abandoned their responsibility to the SEIRC. Students with special needs are not getting the help they need, and that is simply the reality. If they had that help, Mary McCully would not be considering selling her house to ensure her son has a better future. Parents and teachers came here today to ask for your full support; they have had enough of half-measures. My question for the minister is this, what will it take for you to fully implement the Special Education Implementation Review Committee report?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we are working toward implementation of the report, and we are committing resources to the implementation of that report. We are adding 60 resource teachers this year in order to address these concerns, and that we will continue to do as we move forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

EDUC. - SPECIAL ED. REPT.: TIME FRAME - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. In April of this year, the Minister of Education attended a meeting with the stakeholders who developed the Special Education Implementation Review Committee which was completed in June 2001 and released in September the same year. The report was then given to the former Minister of Education and she set a date to release the response to the public. The former minister promised to have a response to the report in the Fall of 2002. Unfortunately, a year and a half was not long enough for that minister to review and develop a response so her colleague presented the response last month. My question to the Minister of Education is, when the minister met with the development group in April, how much time did he give his partners to review his response before meeting with them to answer their questions?

[1:00 p.m.]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I believe last week I tabled for the House the response of the Department of Education to the Special Education Implementation Review Committee. If the honourable member would consider that report, in the appendix he will see a very detailed action plan with respect to dealing with the recommendations contained in the report.

[Page 2688]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I will answer my own question. He handed his six partners a copy, one copy of his response before meeting with them for only 15 minutes. That's the reason they had to hold a press conference today. Now I don't want to say sneaky but it appears to be at least crafty. My question to the Minister of Education is, this particular government is very fond of promoting their glossy reports such as this one and they talk it up like they are accomplishing something, on the occasion they didn't even have a press release nor did they table the minister's response for members of the House to see at that time. Will the minister admit the reason why he didn't bother to notify Nova Scotians of this response is because he knows that it's just another one of his governmental reports with no substance?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, when one tables a report on the floor of this Legislature, it's hardly an act of hiding from the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm starting to see a little bit of a trend here by this government. My final question is again to the Minister of Education. Last week we brought attention to this government's attempt to ignore the Canadian Council of Ministers of Education Mathematical Report of 2001. It appears the minister didn't want anyone to know about his own response as well to the SEIRC report. It doesn't appear they are much of an accountable government to me. My question to the minister is, your government has been in power for the last four years so it's your turn to answer the questions. Why did you purposely downplay your own response to that report which was released last April?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as a member of the CMEC, I certainly could not be accused of downplaying the report. That report was made known nationwide. It received considerable publicity nationwide. It is posted on the CMEC Web site, available for all to view. That is hardly an act of concealment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

INSURANCE-RATES: REDUCTION - MIN. SUGGESTIONS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour who incidentally, of course, is responsible for skyrocketing insurance rates. Auto insurance rates in Nova Scotia are higher, more unfair and rising more rapidly than in most other provinces. People are demanding lower rates yet outside this House the minister has confirmed that he is not seeking legislation this Spring to lower insurance rates. My question is simply this, will the minister tell this House why he has led Nova Scotia drivers to believe that he is about to take decisive action to lower insurance rates?

[Page 2689]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have a plan and I have explained to the honourable member on many occasions what that plan is. If he would go back into Hansard, I'm sure that he will find an answer to his question.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, for weeks this minister has been saying that he has a plan. Yesterday, he admitted that he doesn't even have draft regulations on the renewal of insurance policies. His plan, the one that he's been talking about over and over again, is to duck and run for cover. Let's see if he will take one step forward. The only public hearings on insurance this Spring will be held by the Law Amendments Committee. Will the minister who answers for skyrocketing insurance rates show some respect for Nova Scotians by releasing his draft regulations when people can still appear at the public hearings?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, once again going back to the plan, the honourable member has been told that when we receive the interim report from the consumer advocate, whom we appointed, which is also part of our plan, then we will be giving consideration to what our future actions will be.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister whose responsibilities include those responsibilities for skyrocketing insurance rates says that this is just a simple issue. The minister says he doesn't understand why the URB report is taking so long. Mr. Minister, the real issue is that you are taking so long to come to grips with an issue that you say is so simple. My question is this, why won't the minister admit that the problem is high rates, unfair rates, and skyrocketing increases that are hitting Nova Scotians harder than many other Canadians?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I notice that the Leader of the Opposition is now hedging his bets by saying that our rates are increasing at a greater rate than many Nova Scotia jurisdictions - beforehand it was at a rate greater than any other jurisdiction in Canada. I noted, with interest, a Global News report that showed that our rates for certain classes of drivers are less than they are in Manitoba.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

EDUC. - SPECIAL ED.: PLAN - CONSULTATION

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. As you are aware already, the Minister of Education released his response to the Special Education Implementation Review Committee completed in June, 2001. One of the first recommendations suggests that this government develop a communications plan and the partners be consulted in the development of this plan. The minister responded by stating that their communications plan will be developed in consultation with school boards. My question to the minister is, will the minister confirm that other stakeholders' groups will be consulted in the development of the communications plans and materials?

[Page 2690]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we continuously make an effort to consult with all of the stakeholders that we're involved in education.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, our teachers deal with special needs students every day in the classroom. The seminar last summer, this government had 48 teachers from across this province participating in a special needs seminar. We acknowledge that was a start, but 48 teachers represents 0.5 per cent of the teaching population participating in the professional development seminar in special needs. My question to the minister is, when is your government going to support the inclusion process and begin to provide the appropriate resources to train our teachers to be the best when dealing with children with special needs?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we're well underway with respect to doing that. That's why we're committing $17 million over a period of three years to implement the 34 recommendations. There are 60 resource teachers and professionals who will be working with students with special needs and we're going to continue to address these concerns as we move forward.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the needs are now, and they're really recycling initiatives and they're repackaging monies promised over a long period of time. It sounds like a significant resource input, but it's really not. The government received this report card today and it's not good on special needs, and I would like to table that report card.

AN HON. MEMBER: It has already been done.

DR. SMITH: Oh, it has already been tabled? Well maybe something like this deserves to be tabled twice. It gave F for punctuality, D for leadership - that was the highest, and still a pretty low grade - F for communication, and F for behaviour. My question to the minister is, will you admit that your government has failed to adequately meet the needs of our special education system here in Nova Scotia?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I will give a C for commitment, with respect to moving forward with addressing the concerns of students with special needs. We are committing resources, we're going to continue to work with the stakeholders, and we are committed. It is a huge problem and it's recognized as such by everyone, but we will move forward and address these concerns.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

INSURANCE - FACILITY ASSOC.:

ACCEPTANCE - PLAN DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it's abundantly obvious now that the methods insurance companies are using to gouge drivers seems to be never-ending. Gordon

[Page 2691]

Barnes is here today because his insurance company told him they won't renew his 1990 Toyota Tercel because they say it's too old even though it satisfies the inspection requirements of the government. This 55-year-old has been driving for 35 years and has never had an accident. None of that seems to matter though because he's being pushed into the Facility Association just because his car is a 1990. The minister responsible for auto insurance refuses to address how he's going to deal with loopholes like this. So my question is, Mr. Minister, how are you going to keep insurance companies from pushing good drivers into the Facility Association?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I have told the honourable member many times and, again, we have a plan and the plan is going to be forthcoming. I would advise the honourable member, who's always telling us about the virtues of public insurance, that in this recent cross-country survey done by Global News, Manitoba came in considerably above that of the rate in Nova Scotia, considerably above the rate charged in Quebec City, considerably above the rate charged in Regina and considerably above the rate in Victoria.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this is the same minister who relies on information from hotline shows. I hope for goodness sake that he doesn't take medical advice from there, that's all I can say. I'm not sure the minister responsible for auto insurance really understands the issue. Drivers are being gouged by skyrocketing insurance rates. David Rowe is 30 years old. He has been driving for 10 years. He has a clean record. His insurance jumped from $1,000 to $1,700. He renews in June, but his company has told him that the freeze won't affect his rate. They have told him they have changed how they calculate rates. David Rowe has been left shaking his head. He heard about a freeze and now he hears he doesn't qualify. So my question for the minister is this, have you done anything to keep these companies from getting around the rules?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have frozen increases that were effective May 1st or later.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I don't know what I have to do to get through to this minister. He doesn't seem to understand that what he says in here and what is actually happening on the street are two completely different things. People are being told to pay their sky-high rates, people are told the rules have been changed and that there's nothing they can do about it. People like Gordon Barnes, people like David Rowe, know that this minister has done absolutely nothing to control skyrocketing insurance rates. So, Mr. Minister, enough with pre-election shenanigans, how are you going to make car insurance lower and fairer in this province?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable Leader of the Opposition, who is a former litigation lawyer, I'm sure is well aware of the reasons for the escalating cost of insurance. We have a plan. We will be carrying that plan forward and we will be working for the people of Nova Scotia to have reasonable and responsible insurance rates.

[Page 2692]

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

INSURANCE - BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS: RATES - FREEZE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to hear a little bit more about this plan. The Sackville Boys and Girls Club had a real shock yesterday when they opened the mail. Trevor Brown opened the renewal notice for his club's 12-passenger van and found that the insurance rate had gone up 62 per cent - some freeze. I don't need to tell this House about the very valuable work that clubs like the Boys and Girls Club provide to the people of Nova Scotia. That van is used by Mr. Brown to transport 42 children to after-school programs.

So through you, Mr. Speaker, to the minister responsible for insurance in this province, I ask the minister, why hasn't he done anything to keep insurance rates for groups like the Sackville Boys and Girls Club from going sky-high?

[1:15 p.m.]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I was aware of the problem with the Boys and Girls Club in Sackville, and I understand that my staff were speaking to some of the people out there this morning.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am glad that they're speaking to them while I am speaking with the minister here today. The truth is that the minister's rate freeze isn't working. According to Mr. Brown, and the copy of the bill that I have looked at, shows that the insurance is going to go from $2,586 to $4,190 for this year. That club can't raise that kind of money, because they can't raise the cost of the programs because they're mainly dealing with families who are low-income or single-parent families. The club has approximately one week to come up with over $4,000. I ask the minister responsible for car insurance, why did you wait so long and why have you done so little about skyrocketing insurance rates?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we didn't wait so long. Approximately 18 months ago we went to the Utility and Review Board to have a review done on the rates charged by insurance companies in the Province of Nova Scotia, auto insurance rates. We have been privy to this particular problem for 18 months, and we are still awaiting the report from the URB. We do have a plan, and we are moving forward on our plan.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, of course, the government is privy or familiar with the issue because we prodded the government, who originally had refused to send it to the URB. They've known about this problem for 18 months, and we still have no satisfactory answers coming from the government. The Sackville Boys and Girls Club is but one of the 22,000 individuals and organizations in this province that have been dumped into Facility

[Page 2693]

Association. The association rates are set to increase up to approximately 50 per cent more this year alone, yet the government has done absolutely zero about that issue.

This minister and this Premier allowed the crisis around automobile insurance to grow for more than a year, 18 months to be exact. The result is that anything they do will be too late for many Nova Scotians. I want to ask, particular to the Sackville Boys and Girls Club, what exactly are you going to do to ensure that the Sackville Boys and Girls Club, which is extremely valuable in that community, can obtain insurance at a fair, reasonable rate this year?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as I said, my staff are privy to the problem that we are speaking of. I understand - because I haven't met with my staff since about 10:00 o'clock this morning - that they were going to contact the Boys and Girls Club, and I would trust that they could find some reasonable solution.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

EDUC. - MILLENNIUM SCHOLARSHIP FDN.:

GOV'T. (N.S.) DISBURSEMENT - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. More than once, the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation has indicated it might pull the plug on its funding for scholarships for Nova Scotia students because of this government. The foundation is so concerned about the state of the scholarship program in this province that it conducted a review and identified five main concerns about the way Nova Scotia administers the scholarships on behalf of the foundation. One of those concerns is that students who are accepted for scholarships but then withdraw are not being replaced with students on waiting lists, as they are in other provinces. That means this government is holding on to the funding and gaining interest that could be used to assist students. My question to the minister is, what does this government do with the foundation's money that is not given to students who withdraw?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we endeavour to ensure that all of the money that's available to students makes it to the hands of students.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is again to the Minister of Education. The money wasn't given to the province for its general revenues, it was given to financially assist students. Not that long ago, Nova Scotians learned that this government is taking over $1,400 a day from the interest on the foundation's money that should be going to financially-needy students. The foundation claims that 50 students a year who should be receiving scholarships are not as a result. It seems the government is taking more interest in the foundation's money because after a student withdraws, the government doesn't replace that student with another

[Page 2694]

in need. My question is, why aren't students taken from the waiting list and placed on the recommended list after students withdraw, as is done in every other province?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the students who are eligible for receipt of millennium scholarships receive the money until that money is completely paid out. Once that happens, then of course anybody who is below that level does not receive the assistance. That is one of the shortcomings of the Millennium Scholarship Program.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the shortcoming is on behalf of this government. The Premier recently announced that education was a top priority of his government, but what we see for post-secondary students is the highest tuition in the country, the highest debt loads in the country, and universities are funded at a lower rate than any other province in this country. To show students just how high a priority education is to this government, they put back into the Loan Remission Program almost the amount it took from students by the $6 million off Millennium Foundation Scholarship funding. To borrow the words of the Premier, my final question to the Minister of Education is, when is this government going to start looking at education as an investment in our future, rather than simply a cost to this government?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we do look upon education as an investment in the future, all facets of education, whether it be post-secondary, whether it be P to 12, whether it be adult education programs, whether it be trades training. We have initiatives in all of those areas. We are committing additional funds to all of those areas, and we are making real progress with respect to making education the priority it should be in this province.

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

EDUC. - LOAN REMISSION:

IMPLEMENTATION - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission reported today that student debt loads are significantly higher for students from lower-income backgrounds and that after graduation these young men and women can't shake that disadvantage. The commission was reporting on the class of '99, those who could still take advantage of the Nova Scotia Loan Remission Program. My question for the minister is, will the minister tell this House why his government has not come forward with loan remission or grants that target these financial barriers to talented young Nova Scotians?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the Loan Remission Program, which we have brought forward, is one which all students in this province can take advantage of, and it is a program which will allow students to retire in excess of 40 per cent of the debt that they incur upon completion of their university studies.

[Page 2695]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, we learned today that before the Tories made the situation even worse, students from lower socio-economic backgrounds were, on average, borrowing at least $2,500 more. By wiping out the Loan Remission Program, the Tories made sure that who your parents are still goes a long way towards deciding whether you get to university. Students who face the greatest financial challenge to gaining a degree get the least help from this new Tory plan. Will the Minister of Education tell Nova Scotians why his government is making a bad situation worse for many families?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, a Loan Remission Program, the nature of which we have brought forward, which allows students to retire up to 40 per cent of their debt, is obviously a program which is designed to assist those who must borrow the most money toward their education. It is a program which is designed to help those to whom the honourable member refers. That is the nature of a Loan Remission Program.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the higher a graduate's income, the easier it is for them to pay off their student loan and if their family circumstances make it easy for them to finish the degree without interruption to earn some money, the Tories will kick in even more money. So why won't the minister review the Maritime Provinces' Higher Education Committee report, admit his mistake and come up with a student aid plan that targets financial assistance to those who need it most, those children of parents from lower socio-economic backgrounds?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, obviously, as a government, we're quite interested in the report of the Maritime Provinces' Higher Education Commission and we will be reviewing that report. Our Loan Remission Program is one which is designed so that it can be added to as resources become available. We will be reviewing the report and we are committed to assisting all students at university. We're committed to restoring funding to universities and that is a priority of this government.

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

EDUC. - TEACHERS: NUMBERS - INCREASE CONFIRM

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, earlier this session I asked the Education Minister to tell us how many new teachers - check that adjective out, new teachers - will be in classrooms this fall. He refused to answer. All this minister did was put off the question by raising the red-herring accusation about the previous Liberal Administration. Well, the records of both the old Liberal Government and the present Tory Government stink like rotten herring when it comes to teacher numbers. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. It's unparliamentary. I would ask the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect to withdraw that, please. (Interruptions)

[Page 2696]

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe cod. Try cod.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the record of these governments smell . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member will retract that statement, please. I would ask you to retract that, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I will retract the herring, I'll retract the cod.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect has the floor.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Minister, give Nova Scotians a straight answer. Will there be more new - hear that adjective, new - teachers in our classroom this September as compared to now, yes or no?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, in 1993-94 there were 163,890 students in this province in Primary to Grade 12. This year it is anticipated that there will be a number of 150,599 students. So I ask the honourable gentleman, what is an appropriate ratio of teachers to students? Is it a ratio of student to teacher of 16? Does he want a ratio of 10 to one? Does he want a ratio of five to one? Does he want a ratio of one to one? What ratio does he want?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I don't need a lesson in ratio and proportion, but I have some math homework for this Education Minister. So here's the formula, take the total funded teacher positions this year, subtract the number of retirements and resignations, add the number of replacements and new positions and, voila, you have the number of teaching positions funded for the upcoming year. Can I have that homework tomorrow on my desk, Mr. Minister?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I will provide him with that homework if he can tell us what an appropriate ratio is. We are committing more money to education in this province. We have priorities and we have established priorities through the efforts of my predecessor. We are funding those priorities and those priorities are designed to address the fundamentals of education in this province. That is our commitment to the students of this province.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, basic math, simple arithmetic, ratio and proportion aside, the information from school boards, as budgets are detailed, is disturbing. Despite this minister's claim that there will be 127 new teaching positions, he refuses to answer the direct question. Either he doesn't know or he will not say because he doesn't want Nova Scotians to know about the truth when it comes to student numbers just before an election. Mr. Minister, since you refuse to answer the question, let me ask this for the record

[Page 2697]

just one more time. Do you know how many new teaching positions will be funded in this year's budget?

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that we have established our priorities and we have put funding to meet those priorities and they are to address the education basics of literacy, of reading, of computations in mathematics, of special needs students, and there will be 127 teachers dedicated to those commitments this school year.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

EDUC. - SYSTEM: IMPROVEMENT - FAILURE ADMIT

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. In August 2002, our Liberal Leader, Danny Graham, called on the Minister of Education to begin a province-wide process to develop a strategy to address the consistently low assessment scores of our students. The proposed education summit would have brought together parents, teachers, school boards, and other interested groups, to develop a common vision for the education system; however that idea was rejected by the former Minister of Education. Today we see the Nova Scotia School Boards Association launching its own consultation process because of a clear failure on the part of this government to bring all stakeholders together and to provide any real solutions to the challenges facing our education system. My first question to the minister is, will the minister admit today that this government has failed to effectively engage stakeholders in the process of improving our education system?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what I will admit is that we have a program for addressing the priorities of this government and the priorities of the people of this province for education - it's called Learning for Life. I'll be happy to table another copy of it and perhaps the honourable members opposite would do themselves a favour of learning just what actions we intend to take in order to address the priorities of education in this province.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, it's no wonder that the school board association has felt the need to initiate its own consultation process after hearing that minister. Let's not forget that in the Rumsfeld plan the government stated clearly its objective for the education system is, "to be on the side of the students and parents." The plan also said that the government wants, " to manage its stakeholders." We are seeing the impact of this type of approach today. Again to the minister, will the minister admit that this government has been more concerned with managing its stakeholders than in forging true partnership with the key players in the education system?

[Page 2698]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, in the development of our programs, there was province-wide consultation, and we don't have to gather a lot of people together to know that we have to embark upon a course of action. We have the report card to parents, the second one that's out, it reveals all of the test results and it indicates that it is time for action and we are acting.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, school boards in Nova Scotia want to raise the bar on student achievement. They are concerned about the poor performance of our students in many key areas and, like us, it's clear they don't have any faith in this government and this so-called Learning for Life plan. So the Nova Scotia school board is showing leadership in this regard by developing a process to bring together partners in the system to ensure that the quality of education in Nova Scotia is improved. Again, my final question to the minister is, will the minister please tell us whether he is prepared to be an active participant in the process that is being led by the Nova Scotia School Boards Association?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we are very pleased to see that the Nova Scotia School Boards Association is becoming an active participant in our program for renewal and accountability in education. We are very pleased, and I was very pleased to tell the school board association that we welcome their initiative. That is how we are going to move forward, through partnerships with the school boards, with the teachers, with the parents and the Department of Education and, of course, on behalf of and with the students of this province. That is what we're committed to, that's what we're moving forward with.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - RRFB/EAST. RECYCLERS ASSOC.:

MEETING - DETAILS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. My office has been flooded with constituents voicing concerns over the underfunding of the local Enviro-Depots. I am sure most members are receiving similar expressions of concern. Last week my colleague raised this concern, and we were encouraged when he heard a meeting had been set up between the Resource Recovery Fund Board and the Eastern Recyclers Association for last Friday. Will the minister take this opportunity to inform this House of the progress made at the May 9th meeting in Truro between the Resource Recovery Fund Board and the Eastern Recyclers Association, with details if possible?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it's expected that the Resource Recovery Fund Board will come forward with a recommendation with regard to the amount paid to the Enviro-Depots for each container returned and that number will be forthcoming, as I understand it, on May 21st.

[Page 2699]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the fact is that not much was accomplished at that meeting, obviously. Out of frustration, the 87 small businesses represented by the association have been driven to write an open letter to the Premier and to be involved in the demonstration on the street outside today. They've been driven to escalate these efforts to get the government's attention to listen to them. Mr. Minister, you should be looking for a workable and fair solution so that we could put a stop to the stonewalling tactics of the Resource Recovery Fund Board. Given the fact that the matter is not being handled constructively, I would ask that the minister ensure a process for a swift and fair solution be initiated today without delay.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am almost positive that the first member to jump to his feet if I started to meddle in the Resource Recovery Fund Board would be himself, accusing the government of meddling in an arm's-length organization.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the Enviro-Depots are small businesses that are facing increasing costs. This government claims to understand small business, but your actions are sending a very different message. Mr. Minister, you can help without violating that arm's-length relationship, you can demand a fair process for resolving this issue. You can start by ending the practice of your own department from dipping into the funds of the Resource Recovery Fund Board. I will ask the minister, will you do something positive, step in, look at the solutions and become part of the solution, not part of the problem?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, yes, this government does understand small business. That's why we're so anxious to keep a private insurance company regime in Nova Scotia. Having said that, I do not intend to get involved with the Resource Recovery Fund Board. I believe that board is doing a good job. They are, as I said, considering the amount that will be paid on the return of recyclable containers to Enviro-Depots. They are aware that the Enviro-Depots are looking for an increase. I would suspect, as I say, that answer will be forthcoming on May 21st.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC. - TUITION/STUDENT LOANS:

INCREASES - PARITY ACHIEVE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this Tory Government has spent the last four years neglecting post-secondary students in this province. It appears it has no intention of ending the practice any time soon. While tuition and the cost of attending universities has continued to rise under this government, year in, year out, the amount of funding available for student assistance has not reflected this increase. My question to the Premier is, why isn't your government funding student assistance in the form of student loans at a rate comparable to increasing tuition and other costs to our university students?

[Page 2700]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Education.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated on previous questions this afternoon, we are indeed adding to the amount of money which we are providing to the support of, not just students but universities. We have increased the funding to universities. It has gone from a low of $175 million, when they were in power, and now we're up to $206 million. We are committed to adding to that. We have introduced a debt reduction program that will allow students to retire in excess of 40 per cent of their debt, if they take full advantage of all facets of the program.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education refuses to answer the question. The question is specifically about the amount of student aid funding your government provides. Do you realize that in the last four years under your administration, the cost of tuition has continually gone up, the cost to students has gone up, yet the amount of funding available to students through student aid has not reflected those increases? More and more, all members of this House are getting calls from university students who are saying, I just don't have enough money to pay for my university year and to pay for all of my costs because I'm not receiving enough student aid. That is the real issue here today. Therefore, I ask the Premier, again, if your government is not going to increase the budget available to student aid, does that mean that the current number of students are getting less money or that you're providing money to fewer Nova Scotia students?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, when the government was elected back in 1999, as contained in the blue book, we indicated that we would provide student debt relief that would be the equivalent of 30 per cent of the borrowing of students during the time in which they are receiving their post-secondary education. We, in fact, have exceeded that commitment. By way of the program that we have put in place, which allows a forgiveness of 15 per cent for the first year, 25 per cent for the second year, 35 per cent for the third year, 45 per cent for the last year, as well as a 25 per cent bonus for working in Nova Scotia and a 10 per cent bonus for making payments towards your student debt relief, we have exceeded the target that we have set for ourselves.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the fact is that Nova Scotia students will be graduating this May from their three years at university without having any form of relief for the amount of student aid they needed to get as a result of this government. For the Premier to stand in this House and say he has exceeded those targets, I ask him to attend the convocations this Spring to tell those students who have gotten absolutely no debt relief from your government how you've exceeded your targets. As I said before, the amount of funding available for student aid, for students attending Nova Scotia universities, is not reflecting the extra costs for attending university. Therefore, the question, again, is, is it the intention of your government to provide Nova Scotia students with an inadequate amount of money or is it your intention, by not increasing the budget, to provide fewer Nova Scotia students with funding to attend university?

[Page 2701]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the question from the member opposite would have far more credibility if he was not a member of the government that actually reduced university funding to a low of $175 million. We have, each year of our mandate, increased funding to universities. Now it's in excess of $206 million. We are replacing the money that that government took away.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - RRSS STRIKE: ACTION - TIME FRAME

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, residents with Regional Residential Services Society are spending yet another day in the care of strangers while this government refuses to come to the table with striking workers. The volunteer board members at RRSS, who have been forced to take the heat for this uncaring government from the beginning, have said that they won't return to the table until they have something new to offer. Binding arbitration would allow an impartial third party to step in and find a fair deal for both sides of this dispute. I ask the Minister of Community Services, how much longer will you allow this to drag on before you take action?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for allowing me to point out that we are very concerned in Community Services about the labour dispute. Our primary concern, of course, goes to the residents, because that is what this is all about, the care of the residents. It is difficult for both the volunteer board of directors and the employees

at RRSS and it's clearly difficult for the employers that are on strike because they care about the residents. From the point of view of the department, what we've done is make sure the caregivers are in constant contact with them trying to liaise with the families and see that everything is done until they get back to the table and settle this.

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, that minister has the power and he can do that by putting more money on the table. This government has no respect for the collective bargaining process and it's certainly showing its true colours on this issue. The government of Bill No. 68 is using the vulnerable mentally-challenged adults as pawns in its move to strike a blow against unionized workers. As a sole funder of RRSS, the government has an obligation to settle this strike before the residents suffer one more day. I ask the Minister of Community Services, why are you so opposed to binding arbitration?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased the member opposite brought that up because he would seem to be at odds with his Leader over this issue. You see, this past weekend - I have an article here which I'm going to table in a moment from the Saturday, May 12th Chronicle-Herald - where the Leader first of all concurs with the stand we've taken with regard to respecting the collective bargaining process. I've been very consistent in that

[Page 2702]

and I tried to follow up in my actions and the actions of this government to let the two parties work this out on their own. But, what we differ in is that - the honourable member clearly cares about the residents as does this government, as do I, and we made sure that everything that was possible could be done, would be done to take care of them. In this article, it says that the Leader of the Opposition would not have allowed any workers in there assisting the residents during the time of the strike. I would like to table that.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I'm clearly at a loss as to what that has to do with binding arbitration. No hoops are too high for this government to jump through if you're a casino or a multi-million dollar corporation. If you're a mentally-challenged resident of a group home who just wants the caregivers to come back, you're just out of luck. I ask the minister, do you really think voters are going to forget how you have treated these vulnerable residents and their families?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, again, I would point out that the honourable member has been consistent in his care for the residents. I feel that I have also done the same representing the government. What is in question here is the position of the Leader of the Opposition relative to taking care of the residents during the labour dispute. Thank you.

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

EDUC. - DEBT LOAD REDUCTION:

PROMISE - BREACH EXPLAIN

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Premier. The Premier has been doing a lot of talking lately about how well his government has kept its blue book promises to Nova Scotians. When it comes to university students and graduates, nothing could be further from the truth. The first promise the Premier made to post-secondary students in the blue book was to establish, ". . . a provincial Income Tax Relief Program for graduating students with high debt loads, allowing students to re-direct a portion of their provincial tax payment to retire a maximum of 30 percent of the value of their original debt load." Yet, at the end of this government's mandate, it has admitted that it will not keep this promise to Nova Scotia graduates. My question to the Premier is, Mr. Premier, why aren't you keeping your promise to provide adequate assistance to graduating students?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question because the member opposite did remind the members of the House and through reminding members of the House, all Nova Scotians, that we did make a commitment to provide a debt management plan that would relieve students of 30 per cent of their indebtedness that they had undertaken to get their education. We have exceeded that. We have not kept the 30 per cent commitment, we have delivered 40 per cent.

[Page 2703]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the students who haven't got it will be wondering who got the 40 per cent because the students I've talked to didn't. My supplementary question to the Premier is, on Page 26 of the blue book the Premier states, "The time has long past for government to step up to its responsibilities to ensure that our young people have full access to higher education, without having to mortgage their futures to do it." Young people are mortgaging their futures for an education. Getting a university degree today means by the time you can afford a home, it's time to go into a home.

Mr. Speaker, this government argues that its half-measure debt reduction program, that doesn't take effect until September, is adequate support for students. We know it's not, the Premier knows it's not, and Nova Scotian students know it's not. My supplementary question to the Premier is, will the Premier prove here today that his government is a government that keeps its word and provide the relief you, Mr. Premier, promised to them?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, a minor correction to the member opposite, he used the wrong page reference, but it does provide an opportunity for the government to repeat its commitment to education in this province. Learning for Life is a great document. I believe it provides a long-term vision for education for this government and I would hope for subsequent governments in the Province of Nova Scotia, unless the member is successful in creating the illusion that a university education is still not a good buy in Nova Scotia. First of all, look at the number of students who have not gone to universities in other jurisdictions, but have chosen to come here to Nova Scotia because we give good value for the dollar when we deliver a university education here in Nova Scotia.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the Premier stated that I was on the wrong page. Well, the Premier has flip-flopped so many times on this issue he doesn't know what page he's on. It is Page 26 and I will table it. His remarks are there and a quote from the Premier. So if I'm on the wrong page on that one, Mr. Premier, then your entire blue book is out of sync.

My final supplementary to the Premier, Mr. Speaker, again the Premier, in the blue book on Page 24 states, "We believe the pursuit of post-secondary education should not leave Nova Scotians mired in debt." The students of Nova Scotia deserve better. My final supplementary to the question is, does the Premier believe, yes or no, Nova Scotia's university students deserve better than the broken promises you have delivered to them so far, Mr. Premier?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again to the member opposite, what Nova Scotians who are graduating from universities, or community college deserve, I think, is a government that gives a direction that allows them employment opportunities and we will not abandon our agenda of growth and prosperity that will provide the real opportunities for our students and that is the ability, after they have received their education, to stay here and earn a good solid living in a great Nova Scotia surrounding.

[Page 2704]

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

JUSTICE - SHELBURNE/TRURO:

COMPENSATION CLAIMS - LEGAL FEES JUSTIFY

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. The government uses outside lawyers to negotiate compensation for its treatment of the Shelburne and Truro residential employees who were falsely accused and, as we found out in estimates, the government has already paid the law firm of Stewart McKelvey $516,000 in legal fees and there's another $100,000 budgeted for this year. So my question for the Minister of Justice is, why is the Minister of Justice paying over $600,000 in legal fees for outside lawyers to negotiate compensation for 41 claimants?

HON. JAMES MUIR: The very simple answer to that, Mr. Speaker, is, the group representing the claimants asked for an outside lawyer.

MR. DEVEAUX: It still seems like an exorbitant amount to pay for a lawyer, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, in estimates, the Minister of Justice said that 41 employees had been compensated, giving an average of less than $10,000 to each one of those employees. That's almost $2 in legal fees for every dollar of compensation being paid for the government's treatment of the falsely accused employees. So I want to ask the minister, how does the minister justify those kind of legal fees for a compensation program that most employees have not accepted?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the legal fees, that whole thing was worked out between the government and the group representing, I guess we will call them, the aggrieved parties. To be quite frank, the legal fees, the lawyer who was chosen and was agreed on by the sides - that's the bill that has come.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, what's needed in these circumstances, I would suggest, is an independent dispute resolution process. At the moment, this government is going down a path of sending these cases to court where they are going to lose big time. There is going to be large compensation paid out and, quite frankly, there needs to be an independent process here.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 2705]

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[1:56 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. William Dooks in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Mr. Deputy Speaker Mr. David Wilson in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption. The topic for tonight's discussion is a resolution submitted by the MLA for Richmond.

"Therefore be it resolved that rural roads are still being neglected by this government."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: RURAL ROADS - CONDITIONS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a privilege to rise in this House tonight to speak in late debate on a topic that is of vital importance to the constituents I represent in the County of Richmond. I can tell you, having had the opportunity with this House sitting, one really only has weekends to spend in the constituency, and during the week returning some phone calls. Clearly, the message that is coming from the residents of Richmond County is that they are disgusted, I guess you could say, and saddened to see the state of the roads in Richmond County, after four years of Tory rule in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that having travelled throughout the constituency, this is a problem that has been encountered not only in one or two communities but from one end of the constituency to the other. I will speak a little later about the previous government and its actions in Richmond County, but let me speak today of the situation we find ourselves in

[Page 2706]

right now. I have had residents contact me, asking for the Department of Transportation and Public Works' information line, where they can call to report damage to their vehicle due to the amount of damage being sustained by residents in Richmond County.

Mr. Speaker, seniors are now saying that they are hesitant to take their vehicle to go out, whether it be to the drugstore, whether it be for grocery shopping or whether it be for a little outing, to go for a drive and spend the day visiting different communities, because they fear incurring damage to their vehicle, which they, clearly, when they are on fixed incomes, are not in a position to continue to pay such costs, when one considers that the government has sat back and allowed insurance costs to go up and the costs of gas to go up without taking any action.

Mr. Speaker, I have had a number of seniors who have come back to me and said, we remember the days when there used to be gravel roads, it used be horse and buggy. They said, unless something is done to improve these roads, we should return back to the gravel roads because at least the gravel roads could be graded and it was a little easier to maintain than what we have here today. What a shameful thing to hear, seniors who have worked all their lives and have grown this economy, who are now in their golden years, who can look back and be proud of what they have done for their own families, what they've done for our communities, now saying that they long for a return to the gravel roads, with the horse and buggy, because of the neglect taking place to the roads throughout Richmond County.

Mr. Speaker, as you are well aware, the residents of Richmond County, like the residents throughout this province, are taxpayers. They pay the tax on gas, they pay the tax on home heating oil, they pay the high cost of renewing their driver's licences, they pay the high costs of renewing the registration on their vehicles, and yet what do they get in return, that's what they're asking. One could ask, well, what were the expectations of the people of Richmond County after the 1999 election?

Well, first of all, it was this Premier John Hamm in his blue book who said, if elected, a John Hamm Government will take the revenue raised from licence registration, vehicle registration, fuel tax, home heating oil tax, and we will take all of that money and put it towards road construction and road maintenance. That's what the Premier promised. That's not the people of Richmond County just imagining this, this was a fundamental commitment made to the people of this province, that if a John Hamm Government was elected, this is what they would deliver.

I know many of the Tory members over on the other side, when they went to the doorsteps, used this during their campaign - elect us and this is what will happen, we will fix the roads throughout the province. It is they who created these expectations. Yet, at the end of the day, when we look at the amount of roadwork which has taken place in the last four years in Richmond County, that clearly has not happened.

[Page 2707]

Mr. Speaker, there has been some work done on Route 4 going through Richmond County, that being the highway. There has been some work done, for example, some resurfacing between the Port Hawkesbury town limits and the community of St. Peters, along Route 4, different patches. There has been some work done, I will recognize that, and that was important work to be done, especially for our tourist industry. One of the other areas where some work was done last summer was on Route 4. In fact, that would be Route 4, going from St. Peters, heading down toward Sydney.

Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, you would know yourself, having travelled that road, that that road is still in need of significant upgrades. But the point of the resolution here today - we hear this government talk about Highway No. 101, we hear them talk about different highways around this province, and those are all very important but, at the end of the day, the residents of Nova Scotia who live on rural roads, they too have a right to have a decent road when they pull out of their driveway. They have to get to the highway, and they should have a reasonable road and expect a safe, reasonable road to get to these highways or to get to their place of work or the drugstore or the grocery store or to go visit family, and that is where the government has failed.

They will come and they will say - I'm sure whoever's responding for the government will talk about the RIM program. The RIM program was a realignment of money, where the government said let's create a new program and try to convince Nova Scotians that we've put all this more money into transportation and all the wonderful things we're doing. Mr. Speaker, the RIM program is important and it has provided some work in Richmond County, I will acknowledge that, not as much as we'd like, but I know it's done some work, but what is the nature of the work that's been done? For the most part it's been ditching, culvert replacement, gravelling, and grading. Now that's on gravel roads. It's not on paved roads. That is important work.

There has been work done in the community of L'Ardoise, a significant amount of work. There has been a lot of work done in the communities around Loch Lomond area where there are a number of gravel roads. But we are fortunate in Richmond that we have a significant amount of paved roads. The RIM program has not addressed these roads; these roads have been left in neglect.

If I can take you, in the short amount of time I have, when one looks at the Low Road in Arichat, the High Road in Arichat, which is the main centre of commerce for Isle Madame, it is now to the point where people no longer want to walk along these roads and they won't allow their children to drive their bikes along these roads. Why? Because cars are swerving over the yellow line, they are driving on the shoulder, they are going all over the place to try to avoid the potholes, making it a very dangerous stretch of highway.

[Page 2708]

I can take you, if you continue going, to some of the smaller roads we have that we've tried to get the government to address, most of them under one kilometre or maybe a little bit more - some of them are even single lane roads, whether it be the Gros Nez Road, the Cap Rouge Road over in Alderney Point, the Samsons Cove Road and some of the side roads in Little L'Anse, I can take you when we go through the Rocky Bay Road leading from Rocky Bay to Poirierville. That road, as I've said before in this House, it is to the point now that during the summer we've asked the Minister of Transportation if he won't send us asphalt, to at least send us a lawnmower because that road is in such a condition that the grass is growing in the middle of the road due to the cracks in the pavement. That's what the residents have asked - at least if you won't send us pavement, send us a lawnmower. Is that what John Hamm promised the people of Richmond County and the people of Nova Scotia in 1999?

Mr. Speaker, if we leave the Isle Madame area and go to the community of Louisdale, Bennys Lane - again a smaller strip of road, it's not very long - it's in deplorable condition. Residents don't even want to walk along the road because of the potholes and because of the problems with the shoulder and pavement breaking; they are afraid that they will cause themselves damage. The road in Louisdale, going from the post office up to Grand Anse is another road which needs to be addressed. There are a few of the side roads there also - they're not big roads, but they should be resurfaced.

Then we go down to the community of Whiteside. This is one of the areas that stands to see tremendous growth in residential development with the continued growth of the Point Tupper Industrial Park and with the Strait area, yet that road was built many years ago, not to sustain the amount of traffic there now.

Mr. Speaker, my time is short, but if you look at the roads throughout the community of Evanston, many of you go through Cleveland - again, the roads leading up to Dundee Resort, a beautiful golf course, something we want tourists to visit, that road is in terrible condition. If you continue going around Dundee and you loop all around to Roberta, The Points, bringing you back to St. Peters, there are a number of different residential developments taking place there and the road is just not built to sustain that amount of increased residential development.

You can continue, as I said, along Route 4, and the other big road I should mention, the highway we'd like to see addressed, is Route 4 from Grand Anse to River Tillard which goes through the community of River Bourgeois. It is something that has been promised, something that the district office has said it's a number-one priority, and we hope to see that pavement taking place this summer. I know that the president of the Tory association has joked out loud about that being done. It should not be a joke, it should be a commitment. The people there have waited long enough, they paid their taxes, and they should see that.

[Page 2709]

At the end of the day, this government made a commitment, it hasn't held up to that

commitment and the people of Richmond County expect their roads to be the same status as the roads in any other Tory ridings, or anywhere else in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand tonight to address this resolution. I would like to probably advise the member across the way that I also am a rural representative and I represent one of the largest rural ridings in Nova Scotia, not the largest, but I believe the third largest. I also can tell you that we have problems with roads on the Eastern Shore as far down as Ecum Secum. We have problems with the roads in Clam Bay and we have problems with the roads in Porters Lake. We also have issues with subdivisions. We also have had problems with roads in Chezzetcook and still experience a spot here and there.

I want to tell you, the resolution reads that the province is neglecting rural roads. I should say that the resolution should read that the province is working on neglected roads of the past and I can tell you, not only being a resident, but being a life-long resident and member of the Eastern Shore, that in my time I've never experienced so much work as what's taking place now. I'm not going to stand here and list each road, but I may speak about each road as I carry on.

I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, as you're aware, $63 million was spent on highways in Nova Scotia in 1998 and 1999, $106 million in capital road and bridge projects in 2002. So there's certainly a difference there plus $159 million in operating costs. We said all of Nova Scotia, all of Nova Scotia is rural. The member across the way said that's not on rural roads. Well, I don't know, if you go out of the urban areas, what isn't rural in Nova Scotia? Richmond is very rural. You go to Hants East, it's very rural. We have certain areas that are growing, but still under the care of the province. As a matter of fact, in the riding of Eastern Shore, probably one of the few ridings that would have a mix of rural and suburban, or rural and core roads, and we would have the subdivision roads which are under the control of and maintained by the HRM and then we would have our province's roads, our rural roads looked after by the province.

But I can't tell you, Mr. Speaker, how long it has been since such improvements have been made, not only to my riding, of course I'm going to be a bit parochial, it's my responsibility to represent the people of the Eastern Shore and it's my responsibility to make sure that I work very hard in lobbying to bring pavement, but would like to talk about - maybe we will talk about the riding of Inverness, the Margaree Bridge that has been put in place down there. I want to tell you maybe we should, instead of calling it the Margaree Harbour Bridge, maybe it should be called the MacDonald bridge, I don't know, because that member worked very hard to take that $10.4 million expenditure and put it in place and it's

[Page 2710]

under construction now and we know that in the past, I don't think anybody would argue with this one, that was a very dangerous situation.

Now, we can talk about different bridges and I could jump back to the Eastern Shore and talk about the Canterbury Bridge. What a long, long, tremendous battle that I fought to bring that bridge there for the people of Chezzetcook and the Porters Lake area. Now, it's in question, has he really lobbied for that bridge? Well, I have. It's documented and I want to tell you that on my desk here, if someone will pick it up and which I will table, we have the tender that was called and the tender that was issued and, hopefully, as the tender states, by the end of May that that temporary bridge must be put in place.

I can't get over it, in 1993 a set of plans were drawn up for the Canterbury Bridge and put in by the department and all of a sudden, my gracious, I don't know what happened. The bridge never got fixed and apparently there wasn't a problem there but, oh, the old MLA for Eastern Shore was successful in winning the election in 1999, aggressively moved forward because I understood the importance of the Canterbury Bridge. I want to tell you, I have proof right here. Do you know what? When the bridge was removed, no one was responsible for the bridge, but when the tender was called, Mr. Speaker, I had never seen the likes of it, they were coming out of the woodwork, I got the bridge, I got the bridge, I got the bridge. The temporary bridge will be put in place shortly. The tender is here. It's at the East Chezzetcook base now.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I will not stand in my place and say I did not have a battle. There was an alternative route, and people could use another way around, but I want to tell you that I grabbed hold of that issue and I worked with it. I have to tell you, I have been successful for the good people of Chezzetcook and Porters Lake. There have been many issues surrounding that. I will never forget that once the tender was called, oh, the people who got that bridge, there were people making noise about that bridge. There were people, well, I told the member to do this and I told him that.

In reality, it's unbelievable. The MLA for Eastern Shore was successful in getting that bridge. Rural highways, the bridge is a part of the rural highways. The MacDonald bridge down in Inverness is a part of the rural highways, and the work that has been taking place in Richmond County is a part of the rural highways. Now, Hants East is just getting contract after contract, that's not a government riding. Some people will say, oh, the Conservative Government, they're being political, it's election time. Well, my gracious, Mr. Speaker, we are politicians.

The people on this side of the House and also the people on that side of the House are politicians. It's the business of that side of the House to lobby the department for highways, as well as it is for the people on this side of the House. I will tell you, if you're not

[Page 2711]

interested in coming to this House and lobbying for highways for your riding, you might as well stay home. As much as we're accused of trying to buy votes - buy votes, mind you - with asphalt, if we don't lobby for asphalt, it will soon defeat you. I want to tell you it's very real. That politician is doing his job and he's bringing pavement, because it's election time.

Mr. Speaker, I work each and every day for the people of the Eastern Shore. I lobby every day for pavement on the Eastern Shore, and I will lobby right up until the writ is called for the people of the Eastern Shore. That's my job. That's why they sent me here. They's why they sent me. Oh, now, where has everyone been this last four years? When the government was fighting the fiscal situation of the province, where were the people then? Well, I can say I can stand in my place, two years ago no one wanted Bill Dooks' job or the member for Eastern Shore's job, but now that things are in place, now that the government has made some tough decisions and there is some money to spend for improvements in the province, well, my gracious, everybody wants the member for Eastern Shore's job. Everyone is saying, oh, bad member, he's not doing right, he doesn't stand up for us.

Well, that's wrong. That's wrong because I want to tell you it's very important for me to continue to represent the people of the Eastern Shore and to bring them asphalt to make improvements. I know my time is short, what about the Clam Harbour Road? Four years ago, when I was first elected, the Clam Harbour Road was in such bad repair the people couldn't get to Clam Harbour Beach.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about the East Chezzetcook Road?

MR. DOOKS: The East Chezzetcook Road . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: What a history there.

MR. DOOKS: What a history there on the East Chezzetcook Road. I had a community meeting and I asked the people, there's such a cost to fix your road that maybe we could just simply pulverize it, maybe we could work with the department and bring it to a certain level and maybe we can rest on that until things in the rest of the riding can catch up to that point, and the people there were very successful.

Today, we have the East Chezzetcook Road, Highway No. 207 in Lawrencetown has been done, the Canterbury Bridge is on track, Highway No. 107 has been done. Oh, Mr. Speaker, I could go on and on, but I will tell you it didn't come simply because the minister of highways wanted to favour the MLA and give him some pavement. No, I had to work with departmental people. I did so. I had to lobby and explain the importance of each and every road. But I want to tell you, we could talk about highways forever and ever, but the point is the province is not neglecting the highways of Nova Scotia, the province is certainly starting to work, work and make a difference on the roads of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2712]

They're working on the roads that have been neglected. They're making a difference. They're paving roads so that the economy can grow and tourism can flourish. We're working and paving our way to a better way of life in Nova Scotia. I hope every MLA on both sides of the House is successful in getting pavement for their riding, because they are politicians, it is their job to lobby departmental people, it is their job to lobby the minister and if you don't want to do that, stay home. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm really glad for an opportunity to speak on this resolution. I want to tell the member for Eastern Shore that I have no problem doing my job. The people of Hants East deserve good representation. I don't think I'm the one who should be saying that they've got it, I think that will be up to them probably in a few months to make that decision.

I want to say that roads in a rural constituency are a big issue, they're a major issue. I want to say that the roads in this province all need to be fixed. This is a situation whereby previous governments - both Liberal and Tory - haven't done enough for whatever reasons, but roads have been neglected. Actually, I learned a few things travelling with my area manager, the operational supervisors that I have who work out of the Milford and Noel sheds, they're a couple of good gentlemen to work with.

The area manager actually is an excellent individual. One of the difficulties I found in my job is that this is the third area manager that I've been dealing with since 1998. In both the depots or the sheds in Noel and Milford, I think I'm on the third operational supervisor in each of those sheds, maybe the fourth. To get any kind of continuity has been very difficult. As a matter of fact, you might get one engineer to say, okay we can't do that for you this year, but we'll mark that down for next year. Well, the next year, the area manager changes. So you're right back to square one trying to make the same case; but I have been fortunate, I have not been completely shut out by this Tory Government.

In 1998, there was a road, the Route 354 or what's called the Kennetcook Woods, on their slate to be done. After that 1998 election when a New Democrat was elected in Hants East, that came off the slate by the Liberals. It didn't get done. They did continue to complete the South Rawdon Road and I really appreciated that they did that, but it wasn't until after 1999 - of course 1999 was kind of a wash because of the late date of the election, but certainly after that, 2000, I started to be able to get some roads done.

I appreciate everything that I've been able to get from the Tory Government or that the people of Hants East have been able to get, I know they appreciate it. There are real problems, I think, in the history of how we used to do roads. I'm thinking that some of the patronage has come out of road building and maintenance. I want to say that one of the things I find most frustrating is when you travel over roads that are in very bad shape and you get

[Page 2713]

the story as to the standards that were set, or the criteria that were set by the department on what they wanted done on this road in terms of the tests for the gravel, et cetera, that had to come out of the pit, then you find out that for the sake of a phone call, that contract was changed because somebody knew somebody and we all pay the price for that. The taxpayers in Hants East are paying the price for roads that were never actually built up to the standard they should have been and they deteriorate. That was probably done quite often during election time, but it wasn't done well, it wasn't done right.

I want to say that if there's one road that has frustrated me in my constituency, it has been the Barr Settlement Road. As hard as I've tried to bring that up to some kind of a decent standard, it's been very difficult. I do have a commitment to get something done this year and that commitment was given to me last year. Anyway, they're sticking by it and they are going to do some work; not enough, but a start.

Mr. Speaker, one thing our Party has asked for, and would love to see any government do, is a priority list. I find that my constituents are quite reasonable. As a matter of fact, I'm amazed at how reasonable they are. People would say to me, I wouldn't do your job for love or money, thinking that I would be abused all the time, but I find that the people I represent don't ask for more than they deserve. Sometimes I think they don't ask for as much as they deserve, but when it comes to these roads, they deserve to be treated better. When I think about, if I could go to those people and say, look, your road isn't the worst road this year, but if we can get roads A, B and C out of the way, your road will be the next road, if I could say your road will be taken care of, it will be repaved in three years or four years, people would buy that. If they knew exactly where on the list their road was going to be and they could anticipate that that road would be done by such a date and it actually would happen, that would be a great selling point for any politician, as long as the politicians could stick to it.

It costs about $100,000 to pave a kilometre of road and one thing that the government has done, and I don't know which one, whether it was under the Tories or under the Liberals, but they got rid of their pavement plant. So we have no paving plant. The province used to make its own pavement and it could deliver that and pave roads quite reasonably. Now, they always put some of that out to tender so that the private sector could make some money and the honourable member for Richmond, who mentioned the RIM money, this is another step in trying to offer more dollars to the private sector and, for me, it's only worked out to be complaints. Just about everything that has been done under the RIM money, the people on the road complained about how the work was done. They were so cut in staff that we don't have any supervisors to supervise the jobs when they're done and then the department has to go and fix them afterwards. I can't see that that actually has been a benefit to anybody.

One thing I want to mention, and that's the Glooscap Trail in my constituency. If there are any areas that I think I would recommend to the government to pay attention to, it's the tourist routes. Spend some money on the tourist routes, it will pay dividends. From

[Page 2714]

Maitland to Walton on Route 215, it's part of the Glooscap Trail, Route 215 in my constituency has four river rafting companies - Maitland heritage district, Burntcoat Head, highest tides in the world. I want to tell members of this House that the highest tides in the world are measured at Burntcoat Head in Hants East. They're not in New Brunswick and they're not in Quebec, they're in Hants East, Nova Scotia. They're not in Parrsboro. (Interruptions) Yes, they tend to drop after awhile, too.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. We were having a nice orderly debate.

The member for Hants East has the floor.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Chairman, there's also Anthony Provincial Park, the East Hants Historical Museum, Lawrence House. Actually W.D. Lawrence was an MLA in this province. He built the largest sailing vessel in Canada there, actually just outside that house. We have Walton Lighthouse, the only remaining lighthouse in Hants East, which had 12,000 visitors last year, 12,000 visitors who bumped their cars over Route 215. This is well worth the government, any government, to spend money on these tourist routes because there are lots of attractions that people would come to Nova Scotia to see and it would be to all of our benefit.

I think we can't forget what good roads in rural Nova Scotia mean because with commerce in rural Nova Scotia, the wealth of that winds up usually in Halifax one way or another, to the benefit of the province, and if there's not good access for goods to travel in this province, then you're going to curtail the economy. With those comments, I would say to members opposite and to the minister, I appreciate any help that I have been given by the government, I will pursue you for more, and for my constituents as well.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for Adjournment debate has expired.

[6:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Kevin Deveaux in the Chair.]

[7:57 p.m. CWH on Bills 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 Bills reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met, made progress and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2715]

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise, to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 2:00 p.m. The House will sit until 6:00 p.m. The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre will advise us of the business for tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Assistant to the House Leader for the New Democratic Party.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Assistant to the assistant to the assistant.

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will be calling, for Opposition Members' Business, Resolution No. 1323 and Bill No. 30.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We are adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 7:58 p.m.]

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NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1375

By: Mr. Robert Chisholm (Halifax Atlantic)

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

Whereas Pier 21 is well-known locally and nationally as the gateway to Canada for over 1 million immigrants who came during the years from 1928 to 1971; and

Whereas in 2003, Pier 21 is expanding its focus to include new exhibits and stories of people who came to this country from 1867 onward through to the present; and

Whereas this plan will add to Pier 21's success as a premier national heritage site celebrating the culture of all Canadians and bringing additional social and economic benefits to our province;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate Pier 21 and the board of directors for expanding its focus and embracing a new vision of nation-building and urge this government to commit financial support to help the Pier 21 Society expand this heritage facility.

RESOLUTION NO. 1376

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas a nurse practitioner is a professional who works with doctors to give people a full range of care, from hands-on, to counselling, to education; and

Whereas people in communities turn to their doctors, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and others for information, advice, care and referral; and

Whereas enhancing a broad range of services is an important step in improving the overall health of Nova Scotians;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the Cumberland District Health Authority for recruiting one such professional nurse practitioner to Advocate Harbour, Beverley Thomas, and extend a warm welcome and wish her much success as she prepares to provide a much-needed service to the residents of the area.

RESOLUTION NO. 1377

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 the 2003 Kentville Princess was crowned at the Kentville Fire Hall on April 24th; and

Whereas Jena McInnis will represent her community as she vies to become the 2003 Queen Annapolisa at the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival; and

Whereas on May 30th a long-standing tradition will continue with the crowning of the 2003 Queen Annapolisa at Acadia University in Wolfville;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jena McInnis on being selected the 2003 Kentville Princess and wish her much success in the forthcoming year.

RESOLUTION NO. 1378

By: Mr. Jon Carey (Kings West)

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

Whereas Berwick recently chose its Princess for 2003 at a tea held in April; and

Whereas Melanie Trinacty will compete for Queen Annapolisa during the Apple Blossom Festival and will also represent Berwick at festivals and parades throughout the year; and

Whereas Catherine Jotcham was named the 2003 Lady-in-Waiting;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the 2003 Berwick royalty, Princess Melanie Trinacty, and Lady-in-Waiting, Catherine Jotcham, and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1379

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas the Yarmouth Hospital Foundation has pledged to raise $500,000 to go to Yarmouth Regional Hospital to purchase state-of-the-art imaging equipment; and

Whereas the monetary commitment, the largest the foundation has made in over a decade, is approximately 25 per cent of the total cost of the Multi Slice CT Scanner and the Digital X-Ray and will enhance patient service at the hospital a great deal; and

Whereas the equipment Yarmouth Regional Hospital will receive should increase the speed and accuracy of x-rays and may be possible to send images by digital links anywhere they need to go;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the actions of the Yarmouth Hospital Foundation in their commitment to give financial assistance to Yarmouth Regional Hospital and further their ability to provide top-of-the-line health care to the South West Nova District Health Authority.

RESOLUTION NO. 1380

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas rural and suburban mail couriers for Canada Post are not deemed full-time employees, therefore meaning they have no rights, no benefits and are actually earning less than the minimum wage in a majority of cases because of the hours they are required to work; and

Whereas Canada Post's rural and suburban mail couriers don't even have basic collective bargaining rights because Section 13.5 of the Canada Post Corporation Act forbids it; and

Whereas the denial of bargaining rights for these rural and suburban mail couriers helps Canada Post keep the wages and working conditions of these workers at an unfair level, while it also discriminates against these workers;

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Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs consider writing to the federal minister for Canada Post and urge him to convince his Cabinet colleagues to put an end to this unfair treatment of these workers by repealing Section 13.5 of the Canada Post Corporation Act.