|TABLE OF CONTENTS||PAGE|
|COMMISSION FROM LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR||1|
|AMENDMENT OF RULES AND FORMS OF PROCEDURES:|
|Rules of the House (Amendment - Election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker)||2|
|Vote - Affirmative||4|
|ELECTION OF MR. RONALD RUSSELL AS SPEAKER, The Clerk||5|
|APPOINTMENT OF MR. DOUGLAS GILES AS ACTING SERGEANT-|
|AT-ARMS, The Premier||6|
|SPEECH FROM THE THRONE||7|
|INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:|
|An Act Respecting Oaths of Office, Hon. J. Smith||20|
|ELECTION OF MR. DONALD CHARD AS DEPUTY SPEAKER, The Clerk||20|
|ADDRESS IN REPLY TO THE SPEECH FROM THE THRONE:|
|Mr. Lawrence Montgomery - Moved||21|
|Mr. Michel Samson - Seconded||26|
|DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY:|
|Mr. R. Chisholm||33|
|STRIKING COMMITTEE - Appointment, The Premier||35|
|Dr. J. Hamm||36|
|Motion - as amended - Carried||36|
|ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., May 22nd at 11:00 a.m.||36|
[The First Session of the 57th General Assembly was opened with historic ceremony on a warm, sunny day.]
SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: All honourable members take their places.
HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Please be seated.
Members of the House of Assembly, a Commission has been issued by His Honour, the Honourable John James Kinley, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, which I shall read as follows:
"Hon. Russell MacLellan
Premier of Nova Scotia
Whereas the present General Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia was summoned to meet on Thursday, the twenty-first day of May next, then to be begun and held at Halifax, from which date the said General Assembly will meet for the dispatch of business;
And inasmuch as I cannot conveniently be present in the said Legislature until the Members who have been elected to serve in the House of Assembly have elected their Speaker;
Now therefore I have thought fit to require and command you, and do hereby require and command you, to convey and declare to the Members of the House of Assembly that I will defer declaring the causes for which I have summoned them to assemble until the House of Assembly has elected a Speaker who shall be presented in the said House for my approbation.
Given under my Hand and Seal at Arms this 21st day of May, in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and ninety-eight and in the 47th year of Her Majesty's Reign.
(Signed) John James Kinley
Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia.".
THE CLERK: Honourable members, I have the honour to table the returns of the most recent general election and to report that 52 members have taken the Oath and signed the Roll and they therefore claim the right to take their seats in this place.
THE PREMIER: Mr. Clerk, I move that the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly be amended as provided in the attached schedule, more particularly, the submission of Rule 6A and Rule 6B.
Province of Nova Scotia
Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly
1 The Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly are amended by adding immediately preceding Rule 7 the following Rules:
6A (1) After each general election and at any other time the office of Speaker is vacant, the House shall elect the Speaker before conducting any other business.
(2) The election of the Speaker shall not be interrupted by any other proceeding and, notwithstanding any other rule, no adjournment or debate is in order until the election of the Speaker is concluded.
6B The Speaker shall be elected in accordance with the following provisions:
(a) a member may nominate another member as a candidate for election as the Speaker;
(b) a member of the Executive Council, the Leader of the Opposition or the leader of a recognized party is not eligible to be a candidate;
(c) a nomination shall be made orally by the member rising in his or her place;
(d) the member nominated shall be asked if he or she accepts the nomination and, if the member accepts the nomination, the member becomes a candidate;
(e) upon there being no further nominations, the nominations shall be declared closed and no further nominations shall be made;
(f) if there is only one candidate, that member shall be declared elected as Speaker;
(g) if there is more than one candidate, an election shall be held by secret ballot;
(h) every member has a vote and no member has a casting vote;
(i) a member shall vote by printing the name of the candidate being voted for on a ballot provided by the Clerk of the House and placing the ballot in a receptacle provided for that purpose by the Clerk;
(j) when the voting is completed, the Clerk of the House shall withdraw from the House and count the ballots;
(k) the House Leader of each party may observe the counting of the ballots;
(l) upon the ballots being counted, the Clerk of the House shall announce the results in the House;
(m) if one candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, that candidate shall be declared elected;
(n) if no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, the candidate receiving the fewest votes ceases to be a candidate;
(o) if two or more candidates are tied in receiving the fewest number of votes, both candidates cease to be candidates unless there would not be at least two candidates remaining;
(p) before the commencement of the next ballot, a candidate may withdraw from the election by oral declaration by the candidate rising in his or her place;
(q) the procedure shall be repeated until one candidate receives a majority of the votes cast;
(r) upon election of the Speaker, the Clerk of the House shall destroy all the ballots.
2 Rule 11 is amended by
(a) adding "(1)" immediately after the Rule number; and
(b) adding thereto the following paragraphs:
(2) The Chairman of the Committees and Deputy Speaker shall be elected in the same manner as the Speaker.
(3) Where there is more than one Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker, their powers and duties under these Rules shall be as assigned by the Speaker.]
THE PREMIER: All members have copies and I would ask for unanimous approval and waive the reading of this amendment.
THE CLERK: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
The Rules are so amended.
THE PREMIER: Mr. Clerk, I move that Gerald Fogarty, member for the electoral district of Halifax-Bedford Basin, be nominated as the Speaker of the 57th General Assembly.
MR. CLERK: Does the honourable Leader of the Opposition have a member for nomination?
MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I do, Mr. Clerk. I move that Mr. Ronald Russell, the member for the electoral district of Hants West, be nominated as Speaker of this, the 57th General Assembly.
MR. CLERK: I call upon the honourable member for Pictou Centre. Does the honourable member have a member for nomination?
DR. JOHN HAMM: I do not.
MR. CLERK: Do any other members have a member for nomination? In that case, I declare nominations closed and the House will proceed with an election pursuant to its new Rule. It is thought appropriate that this would be the ballot box. (Laughter)
There are ballots here. I would ask that these be circulated. Initially, one to each member, if you would and bring back the ballot. Please print the name of the person that you are voting for on the ballot. Any ballot that does not contain the name of either one of the two candidates will be a spoiled ballot. Once having voted, I would request the members to perhaps file by here and deposit the ballots in here. You can see that the box is empty. (Interruption) Yes, just the name.
There is a clear winner, Mr. Russell with 33 votes, Mr. Fogarty with 19 votes. I declare Mr. Russell elected. (Applause)
MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated. Honourable members, I wish to thank all of you for electing me to the high honour of being Speaker of this Legislature. I will do my best to uphold the prestige and high position of the office, to protect the rights and privileges of all members, and to interpret the rules of the Legislature fairly and objectively. In accepting this office, I respectfully ask for your assistance and cooperation. Thank you very much.
The honourable Premier.
THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I move that Mr. Douglas Giles be appointed Acting Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Assembly.
MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor, is without.
[The Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable John James Kinley, preceded by his escort and aides and by Mr. Douglas Giles, Acting Sergeant-at-Arms, bearing the Mace, entered the House of Assembly Chamber. The Lieutenant Governor then took his seat on the Throne.
The Sergeant-at-Arms then departed and re-entered the Chamber followed by the Speaker, the Honourable Ronald Russell; the Chief Clerk of the House, Roderick MacArthur, Q.C.; and the Acting Assistant Clerk, Arthur Fordham, Q.C.
The Speaker, with the Sergeant-at-Arms on his right and the Clerks on either side, took up his position at the foot of the Speaker's Table.]
SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: It is the wish of His Honour that the ladies and gentlemen be seated.
THE PREMIER: May it please Your Honour, the House of Assembly, agreeable to Your Honour's command, has proceeded to the choice of a Speaker and has elected the Honourable Ronald Russell member for the electoral district of Hants West to that Office and by its direction I present him for the approbation of Your Honour.
THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: I approve of the Speaker whom the House of Assembly has chosen.
MR. SPEAKER: Your Honour's ready approval of the choice, with which I have been honoured by the House, having constituted me in due form the Speaker of the House of Assembly, it has now become my duty, in the name of the representatives of Her Majesty's Loyal subjects, the people of this Province, respectfully to demand all the accustomed rights and privileges, and they shall have freedom of speech in their debates, that they may be free from arrest during their attendance in Parliament, and that I, as their Speaker, may have free access to Your Honour's person.
THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: I most cheerfully grant your request.
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Mr. Speaker, Members of the Legislative Assembly, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen, Nova Scotians:
Welcome to the First Session of this, the Fifty-Seventh General Assembly. Members of this House bear the awesome responsibility, and enjoy the great privilege, of representing their fellow citizens. That has been so since Nova Scotians' representatives began gathering in this place 179 years ago. It is said that more history has been written within these walls than in all other Canadian legislatures combined. Members assembled here today will, in the days and years ahead, add their chapters and determine the course our province takes into a new century.
Justice and compassion are among those values cherished by Nova Scotians. Great public service also demands accountability, integrity, and vision. No finer example of those qualities can be found in Nova Scotia today than in the person of our Chief Justice, Lorne Clarke. After 17 years on the bench, and 13 years as Chief Justice, Mr. Clarke has announced his retirement. While achieving great deeds, Mr. Justice Clarke never lost that special quality that in simpler times was called the common touch. It is no coincidence that, during the past 13 years, Nova Scotians' faith in their justice system has been restored. We will long celebrate, and always be grateful for the leadership, the wisdom, and the foresight of Mr. Justice Lorne Clarke.
On March 24th Nova Scotians voted for good government. The people saw elements of good government across the political spectrum, and divided membership in this House accordingly. The challenges before members of this Assembly are many and great. But the first is to reach across traditional partisan lines and honour the pledge of good government made by all members to those they now represent.
Beginning today, and in the days ahead, my government will offer a resolute direction to take Nova Scotia forward to the full promise of a better future. That future begins with our children. This year and in the years to follow, the government will invest in that future with an unprecedented new commitment to public education. Education is one vital cornerstone of a child's future. Family, community, and opportunity complete the solid structure for success. Therein lies the course my government has set. The province is determined that all our children will have the best chance for a bright future. That means a first-rate public school system. It also means community and public support for families in need and public policy that helps strengthen communities across Nova Scotia.
Education: The Foundation
This year, the government will dramatically increase its investment in public schools and, at the same time, cushion the impact on local governments. A full 90 per cent of the increased investment in education will come from the province. That is consistent with the 90-10 split municipalities have been seeking. For two subsequent years, the government is committed to further increases in provincial education funding. Again, in those years, 90 per cent of new funding will be provincial funding.
When the school bell rings in communities across Nova Scotia, it signals something important is about to happen. Children want to learn. Teachers want to teach. And parents want a school system that grounds their children in the basics and launches them to the height of their full potential. The increased investment in public schools will go where it's needed most - to the classroom. Parents and educators have been asking for the resources to put our children's future first. Their appeal has been heard. We are building public school education.
In September 1998, Nova Scotians will begin to see smaller classes. A four-year plan to cut class size will take hold.
School boards will receive the additional resources they need for more teachers and teachers' aides; more textbooks and technology; and increased opportunities for professional development to bring programs to life.
We must help all of our children to get off on the right foot, from the first day of school. Teachers like Janet Bauer-Veitch from the Strait region are why Nova Scotia leads the country in implementing Reading Recovery. Ms. Bauer-Veitch is one of 118 specially trained teachers who work with more than 1,000 grade one students to lift their reading skills. Janet Bauer-Veitch and teachers like her all over Nova Scotia ensure these children experience real success and don't fall further behind. More teachers will soon join in this vital effort.
Our schools play an important role beyond the classroom walls. They can help break down barriers in our society. Good schools recognize the mistakes of the past when, for many, opportunities were denied; when minority culture and identity were discouraged and eroded.
Last week at St. Francis Xavier University educators and community leaders held a conference on Mi'kmaq language. They are setting an example - working to preserve something precious and important. We can do no less. Our schools now have courses in African Nova Scotian literature and other programs that promote cultural awareness and understanding. There will be new family literacy programs to supplement classroom learning for school-aged children in African Nova Scotian communities. More scholarships in medicine, engineering, and teaching will be available to African Nova Scotians. And, in our
high schools, Mi'kmaq guidance and education counsellors will reach out to aboriginal students.
Our schools themselves are in dire need of attention. The buildings are aging. Many fast-growing communities need new schools. Working with communities, parents, school boards, and private partners, my government will see more than 30 new schools constructed. The first of these schools, those deemed most urgently required by school boards and the province, will be ready for the start of the 1999 school year.
An intense effort is under way, and the first sounds of this construction boom will soon be heard. Numerous, high-quality, competitive bids on six regional bundles of schools are undergoing the final stages of evaluation. These modern new schools will reflect the technology-rich world in which we live.
The government will also invest in existing schools. Over the next three years, more than 60 more schools will be renovated so students and teachers can learn and work in better-equipped, more welcoming surroundings.
The government's commitment to education does not end with public schools. Nova Scotia has a long and proud tradition of offering the finest post-secondary opportunities in the world. At 11 degree-granting institutions this tradition is alive and well. Just as our public school system must provide every child with every opportunity to reach his or her potential, our university doors must be open to all with the intellectual capacity to enter.
Our universities must remain affordable. Academic standing, not financial limitation, can be the only barrier to post-secondary educational success. Beginning this year, the government will increase Nova Scotia's public investment in our universities. That investment will continue to increase over each of the next three years. The government expects that increased public support will help our universities limit, or eliminate, increases in student tuition fees.
Nova Scotia's community colleges are writing a success story and building a fine tradition in their own right. In 1997, approximately three out of four community college graduates - more than ever before - found jobs within a year of graduation. Community college programs, tied to today's labour market, will expand, providing on-time training in emerging industries, from offshore resource development, to information technology, to aquaculture.
Opportunity: Growing with Nova Scotia
Education is the foundation. Opportunity for success is what will keep Nova Scotia's best and brightest here at home, building the kind of province we all know Nova Scotia can be.
Our young people are this province's great asset. Every day we hear of young Nova Scotians shaping their own future. They are starting businesses, winning awards for innovative technology, and selling new products around the world. We know, given the opportunity, young Nova Scotians will achieve great things.
Yet statistics tell a sad story. Unemployment among young people is stubbornly high across the country, and Nova Scotia is no exception. It is the cruel paradox of the best-educated generation in history. Lack of on-the-job experience is often the major impediment to a new graduate finding that first job. My government will take the lead and send a strong signal that it is time to end this counterproductive Catch-22. In consultation with public-sector unions, the government will develop a hiring plan that gives bright young Nova Scotians a fair chance at public-sector jobs. Our goal will be to open one in four posted positions in government to entry-level employees - no direct work experience required. We invite the province's private-sector employers to follow our lead and find innovative ways to open their doors and their jobs to bright, energetic young Nova Scotians.
In addition, the government will initiate a new program called "Civil Service Career Start." This program will offer short and long-term internships in the public service for summer students and recent graduates.
Families: Care and Support
Our future as a province begins and ends with our children. Our first responsibility is to them. The National Council on Welfare recently reported that about 20 per cent of Canadian children live in poverty. That is a national disgrace.
Surely there is no greater anguish than that of impoverished parents who must deny their child those things that others take for granted. As a society, it is past time we took as our creed that every Canadian child will have the opportunity to make the most of his or her life. Finally, Canada has begun to put that tenet into action.
The National Child Benefit program will be in effect in Nova Scotia in July. This initiative is designed to provide extra support to low-income, working families by providing an income benefit for each child. In addition, this province will introduce the Nova Scotia Child Benefit later this year, which will provide assistance to all low-income families with children.
Nova Scotia is also committed to reinvesting some of the National Child Benefit fund in a series of Healthy Child Development initiatives. This is just the beginning of a longer-term strategy to address child poverty in Nova Scotia.
Studies show that a child's ability to learn, and to socialize, is shaped before she or he reaches the schoolhouse door. By providing families with the tools they need to better care for their children in the early years, we can help every child make the most of his or her life.
As a province we will act now. Government will bring together the community - educators, health care experts, parents, and others - to plan, advise, and recommend action that will advance and promote the well-being of our children. The government is developing a framework for action on children's issues.
My government is proposing, through the Office of the Ombudsman, to create a visible and objective presence to act on behalf of, and in response to, children in provincial care. The children's ombudsman will provide an independent voice and ensure the rights of these children are protected.
My government will work with housing authorities across Nova Scotia to create a summer recreation and employment program for children who live in public housing.
Families in crisis will receive more support. New resources will be available to provide home visiting and parenting education for young families. A child nutrition strategy is being developed.
Increased funding for child protection and a two-year plan to reduce the caseload of child protection workers will be put in place. New regional treatment and placement options will be provided for children who require special residential care.
Obviously, Nova Scotians care about their own children, families, and communities. It is a mark of our generosity, character, and values that we also care about our neighbours' children. My government shares those values and will work hard to bring them to life in public policy.
The government is committed to fair and equitable social assistance. Nova Scotians want a seamless system of support that can help lift families in need back into the economic mainstream. That will be the goal of ongoing improvements in our social safety net.
When Nova Scotia assumed full responsibility for administering social assistance earlier this year, a full 70 per cent of former municipal assistance clients received an increase in support.
Social assistance is complex. My government has been consulting with municipalities, clients, staff, and community groups on how our social services should evolve for the 21st Century. This consultation process will be expanded in the coming months, and we are releasing a paper that outlines key issues.
My government and local governments across Nova Scotia are working together to more clearly define the relative roles and responsibilities of each. The anticipated successful conclusion of that effort will see the province assume full social assistance costs. The much-anticipated goal of single-tier social assistance will be realized. As a result, local governments will retain more resources for local services.
Indeed, the provincial government's commitment to children and families signals the end to so-called down-loading on municipal governments. A new, more cooperative and productive relationship between the province and local governments is quickly emerging.
Support for families must always include a special commitment to the elderly. We have a debt to those Nova Scotians who built the communities we enjoy today. In addition, we must begin now to plan for the changing demographics of an aging population.
1999 is the International Year of the Older Person. My government will convene a conference with the Senior Citizens' Secretariat and interested community groups to discuss services and housing needs for seniors.
My government believes there is and must be a place for everyone in Nova Scotia. We must break down the barriers that keep too many on the margins of society.
In pursuit of that goal, the government will increase funding and harmonize financing for the province's women's centres, which provide a range of services including emergency shelter and workplace training.
The province, with the federal government, is committed to improving services for people with disabilities. These services will include employment counselling, training supports, and funding for workplace aids.
The government will work with the Halifax Regional Municipality and community groups to address abysmal conditions in local rooming houses.
Opportunity: Jobs and Growth
Even as we improve our supports for families in need, we cannot lose sight of the truth that gave rise to the cliché: the best social program is a job.
Job creation remains a top priority of government. My government is dedicated to working with people, with communities, and with the private sector to build a more prosperous, full-employment economy. The ultimate goal is a job for every Nova Scotian who wants to work.
Nova Scotia is making great strides. For the first time in our history more than 400,000 Nova Scotians are working. Our job creation record is the envy of many other provinces.
Leading economic forecasters expect big things for Nova Scotia. The Bank of Montreal predicts the province's economy will grow 3.5 per cent this year, pushing unemployment down to 10.8 per cent. The bank's chief economist notes that the ingredients are in place for Nova Scotia's best economic performance in more than a decade.
But there remain pockets of Nova Scotia, including industrial Cape Breton, where unemployment remains far too high. New investment and job opportunities must be spread across the province.
More can, and will, be done to stimulate job growth. My government will work to ensure trained workers are available for business expansion by providing funds for tailored, just-in-time training. Training incentive programs to encourage businesses to invest in their workers are being developed. Other initiatives will encourage firms to hire new graduates.
The government has set its sights high. Each year we hope to help at least 500 Nova Scotia businesses expand and hire new employees.
For the first time in living memory, Nova Scotians are in a position to set their own economic course. Our growing economy is moving us toward true economic self-sufficiency. Nova Scotians can take pride in their collective accomplishments.
Education and initiative are taking us there. Our trade in goods and knowledge is growing. And now, we can add to our strong economic mix an added bonus. Offshore resource development.
Businesses and industry in every corner of Nova Scotia are seizing this new opportunity and bringing home the benefits. Already the value of direct involvement by Nova Scotian workers and industries is approaching $390 million. And we are in the very early stages of developing just the first offshore field.
My government understands its role well. The province will jealously protect the interests of Nova Scotians. The benefits from offshore energy will accrue, first and most, to Nova Scotians.
Without development, however, there will be no benefits. The government will introduce a generic royalty regime that will capitalize on the unprecedented interest in Nova Scotia's offshore. It will be a flexible, multi-tiered approach that will encourage both exploration and development, while ensuring Nova Scotians receive maximum benefits. The generic royalty regime will be announced shortly.
Offshore development is a long-awaited and most welcome economic boost. But opportunities in other sectors of our economy are every bit as exciting.
Our location between the two great economic powers in the world - Europe and the United States - positions us perfectly to retake our historic place as a great trader. Nova Scotians are now selling more goods and services outside our province than ever before.
My government will help more of our businesses develop products and services for world markets and help them find customers. Our goal is to secure a billion dollars of increased export sales.
Nova Scotia must continue to build on other traditional successes. This province continues to be a major force in the global seafood trade. Our seafood exports have grown to record sales. Nova Scotia's boatbuilding industry is stepping into a new era of growth. The province and the federal government recently signed an economic agreement that will help Nova Scotia boatbuilders diversify and capitalize on the lucrative world market for ocean vessels.
Another exciting economic development is the rapid growth in our tourism industry. Last year, this vital sector became a billion dollar industry.
Our heritage and our culture are major attractions, promoted at the 25 sites of the Nova Scotia Museum. This year, for example, Nova Scotians and visitors alike will learn more about Nova Scotia's industrial heritage through new programming at the Nova Scotia Museum of Industry in Stellarton. The tragedies and traditions of our marine heritage unfold in an expanded Titanic exhibit at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
In Pictou our heritage will come alive with celebrations in September to mark the 225th anniversary of the arrival of the ship Hector. Many Nova Scotians of Scottish origin trace their ancestors back to the 179 souls who sailed into Pictou Harbour on September 15, 1773.
Working with the tourism industry, the government is determined to attract more out-of-province visitors and increase the length of their stay. A government-industry Tourism Partnership Council was recently created to maximize the effective use of resources in attracting visitors. This new council is an excellent example of how government and industry can cooperate to grow the economy.
The Port of Halifax is again at the economic heart of our province. Over the past two years, we have seen port traffic return to pre-recession levels. There are more jobs, not only on the Halifax waterfront, but in transporting goods across the region. The port provides an economic base worth nearly $1 billion, and as our exports grow, so too does the importance of this vital link. My government will continue its efforts to attract investment and business to the port.
Access to capital is critical to enable Nova Scotia business to take full advantage of the economic opportunities available in this province. This is particularly true for small businesses which frequently experience great difficulty in accessing traditional forms of financing. The government will implement a junior capital pool program similar to, and in conjunction with, the Alberta Stock Exchange. These new sources of capital will enable the business community to finance the growth initiatives that will contribute to the province's economic prosperity and job creation.
However, it is important that these new initiatives in capital formation are not implemented at the expense of the investing public. The government will not sacrifice investor protection and will ensure that the Nova Scotia Securities Commission has the resources necessary to protect the investing public by implementing a self-funding regime for the commission.
Communities: A Source of Strength
The economic heart of Nova Scotia lies in her cities. Our soul comes from our communities. That's where we find story-telling that builds our film industry, the music that is selling to the world, the tradition of hard work and the values that shape us to this day. Small towns and country villages have more lessons to teach about self-sufficiency and about seizing opportunity.
The small community of St Joseph du Moine is one of three places in North America making traditional masks for Acadian celebrations. Local students developed a publicly funded website to explain this Acadian custom and sell the unique masks to retailers in Halifax and markets in the United States.
These young Cape Breton entrepreneurs are not alone. In the past three years a community-access program has led to the establishment of 109 public Internet sites across small town and rural Nova Scotia.
In 1998 this program will be expanded. One hundred young people will be employed to help small businesses and others gain access to the Net.
And that is just a taste of what's to come. My government and the federal government are about to launch the biggest coordinated investment of public dollars in computer and information technology in Nova Scotia's history. This initiative promises to put more computers into public schools and libraries, connect universities with enhanced, high-speed data links, and support economic and social development in "smart communities" throughout Nova Scotia.
Public libraries are another vital asset. In a recent survey, 98 per cent of Nova Scotians described public libraries as essential or important. Over the next three years, government will increase funding for public libraries.
Nova Scotians living away from our urban centres deserve reasonable access to public services. Access Nova Scotia Centres host a wide range of transactions between Nova Scotians and their government. The government's goal is to continue to expand these centres. Within four years, an Access Centre will be located within a 30-minute drive of 90 per cent of the population. In 1998-99, centres are planned for Sydney, Yarmouth, and Antigonish.
Strong communities are safe communities. My government is determined that Nova Scotia will continue to be the kind of place where people can feel secure walking the streets of their neighbourhoods, day or night. To further that goal the government will implement a comprehensive crime prevention strategy, with a focus on early intervention and community involvement.
We will target young offenders with an emphasis on early intervention. We also believe that victims deserve a voice in the criminal justice system. We will put in place a process that allows their voices to be heard. My government will move toward a restorative justice process, where offenders take responsibility for their actions, and take action to repair the harm they have done.
The rights of individuals and the rights of communities are sometimes a difficult balancing act. The government is developing a new, innovative protocol for dealing with high-risk offenders after their release back into the community. My government believes citizens have a right to know when a high-risk or dangerous offender moves into their community. We will put in place a protocol that assists police in making decisions about warning residents, and involves the community in the process. Supports will also be available to the offender. The protocol will ensure Nova Scotians have the information they need to protect themselves, their children, and their neighbourhoods.
The government will also take action to provide greater protection for women who face the risk of domestic violence or stalking.
Health Care: Families and Communities
No public service is more important to Nova Scotians than their health care system. Universally accessible, high-quality care for every Nova Scotian, at no direct cost to the user, is assured. Dramatic changes in health care are behind us. It's time to build stability and sustainability in a system cherished above all others.
My government recognizes that Nova Scotians are concerned about access to doctors and other health services. Significant new investments are already going toward more doctors, specialists, surgeons, and technicians as well as to new equipment to detect and treat illness.
While other jurisdictions continue to suffer a doctor exodus, Nova Scotia is turning the tide and attracting qualified physicians to under-served communities. In the past 12 months, approximately 100 new family doctors and specialists have come to Nova Scotia.
Doctors, like Steve Spiess of Bedford, are coming home. A few years ago, Dr. Spiess, a family physician and graduate of Dalhousie Medical School, moved his family to Mississippi. Today, he is back, and others are joining him. "There's no place like home," said Dr. Spiess. "The quality of life is much better in Nova Scotia and I have better control of patient care."
For years Nova Scotia has had unacceptably high rates of cancer. An agreement has been reached between the government, the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, and Dalhousie University Medical School so that a Commissioner for Cancer Care Nova Scotia will soon be appointed.
More help is on the way for problem gamblers. Five more clinical therapists will be added across the province to combat alcohol, drug, and gambling addiction. They will complement existing staff and the excellent work done by groups such as the Compulsive and Problem Gamblers Society.
Quality health care is essential for healthy communities. Health care services must be available and accessible in all parts of the province. For that reason many new initiatives have focused on rural areas.
Last year, my government announced the Nova Scotia TeleHealth Network, the first of its kind in Canada. The TeleHealth Network is operating in eastern Nova Scotia, using state-of-the-art computers to link hospitals and transmit medical data, video images, and audio.
The family of 12-year-old Holly Smith of Neil's Harbour knows first-hand the benefits of the TeleHealth Network. Holly hurt her neck in gym class last month and was taken to Buchanan Memorial Hospital for an X-ray. Rather than transfer her by ambulance to St. Martha's Hospital in Antigonish, her doctor used the Nova Scotia TeleHealth Network. The
radiologist at St. Martha's examined Holly's X-rays and determined the injuries weren't serious. Thanks to TeleHealth, Holly got the care she needed, in her own community, and her parents, David and Wanda Smith, had their daughter home in her own bed that night.
This year the network will stretch across Nova Scotia, bringing the same health care benefits to all Nova Scotians.
For years many nurses in Nova Scotia were clinically trained at hospital nursing schools like the Victoria General in Halifax and the Aberdeen in New Glasgow. Today, all nurses are university trained. Both educational options have produced excellent nurses.
In order to train more nurses, the province will re-examine nurses training, with an eye to reinstituting hospital nursing schools. The university training option will, of course, be retained. The government will open discussions with the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, the government employees union, the health care community, universities, and other interested stakeholders. We believe we can provide more, excellent nurses to meet Nova Scotia's health care needs, and provide more career options to young Nova Scotians, by offering both university and hospital-based nurses training.
Accountability: Public Finances
My government is committed, in every way possible, to improving public accountability for spending taxpayers' money. We will be releasing details of a plan to significantly improve our accounting policies.
We also want to improve the process by which the accounts of the province are audited. At present Nova Scotia uses the services of an external auditor to determine whether the accounts are presented properly. This critical function is performed by a firm that carries out the same responsibilities for tens of thousands of firms around the world. When they advise the province on better methods to account for spending or control costs, they are able to draw on a huge pool of experience. They are also able to effectively and efficiently concentrate resources for the few months required at the end of our financial year, then move on to other clients.
Nevertheless, the Auditor General for Nova Scotia has expressed concern about the current reporting relationship for the external auditor. At present, the external audit report is addressed to the Minister of Finance, rather than this assembly. Accordingly, my government will ask the Public Accounts Committee of this House to draw up a process by which that committee may select the public accounting firm to do the audit and receive the report.
In this manner, Nova Scotians will continue to benefit from the views of two auditors: an external auditor who carries out the detailed audit for the Provincial Financial Statements under the direction of this assembly and the Auditor General, who is completely free to target his efforts to areas of potential public concern.
Conclusion: A Clean Direction
The government will bring forward legislation, including an act to protect 31 places in Nova Scotia that reflect and represent our diverse and majestic natural heritage.
Members will be asked to reassert this province's commitment to a united Canada through support for a resolution affirming the Calgary Declaration.
Governing is all about setting priorities and making choices. Nova Scotia is on solid ground financially, and every member of this House has, by party affiliation, made a commitment to maintain that position. The government will bring down a balanced budget.
The government has established its priorities and made choices. Increased investment in health care and public education may result in the delay of other, laudable initiatives. The government's proposals to fund public programs will be placed before this House. Today, the government is articulating a direction. The budget will set the financial parameters.
The government's priorities are clear. Young Nova Scotians will have every chance to reach their full potential. Families in need will be supported. Vibrant communities will continue to define Nova Scotia. Economic opportunities will continue to grow.
On this course, Nova Scotia can sail into the new century as a more confident, prosperous and self-reliant province.
God Save the Queen;
God Bless Canada;
God Bless Nova Scotia.
[The Speaker and Clerks left the Chamber.
The Lieutenant Governor left the Chamber preceded by his escorts and the Sergeant-at-Arms.
Mr. Speaker took the Chair.]
MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.
The honourable Minister of Justice.
HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a bill entitled An Act Respecting Oaths of Office.
MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read a second time on a future day.
The next order of business is the appointment of a Deputy Speaker. I welcome nominations.
The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.
DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I move that Donald Chard, member for the electoral district of Dartmouth South, be nominated Deputy Speaker of the 57th General Assembly.
MR. SPEAKER: Are there any further nominations?
The honourable Premier.
THE PREMIER: I would like to nominate Gerald Fogarty, member for the electoral district of Halifax Bedford Basin.
MR. SPEAKER: Are there any further nominations? Are there any further nominations? Are there any further nominations?
The Clerk will conduct an electoral process.
Have all the members cast their ballots? Can I have the House Leaders at the table to scrutinize the count?
THE CLERK: Mr. Speaker, there is a clear winner. The votes for Mr. Chard, 32. The votes for Mr. Fogarty, 19.
MR. SPEAKER: I declare Mr. Donald Chard, the honourable member for Dartmouth South, to be the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly. (Applause)
Honourable members, His Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to make a speech to the members met in General Assembly, of which speech, for greater certainty and greater accuracy, I have a copy which I will now ask the Chief Clerk to read.
The honourable Premier.
THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to move that the Speech from the Throne be taken as read and that the motion be put in that effect.
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.
The honourable member for Annapolis. (Applause)
MR. LAWRENCE MONTGOMERY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On behalf of the people of Annapolis County, it is a great honour for me to stand before you, Lieutenant Governor Kinley, honourable members and all the invited guests to Nova Scotia's historic Legislature to move the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.
This is my first time speaking before such a distinguished Assembly and, Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by extending my compliments to Their Honours, Lieutenant Governor James Kinley and Mrs. Kinley.
The Speech from the Throne is the important first look at this government's agenda for the future of Nova Scotia. And our Lieutenant Governor's loyal dedication to the service of Her Majesty and the people of Nova Scotia has once again been demonstrated by his capable presentation of the Throne Speech.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy today, as well, to have this opportunity to extend my appreciation to my wife, Paula, our three children, and all our family and friends who have shown overwhelming support to me since my decision to participate in the recent provincial election. To them and the people of Annapolis I owe a debt of gratitude for a successful campaign. I am proud to carry out my duties with the good people of Annapolis foremost in my mind.
Representing the people of a riding here in Nova Scotia's House of Assembly is a true honour. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that the former MLA for Annapolis, Earle Rayfuse, carried out his responsibilities with all the distinction of a true gentleman. (Applause) Earle Rayfuse was elected in 1988 and again in 1993 and served two terms in the Legislative Assembly. He was very active in community events. Earle is remembered as a very kind and generous man who worked very hard for the people of his constituency. Earle, you are sadly missed here today.
Mr. Speaker, through you to our Opposition Leaders Robert Chisholm and John Hamm, and to all the members of this House who have recently earned the trust of the electorate, I extend my compliments. I look forward to working with you all in the responsible governing of this province.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to affirm my endorsement of our Premier, Russell MacLellan, and the Liberal Government of Nova Scotia. (Applause) I am proud to be part of a government led by Premier MacLellan. A Leader who offers Nova Scotians a future of opportunity and prosperity, a Leader who cares about people.
That is why I would like to begin my Address in Reply by recognizing the people of the riding of Annapolis. Traditionally, we are proud people who have earned a living from the resources of the land and the sea. In more recent years, we have also prospered from tourism related businesses as well as several other business ventures. Through good times as well as difficult times, we celebrate the unique lifestyle that only the beautiful Annapolis Valley has to offer. Although all the residents of the riding of Annapolis play a significant role, I have the honour of mentioning one prominent citizen.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to acknowledge that an Annapolis County man, James Brennan, was chosen as one of only 17 people throughout Canada and the United States to receive a medal for extraordinary heroism from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. In May 1996, Mr. Brennan, with little regard for his own safety, swam to the rescue of Tim Prall, struggling in the frigid waters of Rumsey Lake, Annapolis County.
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to mention that I had recently attended a flag raising ceremony in Middleton, where we recognized the volunteers of that community. I would like to extend special congratulations to all volunteers of Annapolis County. Volunteers across this province play a significant role in our communities by assisting people in their everyday lives.
Mr. Speaker, the fishery remains one of the prime industries in the riding of Annapolis. This fishing industry has supported our coastal communities for hundreds of years, and according to the 1997 fisheries statistics, Nova Scotia is the dominant player in the Maritime fishing industry. Their figures show Nova Scotia accounted for $480 million of the $728.3 million in landed value of commercially caught fish in the region.
In the past, because of the downturn in the fishery, it is sad to note that a number of fish plants have been adversely affected and owners of fishing boats have found it very difficult to make a living.
Today, we are even more aware that these coastal resources should be protected to ensure a future for the families in these communities.
Mr. Speaker, diversification of this industry has helped many people continue in the fishing industry, especially when cyclic downturns are experienced. One such example of diversification, I am proud to boast of, occurred in Delap's Cove where fish plant operators constructed smoke houses and machine shop activities to support this coastal community in the off-season.
Mr. Speaker, again, I am pleased to report that the lobster industry in the riding of Annapolis is alive and well. The recent Department of Fisheries statistics also showed that the most valuable catch for Maritime fishermen remains lobster at $346.3 million. These are just some of the many reasons that people of our coastal communities look forward to even more support for our inshore fishery from both the provincial and federal governments.
Mr. Speaker, aquaculture is a major focus in the industry at this particular time. Just this past week, it was announced by the Honourable Keith Colwell, Minister of Fisheries, of an experimental license for European oysters in the Annapolis Basin. I, along with the people associated with this business venture are, of course, delighted with this announcement.
In agriculture, Mr. Speaker, the farming producers of our province are the foundation of our history and tradition. Farmers are recognized as crucial to our economy as producers and consumers. They create employment, both full time and seasonal work.
Mr. Speaker, farmers have high risks, therefore what percentage of the cost from products is proportionally fair? Statistics Canada shows that the retail price for products is four or five times greater than the farmgate price. Despite this, agriculture annually injects hundreds of millions of dollars into the Nova Scotia economy. It is incumbent upon our government to encourage the promotion and marketing of Nova Scotia products.
In the Annapolis riding, our farming producers are faced with the possible closure of a grain facility in Middleton. I have been assured by our Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Edward Lorraine, that options are still open to assist the local producers of western Nova Scotia in this regard.
Mr. Speaker, many producers have indicated that they are pleased that the Minister of Agriculture has the quality background as a farming producer. I applaud the positive working relationship that is being developed with our farmers and the Department of Agriculture.
In transportation, Mr. Speaker, in the Annapolis riding many roads require upgrading. A priorized list of these roads and work will be approved based on the level of condition of each road. I have every confidence that the Honourable Clifford Huskilson, Minister of Transportation and Public Works, will follow through with support for improving the roads of this riding.
Mr. Speaker, in economic development, the Cornwallis Park Development Agency, in cooperation with the Shaw Group and the provincial government, has created a manufacturing plant that will build ready-to-assemble furniture for Ikea. This plant is to start operations this fall and will generate employment and economic activity throughout the Annapolis Valley. This means 125 new, permanent, full-time jobs and twice as many indirect jobs for the local area. Once again, the government is proving the opportunity for investment and job creation from the private sector.
Mr. Speaker, there is optimism in the air, as Nova Scotians realize the benefits of being financially stable and they see a brighter future. This is why investment growth in Nova Scotia is the best in the country.
Mr. Speaker, I am always proud to boast the accomplishments of this government in our health care system. For example, this Liberal Government continues to address the issues of waiting times and waiting lists across this province. Recently, a comprehensive report by the Department of Health statisticians found most waiting times are either the same or shorter than previously experienced in Nova Scotia. However, for those services in highest demand, specialists and special equipment are being put into place.
It is unfortunate, though, that some rural communities with a limited population base find it difficult to attract specialists because of the fee-for-service funding arrangement. But I am pleased to report that this government is working diligently with the Medical Society on alternate funding arrangements that would support specialists in regional hospitals like our Valley Regional. And with new specialists comes new equipment, such as MRI units, additional mobile mammogram units, CT scan units and new dialysis machines, all of which will provide enhanced services for Nova Scotians wherever they live.
Also, Mr. Speaker, there has been unprecedented support by this government for our comprehensive Home Care Program in this province available for all Nova Scotians. The Department of Health is now working with the long-term care sector to address the allocation of long-term care beds in a responsible manner, that responds to the areas of greatest need across this province. This will be welcome news because the long-term patients, now in hospitals, can be more appropriately cared for in a nursing home or home for special care.
Mr. Speaker, I recently had the honour of representing the province and the Health Minister, the Honourable James Smith, at the Maritime Centre of Excellence for Women's Health. As many of you know, the centre held a news conference to acknowledge an anonymous donation of over $0.5 million, to officially launch 17 research projects and five related projects that focus on the factors that influence women's health. This generous gift will go a long way in policy-directed research, on the social factors that influence women's health, as well as improving the Canadian Health Care system to better meet the health care needs of women.
It was a pleasure to acknowledge the outstanding research work being done at this centre, especially research relating to women in rural communities. One such study titled, Care Givers Research Project, will generate practical knowledge about formal and informal information systems, services and social supports, reflecting women's care-giving experiences in rural Nova Scotia communities.
It is obvious that the federal government recognizes the centre's serious commitment to enhancing the quality of life for women in the Maritimes. I would expect the federal government will continue to support funding for individuals, organizations and groups interested in working on women's health-related research projects.
In education, Mr. Speaker, our government is prepared to commit itself to improving the quality of education in Nova Scotia. Teachers of this province have recently been granted an increase in salary through negotiations with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the Minister of Education, the Honourable Robert Harrison, and his staff. In my opinion, it was through the leadership skills of our Minister of Education that the process of negotiation worked to achieve satisfactory results for all.
Mr. Speaker, school boards across this province have also been made aware of the planning and genuine concern of the Minister of Education, Mr. Harrison, as he works with the people on these school boards to produce better results for our young people, the students.
Mr. Speaker, the increased funding for construction and renovation of schools throughout Nova Scotia is truly coming at a time when they are most needed. This has come about under this government's agenda. (Applause)
Mr. Speaker, this government also recognizes the crisis in tuition fees for college students. This government is prepared to work with the Nova Scotia Council on Higher Education and address funding levels and distribute monies appropriately among universities.
Mr. Speaker, in the Annapolis constituency, the people of Annapolis Royal, Granville Ferry and Parker's Cove are delighted that their new school is finally to be constructed. As many are aware, these communities united in an agreement to consolidate and plan for a new school in 1983. Now, under a Liberal Government, it is about to come true. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of this year, 1998.
Mr. Speaker, the announcement also has been made to upgrade and renovate the Bridgetown Regional Elementary School. The people of the Bridgetown community are most pleased to look forward to this renovation. This will include an upgraded heating plant, wiring, rooms for French and music, a cafeteria and a gymnasium. The Liberal Government
has, once again, shown foresight by providing the opportunity for an expanded and complete program for the elementary students of the Bridgetown community.
Mr. Speaker, the Annapolis East Elementary School in Middleton is a quality building structurally but does have overcrowding conditions. I know that our government will explore every option in an effort to correct this situation in the near future.
Mr. Speaker, as we look at the overall picture of the Speech from the Throne, it is clear that the Nova Scotia Government will continue to secure a sound economic foundation, while at the same time improve social programs. I am, therefore, deeply honoured and confident in moving that the Speech from the Throne do pass as read by the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia.
Mr. Speaker, may it please His Honour Lieutenant Governor James Kinley, that we, Her Majesty's cheerful and loyal subjects, in this House of Assembly for the Province of Nova Scotia, during this First Session of the 57th General Assembly, assure Your Honour of our loyal support and affection.
May God bless you and keep you well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.
MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Lieutenant Governor James Kinley, Mrs. Kinley, honourable members of this House of Assembly and invited guests, I proudly rise today to second the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. On behalf of the good people of Richmond, for whom it is my distinct privilege of representing, I bring warmest greetings.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to begin my address by expressing my sincere gratitude to Lieutenant Governor James Kinley for his well-delivered presentation of our government's intentions on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia. To both Their Honours, the Lieutenant Governor and Mrs. Kinley, I pledge my support for their loyal service to Her Majesty and to the people of Nova Scotia.
Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of pride to see members on both sides of this House returning to this historic Chamber, as together we focus on the concerns and the needs of Nova Scotians. I am most especially happy to extend a warm welcome to the newest members of this Assembly. Of course, to my fellow newly-elected caucus colleagues, I applaud your campaign victories. The constituents of these ridings have rewarded you with the high honour of representing their interests to this Assembly. To each of you, I extend my best wishes for every success as you work on behalf of your deserving constituents and for the prosperity of our entire province.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to extend to you my sincere gratitude and faithful support. I know you will carry out your duties, while holding sacred Nova Scotia's parliamentary traditions.
Through you, Mr. Speaker, to Premier MacLellan, I am truly delighted to extend my sincere congratulations. Our Premier continues to have enthusiastic support from the members of our Party, as well as the endorsement of Nova Scotians as the Leader of the dominant political force in Nova Scotia. (Applause) Premier MacLellan is a man who respects the past and looks to the future with confidence in Nova Scotians' abilities.
As the representative for Richmond, it is a pleasure for me to be part of the MacLellan Government, especially as we collaborate in the creation of a prosperous future for the residents of Richmond and ultimately the Province of Nova Scotia. As a newly elected member, I am very humbled to say thank you to the constituents of Richmond for the support they have shown me and our government.
As indicated throughout the Speech from the Throne, our government's commitment to the people of Nova Scotia is what sets this government apart as a compassionate government that truly reflects the values of its people. The people I represent, like those throughout Nova Scotia, look forward to the kind of province we can be proud of.
Mr. Speaker, over the last few years it has been obvious to me that the members of our government have risen to the challenge of governing in difficult times. I am proud of this Liberal Government for restoring the credibility of our province's finances and getting Nova Scotia on the move again. (Applause) I am proud of my colleagues in the Liberal caucus, who have had the courage to stand together and reach our financial targets while actually enhancing the very programs and services valued most by the people of Nova Scotia. Yes, I am proud to say that this Liberal Government continues to make a difference.
As indicated throughout the Throne Speech, a stable economy is important, as is job creation and economic growth, but this government has also managed to combine the principles of fiscal stability with social responsibility. I am proud, as well, to be part of a MacLellan Government that while continuing our history of financial responsibility, has done so compassionately.
Mr. Speaker, the Government of Nova Scotia is committed to fair and equitable social assistance so that families in need have a lift back into economic opportunity. Earlier this year, Nova Scotia assumed full responsibility for administering social assistance and, as a result, a full 70 per cent of clients received an increase in support. Over the next four years, with municipal assistance, the much-anticipated goal of single-tiered social assistance will finally be realized.
We have added new subsidized day care spaces, developed a comprehensive Maintenance Enforcement Program, taken a strong stand against family violence, and amended the Children and Family Services Act to protect our children from abuse. It is more and more obvious that this Liberal Government invests heavily in our children's future well-being.
One of our top priorities as a government has always been families and children. This government has enhanced many of the health care programs and services that reflect this priority, including: a secured Seniors' Pharmacare Program; the enhanced Emergency Health Services, which includes 911 and the air ambulance service; mobile breast screening units; mental health initiatives; and telemedicine.
I am proud to report that one of the telemedicine and air ambulance service sites, are located in Richmond in the area of Arichat. "The TeleHealth Network is operating in eastern Nova Scotia, using state-of-the-art computers to link hospitals and transmit medical data, video images, and audio.".
This government has recognized that this kind of specialized health care greatly enhances the health of residents living in all areas of the province, especially in rural communities. Nova Scotians should be very proud that this innovative technology is the first of its kind in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that the formal process of Saint Martha's Regional Hospital Board requesting funds for a CT scanner is now underway. I have personally received hundreds of letters of concern regarding Saint Martha's Hospital from my constituents. I want to thank each of them for taking the time to express their concerns.
Mr. Speaker, I am also proud to say that I have listened to my constituents and more importantly, this government has listened to our constituents. Just recently, the Minister of Health, the Honourable James Smith, and Premier MacLellan eagerly met with Saint Martha's Hospital board members, and I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to them for recognizing our interests.
Health care in Nova Scotia has turned away from the mere treatment of illness to the prevention of disease and the promotion of healthier lifestyles that will ensure the well-being of all Nova Scotians.
Mr. Speaker, as indicated in the Speech from the Throne, our government knows that education is so important to our communities and to our province. I heard our Premier say, time and time again, that he wants to make education nothing less than a provincial obsession, to make this government the education government. This government is investing more money for our children and our schools.
This government supports the efforts of school boards and the Department of Education as they work on short- and long-term plans to bring class sizes down. This government is investing in programs for students with special needs across this province. In one year alone, the number of teacher assistants has grown by more than 150. This government is teaming up with schools and school boards by funding a network of 57 junior high schools across the province to share ideas and support for students. This government continues to invest in new program areas, including textbooks to strengthen the curriculum in every subject area, at every grade level. This government is also adding more program choices for high school students in courses such as design, multimedia and agri-food, thus helping graduates link courses to jobs in the workplaces in our communities.
In technology, this government has supported the first school board in North America to have all of its schools wired to the Internet. We are working with the federal government to bring more technology to schools with a goal of one computer for every five students by the year 2005.
M. le Président, j'ai eu l'occasion de participer à l'ouverture des 13ième Jeux régionaux de l'Acadie qui à prit place vendredi passer. Cette année, Richmond a eu l'honneur d'être hôte de ces jeux. Ça me fait un gros plaisir de vous annoncé que le premier ministre, l'honorable Russell MacLellan, et le Ministre responsable des Affaires acadiennes, l'honorable Wayne Gaudet, ont aussi participés à l'ouverture.
M. le Président, ces jeux sont une très bonne occasion pour les jeunes de différents coins de la province à se rejoindre en amitiés pour les jeux sportifs. Je suis heureux de féliciter l'équipe des filles pour leurs victoire au hardball, et les garçons qui ont gagnés au baseball, les deux équipes de Richmond.
À Léo Landry, Josette Marchand, Ben Samson, Matante Janice Joyce, et à tous les organisateurs, bénévoles et participants, félicitations. (Applaudissement) Vous avez organiser une fin semaine formidable et merci encore pour l'occasion de féliciter avec vous.
Mr. Speaker, this Liberal Government supports the redirection of education dollars into the classrooms while giving parents an official role in our education system.
Recently, Mr. Speaker, proud parents gathered at the Scholastics Award night at St. Peter's District High School. I am proud, too, to have this opportunity to thank the organizers of the worthwhile event and congratulate the high calibre of award recipients. With the support of their families, friends and communities, they now stand ready at the edge of the exciting potential available here in our province.
Last, but not least, I am proud to report that this Liberal Government is building schools that meet today's standards. Our new schools have the right facilities, the right design and the right technology because we are building them on time, on budget and without plunging back into a sea of red ink. Mr. Speaker, our government has carefully invested in the planning of programs that will be of real use in securing our students' future employment.
Mr. Speaker, this Liberal Government has seen many tremendous achievements for Nova Scotia. We have made a difference to the 27,000 Nova Scotians who have found jobs since 1993, to low income seniors who receive a $300 refundable tax credit and to all Nova Scotians who, for the first time in our provincial history, have had a cut in their personal income taxes. But of most importance, with significant lasting benefits for generations to come, has been the Liberal Government's track record on balanced budgets for Nova Scotia.
We can all take pride in supporting a Liberal Government that has made this province a better place to do business. Our balanced budgets, community economic development initiatives, trade missions, and now the added advantage of tax harmonization, have made investing in Nova Scotia more attractive.
In the riding of Richmond, Mr. Speaker, you have all the evidence you need to show that Nova Scotia is on the move. Since my election as the provincial representative, I would like to highlight just a few of the many interesting events that have taken place in our area.
The Ocean View Wildlife Exhibition was an interesting event welcomed by many people throughout the county. I would like to extend my compliments to the organizing community for putting together another successful event this year.
Mr. Speaker, the Strait Area Forestry Exhibition held at Louisdale was another great event in our community and I would like to thank Blair Gotell and all the organizers, participants and sponsors which include Stora and our provincial Department of Natural Resources.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to compliment the outstanding contributions that Stora Forest Industries makes in our community and throughout the province. (Applause) At $750 million, the Stora expansion was one of the largest capital projects ever undertaken in Nova Scotia.
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to say that the expansion of Stora has been ongoing for the last two years and has employed over 2,000 tradespeople throughout Cape Breton, yet there has not been one minute of labour unrest at the Stora construction site. (Applause) This stands as a stark example of how business and labour can work together in Cape Breton. I extend sincere congratulations to both Stora and all tradespeople involved.
Mr. Speaker, a private sector investment of this magnitude is certainly a strong vote of confidence in the provincial economy and in the forestry industry of Nova Scotia and it secures the long-term viability of Stora in our province.
In the fishery, Mr. Speaker, I am proud to report that Scotia Rainbow, a trout farm in Richmond County, is developing an exciting potential business as we speak. With the support of our government, this new industry will offer 50 to 70 jobs when working at full capacity.
In the fishery, the people of Richmond are now waiting for the Scotia Shelf shrimp announcement. I know the Minister of Fisheries, the Honourable Keith Colwell, has been working diligently with all the stakeholders to secure participation by this province in this worthwhile component of the fishing industry.
Mr. Speaker, I recently led a delegation to Ottawa to express to the federal Minister of Fisheries, the Honourable David Anderson, the concerns of Richmond fishermen. I want to thank the minister for receiving us and I am hopeful we will receive positive news shortly.
Mr. Speaker, I must report, too, that the most exciting news for the economy of Richmond has been this province's involvement in the Sable Offshore Energy Project. Sable Offshore Energy Incorporated and Statia Terminals have signed a Statement of Intent for the long-term lease of a portion of Statia's property at the Point Tupper Industrial Park. Sable Offshore Energy Incorporated will build a natural gas liquids fractionation plant, propane and butane storage, as well as truck and rail-loading facilities on the site. Statia will provide 500,000 barrels of tankage, as well as access to dock facilities for the condensate produced in the fractionation process. Statia will be a positive contributor to our county's economy with many new opportunities, including facilities maintenance work and support of the shipping of our products. This is the last location required for the Sable project's key facilities and they are now ready to file a development plan with Richmond County.
Mr. Speaker, thanks to this unique facility, Statia, natural gas will be flowing to markets in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and New England.
Mr. Speaker, Richmond County is on the move, Cape Breton is on the move and, most importantly, Nova Scotia is on the move. (Applause)
Mr. Speaker, I look forward to working with our government, to make sure that real employment opportunities will continue to exist in Nova Scotia's rural communities, such as Richmond.
Mr. Speaker, the twinning of Highway No. 104 is reported to be the largest project of its kind in Nova Scotia this year and will become the vital link between mainland Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and the Strait region in particular. This government recognizes that roads are
vital in linking our people with community services, the workplace and with other economic centres. In Richmond County, they also lead the way to many of our tourist destinations.
Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that a number of roads are in need of upgrading and repair. It is my hope that the Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Clifford Huskilson, will be supportive of ways to enhance the quality of roads throughout the riding of Richmond.
Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia is a great place to do business. Investment growth in this province is one of the best in the country, well ahead of the national average and most G-7 countries. Therefore, the continued presence of industries such as Stora and Statia in rural Nova Scotia acts as a beacon for other corporations looking for a place to invest.
Is this Liberal Government making a difference? The answer is clearly, yes. A difference that touches the very lives of individuals, eases their burden and helps them remain firmly on their feet, a difference only a Liberal Government could make. But you know, like a lot of Nova Scotians, I am getting tired of all the pessimism from the two Opposition Parties whose only goal seems to be discouraging Nova Scotians from having any faith and pride in themselves and in their province. (Applause) There is optimism in the air as Nova Scotians realize the benefits of being financially stable and see the bright future in opportunities like Sable offshore natural gas projects.
As the representative for Richmond, I would like to close by expressing my appreciation to my family, the residents of the riding of Richmond, my caucus colleagues and Premier Russell MacLellan. Today, I am joined by two of my best campaigners, my two best friends, my mom and dad, Théophile and Lucille Samson. (Applause) I am also joined by close friends Cindy Smith, Tony and Zita Thibeau and my campaign manager, Mr. Clem Benoit. (Applause) Last, but not least, is the one person who was always there to support me, to cheer me up and give me a hug when I needed it most, my girlfriend, Claudine Bardsley. (Applause)
Mr. Speaker, I am very humbled to be here today in this historic building, as I am accomplishing a lifelong dream. I want to express my sincerest appreciation to my campaign committee, to all the workers on our campaign and to the good people of Richmond who placed their faith in a 25 year old. Together with your unfailing support and encouragement, we will continue to create a legacy that will continue to make Richmond and Nova Scotia forces to be reckoned with.
That is why, as a loyal member of this government, I am proud to second the Speech from the Throne, as so ably read by Lieutenant Governor James Kinley. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.
MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is truly is a pleasure to be able to respond to this government's first Speech from the Throne. First of all, let me thank the Lieutenant Governor and Mrs. Kinley for coming and participating in the ceremonies today and for reading the Speech from the Throne.
Mr. Speaker, I am going to be getting into the substance of the Throne Speech tomorrow morning. In the spirit of the non-partisanship that was talked about in the Throne Speech, I want to spend a little more time going over the Throne Speech before I begin to criticize it too harshly. But I have to tell you, that on first blush, it ain't going to be pretty, there clearly is very little substance to this document.
The opening of the speech talks about offering resolute direction, to take Nova Scotia forward. I really am going to try hard and tonight I am going to take time to comb through this document to get out whatever tools are necessary to try to find a direction in there but I am not optimistic and I am disappointed about that, Mr. Speaker. But clearly, any Throne Speech that has as its foundation 30 P3 schools is clearly shaky to say the least.
Nor am I convinced of the sincerity of this government's conversion to providing good government across partisan lines. The speech makes passing reference in one place and then pushes ahead the Liberal only agenda in such vital areas as offshore development and school construction. Mr. Speaker, I am not optimistic about what I am going to find but clearly it is my responsibility to try.
Before I ask for an adjournment, I want to take the opportunity to extend my congratulations to you, Mr. Speaker. There are a lot of new members in the House now who haven't had the opportunity as many of us had to continually push for the move towards a more democratic process to select the Speaker of the House in the Nova Scotia Legislature. It has been done for many years in other jurisdictions and I am pleased to be a member of this House to have the opportunity to vote in a secret ballot for that Speaker and I want to congratulate you to be the first Speaker who has led us into that. (Applause)
Of course, I want to congratulate all newly elected members. I can only speak for those in our Party and our caucus, but I know that they certainly have been working hard to get their constituencies up and running, to respond to the needs of the people that elected them and certainly they have been working hard to make sure that the contribution they make in this House is a significant one and I know it will be.
I, too, want to welcome back those of you, not me, but those of you who have been here before, those veterans who have spent a few years in this House and who have contributed as well to forwarding the democratic principles of our province. So welcome back all of you.
I want to join in saluting Chief Justice Lorne Clarke on his retirement from the bench. I have had the opportunity to express my congratulations to him personally. But I want to express my best wishes publicly here in the House, as well as to those former members of the House who have retired since we last met. Clearly, Justice Clarke and those members who have retired, either through their own decisions or through the ups and downs of our democratic system, those people have made an important contribution to the public system in the Province of Nova Scotia and they deserve to be recognized. (Applause)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this time to extend my condolences and those of the New Democratic Party to all those who have lost loved ones since we last met. In particular, I want to mention Aubrey Wagner of Shelburne, a long-time supporter of the Party; Haddie MacDonald of Florence; and, of course, Allan O'Brien the former Mayor of the City of Halifax, a long-time supporter of the Party, someone that I worked very closely with over the last number of years whose sudden passing denied him the opportunity to witness the breakthrough that he worked so hard for on behalf of the New Democratic Party.
I, too, want to welcome back the staff, the Pages and messengers, the Acting Sergeant-at-Arms - our good friend Doug Giles - Mike Laffin, the staff at the Legislative Library and the Clerk's Office, the Hansard Office and the Legislative Television crew. I know they will continue to serve well the members of this House and the citizens of Nova Scotia.
Mr. Speaker, what we saw happen today with the election of a Speaker and of a Deputy Speaker, history has been made here. I look forward to participating along with my colleagues in continuing to see history made in this House over the days and weeks ahead.
I want to now say, of course, thank you to the people of my constituency of Halifax Atlantic. I am honoured for the eighth time to be able to thank the residents and the community of Halifax Atlantic, and to bring greetings and best wishes to you, Mr. Speaker, and to all members of the House from those folks.
I learned an important lesson, I think, through this last campaign. In 1993 I campaigned very hard in Halifax Atlantic, I spent 12 to 14 hours a day, day in and day out for 35 days, whatever the length of the campaign was, and I won by 12 votes. This time, I might have spent half a dozen days, two or three hours each, and I won by considerably more than that. So, I think there was a bit of a lesson there for me, but I appreciate the government members' congratulations as well. (Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.
MR. CHISHOLM: I am doubly honoured, Mr. Speaker, that for the third time, the voters of Halifax Atlantic have chosen me as their representative.
Mr. Speaker, there will be lots to say about the Speech from the Throne, and I will continue with that tomorrow. For now, I would like to adjourn the debate and we will move on and deal with some other matters and have an opportunity to meet with our friends and families who have come here to witness these events on this historic day. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn the debate. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
The honourable Premier.
THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move a resolution in the following form:
Be it resolved that:
(a) Pursuant to Rule 60, a Special Committee be appointed whose duty it shall be to prepare and report, with all convenient speed, lists of members to compose the Standing Committees of the House and that:
(i) the said Standing Committees be constituted for the life of this Assembly;
(ii) the list be deposited in the Office of the Chief Clerk and that the committees be established with full authority from the date the lists are deposited in the Office of the Chief Clerk;
(iii) the Chair of each committee be the member named as Chair of that committee;
(iv) the said committees be severally empowered to examine and inquire into all matters and things as may be referred to them by this House;
(v) the said committees be severally empowered to, from time to time, report to this House their observations and opinions, thereof, with power to send for and examine witnesses and records, and to extend to any witness the protection of the House;
(b) The Special Committee be composed of the following five members: Hon. Manning MacDonald, Chair; Committee members, Mr. Raymond White, Mr. John Holm, Mrs. Helen MacDonald, and Mr. Ronald Russell.
Further, Mr. Speaker, in accordance with Rule 33, I ask that the normal notice for this motion be dispensed with and that this resolution be now adopted.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.
DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I move that the motion be amended, deleting the name Ronald Russell and adding the name, George Moody.
MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreed?
It is agreed.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
The honourable Premier.
THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, at the conclusion of the session this afternoon, on your behalf, I would like to invite all members of the House and all guests in the gallery to the Hollis Street foyer for a reception.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.
HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m.
MR. SPEAKER: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
We stand adjourned until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.
[The House rose at 4:20 p.m.]