Published by Order of the Legislature by Hansard Reporting Services and printed by the Queen's Printer.
Available on INTERNET at http://nslegislature.ca/legislative-business/hansard-debates/
|TABLE OF CONTENTS||PAGE|
|ARRIVAL OF THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR||7|
|SPEECH FROM THE THRONE||7|
|STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:|
|Lt.-Gov., Freeman, Her Honour Myra & His Honour Lawrence - Tribute,|
|INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:|
|An Act Respecting Oaths of Office, Hon. Murray Scott||15^|
|SPEECH FROM THE THRONE:|
|Moved - Mr. Alfred MacLeod||15|
|Seconded - Mr. Patrick Dunn||18|
|ADDRESS IN REPLY:|
|Mr. D. Dexter||20|
|ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., June 30th at 9:30 a.m.||23|
HALIFAX, THURSDAY, JUNE 29, 2006
Sixtieth General Assembly
Hon. Cecil Clarke
Mr. Wayne Gaudet
SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor.
[The Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Myra A. Freeman, preceded by her escort and aide and by Mr. Ken Greenham, Sergeant-at-Arms, bearing the Mace, entered the House of Assembly Chamber. The Lieutenant Governor then took her seat on the Throne.
The Sergeant-at-Arms then departed and re-entered the Chamber followed by the Speaker, the Honourable Cecil Clarke; the Chief Clerk of the House, Roderick MacArthur, Q.C.; and Assistant Clerk, Arthur Fordham, Q.C., and Assistant Clerk, Mr. Neil Ferguson.
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 Her Honour that the ladies and gentlemen be seated.
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Mr. Speaker, Members of the Legislative Assembly, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the First Session of the 60th General Assembly.
To all of the members who are returning to this Legislature, my government extends its sincere congratulations and best wishes. As well, we congratulate and warmly welcome those members who have taken their place in this Chamber for the first time. A proud moment for you and your families. You have been given the rare honour to serve your communities and your province in public life. An honour that comes with great responsibility. An honour the late Michael Forrestall understood well. For more than 50 years, he proudly served the people of Dartmouth, his province, and his country as a Member of Parliament and Senator. It is with sadness we note the passing of a political stalwart, a proud Nova Scotian, and one of Canada's biggest champions of the men and women who serve in our armed forces.
My government also extends its deep appreciation and best wishes to our former colleagues and their families: Ron Russell, Kerry Morash, Russell MacKinnon, Cecil O'Donnell, Gerald Sampson, Gary Hines, Bill Langille, and Jim DeWolfe and Jerry Pye. As well, we congratulate Nova Scotia's Lieutenant Governor Designate, Mayann Francis. Well known to the members of this House for her exemplary service to the province as Chief Executive Officer of the Human Rights Commission and Ombudsman, Ms. Francis brings a wealth of personal and professional experience that will serve her, and the people of Nova Scotia, well in her new role as Her Majesty, the Queen's, vice-regal representative.
OUR COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITIES
Nous sommes rassemblés ici aujourd'hui, sachant qu'on a confié à chacun d'entre nous la responsabilité d'agir au nom des Néo-Écossais et toujours dans leur véritable intérêt. Mon gouvernement est conscient que la constitution de cette Assemblée exige la mise de côté de nos différences politiques et le renouvellement de notre engagement envers la coopération et le compromis.
Today, we come to this Chamber knowing that each of us has been entrusted to act on behalf of, and always in the best interests of, Nova Scotians. My government is mindful that the make-up of this House demands that we put aside our political differences and make a renewed commitment to co-operation and compromise. The people of Nova Scotia rightfully expect that we will work to find common ground and to seek common-sense solutions to the challenges we collectively face.
My government also knows that the people of Nova Scotia have given us a mandate and that it is up to us to lead by example. And we will.
ADDRESSING NOVA SCOTIANS' PRIORITIES
The last Speech from the Throne, tabled just 56 days ago, followed shortly thereafter by our budget and platform, provides reasoned, thoughtful, and affordable approaches for addressing Nova Scotians' priorities.
Together, these three documents outline many of the actions my government will take to:
support individuals and families in need
- help our students learn better and live better
reduce wait times and provide more health-care services closer to home
protect and enhance our environment
make our streets, neighbourhoods, and communities safer
build the human capacity and the physical infrastructure needed to support a growing economy
Together, these actions will make Nova Scotia more attractive to immigrants and investors. Together, they will help our province build on the fiscal, economic, and social progress Nova Scotia has witnessed over the past six years. Our plans are ambitious. Our goal simple. To make Nova Scotia an even better place to live and find success. A goal that, together with Nova Scotians, and with the support of this House, we can and will achieve.
We will achieve a stronger economy by:
lowering small business taxes
eliminating costly, inefficient, and unnecessary regulations
undertaking the largest road-building program in Nova Scotia in over 40 years
reducing the cost, and increasing supports, for new immigrants
aggressively pursuing efforts to make our province the transportation gateway to Atlantic Canada
expanding broadband Internet access to every Nova Scotia community
increasing professional support services for farmers
establishing a new marketing program to encourage the purchase of local agricultural and fish products, and
increasing the marketing budget of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage
We will do this and more, knowing that a modern, diverse, and innovative economy is vital to meeting the health, social, and educational needs of Nova Scotians.
My government will help Nova Scotians better manage the costs and the pressures of day-to-day life by:
removing the provincial portion of the HST on home energy costs
lowering personal income taxes
introducing a working families Pharmacare program
implementing a 10-year child care plan to create 1,500 more spaces
increasing the number of affordable housing units
establishing a new Persons with Disabilities Allowance, and
increasing the shelter allowance for Nova Scotians on income assistance
We will do this and more, knowing too many Nova Scotians are struggling too much to make ends meet.
My government will address the needs of our growing seniors population by:
- increasing the number of long-term care beds by 800 within four years and by 1,300 within 10 years
expanding home support services
adding more restorative beds
increasing the number of adult day centres
doubling the Seniors Property Tax Rebate
providing new funding for seniors home repairs, and
providing a stronger voice for seniors around the Cabinet Table
We will do this and more, knowing seniors want to live as independently as possible for as long as possible in the comfort of their own homes.
My government will work to make every generation healthier than the next by:
tripling the Healthy Living Tax Credit and making it available to all Nova Scotians
making physical education a mandatory high school credit, and
creating a new, comprehensive sport and recreational infrastructure program
We will provide Nova Scotians with the health care they need, where and when they need it by:
training more nurses, doctors and technologists
introducing a province-wide telehealth system
increasing funding to implement Nova Scotia's Integrated Stroke Strategy
expanding cancer treatment and support programs, and
enhancing community-based primary health teams
We will do this and more, knowing that healthy, active kids make for healthy, productive adults and that, above all else, Nova Scotians want their government to provide quality, timely access to care.
My government will work with parents, teachers, and administrators to help our children get the education they need to succeed in life and in school by:
further reducing class sizes
introducing vocational/composite programming in our high schools
expanding the number of schools offering the International Baccalaureate Program
hiring more professional career counsellors, and
providing more teachers, resource specialists, books and teaching aids in our classrooms
We will do this and more, knowing that learning is the gateway to individual success.
My government will work to make our communities - big and small, rural and urban - safer, cleaner, and better connected by:
hiring more police officers
establishing a Youth Attendance Centre
creating a new public safety investigation unit
upgrading our 911 Emergency Response System
creating a central volunteer resource centre, and
opening more parks, green spaces, and trails
All of these measures will be acted upon, knowing they are key to supporting strong, healthy, and productive families. They are key to building safe, caring and connected communities, and they are key to Nova Scotia's continued economic progress and social growth. All of these measures will be acted upon within balanced budgets and without compromising our debt-reduction targets or our children's future.
NOVA SCOTIA, RICH WITH DIVERSITY
La Nouvelle-Écosse est bénie par la diversité. Nous accueillons une vaste gamme de communautés ethniques qui sont petites, mais solides. Nous avons l'océan, ainsi que les lacs, les rivières et les ruisseaux qui parsèment l'ensemble de notre province. Nous avons une riche combinaison de terres diverses: des hautes-terres du Cap-Breton, aux paysages marins sauvages de la côte sud, aux vergers de la vallée.
Nova Scotia is blessed by diversity. We have a broad range of small but strong ethnic communities. We have the ocean, along with lakes, rivers and streams practically everywhere. We have a rich mix of diverse lands, from the Highlands of Cape Breton, to the rugged seascapes along the South Shore, to the orchards in the Valley. And we have villages, small towns and growing urban centres. All of these things and more make us the envy of people from around the world.
My government knows that our diversity adds to our strength as a people and our pride in our province. My government will continue to celebrate our diversity and promote it to the world. Halifax's bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase Nova Scotia's natural beauty, its culture, creativity and talent to millions of people the world over. The Commonwealth Games would also leave a lasting benefit of world-class sport and cultural venues that all Nova Scotians could share in well beyond the closing ceremonies. In co-operation with the Halifax Regional Municipality and the federal government, my government looks forward to seizing this wonderful and rare opportunity to make our capital city one of Canada's and the world's top choices for future national and international events.
WORKING TOGETHER FOR NOVA SCOTIANS
My government knows we will be judged by our willingness to compromise. We also know, no one party has a lock on good ideas. We will therefore build on our Community Economic Development strategy by creating a new Division of Rural Economic Growth within the Department of Economic Development and establish evidence-based protocols for regular colorectal cancer screening. As well, we will examine all existing, planned, and proposed student and graduate support programs, including loans, bursaries, debt forgiveness, and tax credits, with a view to maximizing benefits to students and keeping more of our best and brightest here at home where they can contribute to our collective success. And we will take steps to modernize the Rules of the House, to pursue campaign-financing reforms, and to strengthen and clarify the Ministerial Code of Conduct.
My government knows that good governments must be open to new ideas, but never timid about protecting the values and principles they believe in.
That is why:
Our budgets will be balanced.
We will address need before want.
Our policies will be fairly applied, and
Our programs efficiently delivered.
My government knows that despite its many challenges, Nova Scotia is the best province, in the best country in the world. We also know that, together with Nova Scotians, and with the support of this House, we can make it even better. And we will. Thank you. (Applause)
[The Speaker and Clerks left the Chamber.
The Lieutenant Governor left the Chamber preceded by her escorts and the Sergeant-at-Arms.
Mr. Speaker took the Chair.]
SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: His Honour, the Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.
HON. RODNEY MACDONALD (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House today to commend the service of Her Honour, Myra Freeman, our current Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. As a government, we were honoured six years ago to welcome Their Honours to Government House. She became the 30th Lieutenant Governor and the very first woman to hold the position in the province's 400-year history.
That alone set her apart from her predecessors at the outset. It has been her work, since her installation in May 2000, that has truly exemplified the tremendous effort she has devoted to the office.
Mr. Speaker, part of Her Honour's vision remains to give recognition to ordinary Nova Scotians for extraordinary achievements, endorsing the work of service groups and thousands of volunteers, and to bring communities together from all sectors of society to share and celebrate the heritage and culture of the province. She has done that and so much more.
She has highlighted the contributions of so many Nova Scotians, as outlined through that vision. No doubt her career as an educator inspired her work with Nova Scotia's youth. At every opportunity she has made a special effort to highlight the educational and cultural abilities of our young citizens.
Mr. Speaker, Their Honours have also made Government House much more accessible than ever before, welcoming more than 20,000 people each and every year. I know Her Honour and her husband, Lawrence Freeman, will miss this post, as they grew the office to a new level, but their departure will also signal a new chapter in their lives and allow for more time with their talented and beloved family.
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the people of the province, I extend our sincere best wishes and congratulations for a relaxing future together. (Standing Ovation)
THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: I thank you for your wonderful comments.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.
MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Thank you. I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of our caucus, to join in the comments of the Premier. Many of us here have had the opportunity to serve in a term that has been concurrent with your own, so we know full well what a tremendous job you have done on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia and how proud we are when we were at ceremonies to be able to share that with you. On behalf of all of us we thank you very much. Certainly we're going to miss you and I'm sure we'll see you about, but for all of us here I think we had so many fine experiences with you as you travelled the province. Thank you very much.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.
MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I too rise on behalf of my colleagues in the Liberal caucus to extend our appreciation to Her Honour, Myra Freeman, for her excellent service over the past six years. Although Her Honour's dedication to the role of Lieutenant Governor and to our province will be fondly remembered, perhaps our most vivid memory of her tenure will be her passionate advocacy for youth in our province. Whether it was artistic achievements or scholastic excellence, Her Honour Myra Freeman made special effort to highlight the talents of so many young Nova Scotians.
Her Honour's motto for her personal coat of arms reads "If you will it, it is no dream." This motto exemplifies the day-to-day contributions Her Honour brought to the lives of countless Nova Scotians. She brought out the best in Nova Scotians of all ages and, I am certain that like many Nova Scotians she met and honoured, her memories and the memories of those she touched will last for a lifetime.
Comme délégué acadien, permettais moi votre honneur de vous remerciez au nom de la communauté acadienne pour l'intérêt et le dévouement que vous avez donné à notre langue, notre culture et notre communauté acadienne. Nous rappelons tous bien que votre honneur a participé à la programme d'immersion à l'Université Sainte-Anne et je vous félicitez pour le très beau travaille que vous avez faite aujourd'hui en lisant le discours que vous avez faite. Au même temps je sais que vous êtes très fière de les cadeaux que vous avez reçu de l'ancien peinture et artiste Manila Gosal, natif de Petit-de-Grat, que vous aurez toujours pour le future.
On behalf of the Liberal caucus I offer to Her Honour, her husband Lawrence Freeman, and to her family, our gratitude for six years of exemplary service to our province and best wishes for their future together. Merci.
THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Mr. Premier, Leader of the Official Opposition, Leader of the Liberal Party, Members of the Legislature, it has been indeed a great honour and privilege for His Honour and me to serve the people of Nova Scotia, and I thank each of you for opening your hearts and your doors and all of the people in your constituencies for welcoming us into your communities, and thank you for your friendship and for enriching our lives. Thank you.
[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.
The Lieutenant Governor left the Chamber preceded by her escort and the Sergeant-at-Arms.
Mr. Speaker took the Chair.]
SERGEANT-AT- ARMS: His Honour the Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.
The honourable Minister of Justice.
HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a bill entitled An Act Respecting Oaths of Office.
Bill No. 1 - Entitled an Act Respecting Oaths of Office. (Hon. Murray Scott)
MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read a second time on a future day.
I would like to advise the House that Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to make a speech to the members who have met in General Assembly and of which speech, for greater accuracy, a copy has been obtained which the Chief Clerk will now read.
The honourable Premier.
HON. RODNEY MACDONALD (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I move that the Speech be taken as read.
MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for the Speech to be taken as read. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
The honourable member for Cape Breton West.
MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to move the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne as read by Her Honour Lieutenant Governor Myra Freeman.
I would like to begin my comments by stating how well Her Honour has served our province. For more than six years she has served loyally as the Queen's representative for the Province of Nova Scotia. She and His Honour have served in their roles gracefully as ambassadors of the Province of Nova Scotia and for Her Majesty. We thank them for their service and welcome the announcement of a new Lieutenant Governor, Mayann Francis, who has already made a difference in our province through her work and leadership role with our Human Rights Commission. We look forward to seeing what she carries to the position as a self-proclaimed monarchist, a girl from the Pier, an accomplished individual. I know all this Chamber wish her the best of luck and thank her for accepting this new challenge. (Applause)
Like Their Honours and Ms. Francis have shown by their service, this is a province which inspires in its citizens a great deal of pride and a sense of duty. This was evidenced in the general election, where so many tremendous individuals from various backgrounds put their names forward to contribute in the operation of the provincial government. It is not always easy in this business,
but public service is an avenue to make changes in your community and in the province for the better. I do have to say, Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to be back in this historic Chamber. (Applause)
When I was first sworn in, I was able to pick up my five-year-old son, Daniel, in my arms. Well, he will be 17 next Wednesday and I don't generally carry him around much anymore. He might have changed physically, but my pride in him and my pride in my two daughters, Sandra and Jessica, has grown tremendously over this period of time. I also want to mention my wife and my greatest supporter, Shirley, who once again worked with me as my partner so that I might be able to have the privilege to serve the people of Cape Breton West.
As all MLAs know, especially those who are far outside the city, it means a great deal of time away from your families. So it is essential to have their support and their love, and I want to thank them all for that.
The unsung heroes of public service are our families and our volunteers who work throughout the election and in between, because they believe in the democratic system of our government. I want to use this opportunity to highlight just a few, although there are so many I cannot thank enough. Solid, hardworking, dedicated volunteers. People like Gordie Reynolds, Bill Mullins, Marion Glasgow, Joe Bragg, Clark MacKinnon, Stuart MacLeod, Wanda and Ed Fedora, Shane MacSween and many, many more. Like me, they have been pleased with our government's performance to date, and they are pleased with the direction we have outlined for the future.
A key commitment carried through since our election in 1999 and which serves as a foundation for our government is fiscal responsibility. I am pleased that we will soon produce, and hopefully pass, our fifth consecutive balanced budget, a budget with a surplus that will be directed solely toward our debt, as will next year's surplus. Fiscal responsibility is just one more key in growing our economy, attracting investors like RIM, which will add new jobs, fuelling an already strong economic environment. This growth, of course, expands the resources we have, so we were able to have more nurses, doctors, health care professionals, and do health research. As well, we will have more teachers and smaller class sizes; for continued efforts to make our children's post-secondary education choice, whether it be a community college or a university more affordable; for improvements to natural assets, such as Two Rivers Wildlife Park; and assistance to be offered to the most vulnerable people in our society. As well, we must recognize our seniors and their commitment to our province and our way of live in Nova Scotia.
There are many key priorities for our government and our province. However, there is nothing more significant than to ensure that we have the resources to do this. While our provincial employment numbers have been getting better and are better than they have been in a generation, giving the whole province a sense of optimism, we do have the work to do in various rural parts of Nova Scotia, areas that still see a migration of our youngest and brightest minds who are taken away by the lure of big salaries and opportunities in booming cities like Fort McMurray.
As the Premier himself knows, as a resident of Mabou, this remains a challenge and so I am pleased to support our government's creation of a new division of rural economic growth within the Department of Economic Development. (Applause)
I know our new minister and he has a very strong business background and he comes from a rural town. He understands this issue and he will make inroads into this issue. Our Opportunities for Sustainable Prosperity strategy commits our province by the year 2011 to experience a net in-migration of individuals under the age of 30. This is obviously a very important goal. We will continue to work with RDAs, our community organizations and our strong, talented private sector to push for new ideas to develop our rural economy.
As important as it is for parents - and I know all too well the cost to help support our children's educational foundation so they can find good jobs. That is, in the longer term, a more crucial and lasting gift to our children and that is to also look after our environment. As our Premier said in our platform, as a society we have to work together to decrease our environmental footprint.
We have committed to significant measures in this area, now and in the years ahead. I am pleased this issue has received a renewed focus from our Premier. Our new generation is so much better educated than ours, I have great hope for those coming after us. However, as a government, we have to show leadership on this issue now.
Since last being in this place, I have also served with various community groups, including the board of Two Rivers Wildlife Park, the Horizon Achievement Centre, the Cape Breton Community Housing Association and the Sydney Port Authority. My experiences have been quite eye opening and have shown me first-hand the drive and dynamic ideas that our communities bring forward to help improve the areas in which we live - one idea at a time.
Mr. Speaker, as Her Honour noted in the Speech from the Throne, no Party has a monopoly on good ideas. Our government will continue to work with the other Parties to ensure the people of this province are provided with good government. The people of this province deserve nothing less. Every one of us comes to this place with varied experience and training, every MLA has ideas to make improvements based on their individual experience or how to deal with the issues faced within their communities.
With this broad base of knowledge and energy, we will move forward as a government with a renewed mandate to make Nova Scotia a better place to live, work and raise a family.
I want to thank my community of Cape Breton West for sending me here as their representative. It is a duty that I take very seriously. While there are so many other significant measures announced in today's Speech from the Throne to which I would like to speak further, I will end here.
Mr. Speaker, it is now my pleasure to thank Her Honour for the Speech from the Throne and, with great pride and confidence, move a motion that the Address and Reply to the Speech from the Throne do pass. Thank you. (Applause)
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.
MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, Premier, fellow MLAs and honoured guests. I thank Her Honour, Lieutenant Governor Myra Freeman for the Speech from the Throne. On behalf of the citizens of Pictou Centre, I am honoured to have the privilege of seconding the Address In Reply to the Speech from the Throne. A speech that provides a framework for the Government of Nova Scotia, a vision that will encompass good ideas on both sides of the House from a government that understands the value of co-operation, hard work and dedication to the people of Nova Scotia.
I would like to thank Her Honour, Lieutenant Governor Myra Freeman, for her dedicated service to the people of Nova Scotia and wish her well as she moves on to new challenges. I know all the members of the Legislature will join me in extending congratulations to Nova Scotia's Lieutenant Governor Designate Mayann Francis in her new role as Her Majesty the Queen's Vice Regal Representative.
Today I am very proud to take my place in the Legislature for the very first time. As the member for Pictou Centre I can't help but reflect on the very big shoes I have to fill. Former Premier John Hamm is a gentleman in every sense of the word and a man who I know is respected by all members of this House. (Applause) It will be my challenge and my responsibility to fulfill my duties in the place with the same dedication, compassion, fairness and sense of duty as John Hamm. He certainly is a wonderful role model as I begin this new chapter of my life.
I would like to take a moment to thank my family, my hard-working campaign team and the voters of Pictou Centre for giving me the privilege of representing them. It is an honour that I take very seriously, and one for which I am truly thankful.
On that note, I would like to thank all the candidates who put their names forward during the recent election. Standing for office is an important form of public service and a crucial part of our democracy.
In the Speech from the Throne, our government made commitments to the people of this province; commitments to support individuals and families in need, help our students live and learn, reduce medical wait times and provide health care services closer to home, protect and enhance our environment, make our streets and communities safe, and do the things necessary to support Nova Scotia's growing economy.
By working together, I know all MLAs can work towards achieving these goals. I know I look forward to the vigorous debate that will no doubt take place in the coming days and weeks
because I know we are all, regardless of political stripe, working hard to provide results for the people of our province.
I know many families in Pictou Centre and all across Nova Scotia will benefit and appreciate the steps we will take to allow them to keep more of their hard-earned money; initiatives such as removing the provincial portion of the HST on home energy costs, lowering personal income taxes, introducing a working family's Pharmacare Program will ease some of the financial pressures we all feel, especially for seniors and others living on fixed incomes.
Seniors are a great resource in our communities. Through their experience and knowledge, we can all learn a lot. I am very pleased that our government is moving to provide seniors with the respect and dignity they deserve after working and contributing for their whole lives. The steps we will take will provide each senior with a home that best meets their needs, whether that is helping them repair their existing homes, expanding home support services or increasing the number of long-term care beds.
As a vice-principal and principal, I have long been interested in giving young people the best educational foundation possible in order to help them achieve success as adults. In Nova Scotia we have come a long way in this area. Recently, I was fortunate enough to have visited the Pictou Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College. The results of the Progressive Conservative Government's significant investment in NSCC were obvious and encouraging. During this visit I learned that 90 per cent of NSCC grads find employment, 81 per cent in their field of study.
I was very proud to learn that 94 per cent of employed graduates are living and working here at home in Nova Scotia. (Applause) A significant percentage of graduates give their time and talents to their communities through volunteer work, contributing an average of 6.4 hours per week to sports, cultural education, community service and health organizations. Younger students will benefit both from the increasing opportunities provided by post-secondary education, and by the improvements proposed by our government. With smaller class sizes, more teachers, teaching aids, resources and specialists in the classrooms, we are giving public school students the good educational start each and every one of them deserve.
In the constituency of Pictou Centre, residents will soon see a tangible example of this government's commitment to educating our young people in schools that will enhance their ability to learn. Very soon, work to renovate and expand G.R. Saunders Elementary School in Stellarton will begin. The Department of Education has committed $4.5 million towards the renovation project, which will begin very soon and is expected to be completed by the fall of 2008.
Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia is truly a great place to live. Our province is a beautiful place and we are blessed with a lifestyle that is second to none. Today's Speech from the Throne reiterates our government's plan to amplify Nova Scotia's strengths and tackle our challenges. It is a plan that keeps in the forefront the priorities of the people of Nova Scotia and provides a map to achieving these goals.
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to second the motion that the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne do pass. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.
MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to rise as Leader of the Opposition and to respond to the Throne Speech on behalf of the NDP caucus. I would like to thank the Lieutenant Governor and Mr. Freeman for being here today, participating in the ceremonies and for reading the Speech from the Throne. If I may, I would like to take a moment to thank the Lieutenant Governor for her exemplary service to the province and wish Their Honours all the best as they start a new chapter in their lives. The Lieutenant Governor used her time in the role to honour many outstanding Nova Scotians and to draw a greater attention to areas that were of particular interest to her and the province at large, including education and the arts.
If you'll indulge me for another moment, Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the incoming Lieutenant Governor on her appointment to the position. Ms. Francis is a well-known champion of equality for all Nova Scotians and the province should be honoured to have someone of her ability and achievements in the post.
I would also like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your re-election as the Speaker of the House and to commend you for the enthusiasm that you have shown for this House and your involvement in House matters. I also wish to thank you in advance for the balanced job that I know you will do in this session. I would also like to congratulate the new Deputy Speaker and to thank him in advance for the balanced job that I know he will do in this House. I would also like to congratulate the member for Inverness on his re-election as Premier and to welcome the new and returning members of his Cabinet to their roles.
I would like to acknowledge, if I may, Mr. Speaker, the Legislative staff, the Pages, and the library staff for the assistance that they provide to all of us in each and every session. The operation of this House relies entirely on your knowledge, skills, professionalism, and we couldn't attend to the business of the province without good staff.
I would also like to take the opportunity to welcome new members to the House. You will provide a great service to your constituents and I ask you to always keep the interests of your constituents, in particular, and Nova Scotians, in general, in mind. And so the government members for Bedford, Cape Breton West, Colchester North, Hants West, Pictou Center and Victoria-The Lakes, congratulations on your election and I wish you all the best in the time ahead.
Mr. Speaker, if you'll indulge me once again, I would also like to welcome the new members on the Opposition bench and take a moment to recognize these outstanding community members who will represent Nova Scotians from the southernmost point of the province in Shelburne all the way to Cape Breton. To the new members of the Opposition bench from Dartmouth North, Halifax Citadel, Pictou East, Shelburne and Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank, and the member designate
for Queens, I can't express how pleased I am to have you join the Opposition in this House and know that Nova Scotians will be proud of your accomplishments. (Applause)
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the interim Leader of the Third Party on his appointment to that role. Finally, on behalf of the NDP caucus, I would like to say how pleased I am to see the member for Lunenburg sitting across from us so soon. We wish him all the best as he continues with his recovery. (Applause) I won't repeat that, I think he gets the point.
I would like to begin my comments today by stating that I will not be introducing an amendment to the Speech from the Throne because it represents so many of the ideas that the NDP has fought for for so many years.
There is normally some time for reflection and consideration between the end of an election campaign and the start of real legislative business. It is 16 days since the end of the general election, since our three political Parties were campaigning against each other with every means at our disposal. And quite naturally, Mr. Speaker, feelings are still running high, but I would say this, we may need some time to finish moving on from that active campaign attitude to our legislative and public responsibilities.
I believe our Party and perhaps all Parties received an overwhelming mandate in favour of taking a co-operative approach to the business of this House and to the business of the province. (Applause)
What does co-operation mean? It starts with the recognition that the Progressive Conservatives remain the government and as such, enjoy the prerogatives of power. I expect the Premier and his colleagues will continue to make it clear that they - and they alone - make decisions on behalf of the government. I also hope and expect that the government will recognize the wide public support and voter approval for the co-operative approach that they took since 2003, an approach based on good communication, including appropriate and early consultation on decisions that will come before the House, including the budget.
The successful co-operative approach has included regular consideration and approval of legislation submitted by both Opposition Parties, a balanced approach to amendment of government legislation and involvement of both Opposition Parties in initiatives in occasions of importance to the province.
It was only fair for the government to take an even-handed approach to the two Opposition Parties with good, three-cornered communication, except when an Opposition Party decided that they could not support or participate in a particular initiative or piece of legislation.
The Premier and his colleagues are not bound in any way to continue the co-operative approach they took since 2003, but I urge them to consider whether the high approval enjoyed by
the government in recent years was in fact approval of the co-operative, productive way that minority government has been working for Nova Scotians.
Everyone likes to speculate about the next election as though it were an extension of the last one. The reality is that each election represents a fresh start with new trends that may not last very long. The next election may not be any time soon. Let those of us who were elected to this House use our time here to focus on the people's business, and the ways we can best improve life for today's families, rather than trying to fight the last election or the next election here on the floor of the House.
I have often said that when the people of this province elected a minority government that they reserved power for themselves. As the elected members who represent them, we must honour this decision. That is why every day that we sit in this House the Opposition remains committed to keeping the people's business at the top of our agenda in providing realistic and constructive solutions to the challenges working families encounter every day.
I'm going to conclude shortly, Mr. Speaker, but before I do, I couldn't help but hear education mentioned so prominently, not only in the Throne Speech, but also in the speeches of the two new members who seconded the Throne Speech. I was reminded that more than a century ago the great American editor, Horace Greeley, once, when asked for his opinion with respect to advice for young people, said, go west young man. In fact, that became a very famous phrase, and we today have many young people who are going west. In those days the west was a symbol of opportunity, there were so many unexplored western territories, and he told young people to go west because that was where they could find the land of opportunity and success.
Well, today, I believe that opportunity for success exists within young people, it exists in education. I believe that we must make a concerted and sincere endeavor to ensure that everybody has access to the best quality of education. For those who choose to take that up they will find within themselves and within that field of endeavor tremendous challenges, but tremendous rewards.
I believe that as a focal point for government that education is a signpost that points to success professionally, in employment, in life, and, of course, in work. I would commend the government to move forward quickly on a program that will ensure that more of our young people have access to post-secondary education, whether it's in community colleges or in universities.
This is where I will conclude my remarks for today, and I would like to adjourn debate. Thank you. (Applause)
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.
HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House be adjourned to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 9:30 a.m., and that the House sit . . .
MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I'm not sure we actually voted on the motion to adjourn. Sorry, just for purposes of procedure, can we move a motion to adjourn debate? Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.
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. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of déjà-vu all over again, I move that the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn until 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.
Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
We are adjourned.
[The House rose at 3:04 p.m.]