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19 octobre 2021



Speaker: Honourable Keith Bain

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

Available on INTERNET at

First Session



Govt. (N.S.): Resurface New Bridge Between River Ryan and Gardiner
Mines and Fix and Clean Exp. Joints - Requested, Kendra Coombes
Govt. (N.S.): Red. Speed and Elim. Unsafe Passing Lanes from River Ryan
Campgrd. to Bayside Canteen - Requested, Kendra Coombes
Committee on Law Amendments - Bill Nos. 1, 4 and 13,
Hon. Brad Johns
Committee on Law Amendments - Bill No. 11,
Hon. Brad Johns
Small Business Week: Contrib. of Bus. to Economy - Recog.,
Fred Tilley
Claudia Chender
Res. 14, Clean Foundation: New African Nova Scotian Internship Stream -
Thanks, Hon. Tim Halman
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 15, Persons Day: Advancing Gender Equity, Recog.,
Hon. Karla MacFarlane
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 16, Foster Fam. Apprec. Wk.: Providing Safety and Security to Youth -
Recog., Hon. Karla MacFarlane
Vote - Affirmative
No. 22, Redressing Harm and Environmental Racism Act,
Hon. Iain Rankin
No. 23, Mental Health Bill of Rights,
Lisa Lachance
No. 24, Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act (amended),
Hon. Steve Craig
No. 25, Extended Producer Responsibility and Paper and Packaging Act,
Hon. Keith Irving
No. 26, Emergency "911" Act (amended),
Lisa Lachance
No. 27, Collection and Debt Management Agencies Act (amended),
No. 28, Sustainable Forest Practices Accountability Act (amended),
Carman Kerr
No. 29, Green Jobs Training Act,
Hon. Keith Irving
Cumb. South Families: Tragic Losses of Children - Condolences,
Hon. Tory Rushton
Cumb. Co. Families: Strength Amid Tragic Losses of Children - Recog.,
(Moment of Silence) Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin
Cumb. Co. Families: Tragic Losses of Children - Recog., (Moment of Silence)
Ali Duale
Sawler, Dave - Undercurrent Youth Centre: Breaking Cycle of Poverty -
Thanks, K. Coombes »
Boudreau, Brian "Crusher": Death of - Tribute, (Moment of Silence)
Hon. Pat Dunn
Keshen Goodman Library: 20th Anniv. - Recog.,
Rafah DiCostanzo
Vaughan's General Store:  Opening - Welcome,
Suzy Hansen
Asprey, John Percy "Jock": Death of - Tribute,
Kent Smith
Comeau, Michel: Retirement as Exec. Dir. of CSAP - Congrats.,
Ronnie LeBlanc
World Food Day: Env. Impact of Food Prod. Awareness - Recog.,
Lisa Lachance
Christensen, Peter: Commitment to West Col. Jr. High Girls Volleyball
Team - Thanks, Tom Taggart
Matthews, Leah: Monthly Free Dinner and Food Drives - Thanks,
Fred Tilley
Dartmouth North Library: Reopening and 20th Anniv. - Congrats,
Kennedy, Marie: Book on Alzheimers Dis. Published - Congrats.,
Hon. Michelle Thompson
Organizers of Castle Hill Drive Street Party: 29th Annual Event - Congrats.,
Braedon Clark
Yetman, Lynn: Retirement - Congrats.,
Claudia Chender
Change Makers and Future Ready Youth Soc. Groups: Burr Bank Project -
Recog., John White
Davies, Peter & Valerie: Retirement - Congrats,
Carman Kerr
Royal Cdn. Legion Br. 78: Commitment and Dedication to Veterans -
Thanks, Kendra Coombes
Lockview High School Parents: 2021 Prom Organiz. During Pandemic -
Thanks, Hon. Brian Wong
Metlege Diab, Hon. Lena: Election to Parliament - Congrats.,
Hon. Kelly Regan
Cyclesmith: Living Wage for Workers - Recog.,
Suzy Hansen
Cox, Bill: 104th Birthday - Congrats.,
Nolan Young
Verschuren, Annette: Podcast on Leadership - Congrats.,
Hon. Derek Mombourquette
Venus Envy & Glitter Bean Café: Com. Serv. - Recog.,
Lisa Lachance
United Way: 2021 Nova Scotia Harbour Swim Fundraiser - Congrats.,
Hon. Barbara Adams
Legere, Dr. Al: Yarmouth Hospice Society Inits. - Thanks, 
Hon. Zach Churchill
Flenjor Foods African Grocery Store: New Loc. Opening - Recog.,
No. 48, Prem.: Health Care Election Promises - Update,
Hon. Iain Rankin
No. 49, Prem.: Mental Health Budget - Increase,
Gary Burrill
No. 50, Prem. - Pub. Health: Funding Increase - Commit,
Hon. Iain Rankin
No. 51, Prem.: Emerg. Shelter - Details,
Hon. Iain Rankin
No. 52, Prem. - Judges: Vacancies - Timeline,
Hon. Iain Rankin
No. 53, H&W: Ambulance Fees - Barrier,
No. 54, Justice: Policing Models Review - Update,
Angela Simmonds
No. 55, EARI - LTI: Commissioner Appointments - Update,
Angela Simmonds
No. 56, Adv. Ed.: Students' Voices - Important,
Ben Jessome
No. 57, EECD: School Closure Impact - Acknowledge,
Suzy Hansen
No. 58, H&W: Nurse Recruitment - Urgent,
Hon. Zach Churchill
No. 59, Econ. Dev.: Buy Local Loyalty Program - Explain,
Fred Tilley
No. 60, EECD: School Vaccine Clinics,
Hon. Derek Mombourquette
No. 61, Justice: RCMP Contract Review - Update,
Claudia Chender
No. 62, Public Works: Project Prioritization - Clarify,
Braedon Clark
No. 63, DCS: Income Assistance Increase - Commit,
Hon. Brendan Maguire
No. 64, OMHA: Mental Health Care Staffing Cost - Clarify,
Hon. Patricia Arab
SPEAKER'S RULING: Petitions by Kendra Coombes
Chris Palmer
Fred Tilley
Suzy Hansen
Hon. Brian Wong
Angela Simmonds
Trevor Boudreau
Carman Kerr
Adjourned debate
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Oct. 20th at 1:00 p.m


[Page 273]


Sixty-fourth General Assembly

First Session

1:00 P.M.


Hon. Keith Bain


Angela Simmonds, Lisa Lachance

THE SPEAKER » : Order, please. We'll begin the daily routine.


THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre-Whitney Pier.

KENDRA COOMBES « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition. The operative clause reads as follows:

"We the undersigned, as residents of Gardiner Mines and River Ryan request the Department of Transportation and Active Transportation resurface what is referred to as the New Bridge which connects the communities of River Ryan and Gardiner Mines. We also request the expansion joints be fixed and the New Bridge be cleaned once a year."

There are approximately 53 signatures. Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my name.

THE SPEAKER « » : I will take the petition under advisement.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre-Whitney Pier.

[Page 274]

KENDRA COOMBES « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition. The operative clause reads as follows:

"We the undersigned, as residents of Seaside Drive Gardiner Mines and River Ryan, respectfully request the Nova Scotia Government through the Department of Transportation and Active Transportation reduce the speed and eliminate unsafe passing lanes from the River Ryan Campground to the Bayside Canteen to ensure the safety of residents living in the area."

There are approximately 50 signatures. Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my name, as per the Rules of the House.

THE SPEAKER « » : I will take the petition under advisement.


THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. BRAD JOHNS » : Mr. Speaker, as Chair of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 1 - Elections Act.

Bill No. 4 - Public Archives Act.

Bill No. 13 - Police Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendments.

Also, Mr. Speaker, as the Chair of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 11 - Protecting Access to Health Services Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

THE SPEAKER « » : Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.


[Page 275]


THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. SUSAN CORKUM-GREEK « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to officially recognize and acknowledge Small Business Week in Nova Scotia. We need and value the significant contribution that businesses make to our communities and our economy. When they succeed, we succeed. Small businesses are employers. They drive our economy forward by providing jobs for Nova Scotians.

The past year and a half have presented challenges never seen before for all businesses. I want to thank this important sector for its commitment to work through these extraordinary circumstances. COVID-19 continues to have real public health and economic impacts, but through it all, Nova Scotia businesses have been front and centre, making significant sacrifices to protect their employees, their customers, and communities in the fight against the global pandemic. It has meant changing the way we do business.

The theme of Small Business Week 2021 is Digital Adoption. During the pandemic, many consumer behaviours have changed, such as moving to online shopping even when buying local. That is why we are supporting businesses to pivot to the digital economy. Many small businesses have already shifted, adapted, and persevered. Through uncertain times, they have demonstrated their resilience and proven that there is no better time to support local.

Mr. Speaker, our government wants money flowing around the economy to stay here. We believe money spent locally benefits all Nova Scotians.

Our government's made-in-Nova Scotia solutions to help grow the economy also include putting more money in employees' pockets by giving employers a choice of paying corporate taxes or increasing the pay of their workforce.

Small business owners are always learning, innovating, and thinking creatively, and that will serve our province well when we emerge from the pandemic. We know that supporting Nova Scotia businesses during COVID-19 is a critical part of helping them emerge in a strong position and will support Nova Scotia's economic recovery.

We live in a province where anything is possible. I want to acknowledge the team at Meta Materials on their recent huge milestone. This market win recognizes that world-class companies, technologies, and teams are being built here in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, we can do even more. We will work to support innovation-driven, green, and sustainable businesses. Our government will listen to small businesses across the province and in all sectors to get their feedback on all potential ways to further support them in taking actions to reduce emissions, including through rebates, targeted investments, and other supports.

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Our government is focused and committed over the next four years to give everything we have to make life better for our business community and all Nova Scotians. We have our challenges, but we have such incredible opportunities. Working together, we can get the job done. Our government will listen, will respect, and will work with our business community to put Nova Scotia in a better place than we were before the pandemic.

I encourage all Nova Scotians to continue to support and respect small businesses in their neighbourhoods and communities while we work together to beat this fourth wave. Thank you.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Northside-Westmount.

FRED TILLEY » : Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge and thank the minister for the advance copy of the statement. I appreciate that. I also would like to recognize Small Business Week here in Nova Scotia on behalf of our caucus.

Small business is the backbone of our economy. We're all fully aware of that. Small businesses are in it for more than just the business. They're in it for our communities. Whether they're sponsoring our sports teams or sponsoring events in our local community, without small business many events would not be able to happen in our community and our citizens would not be able to enjoy the benefits of that.

COVID-19 has certainly presented challenges and our small businesses have met and exceeded those challenges. Small business owners from Sydney Mines to Yarmouth and all points in between, both rural and urban, need us. We need to step up and help small businesses in our communities.

Two words that come to mind when I think of small business throughout this pandemic are "nimble" and "perseverance." Some examples that we can think of are small businesses pivoting - restaurants all of a sudden becoming food delivery agents and knocking on your door with your food when you need it - and our residents supporting those businesses as we should. Small business owners are our friends, our family, and our neighbours, and it is incumbent upon us as Nova Scotians to support our small businesses and ensure that they recover and grow from this pandemic.

I'm extremely proud of the work of this previous government in reducing red tape for our small businesses, especially during times like this, which will allow them to focus on business planning and their ability to pull their organization or their company out of the pandemic.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to conclude with warm wishes for all small business owners in the province. Again, I hope Nova Scotians will step up to the plate and do the right thing.

[Page 277]

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

CLAUDIA CHENDER » : Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take this opportunity to mark Small Business Week. Small independent businesses make our province what it is: resilient, creative, vibrant, and unique.

At the best of times, businesses that are small need to work twice as hard to succeed. This past year has been incredibly challenging and we recognize that many have had to close their doors. For those who have stayed open, the Public Health directives have been tough to navigate for retail and restaurants, but they did it with grace. They not only did what we asked but have stepped up and helped us stay safe. Culture and tourism have been especially hard hit, yet in so many ways they have gotten us through the pandemic by allowing us to rediscover what this province has to offer.

Since the theme of Small Business Week is Digital Adoption, I'd also like to give a particular shoutout to the farmers and farm markets, culture workers, and others who have quickly found ways to pivot - hopefully we stop using that word soon - online. It's a timely reminder that access to internet and cell service is still a barrier to economic growth, especially in rural areas. As we look at that online pivot, I hope that we will continue to pay close attention to the needs for equitable internet access for all Nova Scotians.

I also want to recognize the economic pressure that this pandemic has put on women-owned businesses in particular. Research has shown that Canadian businesses led by women are taking twice as long to recover. I hope that we've finally learned the lesson that child care is essential to this economy.

Small businesses have so often been a conduit for the kindness in our communities over this past year. We've seen so many go out of their way to offer coffees for health care workers, arrange deliveries for quarantined neighbours, and beyond. I encourage all MLAs to take a moment this week to express their gratitude for the small businesses in their community.

I will close by giving a shoutout to the incredible small business community of Dartmouth South who have really gotten our community through this pandemic in so many ways, and to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude. Thank you.


THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

[1:15 p.m.]

[Page 278]


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

Whereas the Clean Foundation of Nova Scotia is making our province a better place through its work to create greener and healthier communities; and

Whereas our youth are concerned about the environment and want to make a difference and lead change, and the Clean Foundation, through its Summer internship program, is providing our youth with an opportunity to lead change while also acquiring valuable new skills and learning; and

Whereas the Clean Foundation began a new African Nova Scotian internship stream this year and, through all of its internship streams this Summer, matched 104 Nova Scotian youth with jobs at 62 organizations, including 10 African Nova Scotian youth and 21 Indigenous youth. These youth work on environmental projects that are benefiting their communities;

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, be it resolved that all members of this Legislature join me in thanking the Clean Foundation of Nova Scotia for their work to support and mentor our next generation of environmental leaders.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

THE SPEAKER « » : There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

All those in favour? Contrary minded? Thank you.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.


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

Whereas October 18th is Persons Day, marking the Persons Case in 1929 which declared women as persons under the law and established women's rights to fully participate in politics and affairs of state; and

[Page 279]

Whereas the historic decision to include women in the legal definition of "persons" gave women the right to be appointed to the Senate of Canada, thereby paving the way for women's increased participation in politics and in public service leadership; and

Whereas increasing women's representation in politics and leadership positions can lead to greater gender equality and to better social, economic, and political outcomes for all;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly recognize this important day, promote women in all their diversity as the leaders of Nova Scotia, and work together to advance gender and equity and remove barriers for all women and girls.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

THE SPEAKER « » : There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

All those in favour? Contrary minded? Thank you.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.


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

Whereas October 17th to the 24th is Foster Family Appreciation Week, an opportunity to recognize Nova Scotians who provide safety and security to children in their care; and

Whereas foster parents are among the most dedicated volunteers in our province, and an inspiration to all of us; and

Whereas foster families deserve recognition, not just during Foster Family Appreciation Week, but every day, for opening their hearts and homes to children and youth;

[Page 280]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in thanking foster families for everything they do to help make the future brighter and our communities stronger.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

THE SPEAKER « » : There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

All those in favour? Contrary minded? Thank you.

The motion is carried.


Bill No. 22 - Entitled an Act to Redress Harm and Environmental Racism. (Hon. Iain Rankin)

Bill No. 23 - Entitled an Act to Establish a Mental Health Bill of Rights. (Lisa Lachance)

Bill No. 24 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 25 of the Acts of 1996, the Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act. (Hon. Steve Craig)

Bill No. 25 - Entitled an Act Respecting Extended Producer Responsibility and Paper and Packaging. (Keith Irving)

Bill No. 26 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1992, the Emergency "911" Act. (Lisa Lachance)

Bill No. 27 - Entitled an Act Amend Chapter 77 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Collection and Debt Management Agencies Act. (Hon. Colton LeBlanc)

Bill No. 28 ‑ Entitled an Act to Provide Accountability for Sustainable Forest Practices. (Carman Kerr)

Bill No. 29 ‑ Entitled an Act Respecting Training for Green Jobs. (Hon. Keith Irving)

[Page 281]

THE SPEAKER « » : Ordered that these bills be read second time on a future day.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cumberland South.



HON. TORY RUSHTON » : Mr. Speaker it is with a heavy heart that I stand here today. I want to extend my sincere heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the family, friends, and community back in Cumberland South today with the tragic news from yesterday's events. We are here to support the family and community at this time.

I ask that everyone in this House join me in showing this family that we are here as Nova Scotians and as legislators to support them today, tomorrow, and the weeks ahead, as they need it.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cumberland North.



ELIZABETH SMITH-MCCROSSIN » : Mr. Speaker, I would like to join my colleague from Cumberland South today in rising to acknowledging the strength and fortitude of the people of Cumberland amidst unimaginable loss and tragedy. Loss of a loved one is always a sad time. However, when there is a loss of a child, the pain of this loss reverberates through communities and all people.

Today we grieve the death of an innocent 7‑year‑old boy who was killed yesterday in a tragic accident. Last week we grieved the sudden death of an innocent 10‑month‑old baby boy. A couple of weeks earlier we grieved the death of four innocent children, along with their parents, in a tragic fire. The grief is hard to bear. Hundreds of families in Cumberland and across Nova Scotia and the Maritimes are affected. The people of Cumberland are strong. We are resilient but we are human, and this pain and loss has brought us to our knees.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the members of this House of Assembly to join me in a moment of silence today in honour of the families of Cumberland who have suffered the tragic losses of children and ask for them to be comforted during this time of grieving.

[Page 282]

[A moment of silence was observed.]

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Armdale.


ALI DUALE » : Mr. Speaker and members of this Legislature, I did prepare a member's statement today. I made the decision to change my mind because every child matters.

I would like to take this moment to recognize every single child who has been lost in this world, this country, and this province. These children are not names and numbers. They are our futures. As a father of eight children, I know how my children are valuable, but also I do recognize other children. Members of the community who are mourning this loss, we are with you.

I will ask this House again to join with me - another stand of solidarity, for the loss of these children.

[A moment of silence was observed.]

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre-Whitney Pier.



KENDRA COOMBES « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge another youth centre in my riding, Undercurrent, under the direction of Dave Sawler. I wish to welcome Undercurrent to New Waterford, where it is opening a space for youth in our area.

Youth programs are essential to our communities. They inspire and change the lives of youth involved in these programs like Undercurrent, because they make youth and children feel valued.

Breaking the cycle of poverty and addiction in our communities informs much of the work Undercurrent does. With one in three children and families living in poverty in Cape Breton, youth centres play a vital role in breaking these cycles and building community leaders.

I ask the house to join me in thanking Dave Sawler and Undercurrent for the work they do.

[Page 283]

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou Centre.


HON. PAT DUNN » : Mr. Speaker, I am saddened to announce the sudden passing of Brian "Crusher" Boudreau, a former Liberal and Independent member of this House of Assembly. Brian served the people of the former Cape Breton-The Lakes from 1999 to 2003. Prior to that, he was a councillor and deputy mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality from the time it was formed in 1995 until he was elected as MLA in 1999.

I ask that all members of this House of Assembly join me in expressing our sincere and deepest sympathy to his family and many friends on his passing.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for a moment of silence to reflect on the passing of former MLA Boudreau.

[A moment of silence was observed.]

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Clayton Park West.


RAFAH DICOSTANZO » : Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the Keshen Goodman Library as they celebrate their 20th year of providing such an integral service to our local communities. My family has used this library since it opened in 2001. My two daughters, while in elementary, loved the summer reading program at the Keshen Goodman Library and I still remember the excitement of their visits while completing their sticker booklet.

I am impressed by the variety of programs they offer, some of which include a walking series, take-home food kits, yoga, story time, knitting, just to name a few.

It is truly heartwarming visiting our library and listening to the many languages spoken from around the globe.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the House of Assembly please join me in recognizing and celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Keshen Goodman Library.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Needham.


[Page 284]

SUZY HANSEN » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to welcome a new business in the Halifax Needham riding. Vaughan's General Store opened in September on Bloomfield Street in North End Halifax.

Asher Boates, owner of the store, offers curated clothing and gifts that are made with environmentally sustainable and socially responsible materials. They are also focusing on Canadian-made products that are meant to last. Hosting pop-up shops of local artists, makers, musicians, and activists is also in the plans for this local business.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all members help to join me in welcoming Vaughan's General Store to the neighbourhood, and I wish you a long and successful relationship in our community of Halifax Needham.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Eastern Shore.


KENT SMITH » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the passing of a community icon. John Percy Asprey, better known to everyone in the Sheet Harbour area as Jock, passed away peacefully on October 18th at the age of 91. With a long and diverse career, Jock worked for the local pulp mill and then the Department of Transportation before starting his own businesses, Sheet Harbour Sanitation and Asprey's Towing & Salvage.

Jock's community involvement was as widespread as his notoriety, as he volunteered with the fire department and the board of trade, and was past president of the Native Council of Nova Scotia, Zone 11. Perhaps Jock's most notable traits were his humour and his quick wit, attributes which he maintained until the very end.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of this House to join me in offering sincere condolences to Jock's family and loved ones.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Clare.


RONNIE LEBLANC » : Mr. Speaker, j'aimerai profiter de cette occasion pour remercier Michel Comeau, qui a récemment pris sa retraite de sa poste de directeur général du Conseil scolaire acadien provincial.

Il y a 38 ans que Michel a débuté sa carrière en enseignement dans nos salles de classe. Au cours des années, il a été nommé directeur d'école et il a occupé des postes clés au sein de l'administration du CSAP avant d'occuper la poste de directeur général. Lorsqu'il occupait la poste de directeur général, il a dirigé une équipe qui a travaillé sans relâche pour assurer une éducation de haute qualité en français langue première en Nouvelle-Écosse.

[Page 285]

Michel, alors que tu commences ta retraite, soyez assuré que l'équipe du CSAP continue à travailler pour l'avancement d'une éducation de qualité aux écoles du CSAP.

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Michel Comeau, who recently retired from his position as executive director at the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial. It has been 38 years since Michel started his teaching career in our area's classrooms. Over time he would be named school principal and he has occupied some key posts within the administration of the school board before being named its executive director.

While in the post of executive director, Michel worked tirelessly with his team to assure a first-rate education in French as a first language in Nova Scotia.

Michel, as you begin your retirement, be confident that your CSAP team, the team that you helped to establish, will continue to enhance the excellent education offered in schools of the CSAP. Merci.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.



LISA LACHANCE » : Mr. Speaker, this past Saturday, October 16th was World Food Day. World Food Day was established in 1979 and is celebrated by more than 150 countries around the world.

This year's theme was "Safe food now for a healthy tomorrow" and focused on the environmental impact of food production. The way we produce, consume, and even waste food can take a heavy toll on our planet.

The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture has been the voice of Nova Scotia farmers since 1895. The Federation supports environmental stewardship initiatives across Nova Scotia for farmers.

We also have Nova Scotia farms like Taproot Farms who adopted the UN Sustainability Development Goals as a tool to plan for their farm's future.

Mr. Speaker, please join me in recognizing Nova Scotia farmers who are undertaking a sustainable approach to food production.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Colchester North.

[Page 286]



TOM TAGGART » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Peter Christensen and recognize his hard work and continued commitment to the West Colchester Jr. High School girls volleyball team for more than 30 years.

In 1990, when West Colchester Consolidated high school had their first official Jr. High girls volleyball team coached by Peter, it became a common occurrence that other district schools said it was too far to travel to play in West Colchester.

By 1995, West Colchester Consolidated were league champions and they received their first banner. Between 1995 and 2021, this team has won many championship banners, all proudly hanging in the gymnasium.

I ask all members of the Nova Scotia Legislature to join me in congratulating Coach Peter Christensen on his determination, for not giving up but instead leading this team to great victories.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Northside-Westmount.



FRED TILLEY « » : Mr. Speaker, I'd like to recognize Leah Matthews, a resident of the Northside who has taken it upon herself to help her community members who are in need.

Leah has been doing a monthly free dinner for anyone in the community who may need it. She sources and prepares the ingredients and posts on Facebook where residents can pick up their meal. In addition, for anyone who is unable to pick up their meal, Leah will deliver it to their home.

Food insecurity is such an important issue in all our communities, and efforts like Leah's certainly provide much needed healthy meals to those who are in need.

In addition to preparing a monthly dinner, Leah has recognized that our local food cupboards have been emptying as soon as they're filled. Leah has organized food drives, including sponsorships, to help those food cupboards be sustained.

I would ask all members to join me in thanking Leah Matthews for her compassion, dedication, and actions in helping to combat food insecurity on the Northside.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

[Page 287]



SUSAN LEBLANC « » : Mr. Speaker, the day that many in the North Dartmouth community have been waiting for has finally come. After many months of renovations, the Dartmouth North Public Library has finally reopened in its home space in the Dartmouth North Community Centre.

In a fortuitous turn of events, this reopening coincides with the library's 25th anniversary, and the library will be holding a celebration of both from October 16th to the 23rd. This week will include events, various games, a scavenger hunt and a spilling-the-tea day, memory sharing, tours of the shiny new space, and the chance to win prizes.

During the renovations, the library was located at Farrell Hall, which was a great temporary location. No matter where the library has been physically located, I have been very grateful for the work the library staff does in our community. They are truly incredible people and do essential work in Dartmouth North.

I ask that all members of this House join me in congratulating the team of the Dartmouth North library for 25 amazing years of community building, providing valuable support, education, food, and more, and wish them all the best in their new space.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Antigonish.



HON. MICHELLE THOMPSON » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Marie Kennedy who recently published her book It's Going to Be OK, written by her and her two sons, Alex and Ben.

Marie's mother Ruby MacLeod was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in her early 70s, and after living with the disease for over 10 years, passed away in 2012.

This children's book shows how Ruby's diagnosis with Alzheimer's impacted her family and how they journeyed through that together. Their hope is that this book will help other families and children better understand the impacts of Alzheimer's disease, and while there is grief, there will always be hope and everything will be okay.

Marie Kennedy is a gifted educator and school counsellor. This book has been a labour of love for Marie and has been on her mind and in her heart for a long time. The book is illustrated by the talented singer, songwriter, and artist Meaghan Smith. Marie's sons Alex and Ben have grown into fine young men and were loving and devoted grandsons to Ruby.

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I ask all members of this Legislature to congratulate Marie, Alex, and Ben. I encourage you and anyone going through a similar experience to read her book.

[1:45 p.m.]

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Bedford South.


BRAEDON CLARK » : I would like to congratulate and thank the organizers of the Castle Hill Street Party for a fantastic 29th annual event that I recently attended.

For nearly 30 years, the Castle Hill Drive area has established a tradition of coming together near the end of the Summer at the Castle Hill playground for a street party. This informal gathering for residents and their families gives them an opportunity to meet their neighbours, share a meal, have some fun, and create community spirit.

My son and I had a great time participating this year, and I even had the privilege of being dunked in the dunk tank - four times. Congratulations to Brad, Andy, and all the organizers - the water was cold - and I am looking forward to attending the 30th event next year.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth South.


CLAUDIA CHENDER « » : I rise to recognize Lynn Yetman on her retirement after seven years as the Executive Director of the Healthy Minds Cooperative in Dartmouth South.

As a passionate mental health advocate, Lynn has led the co-operative with a firm commitment to its mission to create a supportive, stigma-free space for those living with mental health and addiction challenges. During her tenure, she fostered and maintained a strong connection to peer-led, trauma-informed programming and to partners of the co-op and communities across Nova Scotia, including our office.

Outside of this role, Lynn has been a strong advocate for social justice, having been involved in committees and boards on issues related to homelessness and women involved in the criminal justice system, as well as ongoing participation in the community health board.

Please join me in thanking Lynn for her years of service and wishing her a very well-earned retirement.

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THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Glace Bay-Dominion.



JOHN WHITE: Today I would like to recognize two groups of students from Glace Bay High School - the Change Makers and Future Ready Youth Society.

A contentious issue for the students of Glace Bay High is the area known as the Burr Bank. The Burr Bank has been the focus of several incidents which received much media attention, negatively impacting the high school.

Assisted by volunteer staff and countless other professionals outside of the school, these two groups were able to successfully address the escalating concern, much to the pleasure of everyone involved. The project is well under way. It's the construction of a pedestrian bridge, a visible walking path, sitting benches and new landscaping. There is no better lesson for a youth than that of empowerment.

I ask members of the Nova Scotia Legislature to join me in recognizing these students for their vision to seek out an intervention which changed the reputation of the school and our community.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Annapolis.


CARMAN KERR » : I rise today to recognize our Town Crier for Annapolis Royal, Middleton, and Annapolis County: Peter Davies and his consort, Valerie Davies. The Davies have recently decided to step away from their roles after more than two decades of service to our communities.

Over these years, Mr. Davies has delivered dozens of proclamations, and together they have provided a warm welcome to visiting dignitaries, served as exemplary representatives of our communities and our province, and added pomp and pageantry to so many occasions and events. Their presence will certainly be missed.

I ask all members of the House of Assembly to join me in thanking both Peter and Valerie Davies for all they've done for the community through their service and Town Crier and consort.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre-Whitney Pier.


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KENDRA COOMBES « » : I rise today in recognition of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 78. The membership's dedication to veterans and the communities that Branch 78 serves is, to put it simply, "awesome."

Branch 78 took on a project to gather photos of all veterans and first responders in the communities it serves, which are Dominion, Reserve Mines, and Gardiner Mines. The photos are framed and are now on display at Branch 78. The tribute to veterans and first responders is displayed throughout the hall, and it is a beautiful reminder of individuals' dedication to service and to community.

The dedication to the community by Branch 78 is immense. The Legion members are always willing to help promote and participate in community events and causes including, but not limited to, the Hawks training field, and hosting Santa and holiday events, sledding events in the winter, and so much more.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the House to join me in thanking Branch No. 78 for their commitment and dedication to veterans and the community it serves.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.



HON. BRIAN WONG » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to thank a group of seven hard-working Lockview High School parents who, despite constantly changing COVID-19 rules and restrictions, organized a memorable prom for the graduating students of 2021.

When it looked like schools would be unable to hold proms for their graduating students, a group of parents began meeting to plan an event for their students. For four months, they organized and then re-organized an outstanding event held at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel.

To accommodate the 377 attendees, the prom took place in three separate ballrooms with assigned seating in tables of 10. Dinner, dancing, pictures, and comedian performers rounded out the night celebrating the end to their high school years.

Mr. Speaker, please join me in thanking these hard-working parents for their support of these students and providing them with a memorable celebration.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Bedford Basin.


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HON. KELLY REGAN » : Mr. Speaker, I'd like to congratulate a person well known to many members of this House. The honourable Lena Metlege Diab was elected to Parliament on September 20th of this year. She is one of eight Liberal members to be elected from Nova Scotia and the only woman.

Lena previously served this House as the member for Halifax Armdale and was a former minister of a number of provincial departments and offices, including the Departments of Labour and Advanced Education, Immigration, Acadian Affairs, and Justice. Prior to being elected provincially, Lena was a practising lawyer for many years. She is the recipient of many honours and awards, including a Queen's Counsel designation.

Lena is a mother and grandmother and I know her family is proud of their mom. She is the first woman to be elected to Parliament from the constituency of Halifax West. I know all of her former colleagues on both sides of the aisle will want to wish Lena all the best in her new role in Ottawa. (Applause)

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Needham.


SUZY HANSEN « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge Cyclesmith.

Cyclesmith has made its home on Agricola Street in Halifax Needham for many years and has been involved with the community in many, many ways. Involvement with organizations such as the Ecology Action Centre, Halifax Public Libraries, Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, and many more has solidified their commitment to the community.

On September 1st this year, Cyclesmith announced the adoption of a living wage for workers, saying this hourly rate is calculated based on the living expenses of a family of four with two children, aged four and seven, with each parent working full-time as defined by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

I ask that all members of this House applaud this action taken by Cyclesmith and their leadership in the community. (Applause)

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Shelburne.


[Page 292]

NOLAN YOUNG » : Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize Bill Cox, who turned 104 on October 6, 2021. At 23, Bill became a qualified shipwright, building 74 wooden vessels including yachts, fishing boats, and RCMP patrol vessels

By 1942, Bill joined the war effort as a shipwright. For his service, Bill was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and the British Empire Medal, granted to him by King George VI for bravery and undaunted devotion to duty. This devotion extended to his community where he served as a town councillor and then as mayor for many years.

In 1977, Bill was awarded the Queen's Silver Medal, the Queen's Gold Medal in 2002, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for his outstanding service to his town, his province, and his country.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully ask all MLAs join me in sending congratulations to Bill Cox on his life-long achievements.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Sydney-Membertou.



HON. DEREK MOMBOURQUETTE » : Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place to recognize someone who would be no stranger to members of the House: Annette Verschuren.

Annette has had a very successful business career as the CEO of Home Depot here in North America and Asia. She is the co-founder of Michaels and other businesses that she's involved with. She's a true champion for Cape Breton. She's been an inspiration to many of us as we've come through university. She's been an inspiration to students at CBU as the Vice Chancellor.

Today she actually starts a new endeavour, which is a podcast where she's going to be interviewing leaders from across the country, talking about their leadership styles and what they do to help support communities.

I rise in my place today to congratulate Annette on all of her success, and also thank her for her leadership and mentorship and being such a champion for Cape Breton. I look forward to hearing her podcast as she interviews leaders from all over the country.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.


[Page 293]

LISA LACHANCE « » : This is Small Business Week in Nova Scotia, and today, I would like to highlight a couple of local businesses in Halifax Citadel-Sable Island that provide not only goods and services but safe spaces and public education.

Venus Envy is an education-based sex shop and bookstore. Beyond their store walls, the contributions they have made and continue to make through workshops, donations, partnerships, and advocacy have contributed tremendously to help community members celebrate gender and sexuality with less fear, judgement, and shame, and more affirmation, love, and joy.

The Glitter Bean Café is a worker-owned co-op, unionized with SEIU Local 2, a victory won by café workers in 2013. They work to create a community space that will provide a safer space for queer, two-spirit, and trans people in Kjipuktuk.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members to join me in recognizing the positive impact of small businesses on the well-being of Nova Scotians.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Eastern Passage.



BARBARA ADAMS » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the United Way for their very successful fundraiser, the 2021 Nova Scotia Harbour Swim for United Way.

From Tuesday, September 7 to Friday, September 10, 2021, at four sites around the province - Chester, Halifax, Pictou, and Sydney - swimmers made the plunge to swim 1,500 meters in 40 minutes. I was proud to attend the Halifax site to thank participants as they finished their course. The fundraising organizations raised just under an amazing $37,000.

I ask all members of the Nova Scotia Legislature to join me in recognizing the United Way for their dedication to all Nova Scotians and especially to the participants of the challenge as well as all those who were able to donate to such a worthy cause.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Yarmouth.


HON. ZACH CHURCHILL » : I rise today to pay tribute to Dr. Al Legere of Yarmouth.

When the Yarmouth Hospice Society founder and chair, Shirley Hubbard, began the society back in 2004, she said the first phone call she made was to Dr. Legere. As the good doctor knew, you don't say no to Shirley Hubbard. He would go on to dedicate his time and knowledge to this Hospice Society for almost 17 years.

[Page 294]

He never missed a meeting and was a calming and inspiring presence who helped the Yarmouth Hospice Society with some of its most crucial initiatives, including acquiring pain pumps, furnishing a family room at Yarmouth Regional Hospital, assisting the VON, and working with our previous government and the Health Authority to acquire palliative care beds on 4 North at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital. The work of Dr. Legere and the Yarmouth Hospitality Society became the model that our government adopted to create palliative care spaces throughout the province.

I ask this House to join me in thanking Dr. Al Legere for sharing his wisdom, time, and energy with the Yarmouth Hospice Society for the last 17 years. His dedication has helped transform, improve, and bring comfort to the lives of many in our community and from one end of the province to the other.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth North.



SUSAN LEBLANC « » : Mr. Speaker, I would like to mark this Small Business Week by recognizing a Black and African Canadian-owned business that recently opened a new location in Dartmouth North: Flenjor Foods African Grocery. Co-owned by couple Olakunie and Oladiwura Fakiyesi, who arrived in Canada from Nigeria in 2016. The Albro Lake location is Flenjor's second home in the HRM, the first being in Spryfield.

The Fakiyesis opened their first location in 2019 after they had difficulty finding the foods from home that they were accustomed to. Flenjor sells not only food but also beauty and hair products, including Natural Butter Bar products, which is also from Dartmouth North, as well as beautiful African fabrics. They even have an e-commerce site, where customers can order African goods from home. As Olakunie said in a video created for CBC's Being Black in Canada series, food is something that makes people feel at home.

I am so glad that Flenjor has found a home in Dartmouth North.

THE SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The time for Statements by Members has expired.

[2:00 p.m.]

[Page 295]



THE SPEAKER « » : The time is now 2:00 p.m. We'll finish at 2:50 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.


HON. IAIN RANKIN : Mr. Speaker, a lot of promises were made in the last election campaign, particularly around health care. Some would say that the Premier promised the moon.

One of the promises made during the campaign was to meet the benchmark standards for surgery wait times, within 18 months of being elected. We still have a long way to go - we still have 16 months to reach that.

An important part of that, an accountability measure, was committed to the province to ensure that there was a live website to track surgeries daily - the type of surgeries and how that would impact the wait times for surgeries moving forward. I'll table that.

My question to the Premier » : Where can Nova Scotians find this website?

HON. TIM HOUSTON (The Premier) « » : I thank the member for the question. What I would say is what we promised is we would do everything we can to make sure that Nova Scotians can access health care. That may have seemed like the moon to a government who looked the other way for eight years while access to health care deteriorated and deteriorated, but it's just something that people have a right to expect.

We've made a number of commitments and we stand by every single one of them. These things take time, but we're working on all those commitments because we want to make sure that Nova Scotians have confidence that their government will put them first and do everything they can to access health care.

Nova Scotians know we're working on it. The Opposition should help us with it.

IAIN RANKIN » : We are helping, Mr. Speaker. We take our job very seriously, holding the government to account for all these promises they've made. We certainly are proud of the record that when we came in eight years ago, tearing down the walls of our health care system with different health authorities operating in many different parts of the province. That was a policy that that party supported and we're waiting for significant reform of that kind of scale.

[Page 296]

There's another commitment that was made to extend the hours of operating rooms. They referred to the current standard right now, 9 to 5, as banking hours - a nice little sound bite, Mr. Speaker. What we're asking for is when and where will we see this. There is an assumption that 40 per cent of surgeons would be prepared to do this. Over 100 surgeons is what the government said they would be prepared to do this.

My question to the Premier « » : Is that assumption right? Where are these operating rooms now operating across the province, beyond the normal banking hours?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I do thank the member for this serious question. We have long wait-lists in this province and we need to address that and we will be very focused on that, particularly where surgeries are concerned. As I said, across the board with access to health care, we have staffing requirements, we have issues with the structure of the system.

Yes, we did give the government a chance in its early days on the amalgamation of the health authorities, but we now know that removing decisions from local communities and taking everything away to Halifax has not been good for health care. The costs of administration of the health care system are much, much higher and the health care outcomes are much, much lower.

So, yes, we have a lot of work to do to clean up what we inherited, but we'll do that work and we will clean it up.

IAIN RANKIN « » : Mr. Speaker, this is from a government that dismantled the board that had regional representation, that had more equitable representation, more reflective of the population, in favour of a four-person management team operating out of Halifax.

If we're talking about creating local leadership teams, that was also a commitment that we're waiting for the government to provide, and he's pushing off some of his more long-term policies that he's committed to, but with this particular promise it was said in the platform that within three months of being elected they would have a clinical health services plan.

My question to the Premier, now that he has been in two months: Can we expect that these plans will be in place locally within a month?

THE PREMIER « » : Certainly, what we've done is we've made changes, for sure, to make sure that we could be responsive to the needs of the province and, first and foremost, responsive to the needs of health care professionals.

That's why we actually took the time to actually sit and listen to health care professionals from one end of this province to the other. I don't think any government has done that, certainly definitely not in the last eight years. We had great turnout, we have great support and buy-in from the health care professionals that are desperate, just desperate to believe that somebody will listen to them. We will listen to them in the development of the clinical plans. We will listen to them in making the changes that can improve access to health care, but we want the health care professionals of this province to know they have a partner in this government. We are here to help.

[Page 297]

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


GARY BURRILL » : Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the Premier, and they're in the area of mental health.

We know that in Nova Scotia, our lifetime prevalence rates for people having mental health issues are amongst the highest in the country - 42 per cent as compared to a national average of 33 per cent. We also know that the amount that we spend as a province in this area is not similarly high. We spend about 6 per cent of our global health budget on mental health, and that compares to an average across Canada of around 7 per cent. We know that that, again, falls far short of the World Health Organization's international recommended benchmark of 10 per cent.

I want to ask the Premier « » : When does he plan for the province, under this government's leadership, to meet the WHO's international benchmark standard of 10 per cent of spending on mental health?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for raising this important topic. We know that the prevalence is increasing. They used to say that one in five Canadians was impacted by addictions and mental health issues; now they say one in three. We know that.

I'm very proud of the commitments we made during the campaign - universal mental health care, opening up access points - and we have a wonderful Minister responsible for Addictions and Mental Health, and he is very, very focused on making sure that Nova Scotians can access the addictions and mental health support they need when they need it. We'll get busy on that. You'll see that spending increase.

GARY BURRILL « » : I'd like to refer to the Premier's mandate letter to the Minister responsible for Mental Health and Addictions, where he is charged with the responsibility to champion a three-digit mental health crisis phone line.

Mr. Speaker, a crisis phone line, of course, is a good thing and a helpful thing, but there is a widespread body of opinion in this area that what is actually needed are more in-person services: in particular, in-person services of the sort that could be provided 24/7 across the province in mental health emergency service response teams, which we have at the moment, but only in the central region of the province.

[Page 298]

I want to ask the Premier « » : Is he prepared to make the investments needed to provide an in-person, province-wide emergency mental health service?

THE PREMIER « » : Of course. We need to present options for people. A phone line is important in some situations. Of course, there are many, many situations where we need in-person, and that is exactly what we're driving toward when we talk about universal mental health care. It will unleash the resources of the province for the benefit of Nova Scotians.

There are lots of qualified professionals who can help fellow Nova Scotians. They don't all work for the Nova Scotia Health Authority. We're going to harness that resource for the benefit of Nova Scotians. That will be in-person, that will be virtually, that will be on the phone, that will be whatever Nova Scotians need at the time they need it. They can count on this government to deliver access to health care.

GARY BURRILL « » : And yet, Mr. Speaker, it is a great concern that in that same mandate letter, there is, in fact, no mention of very important in-person, walk-in, drop-in, same-day, next-day mental health services. These services are badly needed, and it is important for us to register the fact that they're available in every province of the Atlantic region except Nova Scotia.

So, I do want to ask the Premier « » : Does he agree with me that the people of Nova Scotia should have the same level of in-person, drop-in mental health services that are enjoyed and received by the rest of the people of our region?

THE PREMIER « » : The people of Nova Scotia should have access to the best level of care. That's why we put forward a plan for addictions and mental health that many people have described as the most progressive in the country.

We will execute on that. I have complete faith in the minister to execute on making sure that we have access points in this province that help Nova Scotians. That's what our focus is and we will do whatever is necessary to make it happen.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.


[Page 299]

HON. IAIN RANKIN « » : Mr. Speaker, related to mental health, related to surgery times, access to primary care, there was a commitment to make Nova Scotia the healthiest province on the country according to the Conference Board of Canada.

While we await these investments that have been promised, of course we need to make those but we also need to invest in preventive health care if you want to get at the core of a healthy population.

In the last budget we increased Public Health funding. I want to ask the Premier « » : Will he commit to increasing Public Health funding?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, we've been very clear: We will spend the money that is necessary. There are lots of needs in this province. We have inherited a situation. We won't look away from those Nova Scotians who need health care. That means spending money. I am quite flattered, to be honest, that the Opposition is now spending the time to go through our platform and ask us about the when, the when, because they are excited for it too. They want to know when it's going to happen.

The flip side of that is that we put these platforms out a long time ago. Well over a year before the election, we were putting these platforms out. Imagine, Mr. Speaker, if they would have read them at that time and actually did some of these things when they were sitting in government and had a chance to. They decided not to. We won't.

IAIN RANKIN « » : Mr. Speaker, what we are looking for is action. It is very clear that they have a number of promises and no plan to implement them. In the time they were . . . (Interruption) We've taken action in a number of areas. I could go through them but there is not enough time in the day. What I would say is that I will continue to press to ensure that they keep their commitments.

It was said in the platform - and I will table it - that they would be expanding access to dietitians, another important service that people would get, whether it is virtually in remote communities. He said that ‑ in the platform it said that the nutritional needs and questions must be established. Dietitians must be available in all communities whether it is virtual or not.

I would like to ask the Premier « » : When will they have access to these dietitians in virtually all communities in the province?

TIM HOUSTON « » : Certainly, these PC platform commitments are something that we invested a lot of time sharing with Nova Scotians when travelling the province. I am happy to do that again. Maybe I'll offer a little session to the Opposition; one night we can actually go through our platform. What I want Nova Scotians to know is we made those commitments after doing the research to understand what was necessary to move this province forward and when we made them we only made commitments that we were serious about keeping. We didn't make commitments like a doctor for every Nova Scotian without ever any plan to do it. We only made commitments that we are serious about taking . . . (Interruption)

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THE SPEAKER « » : Order, please. Order, please. Order, please. The Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER « » : Yes, the commitments are specific because we did the homework and when we made those commitments, I signed my name beside them, so I am very familiar with the commitments I made. We only made commitments that we are serious about making, that we know will help Nova Scotians.

I want Nova Scotians to know that nothing has changed. We are serious about making those commitments and we will do whatever it takes to make it happen. Thank you.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition on a new question.


HON. IAIN RANKIN « » : Mr. Speaker, we look forward to the commitments that they made, providing all those supports to all Nova Scotians: no wait times for long‑term care, 2,000 people working in them in a national shortage, 2,500 beds, but I will move on to housing, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier confirmed to me on Friday that they agree they are the lead jurisdiction in this matter to ensure that we have safe, affordable housing for Nova Scotians.

HRM stepped up to provide 24 modular homes. They have people in emergency shelter in the Gray Arena until October 31st. Can the Premier let the House know if the Province is prepared to provide emergency shelter beyond this time, or if we have to wait until tomorrow to get the details of how they are providing housing for all those people?

THE PREMIER « » : Look, this is a serious issue. There is a housing crisis, there is a homelessness crisis in many parts of this province. We recognize that and we are committed to doing what is necessary to help those Nova Scotians who are in need.

We will put forward a plan tomorrow and we will have a robust debate on how good or not good that plan is. We will listen and we will adapt as necessary, but the number one thing that we should all take from this discussion is: when there's a crisis, you don't look the other way. You step up and you get to work, and that's exactly what we'll do.

[2:15 p.m.]

[Page 301]

IAIN RANKIN « » : Mr. Speaker, the problem is that for two months they have been looking the other way. They've been in government now for two months and they haven't even come out with . . . (Interruptions)

On July 6th, Mr. Speaker, the previous government committed to the $25 million to ensure that the quick-start commitments would be under way. We're travelling the province. We're meeting with Adsum House, the YWCA and they're saying, where is the money flowing to? Where is the call for proposals from community builders? Where are the other parts of those short-term recommendations? Is he just going to copy what's out of the Affordable Housing Commission or is he going to actually implement the plan - the short-term recommendations - and ensure that money's out the door tomorrow?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, the former Premier knows he had a chance to do the things that he's asking me, what I didn't do in the eight weeks. As a matter of fact, they had eight years to do them.

What I will say in specific terms to the quick-start in the announcement that the former Premier made when he called the election - a Summer election, I might remind the members opposite - what I would say is from our initial assessment of the dollar value that was attached to that announcement, our assessment: not enough. We'll do what's necessary. (Applause)

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition on another new question.


HON. IAIN RANKIN « » : Mr. Speaker, we provided all the money that was asked for for that quick-start announcement, plus we're in support of housing that's being worked on right now. We accepted every single recommendation in the report. But they can certainly do more, and we'll applaud those efforts.

Mr. Speaker, judges play a vital role in our justice system. There are currently two vacancies, one in the Antigonish area and one in the Halifax region.

I'd like to ask the Premier « » : When can the people of these areas in the province expect to see these two appointments filled?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want the member to know that I've met with the justices, including - the minister and I met with them. We understand the importance of the justice system. We understand the importance of the judicial process and the separation from the Executive Branch of government.

What I will say is that we understand the need to fill those vacancies. When it comes time, we won't interfere like the prior government did.

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IAIN RANKIN « » : He just can't help himself, Mr. Speaker.

As it relates to this important matter, though, in 2017 our government made history by reaching gender parity on the Provincial and Family Court, and we ensured that there was strong representation from the Black and Indigenous communities in our justice system.

I'd like to ask the Premier if he will continue to see this as a priority in his future judicial appointments.

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, we'll work with the judiciary. I will say that when recommendations come forward to our government, we won't overrule them and interfere for political purposes.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth North.


SUSAN LEBLANC « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and Wellness. People who are in a medical emergency should always call 911, but often they don't: 23 per cent of Maritimers have decided not to call an ambulance due to the fees involved.

This long-standing problem appeared again during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the third wave, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said that there have been cases where people have not called an ambulance when they had respiratory problems signalling potential COVID-19 infection because they couldn't afford the ambulance fees.

Can the minister admit that ambulance fees create a dangerous barrier for many people in a medical emergency?

HON. MICHELLE THOMPSON « » : Mr. Speaker, we know that since May 1st, ambulance fees for people experiencing any upper respiratory infections or symptoms have been waived. The other thing that I would like to point out is that there is an Ambulance Fee Assistance Program that is available if people are unable to afford ambulance fees.

Of course, we don't want anyone to feel that finances are a barrier for them accessing services. We want to work with any MLA or any Nova Scotian who is experiencing that.

SUSAN LEBLANC « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her response, but just to reiterate, 23 per cent of Maritimers have decided not to call an ambulance because they fear the fees involved. It doesn't matter if they're going to get refunded. They don't call in the first place.

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Mr. Speaker, the previous government admitted to this problem, sort of. This is why they said they would waive ambulance fees for COVID-19 patients, as the minister has alluded to. But Danica Pettipas, who contracted COVID-19 in April of this year, faced an ambulance bill of $293.10 because her trips were prior to the change. After the bill was sent to collections earlier this month, Ms. Pettipas paid the bill in full, not wanting to impact her credit rating.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is: Will the minister do the right thing and refund Ms. Pettipas's ambulance bill?

MICHELLE THOMPSON « » : Thank you for the question. I am not familiar with this. This is the first I'm hearing about that, so certainly if you would like to see me afterwards, I would be happy to talk to you about the case.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Preston.


ANGELA SIMMONDS » : Mr. Speaker, not too long ago, people took to the streets chanting "Black Lives Matter" in the face of persistent systemic racism that occurs in policing. Municipalities have raised concerns about rising costs, equitable service delivery, and a lack of communication and transparency of operations.

This previous government committed to launching a review of policing models, but the current Minister of Justice indicated that there is no such review under way. Without knowing what is working and what is not working, how can the government ensure that they are providing the best services for Nova Scotians?

Will the Minister of Justice commit to a review of policing and service models in Nova Scotia?

HON. BRAD JOHNS « » : Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, I thank her for the question. As I've said publicly, although I can't be held responsible for what the previous minister said or didn't say, when I've inquired of staff at the DOJ, it's been very clear that there was not an official review of policing done.

I'm not prepared at this time to look at doing that. We're currently waiting for results and allowing the Mass Casualty Commission to be able to do that work independently. I do know that there will be certain recommendations that come out of that that will reflect into policing. Once we have that report, we will feel where we need to go from there.

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ANGELA SIMMONDS « » : Thank you. I can appreciate some of the priorities. I would say that that priority that the minister mentioned is probably about a year out.

If we already know that there's no commitment going forward, we do know that the Department of Justice has completed policing reviews at the request of municipalities looking at alternatives to the RCMP because of rising costs and service delivery concerns.

My question for the minister is: How many reviews have been requested in this fiscal year and how many of those reviews have been completed?

BRAD JOHNS « » : Mr. Speaker, through you once again to the member, since I have been the minister, there has not been one request for a review that has come to me from a municipality.

What I will say is that regardless of how far out the commission's inquiry is, I think it's irrelevant. We need to make sure that we have the right decisions at the end of the day in regards to policing.

Your final question that I think you were asking - I'll reiterate that there are always internal ongoing reviews to look at policing. That is just day-to-day business. I appreciate those questions.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Preston on a new question.


ANGELA SIMMONDS « » : Thank you for that answer, minister, and thank you for acknowledging that only one priority can be done at a time within the Department of Justice.

Last week, I had a few questions for the minister responsible for the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives. I was a little bit confused, so I thought I would pose the question to the minister again, because he indicated there were communities that he's aware that this initiative is under.

My question is: Could the minister responsible for the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives indicate if the commissioners have been appointed and how many files, if any, have been reviewed - in particular, rejected files?

HON. PAT DUNN « » : Mr. Speaker, all the initiatives and programs that were in place prior to the election this government is going to honour. Any programs and initiatives going forward will be honoured.

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ANGELA SIMMONDS « » : Thank you, minister. Mr. Speaker, the appointment of the commissioners is actually not an initiative, but a role that they'll play in the vital importance of the Land Titles Initiative. (Applause)

For people who are not familiar, the Land Titles Initiative is just one of the streams of which a land title can be clarified. It can be probate, it can be migration, and it can also be a Land Titles clarification.

My question for the minister is: Have the commissioners been appointed and reviewed any of the files?

PAT DUNN « » : I want to commend the member across. She was very heavily involved in this process prior to the election. I commend her for all the work that she did.

With regard to the Land Titles Initiative, there's a lot of community engagement going on at this time through the equity office. This work will continue, working with the various communities across the Nova Scotia.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Hammonds Plains-Lucasville.


HON. BEN JESSSOME: My question is directed to the Minister of Advanced Education.

Our post-secondary institutions are a big part of the fabric of this province. At the centre of our post-secondary institutions are our students. During our time in government, we were successful in enabling loan forgiveness for the provincial portion of student loans, increasing funding for sexual assault examiners, and a big part of those initiatives have to do with the voice that students have shared with us as a government.

Does the minister believe that good decision-making for post-secondary education involves the voices of students?

HON. BRIAN WONG « » : I think universities are vibrant. I think the students bring a culture and a liveliness to our communities. I absolutely believe that communicating with students and communicating with university leaders is the best way to move forward.

Student voices are vital if we're going to achieve our mandate going forward. We have to make sure that we communicate with students in order to find out what's going to keep them here in Nova Scotia so that we can thrive here, so that we can grow our economy and get the services that we need. Student voices are vital going forward.

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BEN JESSOME » : I don't doubt the minister's sincerity towards that, but I would note that having met with student leaders on a couple of different occasions in the first several weeks of the government's new mandate, and as recently as this morning, representatives from at least six of our institutions noted that neither the minister nor a representative from his office have reached out to engage them.

I would like to ask the minister: Can the minister commit to meeting with students and showing to them that their voices are important, given that he hasn't done so in the first 45 days of their mandate?

BRIAN WONG « » : In my first 30 days, I have taken upon myself to try to travel around the province meeting with university leaders. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to meet with everybody yet. I do have an appointment set - my first one - with Students Nova Scotia next week. I look forward to that. Any follow-up groups that would like to meet after that, I also look forward to that.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Needham.


SUZY HANSEN « » : My question is for the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.

In the past two days, three schools in HRM have had to close due to COVID-19. Families with students at Dartmouth South Academy, Joseph Howe Elementary, and École Mer et Monde were left scrambling with incomplete information and less than 24 hours to make arrangements for children who would not be attending school for the week.

Mr. Speaker, what specifically is the minister doing to make sure that when schools are closed, families have advance notice and clear communication about what actions they need to take?

HON. BECKY DRUHAN: We know that parents have some concerns around COVID-19 and are anxious. I fully understand that.

We are continuing to work with Public Health as decisions are made around COVID-19 responses. We are communicating in a timely way with families and with students. We're continuing to take feedback from the communities and adapt our communication accordingly to make sure that people know what they need to know when they need to know it.

[2:30 p.m.]

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SUZY HANSEN « » : We are in the fourth wave. The closure of schools during the pandemic has been necessary, and we respect decisions made by Public Health. However, it is unacceptable that there has been no support for parents and caregivers who have had to miss shifts, take unpaid leave, or pay extra child care costs when children cannot attend school with such short notice. Our caucus has been calling for compensation for families to help them with extra costs and lost income due to COVID-19-related school closures.

Will the minister agree to provide immediate financial support to families to recognize the financial impact these necessary school closures are having?

BECKY DRUHAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. COVID-19 has been a challenge for everyone. We have worked really hard with Public Health, and we've been kept very safe by Public Health in our COVID-19 measures.

We know that the safest place for children is in school. We have been focused very much on keeping children in school and keeping them safe in school, because it's the best place for them to be for their intellectual, physical, and emotional well-being.

When we close schools on a last-minute basis, it is a last resort, and we do it at the guidance of Public Health. If the member opposite has questions or issues or concerns that she would like to discuss in relation to better supporting parents when this happens, I would be very happy to speak with her.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Yarmouth.


HON. ZACH CHURCHILL « » : Mr. Speaker, just today, we've heard the Premier boast about the engagement that we're seeing with health care workers in the province. We've heard this government commit to the public of recruiting 2,000 net new nurses to our system, yet we read in the news yesterday that nursing students are saying the Province is in no hurry to recruit them.

We've heard the president of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union say that it's unacceptable that the graduating classes in nursing do not have recruiters in front of them and that they're being recruited to other provinces.

Could the Minister of Health and Wellness please explain the inconsistency between what the Premier is telling the House and what nursing students and the Nurses' Union president are telling the public?

THE SPEAKER « » : I'd ask the member for Yarmouth to table those two documents as well, please.

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The honourable Minister of Health and Wellness.

HON. MICHELLE THOMPSON « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. Certainly, there have been some recruiters in front of some of the nursing students in this province early in the school year, but from the report that we saw yesterday, we know we have a lot of work to do, which is why we've established the Office of Healthcare Professionals Recruitment.

We've had a discussion about that today, and certainly the nursing students can expect to hear from us far earlier in their nursing program with the intention of keeping them and having a letter of offer long before their graduation.

ZACH CHURCHILL « » : Mr. Speaker, we are facing a national nursing shortage in Canada. This government has committed and was voted in to bring 2,000 net new nurses into our system. Can the minister detail the plan to achieve that ambitious commitment here in the House, please?

MICHELLE THOMPSON « » : I am not unfamiliar with the challenges of the nursing shortage in this province, I can tell you that. There will be a number of things that we need to do. We can grow our own nurses, and that will take some time. We can look at an immigration strategy working with our colleagues in other ministries. There are opportunities for innovative training solutions.

I don't think there's going to be one answer - I think we'd have found it by now - but certainly we are hyperfocused. Creating an environment where nurses are heard and have agency over their work life will help us in recruitment.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Northside-Westmount.


FRED TILLEY « » : My question is to the Minister of Economic Development. This government has committed to creating a buy-local loyalty program as part of their platform, and their creation and marketing have been mandated to our new Minister of Economic Development.

My question to the minister is: How does her government intend to measure the success of this program? Will it take into consideration the cost to create and maintain it, and also the impact it may have on other regional or local loyalty programs in our province?

HON. SUSAN CORKUM-GREEK « » : Mr. Speaker, thank you to the honourable member, and congratulations to the honourable member on becoming the Critic of the portfolio that I like to call a portfolio of possibility. Does that make you the critic of possibility? I'm not sure.

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As recently as half an hour before the House sat today, I was in yet another meeting in the development of what we have called the Nova Scotia Loyal program. We have a very ambitious goal to move 10 per cent of Nova Scotian buying habits. It is absolutely traceable through sales, Mr. Speaker. It is an ambitious goal, and my conversation today was with the honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. We're going to get Nova Scotians past the price of the fish at the grocery store and buying their fish local.

FRED TILLEY « » : I would ask the minister of the possible if it's possible that we could see that plan in the near future.

My actual question is: When the program is up and running, will the minister commit to releasing a quarterly report to Nova Scotians that shows how many Nova Scotians are using this program, what products are being bought, and how many points are being used to pay for government fees and services?

SUSAN CORKUM-GREEK « » : You can be sure that we are going to be tracking that because only in that way do we ever really truly know the returns on the investments of our programs. Certainly, the past practice of well-intended but large media buys to convince Nova Scotians to only play on their heart strings has a ceiling, has a limit. We will be proud to tell you when we break through that ceiling.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Sydney-Membertou.


HON. DEREK MOMBOURQUETTE « » : Mr. Speaker, last week we heard that the COVID‑19 vaccine is expected to be available for children aged five and up very soon, but that it would not be offered in our province's schools. The province already offers four vaccines in our schools each year. It is clear that there is a program that is in place that already safely administers vaccines in our schools.

My question to the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development is: Why not offer the COVID‑19 vaccines in our school system?

HON. BECKY DRUHAN: As I have said before in relation to COVID‑19 responses, we take our guidance and direction from Public Health, and we are engaged with them on an ongoing basis to determine what options are available to us in responding.

DEREK MOMBOURQUETTE « » : The Nova Scotia Health Authority's guide on school immunization programs, which I'll table, says that they provide these four vaccines because these vaccines are being offered because the diseases they prevent can be very serious. Mr. Speaker, I don't think there's any question that COVID‑19 is serious.

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My question to the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development is: Will the minister please consider working with Public Health to reconsider this option for COVID‑19 vaccines in schools, when we know that the programs in place work so well for so many students who may not have access to a pharmacy or another method of getting the vaccine?

BECKY DRUHAN: There are a couple of issues there. Currently, the school-based immunization program is only for one age group. It's Grade 7, and it is a very small cohort and does require a fair number of resources. Public Health has indicated already that with the finite resources that we have in the health care system, to vaccinate that number of children would be very, very difficult. We certainly saw the response that was required in community clinics.

The other issue that I would draw to everyone's attention is that these children are five to eleven years of age, and it is incredibly important that they have developmentally appropriate care. To have all of those little people getting injections without a trusted adult would not be in their best interest.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth South.


CLAUDIA CHENDER « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice, and I'll return to a topic that was raised earlier. In April 2019, the Municipality of the District of Colchester issued a news release requesting a full review of the policing contract with the RCMP in terms of service levels and value for payment.

When I wrote the former minister in December 2020 to ask about a review of policing services that he had promised - and I'll table that article - the minister indicated to me that an internal committee was conducting a preliminary analysis.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is: Will the minister provide an update as to whether that analysis is complete and commit to tabling it in the House when it is?

HON. BRAD JOHNS « » : Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, I would point out the words "former minister" and "he promised." This minister has said there is no review of policing. There are numerous analyses that continue on an ongoing basis for staff's review, staff's information, and those are internal analyses.

What I will commit to, through you, Speaker, to the member is as soon as we go to look at policing throughout the province we'll come back and inform all the members of the House at that time.

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CLAUDIA CHENDER « » : Mr. Speaker, this is a matter of public interest. Either the minister is saying that the former minister was not being candid or truthful with this House, or else he is hiding a report that exists within his department.

Mr. Speaker, within the past year, members of the public have expressed concern regarding the RCMP's handling of the mass shooting in Portapique, their approach to conflicts around the fishery in the southwest part of the province, and daytime raids conducted in Dartmouth and in Halifax.

The Public Accounts for the 2020 to 2021 fiscal year show that the Department of Justice expenses were 4.4 per cent higher than the estimate, primarily due to an $11.5 million in additional RCMP costs. I'll table that.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is: Given the seriousness of these issues, will the minister commit to a transparent, accountable and immediate review of the RCMP contract that is public and separate from the Mass Casualty Commission?

BRAD JOHNS « » : No.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Bedford South.


BRAEDON CLARK « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Public Works. The minister recently announced a doubling of the budget for both the Gravel Road Capital and Rural Impact Mitigation programs. I'm sure that since that announcement, the minister has been fending off members of her own caucus who want every gravel road graded and every pothole filled.

Unfortunately, there is little transparency as to how the funding under these programs is spent. My question to the minister is: Can the minister please explain to the House how projects will be chosen and prioritized in a fair and transparent manner? Thank you.

HON. KIM MASLAND » : Thank you to the member for the question. I can be very clear and transparent with the House that the projects that were already on the books to be done were just basically bumped up a year ahead. (Applause)

BRAEDON CLARK « » : I'd like to thank the minister for that answer and for her ringing endorsement of all our projects, so thank you for that.

I was curious about the programs regarding gravel roads and rural impact mitigation. There's essentially no transparency around what projects are chosen and where they end up.

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My question to the minister is: Will the minister commit to publishing a complete list of all projects funded under these two programs, including information such as location and cost?

KIM MASLAND « » : We are very open and transparent over here. (Interruption) Open and transparent like the last government, right, Mr. Speaker?

We have a five-year highway plan for a reason, and certainly I have no problem in tabling what priorities and what roads are completed under gravel roads and RIM.

[2:45 p.m.]

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


HON. BRENDAN MAGUIRE » : Mr. Speaker, we all feel the cost of living increasing here in Nova Scotia. The costs of food, gas, rent, and other essentials have all increased over the past year. The proof is at the pump and it's at the checkout counter.

Mr. Speaker, the increasing cost of living is disproportionately felt by our low-income Nova Scotians, who are struggling to get by.

In the Spring budget, the former government increased income assistance by $100, five times the largest-ever increase. My question to the Minister of Community Services is: Considering the current cost of living, will your government make an increase to income assistance again?

KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Through you, Mr. Speaker, I would like to let the member know that we were all very grateful when that announcement was made that there would be an increase of $100. It certainly was a huge, huge help. Those are discussions that are always ongoing within my department. We will continue having those discussions, looking at our budget, and seeing where we can certainly improve in due time.

HON. BRENDAN MAGUIRE « » : I'll take that as a positive.

Mr. Speaker, we've all heard this government speak about their Better Pay Cheque Guarantee program, but we know that when you give money to corporations and the wealthy, that simply does not trickle down to the workers.

The Washington Post has an article where they said that "'Trickle down' tax cuts makes the rich richer but are of no value to overall economy, study finds." It says, "Data spanning 50 years and 18 countries show lowering rates for the wealthy increases inequality… President Trump sold his 2017 tax cut as 'rocket fuel' for the economy…" that would create jobs and the money would trickle down to better paycheques. Sound familiar?

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Mr. Speaker, when it comes to this program, does the current government think their plan of a better paycheque - which flies in the face of 50 years of evidence by scholars, economists, and the London School of Economics - do they think that their plan for trickle-down economics will finally work despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

THE SPEAKER « » : Before I recognize the minister, I'll ask the member to table those quotes that he has read to the House.

The honourable Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

HON. ALLAN MACMASTER » : Mr. Speaker, I don't think the member understands what was put forth in the platform. (Applause) I do say that respectfully because I know there were a lot of good ideas in the platform. It's hard to keep track of them all.

What I will say is, despite what was put forward here by the member, that initiative is actually focused on people working in these organizations who are not sitting in the corporate boardrooms. It's focused on… (Interruption)

THE SPEAKER « » : Order, please. Order, please. There are private conversations going on. The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board has the floor.

ALLAN MACMASTER « » : What I would say to the member is that we are sincere in that this program is focused not on the corporate boardrooms, but on everybody else who's working in the organization.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Fairview-Clayton Park.


HON. PATRICIA ARAB » : Mr. Speaker, before, during, and after the election, the Progressive Conservative caucus spoke at great length about universal mental health care. In fact, it was referenced today. The Premier also referenced today the amount of research and homework that was done before making promises to Nova Scotians, so I'm surprised at the fact that our province already has universal mental health care wasn't found out.

The issue, in fact, is timely access to mental health care. My question for the minister responsible is: Have there been any facts, figures, or numbers as to how many additional staff would be needed in order to gain this timely access for Nova Scotians?

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HON. BRIAN COMER » : I think Nova Scotia is ahead in the fact that we started tracking wait times in 2014. We were the first province in Canada to do so. Our real issue right now is non-urgent care. The wait-times are unacceptable. That was the hand I've been dealt since I've been given the department, unfortunately.

The universal mental health care discussions will be happening over the next number of months. The stakeholder engagement and meeting with the stakeholders are already lined up and in the works. There'll be much more to say. The whole underlying premise is to get the right care at the right time for the right person and that's what I'll do.

PATRICIA ARAB « » : I'm curious if the minister could elaborate on who would be classified as mental health clinicians or staff - who would be considered?

BRIAN COMER « » : That list could be quite extensive. It's based on consultations. I look forward to sharing that in the near future.

THE SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The time allotted for Oral Questions Put by Members to Ministers has expired.


THE SPEAKER « » : Before we move on, I just want to say that earlier today, the member for Cape Breton Centre-Whitney Pier tabled two petitions. Both have been reviewed, and both have been tabled.


THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. KIM MASLAND « » : Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.


THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. KIM MASLAND « » : Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Kings West.

CHRIS PALMER » : Mr. Speaker, it truly is an honour to stand in this Chamber today and represent the wonderful people from my constituency in Kings West.

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This Chamber represents so much and the democracy we have, and it's not lost on me that those of us who have the opportunity to rise here and speak represent a privileged few, something that I will never take for granted. It's an honour I will always seek to hold close to my heart.

I am also fully aware of the faith the people of Kings West have put in me to be their representative and their advocate here in this place. I will strive to let them know that the trust they have in me will be warranted in the years to come.

I'd like to begin, Mr. Speaker, by acknowledging the other candidates who placed their names on the ballots in Kings West in this election. I want to thank Emily Lutz, Jason Langille, Sue Earle, and Rick Mehta for putting their names forward. We here all know the challenges and everything that it takes to put your name on a ballot, and I just want to take the time to acknowledge my fellow people on the ballot in Kings West on a well-run campaign. (Applause)

Kings West has a long history of strong representation in this Chamber, Mr. Speaker. I would be remiss if I didn't mention some of my predecessors, who've been a great example and influence on me in my political journey. The Honourable George Moody, who served from 1978 to 1998, is a legend not only in Kings West but across the political landscape in all Nova Scotia. I am fortunate to call him a friend and trusted mentor. His legacy of success for my riding still reverberates through the area, and like I've said many times to my constituents, if I can be half the politician George Moody is, I'll be all right. Having George still pound the pavement with me, knocking on doors during the recent campaign, was so appreciated. I look forward to having his counsel going forward.

Jon Carey represented Kings West between 1999 and 2003, and in his short time as MLA contributed many accomplishments to our area. Jon and his family have been great supporters to me in my campaign, and I am truly thankful to them as well.

Regardless of any political differences, I would also like to mention the Honourable Leo Glavine, who served Kings West between 2003 and 2021. (Applause) Leo, during his time, set an example of what it takes to be an effective constituency MLA, and his co-operation in the weeks after this recent election has been appreciated.

As you can see, Mx. Speaker, based on these men who preceded me, I know I have big shoes to fill. With a great team, I'm looking forward to getting to work for the residents of Kings West.

Mr. Speaker - Mx. Speaker, I apologize - my journey here today has been long, with a lot of ups and downs, triumphs, and disappointments. I began this journey in the 2009 election, when I ran as a new candidate under the Rodney MacDonald government. Even though we were not successful then, I made a commitment to stay involved and work in the community, continuing my work as a financial advisor, musician, and community volunteer, and building a grassroots team along the way.

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In 2017, we fought a very competitive campaign again, but came up just short, building a stronger foundation and adding more members to our team. We made the decision to stay the course and give it one more try, so to speak, and with the addition of key team members, the third time truly was the charm in this election. The results do speak for themselves.

Now, why do I speak of this journey over the last 12 to 15 years? Mx. Speaker, I feel it represents a quality I've had since I was young and that is persistence. My wife would call it stubbornness but those are qualities that I hope to offer the people of Kings West going forward.

Our grassroots organization built the support needed to succeed in every area of my riding. Today I would like to mention some of our key team members, some of whom have been with me since the very beginning and some who joined me for this campaign.

First, a big note of thanks to my campaign manager, Rob Graves. His experience leading groups shone through over the last year and a half and without him I would not be here today. He ran an efficient and winning campaign, so much so that he set a goal for our team of 4,500 votes and I would like to say that based on his leadership, our campaign earned 4,592 votes from the people of Kings West.

It is a fine example of when you have a good team. Anything is possible and let us here never be afraid to set ambitious goals.

To my long‑term supporters Lisa McAllister, Eric Meisner, Brian Hirtle, John Marshall, Wayne MacPherson, Wayne Atwater, Cindy Roberts, Marilyn Howlett, and Howard Nickerson, who all played key roles, I offer my most sincere thanks. To every person who laboured on my behalf, I am forever grateful for their support.

It was also wonderful to have many of the next generation playing roles on our team like Callie McAllister and Gwen Tremblay, students attending UNB and Dalhousie. Even though it was a Summer election, we had more volunteers and students than we have ever had before and I am very proud of that.

The future definitely is bright in Kings West. I am honoured here to mention the newest member of our team and that is my Constituency Assistant Susie Bond, who is hard at work at our office in Berwick helping constituents from all over our riding.

Kings West is a great part of Nova Scotia and a microcosm of the province as a whole, I believe. With rolling Annapolis Valley farmland, beautiful Bay of Fundy ocean vistas, wonderful towns and villages, and a can‑do attitude of the people living there, we have a lot to offer this province. We have a strong sense of community with rural roots and primary industries like agriculture and some forestry but also manufacturing industry like Michelin Tire in Waterville, great corporate supporters and partners in our community.

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Our Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre and various service industries employ many. Our small business sector - retail and hospitality - as we discussed earlier, is struggling since March 2020. It is full of industrious entrepreneurs who have adapted over the last 18 months and continue to invest in our communities. Being in business for myself, I want to see a robust rural economy in areas like Kings West, and I will continue to be an advocate inside our government for small business, especially in the agriculture sector ‑ a backbone of my constituency. Farmers in our area have a lot to offer and I will ensure their voice is heard within our government.

We are fortunate in Kings West to have CFB Greenwood and it is an honour to work with many from the base there, working in partnership to create good communities. Their presence truly enriches our area, and it will be a great privilege of mine to represent those retired veterans and the Legions in Berwick and Kingston as the chair of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. I would like to thank Premier Houston for giving me that opportunity.

Mx Speaker, I am now fortunate, due to boundary changes, to represent the Annapolis Valley First Nation in Cambridge. It has been an honour to meet many of the residents there . . .

THE SPEAKER « » : Order. Please refer to members by their position and not by name.

CHRIS PALMER « » : Oh, yes. Thank you.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Kings West.

CHRIS PALMER « » : Thank you, Mx. Speaker, and my apologies.

It has been an honour to meet many of those in Annapolis Valley First Nation in Cambridge and even though many of the issues concerning to them are federal in nature, I look forward to working with the great people in that community to help in any provincial matters.

It was an honour and an inspiration to be part of a large group that welcomed Landyn Toney at the end of his Journey of Awareness and finished the last leg of the walk with the residents of Annapolis Valley First Nation.

[3:00 p.m.]

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Mr. Speaker, in Kings West we have a committed group of health care workers - my wife is one of them - and I look forward to working with them to bring about the much-needed changes and better outcomes for patients and workers alike. We still have many without a family doctor in our area and giving them access to primary care will be a priority to me over the coming years. Groups like the Mid Valley Region Physician Recruitment Association are doing a great job in this area. I've met with that group and I believe local boards like this can offer a lot to the discussion.

I recently had the privilege of attending the recent health care tour session at Valley Regional Hospital with the Premier and I know our government is very committed to these goals as well.

Kings West also has many committed educators, educational assistants, and admin staff at our various high schools, middle schools, and elementaries. I know this from personal experience, as we've had our five children through every level of the school system. Yes, there have been challenges with previous governments, but I believe our government can work with stakeholders and education to make it better for children, providing them with the opportunities of tomorrow.

I know many people around education in Kings West who can add to the discussion and help find the solutions needed, and I look forward to bringing their voices forward.

One of the chief concerns in my area, Mx. Speaker, is the shape of our infrastructure and roads. I live in Kings County and that's always present on people's minds, as has been discussed recently as well. I am thankful our government will be investing more in rural infrastructure and I look forward to making sure that Kings West is a rightful recipient of some of those investments.

Many of the urgent issues facing us in Kings West - like affordable housing - will require good collaboration with other levels of government. I look forward to working with them, continuing the good relationships I have with Kings Regional Municipality, the various village commissions, and the Town of Berwick, Nova Scotia's apple capital.

Mx. Speaker, all of us in this Chamber want our seniors to be treated with dignity and respect, and I am happy to see our government is willing to invest more to make the lives of our parents and grandparents more fulfilling.

Mx. Speaker, I would like to give credit where credit is due and mention here that the previous government had announced approval for a new build of Grand View Manor, western Nova Scotia's largest long-term care facility, to modernize it and make it a safer environment for our seniors to live and, for those who are giving care, to work. I will continue to make sure that becomes a reality and with other proposals put forth by our government, the seniors of Kings West will be given the care they truly deserve.

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Mx. Speaker, like every part of our great province, Kings West has a large number of volunteers, community groups, and churches that do so many wonderful things for those in need and others who have lost a voice in our area. I look forward to bringing attention to them at a future time, on the floor of this Chamber, when I have the opportunity to offer member statements.

Like all of us in this House, I would be nothing without the support of family and the values I've learned from them since childhood right up to adulthood. Mx. Speaker, I feel I've been blessed to live in two of the best parts of Nova Scotia. I grew up in Herring Cove. (Interruption) A shoutout to my honourable friend across the aisle. Thank you for that update on J.L. Ilsley. As an alum, I still hold the purple and white close to my heart.

I am the youngest of six children born to my parents, John and Florence Palmer. I was a little younger than my siblings, John, Cathy, Nancy, Dave, and Mark. Growing up in a big family, we definitely learned a lot from our parents. They taught us all about service to others, respect for different points of view, definitely hard work, and were a strong foundation of faith for our family. I had amazing parents who always supported my endeavours and one of my biggest regrets is that neither of them is here now to see their baby standing as an MLA in this House.

My dad was always hard on politicians, but he also gave me a sense of civic duty, and I know that both of them - my mum and dad - are looking down from heaven, proud of what I'm doing. I have strived to pass some of those same qualities my parents taught me on to our five children as well.

Mx. Speaker, my wife and children inspire me every day to be the best that I can be. Building a better future for them has always been at the core of everything that I do. Heather and I recently celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary on October 9th. (Applause) Yes, she has stuck with me a long time. She is a rock for our family and strong supporter in all my political endeavours. She comes from a wonderful family in Aylesford - the other best place to live in Nova Scotia. We have been living there now since we were married.

As I mentioned earlier, Heather is a medical radiation technologist in health care and has been caring for patients for over 25 years. I am truly proud of her, as she recently received recognition for that long-term service. Believe me, Mx. Speaker, I have been hearing about frontline health care woes a long time.

We are so proud of our five children and grandson, and they have also been a big support over the years. When I started my journey in this process, our oldest daughter, Rachel, was only 12, and our youngest, Chloe, was 3. Mx. Speaker, I feel God has better timing than we do, and he obviously thought this was the time for me and my family to enter into political life.

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Mx. Speaker, I would like to take a couple of minutes to talk about our children, if you would allow. Rachel is now in her first year at Atlantic Veterinary College in P.E.I. after three previous attempts at getting in - she, too, is persistent like her father. We're proud of her for sticking to it and sticking to her goals.

Our daughter, Molly, lives in Ottawa where she leads the communications team of a national missions organization called Catholic Christian Outreach, which works with university students across Canada, and was a graduate of the Screen Arts program at Nova Scotia Community College.

Our daughter, Emma, has been a top-flight athlete, graduating in 2020, and will be looking to enter the trades in the coming year. By the way, she's also the mother to our beautiful grandson, Reuben, who has been the joy of all of our lives since he was born in 2019. Having a teenage pregnancy in our family was challenging, but with an incredible support system and our faith, our family is stronger than ever. I want to say a big thank you here in this Chamber to Mr. Bill Davenport and the Valley Care Pregnancy Centre for all they have done for our family in the years that we have had since then.

Our son, Noah, will be graduating from West Kings High School this year. He is a high-level volleyball athlete. He still is unsure of the what's next phase, but I know he'll do well at whatever he chooses to do. Recently, he just passed his dad as the tallest in the family.

Finally, our baby, our daughter Chloe, is in Grade 10. She, too, is very athletic, playing basketball and volleyball at high levels, and she is also very musical, like her dad. Her goal is to enter health care some day like her mum, and she wants to become an anaesthesiologist.

They were all very active in my recent campaign, knocking on doors, driving, and putting up signs. I can't say enough how amazing it was to have the entire family home for the entire month of the campaign and have everyone together to enjoy the victory on election night. It's a memory that I will carry forever.

Mx. Speaker, as I conclude, I would like to express how important I feel the next four years will be to the people not only of Kings West but all Nova Scotia. The experiences of the last number of years have created much anxiety, distrust, division, and pain for many. It's incumbent on all of us here to raise the level of dialogue in political discourse.

Even though we may vigorously disagree on many topics, it's my hope that we can work together and respectfully put forward our positions. The people of Kings West want that, and I know all Nova Scotians want that too. I look forward to being part of this government offering solutions. I look forward to being one of those strong respectful voices in this hallowed Chamber.

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Mx. Speaker, I'd like to just finish, because we've talked a lot in the last week about engaging voters and increasing voter turnout - I'd like to challenge us all here to engage the voters, for all of us to go with the technology we have and to really embrace and go and meet people and raise the level of dialogue. They're waiting for us to prove to them why they need to engage in the political system.

I put that challenge out there to all of us, to go out and engage the voters. Together we can all do a better job in increasing voter turnout regardless of when there's an election. Thank you, Mx. Speaker, for everything today. (Applause)

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Northside-Westmount.

FRED TILLEY « » : Mx. Speaker, let me begin by congratulating you on your election to Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly. Congratulations.

I'd also like to congratulate the other candidates in the election in Northside-Westmount, Murray Ryan for the PC Party and Jennifer Morrison for the NDP for a great, well-fought campaign.

Standing here in this Chamber is truly a dream come true and an absolute honour to represent the constituents of Northside-Westmount. As a lifelong resident, community volunteer, and advocate for my community, to have the opportunity to help create a better home for people to live, work, and play is truly an honour that I will cherish forever. I'm not only honoured but humbled by the confidence the residents of Northside-Westmount have bestowed on me by choosing me to be their representative in this historic building. I'm very proud of this accomplishment and hope to make the riding and the residents proud as well.

For the last Liberal representative for Northside-Westmount, we have to go back to 1999 and Russell MacLellan. Prior to that was 1993, Dr. Ron Stewart, and prior to that is 1953, I think. I'm very thrilled to be in the company of both Premier MacLellan and Dr. Stewart and hope to bring the amazing representation that they did to the residents of Northside-Westmount.

The election of 2021 was an amazing experience, which we certainly approached from the position of the underdog. It's true that hard work and perseverance pay off. Even the pollsters didn't give us much of a chance. However, I'm here today not because of who I am. I'm here today because of the amazing team of volunteers and believers in me. We were able to create a positive and credible alternative for the residents of Northside-Westmount.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize my fantastic team. The amazing team of volunteers was led by my campaign manager John Higgins, who helped create a vibrant, positive, and momentum-building campaign that was second to none in our riding. Jo-Ann Horgan, our office manager and now my constituency assistant, was simply amazing, creating an incredible environment for the office staff, which included Sharon Oliver, Michelle Quirk, Sharlene Mitchilitis, Alice Gillan, Juanita Jenkins, Punky Joshi, Tom Brennan, Melissa Vickers, Jean Tilley, Judy Quinn, Bob Jardine, and Shawn Macneil. What an amazing team of office folks calling and answering the bell.

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My canvassing chair, Michael Vickers, created a solid canvassing plan that kept us on track and constantly talking to residents. To Danny Laffin, whose commitment and friendship mean so much to me; and also to Wanda Laffin, my official agent, who kept us on budget and on track as we helped launch this campaign.

[3:15 p.m.]

Of course, I would be remiss not to mention the best sign team in the business, led by my dad Robert Tilley and Wayne MacDonald. Also the great canvassing crew - to Long Bob Finney who walked with me every day, Clark MacDonald and Sammy MacDougall. I want to make special mention of Clark and Sammy, two amazing young people who really embraced the whole idea of campaign and were there with me day and night. I really appreciated that.

Many others spent time working with me, such as MP Jaime Battiste and MP Mike Kelloway, as well as Councillor Cyril MacDonald, and I thank all of them.

During the campaign, Mx. Speaker, we held three barbeques and a pancake breakfast to greet the residents and hear their concerns. I can't thank the event staff enough for our campaign and I want to list them: Renee Fraser, Sherry Fraser, George Fraser, Liam Nicholson, Emily Tilley, the guys from The Circle, Brenda Finney and Darrell Finney, Donna and Craig Nicholson, Matthew MacDonald and Edna MacDonald, also my social media guru and also event person as well, Donna Cann.

Mr. Speaker, people who know me know that I am an emotional guy and I wear my heart on my sleeve so you might have to bear with me for a few minutes. First, I'd like to thank my wonderful parents Robert and Donna Tilley who, without their support and guidance for many years, I wouldn't be the person I am today. They have instilled a strong work ethic, strong morals and integrity, and a true passion for wanting to help my community.

To my wife, Jean, daughter Emily and future son-in-law Liam, thank you for your unwavering support as I took on this crazy endeavour. I not only thank you for your support but thank you for joining me on this journey as we go forward; also for their unconditional love. I'd also like to thank Derek Mombourquette for convincing me to take this on - sorry, the member for Sydney-Membertou. My emotions got the best of me, Mx. Speaker. All right, I'm good now. That's debatable.

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Mx. Speaker, I'd like to spend a few minutes speaking about the wonderful riding of Northside-Westmount, formerly known as Cape Breton North. I'd like to speak a little bit about the history, concerns, successes, and priorities that I have for the residents, that I and the residents have for our home. Northside-Westmount comprises many separate and distinct communities, each with their own challenges and opportunities. The people of Northside-Westmount are proud, hard-working people who care deeply about their community and their neighbours.

On the Northside, let's start with the former Town of Sydney Mines and North Sydney, with their long histories based on our resource industries. Sydney Mines has a deep history in mining and steel-making and was once a very vibrant and bustling community attracting immigrants from all around the world.

As a matter of fact, my own family came to Sydney Mines in the early 1900s, from Newfoundland, to participate in the mining industry. My family continued in the mining industry for many years. My grandfather, Fred Tilley, Sr., came to Cape Breton as a young boy, continued the family tradition in mining and was a mine manager in many collieries in Sydney Mines, other areas of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia during his career. An accomplishment of his that I am very proud of is the fact that he was the underground manager during the build of the Cape Breton Miners Museum in Glace Bay. My father Robert also worked in the mines early in his career in Cape Breton.

Sydney Mines is home to many fantastic entertainers, such as the Barra MacNeils, Bruce Guthro, Kimberley Fraser and Aaron Lewis. There are many beautiful recreation facilities, beaches, parks, and an amazing accessible baseball complex in Sydney Mines.

North Sydney is often referred to as the gateway to Newfoundland and plays a very important role in our country as a significant link to province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Marine Atlantic has been an amazing employer in our area, employing both vessel-based and land-based employees from the Northside and other areas of Cape Breton. North Sydney is home to many community organizations including an incredible food bank, the Clifford Street Youth Centre, and Five Eleven Youth and Family Centre - all making significant contributions to our community.

To round out our tour of the Northside, we'll take you to Florence, Little Pond, and Alder Point. Once again, the residents of these areas - many of whom made their living in the resource-based industries such as fishing and mining - are hard-working, community-based people always willing to lend a hand to their neighbour.

This brings me to the newest addition to our constituency: Westmount, Coxheath, Point Edward, and North West Arm. This area is home to Canada's Coast Guard College and Sydport Industrial Park, providing many jobs for all of Cape Breton. It's also the future home of Novaporte and Nova Logistics. The port continues to be a beacon of hope for all residents of Cape Breton.

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Mx. Speaker, there have been many investments in Northside-Westmount by the previous Liberal government, too many to list them all. However, I would like to highlight the development of the Northside health care complex, a development of over $200 million that will provide an excellent facility for Northside residents and for those needing long-term care. This project will be very important to me over the next number of years and I will be watching and working with our colleagues on the other side to make sure that this wonderful facility comes to reality.

The investments that were made in this constituency and seeing the growth in Cape Breton over the last number of years is really what drove me to want to take the next step in my career and in my service to my community. Working in post-secondary for the last 21 years, I saw first-hand the impact that we can have on our communities through service. Taking this extra step, getting into the Legislature, I just see that as an opportunity to take that service to the next level, and I'm very appreciative that I am here to do that. (Applause)

The investment in health care to Hayley Street and our recreation facilities is growing and we are ready to take on the future, but there is more to do. I would like to talk just briefly about a couple of priority areas that I see for Northside-Westmount.

In Northside-Westmount, we have some of the most beautiful beaches and parks in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and beyond. However, Mx. Speaker, we are still dumping raw sewage into our harbour. We need to fix that. We need to make sure that our beaches and our parklands are accessible for all community members and tourists alike. It's time to create parks and recreation facilities similar to those in other parts of our province for our residents and tourists alike to enjoy.

Secondly, our students deserve the best and most current educational facilities. Students are our future. It's time for a new middle school in the Northside and I know it's in the order, so we'll be watching for that to be developed as well. Much work to be done on roads, paving, ditching, sidewalks, and other improvements to ensure residents and tourists are able to access our beautiful island.

Mx. Speaker, before I conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Leader of the Official Opposition for his confidence in me as a candidate and as an MLA for Northside-Westmount. I would like to thank my fellow caucus colleagues, both veteran and new, for how welcoming you've all been and helpful in getting me somewhat up to speed.

I would like to send a huge thank you to our caucus staff for answering all of my questions, helping me to prepare, and for being there by text day and night. Finally, I would like to thank the staff of the Legislature and the Speaker's Office for their tremendous help in getting not only myself, but all new members, ready, set up, and good to go. Thank you, Mx. Speaker. (Applause)

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THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

SUZY HANSEN « » : Mx, Speaker, honourable members and visitors here today, I am Sue Ellen Hansen. I am honoured to be here today, and I want to first and foremost acknowledge that the land we are gathered here on today is located on Mi'kma'ki, the ancestral, unceded, and unsurrendered territory of the Mi'kmaw people. This territory is covered by the Treaties of Peace and Friendship which Mi'kmaw, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy peoples first signed with the British Crown in 1726. Remembering our murdered, missing, and Indigenous women, and the young children and babies recovered across the nation from the residential school system. I will remember.

I would also like to stand in honour of my ancestors, remembering those who travelled the Middle Passage, endured and survived enslavement, endured the brutal cold winters of neglect and abandonment. For those who went through the segregation and continued to experience racism, land misappropriation, and for those who know that the system was never designed with us in mind, I stand here today, thankful for the trailblazers and fighters and all of those who overcame and continue to fight.

I draw on the strength of our ancestors, who defended our identity as Indigenous African Nova Scotian people. Our ancestors are still walking with us, accompanying us. I am truly humbled and grateful to stand before you in our provincial House of Assembly on this day to share with you my journey of becoming the MLA for Halifax Needham.

Five thousand, four hundred, and nine voters cast their ballots for me in this last election. I am proud to say that I am the first Black person, let alone Black woman, elected to represent Halifax Needham in this Legislature. (Applause)

I am here among my peers, this group of elected officials that Nova Scotians have chosen to represent them, defend their interests, and protect their rights and freedoms. We will be working together for at least four years, and it is important that we get to know each other and respect each other. It is in this spirit that I would like to tell you the story of who I am and how I have arrived to take my seat among you.

Many of you have heard me sing, and if you haven't yet, you likely will, but not today. I didn't bring my band, but I know that we have at least one bagpiper in here, and a few keyboard players. If we can find a drummer, maybe we can get something going on. (Applause)

I am Suzy Hansen, artist and performer. From age 4 to 25, much of my livelihood came from television, radio, music, and theatre. I sang in many choirs and acted in theatre, film and television productions. I had roles in iconic Nova Scotian productions like Life with Billy, Wonder Why, Street Sense, and a number of other TV shows that were produced locally here in Halifax. I sang for Princess Anne, and I shared the stage with artists such as Natalie Cole, Gary Beals, and Lionel Richie.

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I was a working child actor and performer fortunate to be guided and encouraged by many caring adults, including Anne-Marie Woods, who saw the potential in young Black artists and gave them a chance to express themselves through theatre; Melinda Daye, who never gave up on us kids in the community and loves us all like her own children; David Woods, a great teacher, artist, and director, and a strong Black male role model that some of us never had at home; Maxine Tynes, a beautiful light who has always spoken the words that many of us felt; and Lulu Keating, a kind and thoughtful visionary who gave a girl like me an opportunity in film.

[3:30 p.m.]

I respect our cultural workers. Nova Scotia's cultural industries are so important to our economy, and we must continue to attract productions to our beautiful province. But this industry is also needed to tell our stories, capturing who we are and communicating it to the world. Musicians, actors, painters, sculptors - artists of all kinds - please know that you have a friend and ally at Province House who will always be working to secure you the support that you need to do your important work to tell your stories and our stories.

I am Suzy Hansen, daughter of Joseph Gangoo, an immigrant from Trinidad, and Mary West, who was born and raised just a few kilometres away from here in Africville.

My mother was the youngest of 14 siblings, and in my mind she represents the beauty and spirit of Africville. My mother was a member of a musical tribute trio called The West Sisters: my aunt Beatrice, my aunt Shirley, and my mother. They travelled throughout the province singing God's praises, and they got their start in the back kitchen at my grandmother's house in Africville. Practising every night, voices were coming from every bedroom, and it was said that you could hear the singing flowing from the house as people passed by the West family home.

The West Sisters, my mum and my aunties, played a huge role in who I am today. They have helped to mould me as an artist and ground me in my faith and guide me to be the woman I am today. The garbage trucks and bulldozers may have destroyed our homes in Africville, drowning out the sweet musical sounds and introduced another level of generational trauma, but I am here today as a proud descendant of Africville, as proof that you could tear down Mary West's home, but you couldn't destroy her family. (Applause)

My father, Joseph Gangoo, was the eldest of his siblings. He immigrated to Canada to study to be a nurse, first in Montreal where he met my mother, and then they returned to her hometown of Halifax. My father faced the usual immigrant challenges, cultural and language differences, discrimination, not fitting in. Spoiler, the African Nova Scotian community isn't much different than the wider Nova Scotian community. Being a come-from-away immigrant and Black could be just as isolating and lonely, although I would like to think that today all Nova Scotians are working to be more welcoming of new faces from different places.

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Joe Gangoo worked hard and did whatever it took to keep food on our table and a roof over our heads, but it wasn't always easy; in fact, it was hardly ever easy.

So this is where my story gets a little heavy, but I think it is important to talk about these things, say them out loud. I believe that silence gives our demons power, and the sunlight chases them away, shrivels them up, and if there's one thing I learned this Summer speaking to thousands of people on their doorsteps, it's that we share so much of the same worries, insecurities, traumas from our past.

I look around this House and I know that many, if not all, of the members here will understand what I'm talking about. The parents who argue and yell too much, and you, the child, wondering if it is something that you did; depression and mental illness in the home, but it doesn't have a name; family members with addiction issues that people pretend weren't even happening; and a lingering feeling that you aren't good enough, you will never deserve to have happiness or success.

My father had difficult mental health struggles and suffered silently, creating a very stressful family home for my mother and her children, my two brothers - I have an older brother named Joey Gangoo and a younger brother named Rory Gangoo. Thirty years ago, our supports looked completely different and some things just didn't have a name. My mum was a stay-at-home mum struggling to make ends meet and to put food on the table, often going hungry just so her children could eat.

I know what it's like to go hungry, to have no electricity, and to work five jobs before the age of 18, to have parents who fight all the time, to be displaced from your home in the middle of the night to be safe, to work hard to get scholarships for university because I knew my parents couldn't afford to send me, only to leave school to return to work so that I could help out at home.

I know what it's like to watch my mother worry about losing her housing. I know what it's like to be on social assistance and obsess about every single penny and weighing in which purchase is truly essential or can be deferred. This is why, Mx. Speaker, when I will review legislation and policy about mental health, addictions, housing, community services, justice, utility prices, and education, I'm not doing it from a place of theory or abstraction. This was my life. This is my life.

I know what it's like to choose between paying a power bill and putting food on the table. I know what it's like to be one paycheque away from being unhoused. I will always fight for the interests of the marginalized, the unfortunate, those people in our society who need: those are the people in our society who need our help the most.

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Growing up in Halifax Needham, I was fortunate to have a great role model for this, Ms. Maureen MacDonald, who I am now proud to call a friend and mentor, and I will continue in her footsteps to defend the interests of our vulnerable and underserved populations.

I am Suzy Hansen, the sister of a cancer survivor who always remembers that life is precious and we must work to preserve and expand our single‑payer health care system, including our long‑term care facilities. I have friends and family working and living in Northwood. It is so important to our community and I recognize that everyone is doing the best that they can, but we need more ‑ more beds, more rooms, and more compensation for the people working there, literally doing some of the most important work in our province. People giving their hearts, and often health, to caring for our most vulnerable seniors at the most critical stages of their lives should not have to hold two or more jobs to live. We must do better for our most vulnerable and those who care for them.

I am the sister of an early childhood teacher and I understand and respect the daily energy that goes into caring for young children. I appreciate my sister as someone who has instilled my me the meaning and purpose of helping others and making sure that everyone is treated with the same respect given. Thank you, Elaine, for being my rockin' big sis when I needed you most - like, all the time.

I am also the middle sister. So, if anyone is a middle child, you know that you are normally the best kid in the whole family and my brothers would probably attest to that. I have an older brother, whom I will speak to later, and I have a younger brother as well who has given me my only niece, so I'm really grateful for that. I know that they will always have my back.

I am the granddaughter of a Vietnam War veteran and I know first-hand how the trauma of war can be passed down through generations and how valuable these members of our society are. I am grateful for the time spent with my grandfather and the talks about the struggle and overcoming that with education and resilience, and how important legacy is in passing on the history of family.

With that being said, I'd like to add in a little bit of our African Nova Scotian history in the mix. We should never forget where we come from and we should recognize those that came before us and paved the road that we walk now. This is my inspiration.

I would like to acknowledge the African Nova Scotian trailblazers who epitomize cultural and educational excellence in our province. Some of you may know them and a lot of these names may be new to you, but I would suggest that everyone get to know the people in your area, the people in your constituency, and the impact that it makes on all of us around this table.

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I am honoured and grateful to speak these names, as most I have had a direct relationship with - and I will speak to that - or connected through family members and I continue to be inspired by these individuals and many, many more: Reverend Pearly Oliver from Wolfville ‑ pastor, educator, and social activist invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 1984; Carrie M. Best, New Glasgow ‑ publisher and social activist, invested as an officer in the Order of Canada in 1979 and a posthumous recipient of the Order of Nova Scotia; Reverend Richard Preston, Halifax ‑ social activist, church leader, founder of the first African Baptist Church, the Abolitionist Society, and the African Baptist Association; Delmore "Buddy" Daye from Halifax and New Glasgow ‑ boxer, community activist, Canada's first Black Sergeant‑at‑Arms, and Canada's lightweight junior champion, inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame.

So a little story about Mr. Daye ‑ I would never call him Delmore because that is just disrespectful. Mr. Daye, a member of my community for many years, would always make sure to stop and talk to every youth that he saw in the community. So much so that on grading day, he would have a pocket full of money as he was walking through, and to every kid on grading day he would say, did you grade? If you graded and you were in a higher level, he would give you five dollars. If you were in a lower-level grade he would give you a dollar, and that really stood out, especially in a community that doesn't have a whole lot. For someone to do something like that and to do it from their heart really meant a lot.

Another story from here. My first time in this particular House, I was standing on the steps downstairs singing with the Cornwallis Street Baptist Youth Choir and we were invited because Mr. Daye was the Sergeant-at-Arms here and his daughter was our choir director, Melinda Daye. So, my first-ever experience was welcoming, thoughtful. It felt really good to be here and the first thing he said was: We all belong in this space. That was Mr. Buddy Daye. (Applause)

Gordon Earle from Halifax. Politician. First elected African Nova Scotian member of Parliament.

Wayne Adams - I've got him right now - Halifax. Politician. First elected African Nova Scotian Member of the Legislative Assembly and Cabinet minister. How huge is that? His picture is sitting right there on the wall.

Don Oliver, Wolfville. Politician. First African Nova Scotian to be appointed to the Senate.

Yvonne Atwell from Dartmouth. Community volunteer and businesswoman. The first African Nova Scotian woman elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly, through the NDP. Super proud.

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Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard, East Preston. A retired professor and director of Dalhousie's School of Social Work. Invested in the Order of Canada in 2005. Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard is an amazing person, and to meet her, she's just phenomenal. The amount of work that she's done in prison rights, the amount of work that she's done for our communities is insurmountable. I'm very glad that I'm able to be someone who knows her really well in that respect or in that way.

Edith Hope Cromwell from Inglewood. A lifelong community activist and one of the earliest African Nova Scotian graduates of the Nova Scotia Teachers College.

Corinne Sparks, Halifax. One of the first African Canadians appointed to the judiciary in Canada, and the first African Nova Scotian appointed to the bench.

George Elliott Clarke, Windsor Plains. University professor, poet, playwright. Winner of the Governor General's Award for poetry and the Portia White Prize for artistic achievement, and Canada's hardest-working poet. If you've ever read any of his works, I suggest you reread them, but if you haven't, take a look and read his works. They are absolutely amazing.

Walter Borden, New Glasgow. Invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 2005 and the winner of the Portia White Prize in 2006. I was fortunate enough to be on stage with Mr. Borden in Gospel at Colonus, a theatre production on the Neptune Theatre stage. It was my first time as a young person - I was 19 years old - on a huge production, and I was, oh my gosh, I'm so nervous. Mr. Borden with his calm, deep voice was like, don't worry about that, child, you'll be fine. He commands the stage. His voice is impeccable, he's an amazing person, and he's extremely intelligent.

Daurene Lewis, Annapolis Royal. First elected African Nova Scotian mayor and the first Black woman mayor in Canada. Direct descendent of the Black Loyalist Rose Fortune.

William Hall, Horton Bluff. First Black person, first African Canadian, and first African Nova Scotian to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

Dr. Geraldine Browning, East Preston-Gibson Woods. Lifelong community activist, teacher, and nurse; founding member and past president of the Black Cultural Society. Doctorate of Humanities from Acadia University.

Gloria Borden, New Glasgow. Hematology researcher. She's retired now. Boxing and events promoter. Founder of the Nova Scotia Mass Choir. Instrumental in organizing the Halifax Recreational Amateur Boxing Club, which trained several winning boxers for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Inducted into the Pictou County Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. Amazing.

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Wally Peters, Litchfield. Canada's first Black jet fighter pilot and Air Force flying instructor. Helped in the development of and flew with the legendary flying team the Snowbirds.

Deborah Dixon Jones, Africville. One of the three founding members of the Africville Genealogy Society. An integral driving force for the past and present work being done, she's remembered fondly by her other co-founders of the society and Africville members.

Eddie Carvery, Africville. He's the longest political protestor in Canadian history, and he's an author and community activist. He's maintained his protest camp since 1970 in Africville and gladly shares the history of his former community to all who are eager to listen and learn. I highly recommend you go and have a conversation with Mr. Eddie Carvery, because he's an absolutely amazing person to have a conversation with.

[3:45 p.m.]

Craig Smith, Halifax - author and RCMP officer. Appointed a Member of the Order of Merit of Police Forces in 2015 by the Right Honourable David Johnston. Received the Governor General of Canada in recognition of his outstanding service and leadership. A person who has known me for a long, long time and someone I highly respect.

Josephine (Simmonds) Johnson from North Preston - teacher at Dartmouth Vocational School. One of the founding members of the North Preston Recreation Association. Initiated the opening of the children's daycare and medical centre in Preston.

Wilhelmina Alice Williams, Centerville - teacher and fierce advocate for women's rights and social justice. Alice Housing, an organization that provides housing to women and children leaving domestic abuse, was named in her honour.

Linda Carvery, Halifax - appointment to Citizenship Judge in 2007. Involvement in the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, the Congress of Black Women, Symphony Nova Scotia, and the Nova Scotia Arts Council is also an ECMA Award winner for the Jazz Artist of the Year. This lady is an amazing person and she will always have time for chats. She's such a sweetheart. I love having talks with Ms. Linda Carvery.

Thomas "Tom" Miller, Whitney Pier - the first Black municipal alderman in Atlantic Canada and elected to Sydney Council from 1955 to 1972.

Carl "Campy" Crawford, Whitney Pier - the first Black police officer in Atlantic Canada.

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Hobartson "Gus" Wedderburn, Halifax - teacher, principal, lawyer. One of the founding members of the Black Educators Association and the Black Cultural Society, board member of the Nova Scotian Association for the Advancement of Coloured People and the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

Jack Desmond, who is my great uncle, Lincolnville - community activist and local historian, champion of the ongoing protest to remove a provincial dump site that was placed near the community of Lincolnville.

Maxine Tynes, Dartmouth - community advocate, poet, and teacher. An award-winning poet and author, English teacher, and the first African Canadian woman to sit on the Board of Governors at Dalhousie University. I was fortunate to play a starring role in her screen play called In Service, which was also directed by Lulu Keating.

Wade Smith, Halifax - educator, mentor, community advocate. A mentor for African Nova Scotian youth who stood by his mantra of "Each one, teach one." Posthumously inducted into the Order of Nova Scotia in 2018. Keep it simple. Keep it smooth. Keep it moving.

Dr. Lynn Jones, Truro - union activist, historian, politician, and friend. Sister of the late Burnley "Rocky" Jones. Curator of the Lynn Jones' African Canadian and Diaspora Heritage Collection at the university archives. Observer for the 1994 South African Presidential election of Nelson Mandela. In 1993, Lynn became the first Canadian-born African Canadian woman to run in a Canadian federal election as the New Democratic Party candidate in Halifax riding.

Black Lives Matter is a response to the experience of silencing exclusion and violence that has been perpetrated upon Black people to the point of exhaustion and even death. This movement is based on the lived experiences of Black and Brown people. A part of my journey on this path is a response to this silencing: suffocation and exclusion of Black women and their voices in professional settings. Barriers to the opportunities, options, resource, and freedom of full self-expression have been actively oppressive.

I'm inspired by the Honourable Mayann Francis's memoir, Mayann Francis: An Honourable Life, and her Black Women in Leadership forum, in which I heard the stories of Black women and learned about our capacity, opportunity, and obligation to make change and influence and improve the experience of present and future Black women leaders.

I also want to take this time to remember the people in my life whom I couldn't have done this without - and I think of them daily in different respects. I am truly thankful for the love and support, guidance and motivation to always do better - those who have gone on and who I want to remember and say their names, as they have made an impact on my life and the community around us.

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Lena May West, my grandmother and the backbone to my family, always will be remembered and loved.

My mom, Mary West Gangoo, gone too soon. I know that you have always supported me on my journey and I know that you are cheering me on from Heaven.

Joseph Gangoo. I will definitely channel my inner Gangoo when I need to but I know that none y'all are ready for that yet.

Tony Jefferies, always making someone laugh but kept it at a hundred every step of the way.

Allan West, the strongest man I knew and was always dressed to the nines, so I know that my uncle right now is proud that I have a suit jacket on.

Novalee Buchan. Mommy, I miss you dearly and I know that you are smiling the biggest smile, but thank you for the gifts and the push and the motivation to do the best that I can.

Mrs. Evelina Upshaw: Nan, you had a smile that lit up the room and I am grateful for your lessons and your love for your kids and community.

Mrs. Bugden, thank you for keeping it real and letting me know that I am doing an amazing job as a parent.

Ms. Parker, always dressed to the nines and was the coolest Nan on the block. She was everyone's mom. Ms. Parker would be a mother who would take in students. The students would come here and go to school here and she would open her doors to those young people who needed a place to live, needed a place to stay. She would keep them for the school year and they would keep coming back. She would feed them and she would take care of them as if they were her own children - so everyone's mom.

Ms. Darlene Hum, who we lost just recently. She was a matriarch of the Mulgrave Park community and a giver of the best advice, only because she would tell you like it is, no holds barred. She will be greatly missed and loved. I am going to always miss our candid conversations - and, as well, the food. She was an amazing cook.

Reverend Alfreda Smith, thank you for telling me my family history and being a beautiful soul. We just recently lost this wonderful woman.

Ms. Madeline Beals, Nan of the whole Uniacke Square community. Everyone knew you and you always watched over us as kids growing up. We never did anything because we didn't want to get into trouble, so you were always making sure that we were doing the right things.

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James Farrar, thank you for believing in me and loving me, making me remember that you have got to get it right all the time.

Ms. Adams. Nan, you always had a smile that lit up the room and you were always, always dressed up, looking good.

Reverend Tracey Grosse, a soft, beautiful soul and an amazing pastor.

Mrs. Elita Williams, trailblazer in the journalist world, who raised an amazing family, and your children always have my back and have always been encouraging me to do good things and to do better.

Burnley "Rocky" Jones, a fighter for those who can't speak for themselves, a rebel, and a revolutionary, thank you for inspiring me.

Wade Smith always said that giving back was never a choice: Giving back was an obligation to our community, to our young kids coming up after us. These are words that I live by daily.

And all of those who lost their lives during COVID-19 I definitely will remember.

There are way too many names to mention, but as you can hear, I know a lot of people and people care a lot about me. I think this journey - I couldn't have done it without all of them and many more, but these are really people who stood out for me.

There are so many people not named who have also been crucial up to this point and who have helped guide me on my journey to get here, but like I said, it would be impossible to name them all. I acknowledge everyone who has made an impactful difference in my life and I want to thank my constituents for choosing me to be your voice at this legislative table.

Now, let me take you on a tour of Halifax Needham. (Applause)

I'm just going to give you a little precursor. This tour, I'm a foodie. I do enjoy meals, but there's lots about my riding in particular that I would encourage you to ask me about.

The area of Halifax Needham covers the geographic area of the north end of Halifax and a certain portion of central Halifax. As my former MLA Maureen MacDonald would say, we make ships and beer. But I would also like to add to that that we also have markets and good coffee since her time in this seat.

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We have had a boom in this riding with lots of wonderful new faces and huge developments being built, lots of new local businesses all around. We still have mixed residential, industrial, commercial, and manufacturing. We are one of the very few places where we still see manufacturing in the province and directly in Halifax - in fact, right in the heart of the North End. We still have the Navy, and that makes Halifax Needham still a formidable force in this Assembly.

The constituency of Halifax Needham has a rich history from one end of this riding to the other. I'm going to take you on a journey through our community with a few stops along the way.

We started by the Bedford Basin, where you can see the replica of the Seaview United Baptist Church on Africville land. This is a space where people can go and walk through, spend family time, and learn the history of the beautiful Black community we call Africville. If you're lucky, you might even get a history lesson from the longest protester, like I said, in Canada, Mr. Eddie Carvery.

We then are moving towards town, as they would say back then, and you come upon some young people playing at the Pit, or as non-North Enders call it, Merv Sullivan Park. On the way we may stop and see some seniors along Novalea, where there are a few seniors homes, Samuel Prince Manor and a few others. If it's a Saturday, you would be in luck because the Novalea Farmers' Market is booming. You have to get there early if you want to get some good food and good stuff.

We continue our walk towards Needham Hill so that we can sit and have our snack because this riding is really big. We pass by the only rec centre with a swimming pool, Needham Pool and Recreation Centre, and see kids outside playing as we walk by. On Needham Hill, we admire the Halifax Explosion monument, as we know this part of Halifax was the most devastated by the explosion. It is remembered every December 6th in the Halifax Needham community. Many constituents are descendants of those who were affected during the explosions, and Halifax Needham is a true reflection of the resilient and caring community that still exists after such a traumatic event.

After we see the lovely monument and the many historical pieces that are on that hill - they redid it - there are lovely pieces of art. There are pieces of history that you can look at. There's a brand new playground that is made of wood - perfect for the kids. It's actually really nice. They did a really nice revamp of the park.

After we see the lovely monument and the many historical pieces, we walk down towards the iconic Hydrostone Market, do a little shopping, grab a bite to eat, and then we would be on our way. We walk a block over towards Agricola, and there's lots of different food items to choose from. So like I said, I'm a foodie. I don't want to name every place because you could stop anywhere and get any type of food you want, any type of drink - whether it's a coffee or kombucha or any of those other things, or beer. There's a lot of opportunity for that, like I said, among the other shops.

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As we continue on, we stop, and we are amazed at the Halifax Armoury, which stands so large and in charge. You just have to stop and look at it. When I was younger, they used to have an artillery tank sitting on the old side of it. I know when we were kids, some other kids would climb up on the artillery tank even though there was a fence around it. (Interruptions) I was the middle child, and I was a good kid. That is no longer there, but I know that maybe after the renovation, it may come back. It's not there right now.

After we have eaten so much, we have to have dessert, and I know the perfect place: DeeDee's Ice Cream shop, just on Cornwallis Street. They have so many flavours to choose from and kids often like it.

[4:00 p.m.]

As we make our way down Cornwallis St. by the Thomeh's Kwik-Way, a family-run convenience store that has been there for as long as I can remember, we are stopped again to chat to a few of the seniors from the seniors' complex at Gordon B. Isnor. Always lovely chats to be had.

Well, we've got to get to Gottingen, as they would say. As I would say. We have so much to choose from. Right now, it's getting dark - imagine with me - it's getting dark and the street is quite bright with the shops, picking up the pace for the evening nightlife. Listen, there's so much to do in my riding. We have over 150 small to medium-size businesses and non-profits, so I could never name them all, but there is so much to do. You'll never be bored, but I have a few tips for you.

We have the longest-running tailor in downtown Halifax - Vogue Men's Wear & Tailoring. They have been there longer than my existence. Corner stores that have been passed down from generation to generation; mom and pop stores like Joe's Market; the Asian food store; an African store; long-time pizza store Randy's Pizza, where residents will say - and myself as well - hands down, they make the best pizza and donair in the city, if you ask anyone.

We do have a number of businesses that help to make our riding so rich, and lots of historical churches scattered throughout the North End. I won't name them. We also have a number of service providers and community hubs in our riding that have existed for over 20 years and continue to do great work. Halifax Needham has it all and so much more.

I am so proud to be elected by the constituents of Halifax Needham, and even prouder to know that people who have been here for over 40 years - some of them are still there. I am a true resident of this riding, and I sit in this seat proudly because I deserve to be here. (Applause)

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I'm happy to say that this year has been an extremely tiring yet rewarding year with COVID-19 lockdowns and campaigns back to back to back. I say this three times because my oldest brother - Joseph, or Joey, who lives in Riverview, New Brunswick - ran for municipal council and was running his campaign election just before our writ was dropped here in Nova Scotia. Who would ever think that two Gangoo children would be running in an election in the same year?

I cheered my brother on during the COVID-19 lockdown, giving advice from afar, and was super proud of his accomplishments. He already is the first in our family to have his Red Seal certification and is a schoolteacher in the school system in New Brunswick. In the end, he did not win his election, but he did give the incumbent something to think about next time.

I know that our mom and dad are super proud of what we've accomplished thus far, and I know that I'm very proud of my brother.

The campaign run this run was normal, I guess. This being my first time and all, I really don't have much to compare it to. The "hurry up and wait" process - "Maybe there's gonna be an election call this week - nope, nope" to "Maybe there's an election call this week - Nope. Psych," was extremely nerve-wracking, as well as letting my work know weekly that it's not today. I'm so thankful to my manager and the executive management staff at Phoenix Youth Programs for being so understanding, as well as my ED, Tim Crooks, for his words of encouragement and support from the start to the finish.

Summer elections are pretty tricky. From the low volunteer turnout and the constituents being on vacation, to, no word of a lie, knocking on 17,000 doors probably, like, three or four times throughout the whole campaign. This is what would happen to me. I'd knock on someone's door and I'd go, Hi, I'm Suzy Hansen. It's me again. Yup, I'm back. Can you please go out and vote, just so I don't have to come back again? Thank you so much. And it was hotter than the gates of Hades. Sweaty days walking for 8 to 10 hours with three different groups of people, six days a week for six weeks, literally going door to door and encouraging them to go to the polls right now - I can wait with you and walk with you.

Counting down the days after the writ was dropped, meeting a ton of new people, and reconnecting with friends and community members who were eager to help, a Summer election was quite an orchestra. I am truly thankful to my team of extremely hard workers throughout this whole process: David Etherington, Sybil, Arrow, and Natasha, and then on the other side, Team Suzy. This team was with me as soon as I put my name into the NDP for nomination: my friend David Parks, who has always been my biggest supporter and my protector of all things Suzy; Jalana Lewis, my visionary, video producer, and organizer; Michelle Strum, my supporter and sign guru.

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Every sign you saw around the HRM was in part by David Etherington and Michelle Strum - super-thankful for that. I am also thankful for my official agent, Jill Houlihan, who only knew me for a short time. She put her name forward to support me through all of this, and I am truly grateful for that.

I will name a few key players that I walk with frequently. I say a few key players because Halifax Needham is a beautiful community, and people want to help and be a part of something that they can see change. I am going to name some, but literally it was immensely full of volunteers, immensely full of callers, people wanting to help, stop in, check in. There was a number of those people.

A few key players stood out for me and they walked with me frequently: Nancy Shackell, Cindy Littlefair, Ian, Tyler, and Thomas, Lou, Fawn, Holly Bell, Jackie Barkley, Lisa Roberts, Nicole Jones, Alison Zimmer, Kim Robertson, Bernadette Hamilton Reid, Linda Roberts, the two Georges, and many others. I am the worst for remembering names, but I clearly remembered them because they were with me so many times. I will never forget the time that I've spent with them, and I'm truly thankful for the campaign volunteer staff and NDP support along the way. I couldn't have done any of this if it wasn't for all of you.

I am Suzy Hansen, mother of seven beautiful children, all of which I am very proud of.

Salia, my firstborn, blessed me with the title of Mom on Mothers Day. I was so grateful to have that moment with my mom, as she shares the same birthday as my mom, so I'm grateful for that. This year was particularly heartwarming with the campaign because she turned 18, so she was able to vote for the first time. What a feeling, right? What a feeling.

My son Shadan is a strong and a smart young Black man - I was going to call him a kid but he's not a kid - who I worry about every single day. I know that your intelligence and gifted athleticism will take you places in this world that you'll never imagine.

Sezar, you are my best reader and knowledge-keeper of all things superheroes. I am so intrigued by your imagination and your thoughts on all of those topics.

Sakylo is my outdoor person who is always wanting to get things done, which is what I love, with a love for gardening and survival life. I know that if anything happened in this world, you would be my protector.

Syvaya is the next politician. She was the one that wanted to go out with me for eight hours a day. At the time, she was eight - eight hours a day, a little girl wanting to come out and knock on doors and talk to people. She's very outspoken and confident-minded. She's a beautiful person inside and out, and I know that she is destined for greatness.

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Sijora is small but mighty, the strongest little person, who has no fear. She is very lovable and kind-spirited.

Sage is gifted and caring, a super-smart kid, and she will be able to adapt in any setting put in front of her.

As I mom, I truly take my job very seriously, so much so that I intentionally found a job in my community that would prepare me for my kids' teenage years. Through Phoenix Youth Programs, I was fortunate to have a role as a community facilitator. That gave me an opportunity to learn so much from young people, celebrate their accomplishments with them, and cry with them through their challenges. I am truly grateful for the many memories and continuing relationships that I've made. I feel as though they all have become extended members of my family.

Thank you to Nykeela for always questioning how we do things for the youth from your own unique lens; to Naykia for being my motivation and continuing to do amazing things in life with the mantra of "Do your job"; Fatuma, for your intelligence and insight on how you think and your advocacy to make change in policy; and Jayce for being the life and the voice of my first group of young people and who helped set the standard in how we should approach our programs.

Throughout my nine years with the organization, I have gone through three births - one almost delivered at camp on the way home on the bus - and many new faces, all of which will hold a special place in my heart. I have now extended my family to be so much more. I'm truly thankful for all the new children that I have, whether they be by birth or not.

To my godchildren: Diteasha, Dan'easha, Tyasia, Kaynen, Keyondra, Destiny, Layla, Josh, and Jackson - as if I already don't have enough - my other sons Jade and Josh and my other daughters Janaysha, Tiara, Liv, Lanaysha, Kyasiah, Déjà, Laytaysha, and Tashayla. I am inspired by your energy and my intention is to be inspiring to others, like yourselves to be the best that you can be.

I am a community organizer who spends days and nights helping to connect those in need with the services that can support them. For almost 10 years as a community facilitator, I worked for years with youth to encourage them to make good decisions, to get the skills for employment that can transform their lives. I truly believe in the power of community to create conversations and build bridges so that we can find policy solutions that help us take care of each other and do better by our young people - to set them up for success and not failure.

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I was elected to the Halifax Regional School Board in 2016. We all know how that ended. But I will give credit in a minute. By dissolving the regional school boards, the Liberal government removed transparency and accountability from our public education system. Were school boards perfect? Not so much. But I can tell you from my time as an elected school board member that we divided our time equally between planning, oversight, document review, and fielding questions and complaints from concerned parents. All of us took our responsibility seriously to improve the educational experience of our students while providing safe learning environments for teachers, staff, and students. Who is doing this work now, I wonder?

Following the dissolution of the HRSB, I accepted an appointment to the Provincial Advisory Council on Education which presumably would advise the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. In two years, we didn't meet a whole lot with the minister - I know being a minister is really busy. Needless to say, I did not reoffer to join that council.

The Liberal government's ham-fisted approach to public education is one of the experiences, and actually probably the driving force that prompted me to join you all here today. When the Liberal government threatened to eliminate these important elected bodies, I was astounded. When I came to the House to attend deliberations on this matter, I was shocked at the dismissive and arrogant behaviour of many of the government MLAs during these deliberations. Some are still here today, but I know - with some satisfaction - that many of them are not.

It was after that experience which was, quite frankly, humiliating and infuriating that I swore that I would return to this House - and I meant it - as an elected member to preserve and expand our democratic spaces rather than shrink and eliminate them like the former government did. I thank you for giving me that drive, for pushing me to a point of "we need to make change and these are things that need to be done" and giving me the inspiration and motivation to do just that. (Applause)

Provincewide, many schools have overcrowded classrooms, lead in the drinking water, mould in the buildings, and more. It is a disgrace. In our riding, happily we will be getting a new elementary school to replace SJAM, and I celebrate that. It has been a decade in the making, and it will be a great anchor for our community. It will also be a very expensive project, with many private hands on that public money. We must be vigilant that we're getting good value for that money, and that the quality of the final product matches the one that is being sold to us.

Constructing new buildings will not solve the problems of inclusion, exclusion, education discrimination, and material scarcities that plague the current buildings. As a parent of several school-aged children in this riding, I am their advocate every single day. I tell this to every parent: Once the school board was dissolved, you are your child's biggest advocate. As an MLA and education spokesperson, I will defend the interests of all Nova Scotian children, parents, and schools every single day.

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Finally, I want to say a few words about why I am here, why we are all here. Nova Scotians have spoken. They have selected this group of people to tackle some very pressing issues during an unprecedented global response to a public health crisis. They want us to work together in this House, and they want us to work together with other levels of government. We don't have the luxury of time for political games and scoring political points. We have many people without houses and many more teetering on the edge of eviction.

Our service industries and small businesses have been decimated by the pandemic lockdowns, and tens of thousands of Nova Scotians are without a family doctor. I am not here for games and political theatre, and my constituents did not send me here for that. I might wear orange, but I will work with anyone who has good ideas that will benefit Nova Scotians, whether you wear red, blue, or independent.

As I told you a lot about my childhood, and yes, there were lots and lots of struggles, but there was also love, so much love. If you've heard from when I was talking, I've had love in my family. I've had lots of love within the community, tons of love from the young people whom I work with, and although my parents and grandparents didn't give me any generational wealth to pass on, or political connections to kind of tap into, they gave me something just as important - they taught me that hard work, resiliency, and determination are the keys to my success.

Many people would have asked me recently, wouldn't your parents be surprised to know you were sitting in Province House? I think, no. They know I'm exactly where I should be, and if anybody knows the type of person that I am, I'm very strong-minded, I'm open-minded, but I'm very strong-minded and -willed to make sure that we do the best for everyone around us. If I set my mind to it, I'm going to do it. I'm very thankful for that. I'm also proud that I'm representing the community that I've always lived in and the constituents with whom I've grown up.

Halifax Needham is near and dear to my heart, and I'm thankful for this opportunity to be their voice in the Legislature. Thank you for listening and let's get to work. (Applause)

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaverbank.

HON. BRIAN WONG « » : I'm humbled to be here representing my constituents of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank, especially this time of year where we're characterized by our beauty, by our beautiful lake system, our beautiful canal system, our beautiful trail system, which is a real highlight of the community. We stretch from Enfield all the way in through Waverley, all the way out to Beaver Bank North, and the area has gone through significant changes over the last few years.

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What I love most about the community is the ability to get out into nature, the ability, if you live in Beaver Bank - which, by the way, boasts the largest ATV club in the province, the Beaver Bank ATV Club, which gives people and families an opportunity to get into the woods - to get out and enjoy a family experience throughout a weekend, throughout the day, with their family. They get to places where, if you were on a bike or if you were walking, you probably couldn't enjoy it. So, I'm very proud to represent the people of Beaver Bank.

In addition, the Barrett Woods. The Barrett family, for years, has been a steward of the forests and of the lands, who also offer them to the community to use for their trail system, for their ATVs, and whatnot. If it weren't for the kind-heartedness of the Barrett family, that system would be totally lost. I appreciate the Barrett family in Beaver Bank for continuing to give access to your lands.

Also, one of the wonderful things - if you haven't had the opportunity - is to really get on the water. One of my most favourite things to do in the area is to really go on the water. Once a year we took a group of students - actually, we took a group of 20 at-risk students on an overnight canoe trip through the lake, starting in Lake Charles, going all the way down through Grand Lake, and going through the locks.

What an incredible experience when you have 20 students who are taking backpacks and stuff with them and going through some challenging wins and whatnot, doing some challenging portages, and at Lock 4 - if you ever have the chance to visit the Shubenacadie Canal to visit Lock 4 and see the beauty of it. However, if you're canoeing or if you're kayaking, Lock 4 offers some challenges because you have to go up over some steep rock. You have to go over some challenging little waterways in order to get your boat back into the water. However, they recently received a grant and the permission to put a good floating dock there so that you can enjoy the rest of the trail without much risk of tipping over, which I have recognized a few times.

However, those systems, those canal and lake systems, they don't stay on their own. They don't maintain themselves, look after themselves. Those trails cost a lot of money, take a lot of volunteer effort. SWEPS - Shubenacadie Watershed Environmental Protection Society - are great stewards of all of that. If you were to drive in to Fall River and chose to park downtown - when I call it a town, what I mean is that our Sobeys, our Wilson's Gas Stop, our Subway, and our McDonalds in that area - and our Tim Hortons, I can't forget that - but you're able to access all of those systems. I encourage you, if you're ever on your way back to Cape Breton, to take the exit and go down and really enjoy the beauty of it, especially this time of year.

However, I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the constituents that voted for me. This is my second kick at the can. I did run in 2013. It was a quite unique experience because I never considered myself a politician, or even a politician wannabe, but in 2012, after two years of deep cuts by the NDP government to education, it inspired me to take action. I was sitting in a principals' meeting in Berwick, where we meet, and our director - our superintendent at the time - upon announcing deep cuts the second year in a row, instead of listening to what was going on, I started looking up political parties. I knew there was an eventual election coming up soon.

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So I had two choices, really, in my mind. I could go Progressive Conservative, or I could go Liberal. I grew up Liberal. My parents always voted Liberal. I grew up in Digby. It was a very Liberal town. The Liberals back in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s were very kind to the Chinese. Of course, my last name - I'll get into it a little deeper later about my background. So, that was my big thing. I thought I was going to go for the Liberals because I always went that way.

When I went home and told my wife this idea, she said, Brian, there's nothing about the way you live your life, your belief system, your education that's Liberal. She said, you're a Progressive Conservative. It was exactly that, so I looked into it. I went for my very first meeting to sit down with the executive to say, hey, my name is Brian Wong and I want to represent this area. I have no idea what I'm doing. I can remember the committee members and whatnot sitting there, so I do have to pay homage to two members. The president at that time was Bernie O'Rourke. Bernie was the president of the association, and Carl Ostridge was the vice-president. They have both passed away since 2013. It's unfortunate that they didn't see me win in 2021. They were integral in my development in politics, so I really do need to mention that.

I really need to talk about my campaign team before I go further, and then I'll go a little bit deeper into my family and why I am here today. Nobody can run a campaign unless you have a good campaign team. I have to go back to 2013. My campaign manager at the time, his name was Jason Crowell. When we talk about fixed election dates, when he volunteered to be my campaign manager, we had no idea when the election was going to be. I was nominated in Fall 2012. The election could be called at any time. Actually, in Fall 2012 I started campaigning thinking the election's going to be next month, the election's going to be next month, the election's going to be next month, and I started knocking on doors in October 2012. The election didn't turn out to be until October 2013.

To complicate matters a little bit, I was awaiting a double hip replacement. Yes, I was 50 years old at the time, and nobody should have to wait for two hip replacements. I was on the waiting list for three years, so I do know some of the deficits that we have in our health care system. I couldn't walk, so even at work I was on one of those little Walmart scooters, going back and forth in all schools. The janitors remember because I put more holes and stuff in the walls than they could ever imagine. Those schools are tight. You can't get a full radius to turn your cart around. I went door to door on a Segway. Some people thought it was a gimmick, but it wasn't.

[Page 344]

I started in October that year. I remember it very well because I started off in a light jacket, sometimes maybe a golf shirt going door to door. Suddenly, I was wearing a Winter jacket going door to door. I'm thinking fixed election dates - wouldn't it be great to have a fixed election date. I wouldn't have to do this. Winter went by. I remember going on my Segway. We were in the Christmas parade and whatnot. Spring comes around - there's not going to be an election in the Winter, so it's pretty safe.

When Spring arrived, we have March, April, May, June, July, August, September - nothing happened. I was going door to door - I think out of 7,500 houses, I probably knocked on 7,000 doors. I didn't stop. I went continuously. I would come home from work - and I was a high school administrator - at 5:00 o'clock I would grab my Segway, and I would head out, and I would go and go and go. The only thing I knew how to do is do it well. I didn't know a lot about politics, but I knew that I had to reach out to people, and building those relationships and whatnot was the only way that I had a chance of winning.

Summer comes along. My wife, Marlene, she's an absolutely amazing business person. She's a leader in what she does. She qualified for Presidents Club. She won a trip to Hawaii. I thought, oh my God, I'm going to Hawaii. It was Maui. It was a week-long trip, all expenses paid, to Hawaii. I thought, geez, I can't take 10 days off and not knock on doors. Because we don't have fixed election dates, I stayed home. My wife went by herself to Maui. Somebody say shame, please. (Interruption) Thank you.

It was an exceptional sacrifice. That was a vacation. We can get vacations and stuff back.

When the idea of a fixed election date came up, I'm in full support of a fixed election date. I didn't care if it was on Christmas Day. I wanted a fixed election date.

As a high school teacher, as a high school administrator, I do see the value of the student vote. There is no doubt in my mind that to engage kids in authentic activities is the best way to learn something. I do agree that it's great to have university students involved in a student vote to get them engaged so they can vote themselves. However, what I have to say is that 99 per cent of the idea of a fixed election date is the fixed election date itself - or the fixed election, my apologies. It's the fact that we're having fixed elections, and it's not the date. The date simply means that we have time to prepare.

A perfect example - I need to mention two people - my campaign managers this year, Dave Sexton and Dan McNaughton. Dave Sexton volunteered to be my campaign manager. He's a retired successful business person. He's exceptionally active in the community, and he knows how to organize. When the writ was dropped, he dropped by and gave me these words: Geez Brian, I'm sorry but the first two weeks I am away in P.E.I. I can't be your campaign manager for two weeks. It's like, no worries, Dave. I really appreciate your support but, you know, it's not the fact, it's not the fact that you didn't want to do this for me; it's the fact that we had a surprise election dropped upon us.

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[4:30 p.m.]

It's not the date, it's the fact that we have a fixed election that we can plan and go forward.

Fortunately for me, I had a good friend, Dan McNaughton, who was the candidate in 2017 ‑ by the way, he only lost by 65 votes, and he hates when I bring it up and remind him of that ‑ but he stepped up in his place, and I ended up with two co‑campaign managers and they are the reason that I am standing here today.

Before I move forward, I am just going to say thank you to some of the people who did volunteer on my campaign. Number one is Gary Hines. Gary Hines is the last PC MLA that we had in Waverley‑Fall River‑Beaver Bank. He was the first MLA when the constituency was reorganized. He has been a big supporter of me, and he continues to do so. He always wants to be involved. He and his wife Brenda both contributed heavily to both campaigns.

I just want to mention Dan MacKenzie, who, in my first campaign, was a Grade 11 student. I was a guest speaker at Lockview High School and he got involved. He became very heavily involved and eventually became the president of the Youth PC for Nova Scotia and is still involved.

Ron Nugent, who is a teacher and is a constant go-getter: Thank you, Ron. Andrea Joyce, who was my official agent. Danny Squires in Beaver Bank was an amazing social media person for me. Alma Furneaux, who was excellent for the phone campaign in both elections for me in 2013 and 2021. Chris Dawson and Helene deEtte were great on the phones. Todd MacLeod, Jim Langille, and Alan Idler, who helped canvass. Angela and Dave Conrad. I need to mention Sandy and Doris Lager, who really physically couldn't participate in this campaign but were there for that moral support and stuff. Hazel MacLean, God bless her - she was involved in so many campaigns as a big PC but couldn't participate this time.

Paul Miller was our lawyer and I do have to thank Bill Horne who was the former MLA. Bill Horne, throughout the whole transition period, really offered his services often to say, listen Brian, if you need anything, let me know; give me a call. He was very helpful. The best thing - Bill deserves a hand. (Applause) The best thing I inherited from Bill, though, was his Constituency Assistant Danielle Deveau. As we all know, our constituency assistants are integral. They are the people on the ground. They are the ones who take the phone calls, introduce people at the doors, and I need to thank Danielle Deveau for agreeing to stay on and continue the hard work and good work that she does. (Applause)

I do want to acknowledge the candidates from the other parties: Marni Tuttle, Christina McCarron, Anthony Edmonds, and Shawn Whitford for putting their names forward. It truly was a tough campaign, and it was a close campaign.

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The other person I need to acknowledge is that it was a contested nomination this time around and I do need to acknowledge ‑ it's funny, when you start reading from your notes instead of just reading from the top of your head ‑ but Scott Hope was the person that I was up against in the contested nomination, and he really made me work. In order to do that it really gets you going, it gets people motivated, so for every constituency person or the person who is running who does not want a contested nomination, it is a great way to get things going. I also need to say thank you to Cheryl Newcombe, who also was a contested nomination for me in 2013.

There is a lot of opportunity. There is a lot of growth in the area, both in Beaver Bank, Waverley, and Fall River, all of the areas ‑ Oakfield. Our area is growing. When we say there are people moving from Ontario, there are people moving from Alberta, there are people immigrating from other countries and a lot of them have the ability to buy these expensive houses in these new, big subdivisions and it is driving the market up. However, it's also increasing the population by hundreds and thousands. The result of that is that we lack the infrastructure to support that. On the books right now, there are over 5,000 new units that are being proposed for the area and they are going to happen. The approvals have already happened.

What I'm very disappointed to see is that we have portables for our schools. In Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank we don't have an arena, we don't have a swimming pool. We don't have any of that infrastructure that brings people together, to say you can go around the rink and you can maybe hold hands with your girlfriend or your spouse, or maybe somebody that you want to be your girlfriend when you were a kid, as I did going around the rink. You can't go to a swimming pool or have a team, you can't have a swim team. Those are the places that people gather to chat with each other in the Summertime.

The largest community in Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank is actually Woodbine Estates - Woodbine trailer park - with over 5,000 residents, and for those residents there's very little that's happening out there for them to really be a community. One of my goals is to really try to make us a community to get that infrastructure.

There is a committee that has been working for three years on a turf field. In the area, we have one of the highest tax bases east of Quebec City and we have nothing to show. We have houses that can't get water. Even though we have some municipal water that runs through some of the main areas, we have houses that don't get any water at all and have to have all their water pumped in. These are brand new developments. These are brand new houses that are going up. Some people, if they are lucky, they might get half a gallon a minute, which is the bare minimum that you can actually run a house on. We have infrastructure needs that need to happen and that's stuff that I am going to work on.

The committee working on the turf field - there are turf fields all around HRM. We had funding secured at one point but couldn't get all the partners to agree. That committee, after three years, by the time this is done their children are going to be grown up and gone, but we need to keep that going and to make sure there are volunteers that have some kind of succession plan. Those are the things, when I look at Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank, that we truly need.

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Oh jeez, I forgot to mention I'm a golfer. We have three great golf courses out in the area - can never forget that. When you want to talk about nature, when you want to talk about getting outside, all through Oakfield Golf Club it's a beautiful course. This time of year, it's wonderful. We go all the way in through Ashburn. Ashburn is a beautiful course. We go all the way to Lost Creek out in Beaver Bank. By connecting the dots of all those courses, you can also follow trails in our lakes system that connect all of these.

With increased infrastructure in our area, we can actually keep people in the area because right now if I have a child who wants to play hockey, we go out of the area. If I have a child who wants to play soccer, we go out of the area. My son happens to play for the Lockview Dragons football team. They cannot play a home game on their field; we have to go out of the area to play home games. So, infrastructure is big and infrastructure is something that I am definitely going to work on.

I'm going to talk about my family a little bit. With my family, I do have to start with my wife, Marlene Leach. She is a Newfoundlander. I am a very proud spouse of a Newfoundlander. She is absolutely the one. She pulled my life together. I was in tatters for several years and I'll probably get into that too. When I met her in 1999, she really did. She is strong, she is intelligent, she is beautiful, she is all of those things. She is an incredible mother. When you see me and I'm dressed and you think, wow, is he ever dressed smartly, it is because when I walk out the door, very often she looks at me and says, is that what you're wearing? So I throw down my bag and I walk back and I'm thinking, what? She absolutely puts me together, more than just clothes. She is absolutely my rock.

My daughter, Markie, is 33 years old. She has a kinesiology degree through Acadia. She's an exceptionally independent woman. She bought her first house last year. She happens to live in New Ross. She has a great job. She is bilingual. She's a case manager for the Co-operators. I'm very proud of her for what she's doing and how she chooses to live independently. She's a little bit stubborn - I'm not sure where she gets that from.

My son, Jacob, is 17. He's at Lockview High School. He considers himself an athlete. He works hard, but school is not something that engages him. For me as a high school administrator, you would think, oh my goodness, he's going to have great marks in school. Well, he could get the great marks if he were engaged. Like so many other students, we're offering a curriculum that doesn't really suit their needs or engage them enough to really put a lot of work in.

I can come up with all kinds of excuses and he can come up with even better ones, but we do hold him accountable. I also hold his teachers responsible and accountable, as well. Sometimes, probably, teachers hate that. I'm probably the most hated parent at Lockview High School right now, because I do try to hold people accountable.

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However, one of the things that I do like that's in our platform is that we are looking to bring skilled trades back. This is only my opinion, but I think that we did a big disservice back in the 1990s when we took away vocational schools. We have kids in our school system right now who could take my car apart and put it together even better. We have kids right now who, if you wanted them to build or design something, could do that. But they have a problem sitting in a class all day.

The thing is, we all know that the best way to engage kids is to somehow keep them actively engaged in things, not sitting there all day long. We have designed a school system - and we continue to do it - that's 200 years old. We need to have a system in which we can identify kids' interests earlier and get them focused on it and get them to do the hands-on learning.

I was principal of an alternative high school of - I say at-risk kids, and when I say "at-risk kids," I mean at risk of not being in school if they weren't in that school. We have three schools like that in the Annapolis Valley. They've all developed around the adventure education model. It doesn't have to be adventure education. It could be something different.

I had the opportunity to work with some really key people. People who worked for the school board, teachers in the school, even the secretary form an important basis of what we were doing at that school. When you have small class sizes and you're able to build a relationship - I truly learned my craft as an educator at that school. We only took 20 students per year. It cost the Department of Education a lot of money to have these schools.

The thing is that we need more of it. We need more schools that actually know the kids' names and know everything about their family. I have students in that school and I know their names. I know their siblings, I know their parents, I know where they live, I know where they lived, and I know where they are right now. Kids stay connected with us because it's about the relationship.

As a politician, as a teacher, as a business person, the key to success is building relationships. The key to education is building relationships. How does a teacher - and God bless teachers - build a relationship when you have 35 kids sitting in that class, and when the kids leave, you have 35 more coming in the next class, and 35 more coming in the next one? That's high school.

Elementary and middle school are different. They do have those kids all day long. They do form those relationships. There are wonderful things going on in our school. I especially think that by the time they get to middle school and they're starting to go into high school, we need to change. We need to keep kids engaged. We need to figure out what works and what doesn't and what, in our system right now, really doesn't make any sense for the student who really - all they want to do is tear your car apart or they want to build that.

[Page 349]

We have to get them out of the school. I think the private sector might have a role to play in that as well, because the best place to educate people is outside of the walls of a school, especially when they want to use their hands. When we took vocational schools away in the 1990s, we left a whole sector of kids behind and we need to get it back. In our mandate, we're going to work on that. (Applause)

[4:45 p.m.]

Looking at the time, I only have 35 minutes left. My mom was an incredible woman. She passed away three years ago. We lost her basically to complications from lung cancer. The funny thing is that she had three other siblings who also passed away from complications of lung cancer, COPD. They all started smoking when they were 10 or 11 years old. They all started smoking back in the 1950s when it was cool to smoke.

I have one aunt left on my mom's side, my Aunt Joy. She quit smoking after her last brother passed away of lung cancer. She's been five years free. Her lungs have cleared. She is still there. She's the glue that holds our family together right now.

There's another pandemic out there, folks. It's called vaping. Vaping in the education system is a major issue. I would bet that most Grade 9 - I'll just pick Grade 9 just as a number, but that's certainly an age where students transition into high school now, and even though the curriculum is very different and the schedule is very different, I would hazard a guess that probably 60 to 70 per cent of students probably have some kind of a vaping product in their backpack if you check them at home.

We all know the health risks of vaping, and that is something that we need to look into. We need to be diligent and we need to stop it, because we don't want a generation of students having complications with their lungs, potentially losing them to serious health side effects and potentially death. We need to stop it and we need to stop it now.

I just mentioned my Aunt Joy, who kind of holds us together. She also holds her own family together, and I just want to say - and this is really kudos to the people of Nova Scotia, the people of the Digby area - my cousin Nancy, who would be Joy's daughter - her house burned down two weeks ago. They lived in a trailer and then they had four children. They lived in a trailer, and every time they had another kid, they couldn't afford to buy a bigger house, so they kept adding on. They added onto their trailer to the point where they couldn't get insurance. Their house burned down two weeks ago. Why Nancy and John Morehouse - why their daughter was up here - she has cerebral palsy and was getting surgery on her eyes. However, the giving nature of the people in the Digby area and Nova Scotians through donations has really given that family a boost to get their lives back on track. Kudos. (Applause)

[Page 350]

I do need to mention my brother. My brother's name is Butch. His actual name is Dale Butch William Wong, but I'm going to take us way back. My brother is two years older than me, and he's probably struggled a lot in his life, and probably a lot of us would say it's probably of his own volition, but he allowed me to get here, so I'm going to take you back to 1943. My great-uncle's name was Butch. He came from China. I have no idea how he came from China and ended up in Digby, Nova Scotia, and got named Butch. (Laughter)

My uncle Butch - I guess he'd be my great-uncle Butch, another Chinese gentleman - his name was Warren Wong - and two other Chinese - I don't know their names - but they started a restaurant in Digby in 1943 called the Cornwallis Café. When I say Cornwallis, don't duck, but it was named after CFB Cornwallis. It was right across the Annapolis Basin, and there was Cornwallis.

In 1943, so many restaurants and stuff - it probably started in the 1920s, but a lot of Chinese immigrants started coming to Canada and they were looking for opportunity. They probably started out west and worked their way across. It's funny how many restaurant owners from that era, even now, that they know each other, because a lot of them came from the same region.

My Uncle Butch and his friends started a restaurant, and one of the things that was happening at the time was that the Chinese would come over and start a business, move back to China to be with their families, but bring over relatives. My dad came over in 1950. My dad grew up very poor. The description is growing up in a mud hut where the animals lived in the house. He told tales of walking up to five miles a day carrying water buckets, going for salt. That was his life. He came over and it was 17 years of age and started working at the restaurant in 1950. He worked hard, 100 hours a week. It wasn't uncommon to hear stories that they worked around the clock, and when they weren't working, they were playing cards, and they didn't sleep, and they went back working again. That was the tradition.

In 1959, my mom just happened to be working at that restaurant. My mom is from Digby. She's a Stark and through the Starks and her family, we have the Robichauds and the Dukeshires. In 1960 or 1961, along comes my brother, Dale Butch William Wong. However, my brother was born in Montreal. How on earth did you go from Digby, and he ended up being born in Montreal?

There's an awful lot of racism in Digby. There was a lot back then. There's probably a lot there now. As a matter of fact, I can guarantee it's still there now. Is it better? I wish - I hope it is. I thought most of my life that the racism that was happening - because there were six Chinese families in Digby - I guess we were considered one of them, even though my mom wasn't Chinese.

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They moved to Montreal, and I figured it out. After my dad died, my mom told me the story. She said we moved to Montreal not because of the racism from the white population to the Chinese population but from the Chinese population to the white population. The small Chinese community in Digby gave my parents such a hard time for my dad not marrying Chinese that they moved to Montreal to start a life there, to work there, where they could blend in, where it wasn't such a big deal. It shocked me.

In 1963, when I was born, the Chronicle Herald did a story on the Chinese community in Digby, on that particular restaurant. There was one other family there at the time. It's a picture at Christmastime. It was December 12, 1963. It's the whole restaurant owners and families there. There's actually five families and their kids in 1963. There's a Christmas tree in the background. I wish I had the picture to show you because it's striking to see my mother, the only white woman, standing there holding me. I thought, wow. It's a prized possession for me. I have the original article and the original picture.

My other prized possession is an English-Chinese dictionary that my dad used. When my dad arrived here, he couldn't speak English - 1950. The nuns in Digby really worked hard with him to teach him how to speak English. The funny thing is, my dad died in 1986, but I can't remember my dad speaking with a Chinese accent. Everybody assures me that he did, but I can't remember it, and that's a funny thing.

I lived my life growing up in little Digby, Nova Scotia. I'm going to use this word one time, but I heard the word "chink" more times than I can count. Early on, you don't really notice it. You're a kid, you're in elementary school, and that's just the way life is. Even my friends, they would have different names, and it's not always the C-word that they would use, but even my friends. I've been called a boat person. I've been called China. One of my favourites is Fine China. Sometimes I might stick with that one. I have also had people tell me what should offend me and what shouldn't offend me. To tell you the truth, I've had difficulty all my life defining exactly who I am and what I am, and is it really important?

I'm going to fast-forward to last week. I had one of the toughest decisions since I became an MLA. I was filling out the form for the librarian here, and it said, "visible minority." Are you a visible minority? Damn. I don't really know if I am or if I'm not. How do I define that? I asked the librarian, how do you define that? It's a personal choice. Is it important for me to identify as a visible minority? So I crossed out yes, visible minority. Okay, it's important. Then: state what you are. Okay, a Chinese Canadian and then it's like, hang on, does that reflect who I am? If I put Chinese Canadian it goes down in the Hansard to say I am Chinese Canadian. That means I could be fully Chinese or not, so I wanted to reflect that, so it took me a long time, it took me to figure I'd take the papers home and try to figure out what I wanted to put down because I feel when I check the box that I put a stamp on my head, I'm a visible minority. Who in the hell cares? Who cares?

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I am speaking for myself. I am speaking from my experiences. Since I was elected, the very next day I received an email - I'm going to get back to my brother in a minute - but I received an email from a gentleman who lives in California congratulating me. I'm thinking why on earth would somebody from California . . .? So this person is a lawyer. However, he grew up in Dartmouth. He actually grew up in Minister Halman's area. He told me his story and he said to me, I can't believe that somebody of Chinese descent actually got elected because my experiences were awful. He said he moved to California because it's a melting pot - as if we're not a melting pot. This person is younger than I am.

THE SPEAKER « » : Please refer to the member by their position, so the honourable Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

BRIAN WONG « » : Thank you. I apologize for that. I will retract that and say, Minister Halman's area - oh, the member for Dartmouth East. Thank you. Hey, I'm learning.

A while later there's a woman from Digby. She happened to be my next-door neighbour but 12 years older. I didn't know her very well. For the first time in four years, I met her at the golf course in Digby and she told me the exact same story. I said, well, that experience is very different. She was the beauty queen in Digby growing up. Her mum was from Digby. She was white, European descent, her dad was Chinese, so she was of mixed race as well but told me horror stories of her growing up. She moved to Toronto and told me the same story. So this is bigger than me. That's what really made me put my name as a visible minority, because it's bigger and apparently - I don't know if it's proud or be sad - I'm the first person of Chinese descent to be elected to this Legislature. (Applause) Thank you for that, by the way.

I found it really disappointing that I have been referred to in the media as Brian Wong will probably get a Cabinet position because he is the only non-white person, or a person of colour. It's very demeaning. I'll leave it at that.

My experience wasn't the same as the other two. I didn't feel - I was an athlete, I was fairly popular and stuff in school and I defined myself as an athlete, much like my son defines himself as an athlete. But things were rough at times. I fought, I got beaten up, I got called all kinds of things, so it was probably junior high. My brother is two years older, he is bigger, he became a fighter. Nobody would mess with me because they wouldn't mess with him. My life got easy - my brother's life didn't, mine did. So he protected me. Racism really stopped, nobody called me names, so I thank him for that.

To go back to the C-word, I just want to tell you what it means to me because it didn't hurt me as it may hurt other people, the teasing and all of that. That's the way I just chose to internalize that. I told the story of my dad immigrating from China, very poor. He worked hard, gave us a good middle-class life in Digby.

[Page 353]

[5:00 p.m.]

When I was 15 years old, my dad - there were four partners in the restaurant, but he would often close up. After the restaurant closed, he would go down to the little office in the restaurant and count the money to do the bank deposit and whatnot. Then, when he left, he would go out, and he would lock up and set the alarm outside.

At 11 o'clock on a Saturday night as he was locking up, putting the key in the door, a stocky 18-year-old kid who was at the pool hall next door - he was drunk - grabbed my dad. My dad was 120 pounds - 120 pounds. He grabbed him by the throat, threw him up against the wall, said "You effing" - C-word - "go back to China. What are you doing here?" He continued to strike my dad and called him the C-word several times. That's what that word means. If that happened to me once, that's the one time that affects me. It happened to me one time, and that affects me so deeply today.

If I were African Nova Scotian, if I were Mi'kmaw, if I were different, if I were physically disabled, you wake up every day, and that's the kind of stuff you face. We need to do better. (Applause) If that one incident affects me as deeply as it does now, 45 years later, then how deeply is it affecting people who are different?

The truth of the matter is we're all sitting here. We're all different shades of white, we're all different shades of brown, we're all different shades of everything. We all have our own individual stories. We all have stories of stuff that we went through, that we were bullied or that this happened or that happened. However, what happened to me and what happened to my dad was not systemic, and I understand the difference, that systemic racism - which is caused by government - has to stop. We have recognized it. We have a long way to go, but let's not forget the other groups of people that are out there. It might not be systemic, but it's tough.

I don't know what to do about bullying in schools. I have dealt with it for my entire career. In my situation, the bullying stopped because somebody stood up for me when I couldn't stand for myself. I'm not saying that's a solution, but we need to get better at that as well.

Not everybody has a chance to tell their story. We as elected members have the chance to tell our story. I thank everybody for listening. (Applause)

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Preston.

ANGELA SIMMONDS « » : I would like to begin by offering congratulations to our leader, the Leader of the Official Opposition, the honourable Premier, and all the returning and newly elected members of the House.

[Page 354]

I would also like to make a special mention to my friends and colleagues - the member for Cole Harbour, member for Halifax Armdale, and member for Halifax Needham - for standing alongside of me as we continue adding value and diversity in the House, increasing the number of Black elected members. (Applause) We have made history, and I thank you for your leadership and support.

I want to acknowledge that we are on ancestral and unceded land of Mi'kmaw peoples. Before I go any further, though, I must acknowledge Nova Scotia as the birthplace of African presence in this nation. African Nova Scotians are a founding culture in this province, who have contributed for over 400 years architecturally, socially, professionally, and politically to the success of this country, province, and city.

I rise in this House only because of my ancestors before me, whose shoulders I stand on. But for their wisdom, resilience, and strength, I would not be here. For generations, we have been the engine behind the rise of so many in positions of power and political office. It has been on our shoulders, our strategies, our sweat equity. It has been on the soles of our shoes that have become worn out for others. It is our time. We have earned our spot at this table. (Applause)

I look forward to sharing our voices, lived experiences, and knowledge, added to the much-needed conversations and debates that we will have in this House. To quote the feminist poet Audre Lorde, "It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences."

It is truly a privilege and an honour to be able to address this House. Of course, this did not happen with just me alone. I did not get where I am today on my own success. It is because of my family, my friends, volunteers, and campaign team. It is because of them who sit beside me, believed in me, and pushed me that I am standing here today.

I want to thank my mother Joanne and my father, Junior Sparks, for raising a girl who was taught to always ask questions, never take no for an answer, and the possibility for extraordinary. My dad would always say, Angie, you can do things, but remember you will always have to work harder than the next person. It is different, but it is our reality. I live by that example, and I do my best to make him proud because he was the true example of talking the talk and walking the walk.

I know my dad is leading this great crowd of supporters and witnesses from Heaven, who are smiling down on me today, including his grandson, my nephew Cale Willis; his mother and father, Olive May and Ernest Sparks; my maternal grandparents, Amelia and John Clark; my mother-in-law Pauletta Simmonds, and her grandson Naricho Clayton; and her parents, Mary and Harvey Simmonds.

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Mx. Speaker, I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to thank my A-team - my family. My husband and my best friend, Antonio Dean, who has been beside me every step of the way for this journey for over 28 years. This journey was not just mine but ours. Dean, your patience, love, and belief in me have never allowed me to give up and never to think it was not my time.

Our children Antonio Junior "A.J.", Angelina, and Adré, gave up their time, energy, and love. As I stand here and reflect on my many awards, achievements, and accomplishments, for me, I have much to be proud of, but nothing makes me more proud and feel more accomplished than being your mom. Being your mom is the best part of me, and you continue to be my leading inspiration in every choice or decision I make. (Applause)

I want to give a special thank you to my oldest son, A.J., for giving your dad and me our first grandson, Amari Antonio. He is one of my greatest joys, and it is because of him that I will continue to use my voice - our voice - to address injustices and continue to dismantle structures, institutions, and policies that don't value his presence. As my colleague, the MLA for Halifax Needham has said, the fact that we're discussing firsts in 2021 is a problem. Amari is three and now we need to change that narrative so that this changes for him, and he will not be the first. (Applause)

I also want to give a special thanks to my predecessor, the Honourable Keith Colwell. Thank you for your unwavering support and outstanding leadership over the last 16 years to our communities and riding. I'm thankful for your support and your guidance.

It would be nice to say that being elected MLA for Preston - or Cherry Brook, my hometown, my community - was a lifelong dream. Being MLA for Preston is just part of this journey. The truth is it was never a path I imagined for myself. Like so many couples, Dean and I were focused on our careers, raising our three children. My passion for public service found an outlet in being a mom, in my friendships, in my community, and in my professional roles as an employment counsellor, entrepreneur, student support worker, and lawyer.

When I became a mom at 18, graduating Cole Harbour High School when A.J. was only one month old, I knew my life was not my own anymore. Dean and I together would now be making decisions that would not only impact us but our son.

Dean, I have watched you strike the perfect balance between community and profession and I've supported you while making difficult decisions. You have advanced your career standing up and speaking up when things were not right. Your community thanks you, your children thank you, and I thank you. I am so proud to be your wife.

This is how we have raised our children: to never forget where you come from, respect their elders, value differences, and always speak your truth. Even when there are people who will challenge you, lie, or disrespect you, you always show up with integrity and transparency. I believe that transparency enables good government. That is what I spoke about at the doors as I walked door to door. I was going to be an MLA who listens, holds people in positions of power accountable, is active in my community, and is transparent to my constituency and colleagues.

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As I walked door to door through Preston Township, I heard about the importance of education, policing, land ownership, property development, anti-Black racism, and community engagement. Issues resonated with me as I reflected on my own children and their experience within the Halifax Regional School Board and my role as an African Nova Scotian student support worker and community outreach worker.

Education is key to achieving success, and addressing the gaps of achievement for African Nova Scotian and Indigenous learners is going to be fundamental for this government. I know this is something that the last government was committed to. I'm looking forward to receiving the final report from the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives, which is currently doing the work on this. It is essential that we improve our school systems.

As an articling clerk with Nova Scotia Legal Aid, I would watch young girls and boys, young women, young men, come into court and fill out applications for representation, confused about the legal process and the judicial system. The neighbourhood where a child is born should never dictate the quality of education that child receives. Access to a high-quality public education is a fundamental Nova Scotian right. Creating opportunities to fully realize the genius of our children is vital to the health of our economy and a strong, secure future for our city, province, and country.

The words of Frederick Douglass remain true: It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. Education can and must be a priority.

Mx. Speaker, walking the doors in Montague, Humber Park, and Auburn, we discussed health care, housing, community engagement, and employment. As a previous small business owner and the daughter of an entrepreneur - my father, who got up every morning at 4:00 a.m. and worked until the evening, making sure his clients were satisfied. For over 25 years my parents operated a successful janitorial service. When he passed in 2004, after battling stomach cancer, I was working as an employment counsellor for the YMCA. I decided to leave this position and continue to build on my father's legacy and take over the family business.

I am thankful for the success Dean and I had with this business. It provided opportunities for our family and community, creating jobs and supporting youth and organizations, all of which would not have been possible but for the resilience and work ethic instilled in me by my father and mother.

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This journey is just one of many experiences that prepared me for being an MLA. Dean and I worked this business to success. My time was not my own. I had to be available 24/7, but I would not have changed any part of this.

One of my dad's proudest moments was when he was on the cover of The Black Business Initiative. I have this hanging in my office and beside it is the picture of me in the same magazine. Ten years after my dad was recognized as a leader in small business, I was also recognized for the same. (Applause) Thank you. I felt a sense of accomplishment, but even as I was engaged in my roles as a wife, mother, and professional, my spirit was restless. It was in that moment that I knew I wanted more and decided to commit to furthering my education and applied to law school.

[5:15 p.m.]

To be completely honest, Mx. Speaker, working within the school system and the community also inspired me to go back to school. I was disappointed and frustrated with the number of students on IPPs: in particular, the number of African Nova Scotian students. I needed to see change. Something had to change. I knew if I wanted to make change and hold institutions accountable, I needed to be at the table where decisions are made, policies are developed, and laws are created. So off to the Dalhousie Schulich School of Law I went.

This was no small sacrifice for my family. Our son A.J. was at Acadia playing varsity basketball, and balancing expectations and stereotypes in school. Angelina was navigating high school, competitive swimming practices, morning and night competitions, while also playing varsity basketball on top of navigating being a young woman in a world where her voice was often silenced. Adré, our youngest son, at 16 was off to Ontario attending St. Andrew's College. He was playing varsity football on a full scholarship, making new friends and building relationships, but alone in a school system full of traditions that were not designed for him.

As I indicated earlier, my greatest accomplishment is being your mum. I am so proud of you and love you. Dean, you took on many roles of mum, dad, friend, coach, husband, advocate - still not cooking (Laughter) - all while still ensuring his career was not impacted. I am in complete admiration witnessing you continue to face adversity, promote equity, and challenge the status quo in an institution that was not designed for you to be there and be a superintendent. Thank you for always being there and having my back. (Applause)

Mx. Speaker, while the Speech from the Throne made one sentence of reference to young girls, I wonder where my sons and husband as Black men fit into this plan, or my daughter, a Black woman, was included, where my friends who are from the 2SLGBTQ+ community, where my allies are from the newcomer community - immigrant - envision their future for the next four years. Or how my brothers and sisters from the First Nation community feel about their path to truth and reconciliation. When none of them were mentioned in a Speech from the Throne, how do we know our voices will be heard if we are continuously being ignored and devalued?

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"Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances," says Maya Angelou. I have had many fallen steps along my journey, but I always get back up to redefine success for me. That's what Preston is about - so many vibrant, outstanding, committed people doing outstanding things.

You will never know where people will find success. My constituency is full of success and beautiful people doing everyday work, being good people who want to help build their communities - people who care and who will always show up. Maybe it's the local fisherman who buys a bike for a single mum whose son's bike was just stolen, or the manager of Sobeys who created a policy on scent sensitivity because of his daughter's inability to shop at the store.

Young people being innovative creating jobs; long-standing construction companies being passed down from generation to generation; community members opening businesses to employ young people from the community; fundraising for children to ensure everyone has an opportunity to play sports; and coaches who are volunteering, giving up their free time.

Our local communities are filled with leaders: leaders teaching young children and adults to face their fears by providing surfing lessons. We have local advocates and professionals providing free time for will information, and for swimming practices and camps. We have teachers, principals, and students all doing amazing work.

Mx. Speaker, I was moved by the many conversations at the doors. Talking about housing, health care, community development, and policing were all conversations I had in Caledonia, Cole Harbour, Lake Echo, and Mineville. I was full of emotions thinking of my own children and their future. Will they be able to own a home? Will my grandchildren be able to afford university? Will they have the benefits of the 4+ program?

I thought of all this as I remember buying our first home. When Dean and I moved out, we moved into a co-op. Dean was a community constable with the RCMP. I was working at the IWK Health Centre neurology clinic. A.J. was four, and I was expecting our second child, Angelina. We were house-hunting, and we were able to buy our first home on Auburn Drive with only a $5,000 down payment at $109,000. (Interruptions) I know. I'm fearful for my children, our young people who are burdened with university debt, housing costs, and loss of employment.

In particular, our seniors who are on fixed income are unable to enjoy the basic right of owning a home and having clear title. The reality of the situation is that our elders are dying, and there needs to be a priority on accelerating the process for land clarification. Just this month, an elder in our community, Ms. Corine Beals, whom I started this process with in 2015, died in 2021 without clear title. She is a grandmother who lost three grandsons to gun violence in one year and lost her husband. She lived in a home where, when it rained or snowed, she could not sleep in her bedroom because the rain came in. This mother, grandmother, and community leader could not access a housing grant because she could not prove clear title. This is a problem.

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"Our system is fair and equitable. It gives a voice to the people no matter how long you've lived here. No matter who you voted for, no matter the colour of your skin, your gender, who you love, the language you speak, or how you pray, you have a say." Mx. Speaker, when I heard this, I was upset and worried, as I look across my seat and see no reflection of myself to understand or plan to address and dismantle the long-standing entrenched racism in this province. In fact, if you go through the Throne Speech, you will not find the words "Black," "African Nova Scotian," "Mi'kmaw," "Indigenous," "immigrant," "woman," "homelessness," or "poverty." Those words and people are not present in the Throne Speech. How can others see themselves in this government if they are not part of the vision for this province?

I am left with this, in the words of James Baldwin: "It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have." Do better.

To my Liberal colleagues around me and to our Leader, thank you so much for believing in me, giving me the opportunity to speak authentically, show up in conversations and roles that I'm most passionate about, and for welcoming the tough conversations and calling out barriers and privilege. Our party and a future Liberal government will be better for them.

To our caucus staff - the ones who receive my texts at 11:00 p.m. at night or 5:00 a.m. in the morning, and answer without hesitation - I thank you. You stay up late and show up early to make sure I'm prepared for debates, policies, briefings, and committees. I am eternally grateful for that.

As I reflect on my first week in the House of Assembly, I'm full of many emotions. For all who sit in this House, I want to leave you with one parting thought. James Baldwin once said: "We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist." Remember, this is the people's House - all people, not just some.

I look forward to working with all of you to create change, demonstrate intentional leadership, be authentic, create stronger communities, and support one another, because only in Nova Scotia can a girl from Cherry Brook be the first Black woman MLA for the Liberal Party and be the first Black Deputy Speaker. To you, Angelina, to my nieces and all the little girls who look like you, women who look like you, that is Black girl magic.

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Mx. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House to speak my truth today.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Richmond.

TREVOR BOUDREAU » : Mx. Speaker, it is my sincere honour to stand here before you as the newly elected Member of the Legislative Assembly for Richmond. I feel an immense appreciation to the residents of Richmond who elected me and I want them all to know that I understand the great responsibility that comes with being their elected representative and I commit to giving my all to the betterment of everyone in our beautiful riding.

I also want to congratulate all of you here in the House of Assembly on your successful election campaigns, but I also want to recognize everyone who put their name forward and were not successfully elected. We will all be better members in this House because of the ideas, thoughts, and commitment to the electoral process that were shown by all candidates during this election.

Richmond is once again a riding to itself: a protected Acadian riding that returned as a result of the Electoral Boundaries Commission. The Acadian community in Nova Scotia is proud of their culture and language and want to ensure that their children have the opportunity to carry on that heritage.

With a last name like Boudreau, it would be pretty obvious to you all that I am of Acadian descent. What may be a bit more of a surprise for some of you is that I am not bilingual. I am not fluid in French as is the case for many Acadians in Nova Scotia. When my parents went to register me for my first year of elementary school back in 1985, French schooling was not available to me in my small school in Louisdale.

There are many Acadians in our region who also did not have access to learn in a French language and that, in some cases, has impacted their connection to their history. Thankfully, over many dedicated years of hard work, the Acadian community in Nova Scotia has made it a priority to restore that important connection and now my children, my nieces, and all Acadian children in Nova Scotia have access to that much-needed French language. (Applause)

Mx. Speaker, I think that being an Acadian who did not have that access to French schooling at a young age makes me a great advocate to ensure that our culture and heritage is prioritized and so that does not happen to any other youth again.

I also want to point out that while Richmond is an Acadian riding, it is home to people from many different backgrounds. We have residents of Irish and Scottish descent, we have a thriving Mi'kmaw community, and we have a growing immigrant presence from all over the world. We are a very welcoming community.

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Campaigning in Richmond County is, I suspect, certainly different than campaigning in some other ridings. We have a relatively large riding in size but we are small in population. With the new boundaries in place, there are only 7,600 eligible voters in Richmond County, much fewer than in most ridings, but boy, do we love to vote. Richmond consistently ranks high in voter turnout. In fact, we were the only riding to achieve greater than 70 per cent voter turnout in this last provincial election. (Applause)

Door-knocking in Richmond County is also quite the experience. It was difficult for residents during these COVID-19 times to not have me come into their homes for a meal, a cup of tea, or a game of cards. The initial question that was asked at the door quite often was "Who's your father?," and very often they would ask if I was Gary's, Albany's, or Gerald's son because they all knew my father and his brothers well.

Many people in Richmond also knew of my family's traditional Party lines. My grandfather, my grandmother, and their whole family would be what you would call diehard Liberals. (Laughter) The idea of a Boudreau from Louisdale running for the Progressive Conservatives confused many people. I was asked countless times during the campaign if I thought my grandfather Willie and my grandmother Irene were rolling in their graves. While my grandfather was a diehard Liberal throughout his life, he was a family man first. I can confirm that I visited the graves on election day and the headstones and gravesites were all where they were supposed to be. (Laughter) (Applause)

Mx. Speaker, politics was certainly not something I was considering when I first moved home from Ontario in 2008. I was 18 months out from graduating from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and took a leap of faith to move home and start my own chiropractic practice. My wife Sarah and I purchased a home in Port Hawkesbury where I could start my business in the walk‑out basement of our home and we could live upstairs.

Sarah was offered a position as a pharmacist in a local pharmacy and that allowed me to grow my practice from scratch and not feel the enormous pressure to try and grow too big too fast. I am not sure if health care professionals make very good politicians, but I do know that typically health care providers are people who care for their patients and their clients when they are in need, in pain, or under a great deal of stress. We often deal with vulnerable people who have nowhere else to turn. Many times, we are their advocates and part of their support team. There are times when they have problems that we cannot solve, but we do point them in the right direction. I do know that these traits should serve me well, and I will use those skills in my role as an MLA.

[5:30 p.m.]

[Page 362]

My first few years at home were focused on growing my business and our family, but I also had a strong desire to get involved in the community. A new acquaintance then, who now has become a great friend, Patrick Lamey, encouraged me to get involved with the Rotary Club in Port Hawkesbury. It was here that I began to build on my motto of service above self. We were a small but mighty group that supported both local and international humanitarian projects.

My experience with the Rotary Club and my growing business caught the attention of the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce. I was approached to become a director on the board of the Chamber soon after. This experience was the one that put me in contact with municipal, provincial, and federal leaders, and was where I first got to meet John Ouellette, whom I directly blame for getting me interested in what was going on around me politically. John was at that point the president of the Chamber of Commerce and someone who was deeply involved in the happenings of the day. John brought me to my first town council meeting, where I immediately became enthralled with the goings-on of council and the municipal government in our region. At that time, my feeling was that there was a great deal of dysfunction on our council and that there was a lack of co-operation between neighbouring municipalities.

At this time, Sarah and I were growing our family. Luke, our firstborn, arrived in 2009, and Kate came along soon after in 2011. I had always wanted to have a big family, kind of like my own hockey team, but at this point it became apparent that we had hit the right number. My motto changed to "Don't let the kids outnumber you."

Sarah and I discussed my desire to run for town council at great length: how it would impact our family and my business, and was this the best way for me to serve my community? In the Summer of 2012, I would meet someone while volunteering for the Festival of the Strait who would help solidify my decision to run for municipal council. Brenda Chisholm-Beaton - whom some of you will now know as the mayor of the Town of Port Hawkesbury - and I were volunteering together at a pub night and discussed the idea of both running for council. We met a few more times, and it became quite apparent that we could work very well together. It was that Fall, in October 2012, that we were both successful in our first municipal election. Four years later, I re-offered as councillor, and Brenda was acclaimed as the mayor of the Town of Port Hawkesbury.

Eight years as a municipal councillor was a great opportunity to support our region through working with our neighbouring municipalities and the other levels of government, which only strengthened my belief that collaboration is the only way for our region to be successful. I am proud of the accomplishments in our region during that time on council.

Mx. Speaker, running in a provincial election campaign for the first time to me was like running a marathon and a sprint all at once. It probably felt like that for many of you who were nominated early as well. I was nominated a full year before the election was called. I believe I was the first PC candidate nominated. But even before becoming the candidate, I had been deliberating on the idea of running for a year and a half, and timing was everything. I was not re-offering as a municipal candidate in 2020, and with COVID‑19 changing the way of life for many and because my business had to be shut down for three months, I really took some time to think about what was next. I met with some pretty amazing people who offered their support to me, and that's when my wife and I committed to the idea of running.

[Page 363]

I was used to running in campaigns. I did so for two municipal elections, but none of that can compare to that of a provincial election. For a small-town municipal campaign, I took no donations and I looked for very little support. I wanted to do it all on my own. I knew that I wanted to knock on as many doors as I could and hear the concerns of the residents. In that election, I did knock on every door, and I won handily.

This time was a whole other beast. As I said before, the riding is somewhat large. Sometimes there are kilometres between houses. There were many more houses to hit, and I wanted to reach out to as many as I possibly could. I also decided to target the most rural areas early on in my campaign and these were the people who told me they could not recall the last time a candidate knocked on their door.

All of you in this House know that building a winning team really does make a huge difference when running in an election. We are not equipped to do this on our own, and I knew that if I was going to take this on, I needed to have the right people in the right positions.

It has been said to me a few times that if the Progressive Conservative Party had 55 Lois Landrys as campaign managers in each riding, there's a strong likelihood we would be sitting with 55 PC MLAs. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting Lois, you are missing out. She is the definition of a leader. Her ability to organize and delegate a team is second to none. Everyone on our team knew their roles and she made sure that we had the tools to do so.

Confidence builds confidence and when you have the confidence that the person at the helm knows what they are doing, you feel positive that you are doing what you need to do. There were many long days and weeks throughout the year-long campaign for Lois and me, and I can say without a doubt that she is a key reason for me being here today.

This leads me to Barry Landry. Barry was and is the workhorse of our team. There are people who want to help out with a campaign and then there are Barry Landrys. If a sign needed to be up, Barry was there. If I needed someone to go door knocking with, Barry was there. If I needed to get information from the party, Barry was there.

Barry has been involved with the party at the executive level for some time now and is now the president of the Richmond PC EDA and is someone that I know I can lean on at any time. He has become a true friend and I am grateful for all he has done for me.

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There were many long-standing party supporters who helped guide me and give me advice throughout my campaign. These people have been the life of the PC Party, so to speak, in Richmond for many years. I am grateful for the work and effort of Eva and Doug Landry, Louise Campbell, Robert Goyetche, Richie Cotton and Brenda and Eddie Rideout.

They have put many hours in over the years, not only for the PC Party but also as community builders in their own right. All of them have played an active role in making their communities a better place to live.

I do need to give a special shoutout to Frankie MacInnis, who probably spent more time with me on the roads visiting constituents than with his wife, children, and grandchildren, for six months. Frankie has been a lifelong supporter of the party and even though he does not live in Richmond, he seems to know everyone there. I know that he has also spent some time with the member for Inverness on his campaign trail as well, so he deserves a lot of thanks.

Many others have stepped up to help me with the campaign. These are people who are either new to campaigns or who had stepped away for some time but believed in me and they wanted to help out in any way they could. Marcel Boudreau and Ross MacDonald were door knockers, sign builders and strategists rolled into one. Joey Mack, Donna Marchand, and Marie Briand were always there to support the cause and for all their help I am eternally grateful.

A special thank you to the many volunteers, other volunteers, who helped out with the campaign. There are too many to name right here now today but I am grateful for all the work that you put in to make our campaign success a reality.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the efforts of the late Dave Sampson, former president of the Richmond PC EDA and a great community-builder in Richmond and all across Nova Scotia. Dave was vital in the growth of the party in Richmond and was a huge supporter of mine. Dave was the president of the EDA when I became the candidate for the riding last August. Dave took leave soon after to deal with a rapidly progressing illness and he passed away in February before the election was called. We know that Dave would have been so pleased with the results of the election and I know he was smiling down on us that election night.

Mx. Speaker, the residents of Richmond are excited to see the plans of the PC Party take shape. I've had many conversations with residents about the priorities, especially on health care. We know that we are in a health care crisis. We see it every day in our communities in Richmond. The Strait Richmond Hospital and St. Anne Centre have seen increased ER closures over the last number of years. Our detox program has not been reinstated since closing due to COVID-19. We have nursing and continuing care assistants shortages. Our frontline workers are tired. They need support and are very hopeful that positive changes are coming.

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Richmond County residents have stepped up. They have played major roles in supporting and advocating for health and wellness in our local communities. Cape Breton South Recruiting for Health committee is made up of a group of volunteers that have played an active role in the attraction and retention of health care professionals to our region. These volunteers have stepped up to celebrate the health care workers that we currently have in our communities and have engaged with provincial representatives to support health care recruitment initiatives. The community is excited that our government is looking to support local decision making with respect to health care recruitment as we know our communities' needs best.

The Seniors Take Action Coalition in Richmond has supported the health and well-being of senior residents in our communities for a number of years. Along with the Senior Safety and Social Inclusion coordinator at the Dr. Kingston Memorial Community Health Centre, they have improved the lives of the seniors in our region tremendously. These are just a few examples of Richmond County residents stepping up.

As is in the case across all of Nova Scotia and the entire country, we are seeing increased levels of mental exhaustion. The pandemic has exacerbated a problem that was always there. I'm thrilled with our government's plan for universally accessible mental health care. There are many individuals who are dealing with mental health challenges that are manageable if they have access to appropriate support, and under our plan, they will get it.

Mr. Speaker, as a rural riding, Richmond County residents are very pleased with our government's commitment to double the Gravel Road Capital and Rural Impact Mitigation programs to immediately help Nova Scotia's rural roads, and I can confirm that some of that work has already begun. Our rural roads and bridges are in desperate need of repair, and I will be working hard to advocate for the remediation and repair of a number of roads and bridges in my riding.

Mx. Speaker, our Party has some ambitious goals, but that's exactly what this province needs. We need our leaders to step up and say we can do better. We need our leaders to think outside of the box, and we need our leaders to try. Yes, there will be mistakes along the way, but we need leaders who will learn from those mistakes and will make it right.

I've had many people reach out to me over the recent weeks to tell me how impressed they are with our new Premier and his approach. They feel his sincerity and his desire to help. I am glad that Nova Scotians are getting to see the person I committed to running with. When you lead by example, people have a desire to follow, and that is real leadership.

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I want to end my speech today my acknowledging the sacrifices that my family has made to give me an opportunity to take on this role as MLA. I am so fortunate to have a loving wife, Sarah, and my children, Luke and Kate, standing side by side with me through this journey. I am grateful for the support of my parents, Pauline and Gerald Boudreau, that has been given to my family and I - and they're playing an even bigger role as grandparents now with their grandchildren than they were before. And to my extended family, my cousins, my aunts, my uncles, and everyone else who has given us support through these hectic times, thank you so much for what you are doing for us. Know that this has meant so much to me.

With that, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. (Applause)

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Annapolis.

CARMAN KERR « » : Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on the Address in Reply to the Reply to the Speech from the Throne, and I'm pleased to have been given two and a half hours to do so. (Laughter)

It is an honour and a privilege to represent the residents of Annapolis from the fishing communities of Delaps Cove and Parkers Cove on the Bay Shore to the farms of Moschelle and Clarence, from Annapolis Royal to Middleton. It is a beautiful and diverse part of our province. I feel proud and fortunate to have been raised there.

I grew up with more love than money, and was taught to work hard, live in the moment, and dream big. I learned that in small communities, everyone does their part. We volunteer, we coach, we fundraise, and above all, we take care of our neighbours. Both sides of my family have deep roots in Annapolis County. The Barteaux of Moschelle are seventh-generation apple farmers who continue to expand Barteaux Farms, today overseen by my cousin Dwayne.

The Kerrs of Annapolis Royal was where I would see a history of public service. My grandfather, Jack Kerr, was a doctor, WWII vet, and mayor of Annapolis Royal. My grandmother, Shirley Kirkpatrick, was the first female student union VP in the history of Dalhousie University. My uncle Greg represented Annapolis, both provincially as MLA as Finance Minister of Nova Scotia, and federally for West Nova. My mom, Lynn, raised three kids and gave us all love and attention that we needed and craved, and she served her community as a nurse and a lifelong volunteer. (Applause)

After high school - thank you, Mom - after high school, I left Annapolis County to earn a science degree at Dalhousie University. Upon graduation, I made my way to New Zealand and Australia, working holiday visa in hand, and I fell in love with travelling and with the tourism industry. Upon my return to Canada, I worked as an adventure travel guide, guiding tourists from all over the world as we hiked, biked, kayaked, snowboarded, bungee-jumped, and skydived our way throughout the country. Eventually, I established my own adventure travel company, tourist accommodations, and other tourism experiences throughout Nova Scotia and Eastern Canada. I enjoyed success promoting our backyard to the world, and I'm so thankful for this experience as a small owner.

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[5:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, although I grew up in a political family and a farming family, I was convinced my life was destined for another path. Two events led me to involvement in politics. First, I learned how important it is to have strong, effective, local politicians when I found myself in a situation where I needed assistance from my elected representative.

Secondly, as a father, I began to fully appreciate how important the political decisions made today are for the next generation to inherit. I wanted to play a more active role in ensuring that we had the very best politicians and governments possible for myself, for my family, and for all residents.

In 2018, I successfully interviewed for the job of constituency assistant to the member for Kings South. Over the past three years, working as a constituency assistant, as you all know, I've seen first-hand the tremendous positive impact that an MLA can have on their community.

From helping constituents access government programs, solving problems for individuals and families, to contributing to the development of legislation that moves our province forward, the work that an MLA does every day makes a real difference in so many lives. Never was this more important than in 2020, when COVID-19 brought a level of hardship to families and our business community not seen in recent history. Those stresses arrive daily at the MLA office needing solutions.

I'm looking forward to using the knowledge and skills I've gained through my work, both as an entrepreneur and more recently as an MLA assistant. I spent the better part of the past year talking with, and learning from, residents of Annapolis as I worked toward securing the party nomination then winning the general election.

From Victoria Beach to Victoria Vale, from Bridgetown to Brickton, from Spa Springs to Springfield, I visited almost every corner of Annapolis during this time. I chatted with constituents on their front porches and in their driveways, on the phone and online. I listened carefully as they outlined their challenges and concerns, shared with me their hopes and dreams, and offered suggestions and critiques.

The people of Annapolis are strong, they're proud, and they're self-reliant. They don't expect government to solve all their problems, but they do sometimes need a helping hand and we need to be there for them when they do. During the campaign, I spoke with not-for-profit leaders like Heather McCormick from CORAH and Joan Morrison of Twelve Baskets Food Bank. I know their organizations contribute to the vibrancy of our communities and provide support to our most vulnerable citizens. I visited successful local enterprises like Hamilton's Fish Farm and Den Haan Greenhouses. I know that small businesses are the backbone of our rural economy and we need to create an environment where they can flourish.

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I met with Don Hyslop and Anne Crowell from the Middleton Hospital Foundation. I know that accessing primary care is a top priority for many residents of Annapolis. I spoke with environmental leaders Donna Crossland and Kip McCurdy because I understand that the economy and the environment are inextricably linked to each other and to our quality of life.

I sat down with staff from the Middleton offices of Housing Nova Scotia, Department of Public Works. I know that affordable housing and transportation infrastructure concerns are dominant issues at MLA offices. I met with municipal councillors Michael Fairn, Holly Sanford, and Brad Redden. I'm aware of how crucial it is for all levels of government to work together towards shared priorities. The people of Annapolis never cease to inspire and amaze me. I am excited to work with all of them as MLA and to make our communities better places to live, work, and play.

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the Speech from the Throne last week and I'd like to share a few thoughts.

As expected, health care was a major component of the speech. I'm happy that the new government will continue to learn from communities on physician recruitment. The member for Kings South and I were able to set up a physician recruitment committee, work with the private sector and government for funding, and hire a community navigator to help recruit new health professionals to the Annapolis Valley. (Applause)

As we compete with the world for health care professionals, active and effective primary care recruitment and retention is essential. Communities must play a central role. I'm eager to work with this government to attract more health care professionals to Annapolis.

The previous Liberal government made many positive steps toward enhancing access to primary care. That includes new medical school and nursing seats, ensuring our family physicians are the highest-paid in Atlantic Canada, expanding virtual care, and the medical transport service pilot to free up ambulances for emergencies. It is encouraging that this government is committed to building on so many of these initiatives, as well as making mental health a priority.

The Throne Speech does acknowledge that there is a housing crisis; however, a plan to address this issue is a bit light on detail. I'm looking forward to seeing more of a plan from government in the coming week and weeks. The people of Annapolis want me to urge government to implement all recommendations of the Affordable Housing Commission. We are not immune to affordable housing challenges in our constituency. Housing continues to be one of the biggest priorities of the people I represent. We all understand that more housing stock is needed in our province and, in the meantime, a plan to protect tenants until said stock is available. We are ready to offer suggestions, propose alternative approaches, and hold government to account on their promises. Last week, our party put forward several pieces of legislation designed to protect tenants and grow our housing stock.

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Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to see that this government acknowledges that the debate around whether climate change needs to be addressed is over. I believe that this is still very much an active discussion amongst their federal cousins. However, it is disappointing that climate change and other environmental issues received little mention in the Throne Speech. I hope and trust this is not reflective of the level of importance this government places on these crucial issues.

I do want to thank the Minister of Natural Resources and Renewables for inviting me to meet with him and his staff recently. I'm looking forward to working with him and his team as we implement the recommendations of the Lahey report while working together on all files where we share a common interest.

Mr. Speaker, as you and all members know, elections can't be run alone. It requires a strong team effort. I had a core team of volunteers who worked day in and day out to ensure we were successful on election night, and several dozen more who lent a hand along the way. Led by campaign chairs Heather McCormick and Wendy Rickards, we ran a highly energized, highly efficient, and positive campaign that was recognized by voters and my colleagues across the province.

Other key members of my team included Evan Farren, Murray Freeman, Burt McNeil, Tyler Bent, Luke den Haan, Miles Leach, Karen Lenthall-Ascott, Brenda Firth, Jan Davis, Linda Bailey, Cheryl Anderson, Felicia Boyd, Les Barker, and John and Lynn Main, and so many others who installed lawn signs, worked the polls, pop-up tents, and offices. At a time when we only recently had come out of a period of stringent COVID-19 restriction, and most people were excited to enjoy their summer and new-found freedom, these folks sacrificed significant time away from their activities they enjoy and the people they love. I will forever be grateful. (Applause)

We have six minutes. (Interruption) I have five minutes.

I want to pay tribute to my CA, Evan Farren. He's probably with his kids right now, but Evan is one of the top CAs in the province. He served alongside Stephen McNeil, Scott Brison, and the member from Kings South. Our roles could easily be reversed. I know that. I'm thankful to have him on my team.

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I also want to acknowledge my wife Melanie, who immigrated to Nova Scotia from the Netherlands in 2013. I would try to speak Dutch, but it won't go well. I'm so proud of everything she has accomplished, from developing her own consulting company, a real estate business, and raising our two boys with me to be curious and kind.

To my two young, beautiful boys: You are excited that Dad won the race yet unsure how that happened, as you know me to be a very slow-moving adult. They're four and seven, by the way.

In closing, I would like to say to the people of Annapolis, thank you for putting your trust in me. Thank you for letting me be your voice and represent you. I know how hard you work to build better lives for yourselves and your families and to give back to your community. You deserve an MLA who works just as hard as you, and you can count on me to do so.

THE SPEAKER « » : I would ask the honourable member if he would please make a motion to adjourn debate on Address in Reply.

CARMAN KERR « » : I make a motion to adjourn the debate on Address in Reply.

THE SPEAKER « » : The motion is to adjourn debate on Address in Reply. All those in favour? Contrary minded? Thank you.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. KIM MASLAND « » : Mr. Speaker, that concludes government business for today. I move that the House rise to meet again on Wednesday, October 20th between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Since tomorrow is Opposition Day, I will turn it over to the Official Opposition House Leader to discuss business of the day.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable House Leader for the Official Opposition.

HON. DEREK MOMBOURQUETTE « » : Mr. Speaker, I will just say it was really an honour to hear everybody's story today. This is one of my favourite parts of what we do. (Applause)

I was giving my colleague a hard time. It looks like he went out and bought some new clothes for his speech today, so I wanted to make sure he got it in.

Mr. Speaker, for Opposition business tomorrow, after the daily routine we are going to call Bill No. 12 and also Bill No. 22. That would be the hours ‑ do I have to call the hours for that, Mr. Speaker? No, I don't. Okay. Thank you to the Clerk.

That is our business for tomorrow, and of course there will be late debate, which will be decided, I believe, at this time by the NDP caucus.

I ask now for a motion to adjourn.

THE SPEAKER « » : The motion is that the House rise to meet again on Wednesday, October 20th from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

All those in favour? Contrary minded? Thank you.

The motion is carried. We stand adjourned until Wednesday at 1:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 5:56 p.m.]

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