Back to top
September 25, 2009



Speaker: Honourable Charlie Parker

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

Available on INTERNET at

First Session


Justice: Privacy Review Officer Act - Proclamation,
Hon. R. Landry 423
Res. 205, Last Post Fund - Anniv. (100th),
The Premier (by Hon. F. Corbett) 425
Vote - Affirmative 426
Bill No. 18, Diabetic Persons Support Act, (Ms. D. Whalen) 426
Bill No. 19, Life-threatening Illness Student Support Act, (Ms. K. Regan) 426
Res. 206, Bruce, Danny - Gerritt Loo Award (2009),
Hon. S. McNeil 427
Vote - Affirmative 427
Res. 207, Tatmagouche Octoberfest: Organizers/Vols. - Applaud,
Hon. K. Casey (by Hon. C. d'Entremont) 427
Vote - Affirmative 428
Res. 208, Fraser, Scott: Socially-Responsible Business - Commitment,
Hon. R. Jennex 428
Vote - Affirmative 429
Res. 209, Whalen, Diana - Cdn. Prog. Club Hfx. Cornwallis Award,
Hon. S. McNeil 429
Vote - Affirmative 430
Res. 210, Bain, Effie: Charitable Contributions - Applaud,
Mr. K. Bain 430
Vote - Affirmative 431
Res. 211, Duckworth, Muriel: Death of - Tribute,
The Premier 431
Vote - Affirmative 432
Res. 212, Justice: Corrections Officers - Conditions,
Mr. A. Younger 432
Res. 213, Barrington Mun. - Year of the Lobster (2009),
Mr. A. MacLeod 432
Vote - Affirmative 433
Res. 214, Breast Cancer N.S. - Commend,
Ms. Becky Kent 433
Vote - Affirmative 434
Res. 215, Educ. - Graduate Tax Prog.,
Ms. K. Regan 434
Res. 216, Theatre on the Hill (Ingonish): Founders/Vols./Supporters -
Applaud, Mr. K. Bain 435
Vote - Affirmative 435
Res. 217, Battle of Britain - Anniv. (69 yrs.),
Mr. B. Skabar 435
Vote - Affirmative 436
Res. 218, Health: ER Closures - End,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 436
Res. 219, Lun. Seafood Fest. - Congrats.,
Ms. P. Birdsall 437
Vote - Affirmative 437
Res. 220, East. Counties Reg. Library/Branches - Anniv. (40th),
Mr. J. Boudreau 438
Vote - Affirmative 438
Res. 4, re Estimates - Comm. of Whole House on Supply,
Hon. G. Steel 439
Mr. L. Glavine 439
Hon. C. d'Entremont 445
Referred to CWH on Supply 452
Mr. J. Morton 452
Adjourned debate 466
ADJOURNMENT, The House rose to meet again on Mon., Sept. 28th 466

[Page 423]


Sixty-first General Assembly

First Session

10:00 A.M.


Hon. Charlie Parker


Mr. Gordon Gosse, Hon. Wayne Gaudet, Mr. Alfie MacLeod

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We'll start with the daily routine.





MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, an individual's privacy is paramount in this era of information-sharing and the Internet. I believe that governments must take their responsibility seriously when it comes to handling any personal information that is provided to us. We must take great care to ensure the security and safety of personal information that citizens entrust to their public bodies. Today our government is taking an important step.

[Page 424]


Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share with the House that we're proclaiming the Privacy Review Officer Act that was passed in November 2008. This Act will give a privacy review officer new legislated authority over privacy matters. With these new powers, the privacy review officer will be able to investigate, where appropriate, any breach of use of a citizen's

personal information by a public body. Prior to today, our freedom of information officer did not have legal authority to recommend action in the case of a breach. All other Canadian jurisdictions at the provincial level and federal level have the same kind of legislative authority for external review and oversight. With the proclamation of this Act, Nova Scotia does too.

I am very pleased to share with my colleagues that our government has appointed a freedom of information officer, Ms. Dulcie McCallum to this position. Ms. McCallum has been serving Nova Scotia as a review officer since January 2007. Mr. Speaker, in other provincial jurisdictions the FOIPOP review officer is also the privacy review officer. So it is appropriate that she take on these new duties.

Ms. McCallum is with us in the gallery today and with your permission, I would ask Ms. McCallum to rise so we can give her our applause. (Applause)

Ms. McCallum is the former Ombudsman for British Columbia. She has served our province diligently since 2007, and tables an annual report on her work within the House each year . Mr. Speaker, these measures are in line with other initiatives of the department. This government is very proud to have reduced the application fee under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to $5. As of August 14th of this year, it became easier and more affordable for Nova Scotians to access information about the government.

Mr. Speaker, these extensive measures are necessary to ensure the protection of privacy and the access to information. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for the advance copy of his statement today. We're thrilled to see this bill, which is a Liberal bill which was introduced by the Honourable Michel Samson from Richmond. We're very happy to see this bill proclaimed, since it was passed, as the Minister of Justice mentioned, on November 25, 2008. It gives the privacy review officer the ability to investigate any breach and use of a citizen's personal information from a public body. Previously the information officer did not have the legal authority, prior to this proclamation.

We're happy that this bill at the time of introduction was supported by the NDP as well as the Progressive Conservative Party. This does put Nova Scotia in line with the rest

[Page 425]

of Canada and the honourable member for the Liberal caucus had said at the time, "In this new age of the Internet and several other electronic means of communications and information gathering, privacy will likely be one of the largest areas of constitutional and case law to be challenged in our country."

This is a good bill. I'm glad that it's finally being proclaimed into law. I can assure the NDP Government that the Liberal Party will be bringing forth many other good ideas, which we hope they will support. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise today to respond to the Justice Minister's statement. This was an Act that the Progressive Conservative Government introduced and passed in the House in November 2008. The PC caucus is glad that the new government saw fit to support the initiative. Nova Scotia's freedom of information officer, Ms. Dulcie McCallum, is certainly a wise and logical choice to handle these responsibilities. You can be assured that the PC caucus will give its full support to Ms. McCallum.

The appointment of Ms. McCallum, coupled with the ability of Nova Scotia to have an external body to which Nova Scotians can appeal if they feel that their private information was accessed, collected or used inappropriately by government is timely and important.

After celebrating Democracy 250 last year, the PC caucus believes it is important that we ensure the rights of individuals are protected by law. Congratulations, Ms. McCallum, on your appointment. Thank you.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The reply to the ministerial statement by the PC Party, I'll just have to remind this House that the speech was incorrect that the Progressive Conservative Government did not introduce that bill, it was a Liberal bill. The Progressive Conservative Government passed the bill but it did not introduce it.

[10:15 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: It's not a point of order but thank you for the information.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.


[Page 426]

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Premier, the Minister responsible for Veterans Affairs, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas since 1909, the Last Post Fund, a non-profit national organization, has ensured that no eligible veteran is deprived of a dignified funeral, burial and headstone for lack of financial resources; and

Whereas throughout the course of its 100 years, the fund has arranged funerals and, where necessary, burial and grave markers for 145,000 veterans from Canada, Britain, Australia, Belgium, France, Poland, South Africa and other Allied countries; and

Whereas the Last Post Fund recognizes the importance of honouring those who served our country and keeping their memory alive for future generations;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate the Last Post Fund on 100 years of compassion and dedication to the veterans from across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.


Bill No. 18 - Entitled an Act to Support Diabetic Persons in Nova Scotia. (Ms. Diana Whalen)

Bill No. 19 - Entitled an Act to Support Students with Diabetes and Other Life-threatening Illnesses. (Ms. Kelly Regan)

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

The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

[Page 427]

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce from the Canadian Diabetic Association, Moira Fry, who is up in the gallery and she is here with us today. (Applause)


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


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

Whereas the Gerrit Loo Memorial Achievement Award is handed out annually at the ACORN Conference to the person who has contributed significantly to the organic industry in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas on February 27, 2009, Danny Bruce, of the Bruce Family Farm in Bridgetown, was the recipient of the 2009 Gerrit Loo Award; and

Whereas the Bruce Family Farm has been certified since 2006 with the Nova Scotia Organic Growers Association and while their main focus is on organic beef, they also produce items such as vegetables, fruit, eggs and jams, and these products can be found at farm markets in Wolfville, Halifax, Annapolis and also several health food stores;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Danny Bruce on this achievement and thanking him for his efforts in providing Nova Scotians with local healthy choices.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 428]

The honourable member for Argyle.


HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas today's kick-off of the annual Octoberfest celebrations in Tatamagouche will mark the 30th Anniversary of this special Fall festival; and

Whereas Octoberfest is hosted by the North Shore Bavarian Society and is the largest event of its kind in Atlantic Canada, annually attracting 3,000 people; and

Whereas the Executive Director of the Central Nova Tourist Association, Joyce Mingo, was recently quoted as saying "the Octoberfest Festival has given Tatamagouche a reputation for hospitality that is second to none";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the directors of the North Shore Bavarian Society, and the numerous volunteers in Tatamagouche, for their outstanding work in making the 2009 Octoberfest another tremendous success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.


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

Whereas entrepreneur Scott Fraser owns and operates the Milne Court complex in New Minas, making a positive contribution to the local economy; and

[Page 429]

Whereas his business exemplifies socially responsible business practices, demonstrated by the exclusive sale of fair trade coffee, a commitment to environmentally friendly energy, and productive partnerships with organizations such as Flowercart; and

Whereas his employees demonstrate high morale and excellent commitment to service as a result of good management practices;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its thanks to Mr. Scott Fraser and his staff for their commitment to socially responsible business, green energy, and the excellent service provided to the people of New Minas and the surrounding area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.


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

Whereas each year the Canadian Progress Club Halifax-Cornwallis organizes a gala awards dinner to honour exceptional women in our community and to raise funds for Phoenix Youth programs; and

Whereas on November 19, 2009, the Canadian Progress Club Halifax-Cornwallis will once again host the 20th Annual Progress Women of Excellence Awards; and

Whereas the honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park will be honoured in the category of Communications and Public Affairs for her powerful impact in her community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature extend our appreciation and congratulations to the honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park for this

[Page 430]

distinguished achievement, and wish the organizers of this event all the best for a successful evening.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Standing Ovation)

Congratulations to the honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park on an introduction.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the members for their kind clapping and remarks.

I would like to do an introduction. When I introduced my bill a few minutes ago it was on support for diabetics, and we have some guests with us today I would like to introduce to the Legislature. We did mention Moira Fry was there from the Diabetes Association, but we also have Rob Beck, who is the Regional Chair for the Canadian Diabetes Association, and we have Lynda Lennox and her daughter Aliyah who have been busy talking to the media. Aliyah is five years old and a resident of Hammonds Plains, and we also have Blair MacDonald who is Aliyah's grandfather. I would like to ask if all of them would please stand and receive the warm welcome of the House.(Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome all our guests here this morning.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.


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

Whereas early last Spring the late Effie Bain was made an honorary Lion of the Baddeck Lions Club prior to her passing; and

[Page 431]

Whereas Ms. Bain contributed more than $400 towards the Baddeck Lions Club's Kidston Island project, and as author of History of Baddeck contributed all of her proceeds from the writing of her historical book to the Kidston Island project; and

Whereas Ms. Bain, a resident of Alderwood Rest Home, passed away recently and her memorial service was held in recent weeks;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly applaud the late Effie Bain for her penmanship and charitable contributions to the Baddeck Lions Club's Kidston Island Beach Project, while passing along our deepest sympathies to the family.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.


HON. DARRELL DEXTER (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Muriel Duckworth was a passionate pacifist who for decades advocated for human rights, women's rights, and social justice; and

Whereas Muriel Duckworth helped establish the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, an anti-poverty coalition, and was a founding member of the Nova Scotia branch of the Voice of Women and its national president from 1967 to 1971; and

Whereas Muriel Duckworth was a member of the Order of Canada and was granted many honours for her work, including the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case and the Pearson Medal of Peace;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly acknowledge and celebrate the life and legacy of Muriel Duckworth, a great spirit who blazed a trail for us and for future

[Page 432]

generations, and to express our condolences to Muriel Duckworth's family and thousands of admirers and friends.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.


MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future

day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas corrections officers provide an important duty to the Province of Nova Scotia, putting their safety and well-being in harm's way on a daily basis; and

Whereas correction facilities in Nova Scotia have been underfunded, understaffed, and overcrowded for years; and

Whereas corrections officers have continuously expressed concerns over these important matters for many years, only to have the issues fall on deaf ears;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly censure government for not helping improve conditions for corrections officers by further delaying decisions on new correction facilities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 433]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.


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

Whereas the Municipality of Barrington has declared 2009 Year of the Lobster; and

Whereas the lobster industry is a significant industry in the Municipality of Barrington and across Shelburne County; and

Whereas the most recent statistics show that more than 7,700 metric tonnes of lobster are caught annually in Shelburne County, at a value of $112.1 million;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Nova Scotia's famed lobster industry and give our 100 per cent support to the Municipality of Barrington as they celebrate Year of the Lobster in 2009.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.


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

Whereas Breast Cancer Action Nova Scotia is a local non-profit organization that provides education and support for breast cancer patients and survivors, and is holding a Women's Healthy Living Fair on Saturday, September 26, 2009; and

[Page 434]

Whereas the Women's Healthy Living Fair will provide an opportunity for women from within the community, particularly those living in poverty or isolation, to learn about the effects of healthy living on their day-to-day lives; and

Whereas Breast Cancer Action Nova Scotia will help provide a supportive, healthy, fun, and accessible service to improve knowledge and access to health care and community support at this event;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia House of Assembly commend Breast Cancer Action Nova Scotia for their work and desire to change the legacy of women's health and breast cancer through networking, support, education, and research, and wish them every success at their Women's Healthy Living Fair.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[10:30 a.m.]

The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.


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

Whereas the graduate tax credit being proposed by this government will not help Nova Scotians access post-secondary education; and

Whereas a graduate tax credit amounting to little more than $18 a month will do little to encourage graduates to stay and work in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations and the Canadian Federation of Students have both spoken out against the tax credit;

[Page 435]

Therefore be it resolved that government set aside its political agenda and instead make good public policy decisions for the well-being of students across Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.


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

Whereas earlier in May of this year, Theatre on the Hill, located in Ingonish, celebrated 10 wonderful years with a large gala at Cabot Junior/Senior High School in Neil's Harbour; and

Whereas Theatre on the Hill was founded by Ian Green and Penny Steele, a husband and wife team, and have now performed 12 productions in 10 years, the most recent entitled Broadway North during anniversary celebrations in early May; and

Whereas the Municipality of Victoria assisted immensely with anniversary celebrations as District Councillor Larry Dauphinee made a donation on behalf of the municipality of $5,000;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly applaud the outstanding and creative efforts of Ian Green and Penny Steele and all volunteers associated with Theatre on the Hill, as well as the warden and councillors for the Municipality of Victoria for their investment in this 10 year celebration.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 436]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.


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

Whereas the month of October 2009 marks 69 years since the end of the Battle of Britain, an air campaign launched during World War II that saw the United Kingdom claim a victory over Germany in a battle for air superiority; and

Whereas Canadian airmen joined pilots from all around the world to aid the British with fighter operations and bombers and coastal commands, and this leadership proved instrumental in the development of the Royal Canadian Air Force; and

Whereas veteran members of the RCAF 105 Cumberland Wing and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 10 celebrated this anniversary with a ceremony at the Amherst cenotaph on Sunday, September 20, 2009;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly acknowledge the significance of the Battle of Britain and celebrate the anniversary of its end with veterans of our province and our country.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Argyle.

[Page 437]


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

Whereas the Premier has made the bold campaign promise of keeping all emergency rooms open, knowing the challenge we face in finding doctors and nurses to fill emergency rooms around the province; and

Whereas while the government has hired an emergency room adviser, there are still many emergency room closures happening across all parts of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the NDP Government has been governing for 98 days;

Therefore be it resolved for the Premier to act and put an immediate end to all emergency room closures as per the Premier's campaign promise.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.


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

Whereas the Lunenburg Seafood Festival has run successfully in the Town of Lunenburg for three years celebrating Lunenburg's seafaring heritage; and

Whereas the Lunenburg Seafood Festival is one of the many tourist events to draw crowds to Lunenburg with international dory races, scallop shucking competitions, musical entertainment and children's events thanks to the hard work of many volunteers; and

Whereas the Lunenburg Seafood Festival holds a memorial service and a blessing of the fleet in remembrance of the fishermen who lost their lives at sea;

[Page 438]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend our congratulations to the Lunenburg Seafood Festival and all its volunteers for their hard work and for their third successful festival held in the Town of Lunenburg.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.


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

Whereas in 1969 the Eastern Counties Regional Library opened the doors of its regional headquarters in Mulgrave and 2009 marks its 40th Anniversary; and

Whereas the Eastern Counties Regional Library established branch libraries in Canso, Mulgrave and Sherbrooke; and

Whereas the Eastern Counties Regional Library has always been at the forefront to embrace technology and currently boasts a collection of over 117,000 items;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Eastern Counties Regional Library and their branch libraries in Canso, Mulgrave and Sherbrooke on their 40th Anniversary with wishes for future success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 439]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Government House Leader.

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Government House Leader.

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I believe the honourable member for Kings West adjourned the speech in reply.

MR. SPEAKER: Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, is that the government business or was it Budget Address? (Interruptions)

MR. ESTABROOKS: My apologies to the honourable member for Kings West, you have the floor to continue your comments on the budget.

[Res. 4, re Estimates - Comm. Of Whole House on Supply - notice given Sept. 18/09 - (Hon. G. Steele)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased today to continue with the reply to yesterday's budget. It's important to recap a few of yesterday's opening remarks in my reply to this government's first budget. Those who have read or reviewed the highlights have concluded unequivocally that this is an NDP budget with a debt which was nowhere in sight of $592 million during the Spring budget.

The Minister of Finance has spent countless hours trying to convince Nova Scotians that this budget was left on his doorstep by the PC Government. When the Public Accounts were tabled for 2009, the province had a surplus of $19.7 million. This budget is in deficit to the tune of $592 million. What changed? The NDP made choices and the NDP has now given the province an additional deficit financing of $592 million. We must never forget the

[Page 440]

interest on that debt because the interest now starts to rise once again after a number of years of falling interest in servicing our debt.

[10:45 a.m.]

When I first arrived at Province House in 2003 and received the first set of budget books in 2004, it was a gut-wrenching moment to see the province paying almost $1 billion interest on a $12 billion debt. Now, this debt is not really on the minds of most Nova Scotians but every day it hurts our province, its people, in the level of services that can be offered.

In that budget year of 2004, the interest on the debt was a staggering $933 million. Before becoming an MLA I knew the enormity of our provincial debt. I knew the interest Nova Scotians paid year over year but sitting here in the Legislature and viewing that third line in the budget was a moment of disbelief - that we were paying almost a billion dollars to service the debt.

My wife and I had spent a large part of our working lives, along with many Nova Scotians, especially in the fields of health and education, and we had the realization of how much more could be done in these two sectors alone and how much better our collective lives would be if we didn't have this enormity of interest on the debt.

So the $592 million deficit is part of an NDP plan, which we should not be surprised about. The writing was on the wall from day one. When you carefully examine the budget in light of the NDP's first 100 days in power, a narrative develops. After promising the people of Nova Scotia that they could balance the budget without raising taxes and without cutting services, the NDP hired a consulting firm to tell Nova Scotians that we were facing tough economic times, as if Nova Scotians didn't already know.

GDP growth in Nova Scotia shrank to less than 1 per cent in the first few months of 2009, unemployment rose to 9.1 per cent in that same period and we are on the cusp of double-digit unemployment again.

What is sometimes lost in facts and figures is that numbers represent people. People know that we face tough economic times without the government having to commission a $100,000 study. Truly, how foolhardy. People feel a recession. They feel it when it gets harder to pay for food. They feel it when it gets cold out and they have to keep the temperature low to save on heating. They feel it when they look for work and there are not enough jobs, and they feel it when they are forced to work reduced hours, and they feel it when they're laid off. People know a recession without the government having to spend $100,000 to tell them, and they feel it.

[Page 441]

In many ways, having been here for six years listening to the current Minister of Finance and three years just a desk away in the Public Accounts Committee, I think he broke faith with the deputy minister and with the Department of Finance by going out to do this study. They had all the answers, they absolutely had all the answers so why did we commission a study from a private consulting firm? This study was commissioned not to get at numbers but to paint a financial picture of the province that would change the public discussion. It was commissioned in order to construct the right conditions so that the NDP could start breaking promises. Next they appointed a council of economic advisers and just like the Deloitte report, these advisers were not there to advise government on how to act - they have a Department of Finance that can do that - they were there to advise the people of Nova Scotia. The advisers said that sometimes a debt isn't such a bad thing in a recession and maybe so. This advice was not for the government's ears. They already knew there was a deficit in the works at this point. It was for the people of Nova Scotia to hear. The advice was sought in order to construct the right conditions so that the NDP could start breaking promises.

The NDP promised to balance the budget without raising taxes or cutting programs when they knew this was an impossible promise to make, at least it was an impossible promise to make truthfully. The conditions were set, the public was warned, the NDP has given Nova Scotians a deficit budget, and in reading the media today, we can easily conclude it is truly an NDP budget. How did a $19.7 million surplus become a $592 million deficit?

The NDP made choices. For starters, the NDP choose to artificially inflate the deficit. The NDP choose to move $341 million that should have been paid out to universities next year onto this year's books. The move was a political choice, 100 per cent political. This was money that was agreed to already for next year, it doesn't help our universities control operating costs for this year at all. We know that they, I'm sure, will manage their money well.

The minister said that he wanted to return to funding universities one year at a time. Well, next year's funding will be zero dollars. The only people this optical illusion helps are sitting in the chairs opposite.

This move helps the NDP in three ways. It makes it easier to come close to balancing next year's budget by $341 million; if the NDP can convince Nova Scotians that this was thrust upon them by some other Party, then any slight reduction from a $592 million deficit makes them heroic; and it constructs the right conditions so that the NDP could start breaking promises, this time cuts to programs. Truly a budget of smoke and mirrors.

However, I worry more about how universities will be funded. Fifteen months down the road when negotiations open, one year at a time, I wonder in fact, if the minister hasn't already sent a signal that things will be different.

[Page 442]

Physical activity, sport and recreation - in the May 4th budget the previous government allocated $24 million to physical activity, sport and recreation. The NDP choose to fund this program $20 million, a program cut of $4 million. While this may fit into the mysterious savings that the minister said he found, it points to something deeper.

The minister told the Halifax Chamber of Commerce that he would control health costs; this reveals a fundamental misunderstanding. Promoting physical activity and healthy living is precisely the line item that would help control health costs now and well into the future. So this is already a very short-sighted plan. We all know the staggering statistics around obesity and chronic health disease in this province - we're either at the top in the bad areas or ninth or 10th in the chronic illness areas - very short-sighted.

Affordable housing - in 2008-09, the Progressive Conservative Government budgeted $26.6 million for affordable housing. In this budget the NDP choose only to provide $15.5 million and they choose this amount at the same time as they and their consultants are telling us that we are fighting tough, economic times. There couldn't be a more appropriate metaphor for this government than when they tell people who need affordable housing they should simply live within their means.

Transition houses and H1N1 - transition houses spent $100,000 more last year than this government feels they deserve to have in this year's budget. In this NDP budget, there will be $579,000 fewer dollars going toward communicable disease prevention and control. Those $579,000 fewer dollars that could go toward preventing communicable disease cannot be comforting to hear when Nova Scotians face H1N1. However, the NDPs answer is, trust us, we have a restructuring fund with an extra $54.1 million in it. They won't say how much is there for H1N1. This restructuring fund is primarily to go toward contract negotiations.

Joan Jessome has stated that she is not buying the "sky is falling" scenario and will negotiate for fair settlements and she is not alone. In fact, yesterday in the corridors of many buildings where these negotiated contracts are coming up, the word was $54 million will be a good start.

Contracts that are up for negotiation include 3,500 CUPE hospital workers which contracts that are up for negotiation include 3,500 CUPE hospital workers, which expired March 31, 2009; 1,700 CAW hospital workers, expired March 31, 2009; most NSGEU workers, 20,000 out of 26,000 have contracts that expire either at the end of 2009 or into 2010; civil servants are up in March 2010; NSCC workers province-wide 900, and Chignecto-Central workers, 400, are up for negotiations; and highway workers, the CUPE contract is up October 31, 2009.

The NDP tell us that this fund is for wage negotiations with the unions but, don't worry, if there is anything left over at the end of the day we can use some of that for H1N1. Cutting back on prevention and control programs, being secretive about a mystery fund that might have a bit left over - Nova Scotians do not feel comfort in this.

[Page 443]

Community programs - in 2009, community programs required $9.6 million, but this government doesn't think that community programs are important during tough economic times, so the NDP chooses to cut their funding from last year by almost $3 million. Community development should be at the heart of an economic recovery plan, but it certainly is not at the heart of this government. These cuts to programs, which show that the NDP didn't keep another part of their promise to the people of Nova Scotia, are more devious for the narrative that they help present. When the minister states, talking about means-based living, he is not talking about something abstract, he's telling the people of Nova Scotia to prepare for less money for your community, less money for disease control and prevention, and less money for programs that Nova Scotians use.

Spending - not all programs saw cuts or freezes; in fact the IEF saw a $13 million increase. The previous government had allocated $20 million to this program in the May budget. The NDP Government chose to increase spending on the IEF by $13 million this year to $33 million - maybe it's a message to Nova Scotia Business Inc. that the Department of Economic and Rural Development will now rule the day and the Cabinet will make decisions, pick the winners and, hopefully, not too many losers.

Procrastination - one shot deals and pure luck. The Finance Minister reported that revenues were down by $125 million due to economic conditions and this, indeed, is most likely the case. To be fair, the recession wasn't something that could have been accurately predicted, not in timing or in scope - except for a truck driver friend who advised me six months before I ever heard from an economist "you better put your money in tight securities." He and I have done very well. He runs a trucking business in Ontario, and he saw it coming six months ever before a word in The Globe and Mail or from any economist, because he saw what was happening to the building trade in the United States as he went across the country to the West Coast each week.

However, to offset the spending increases in this budget, the minister highlighted some areas where he could find savings. This is problematic since these savings are not sustainable, they're due to delays, one-time deals, or pure luck.

Delays - from the Spring budget there was a reduction of $29 million for our highways, hopefully not a hit on rural roads again or a failure to leverage federal dollars from the stimulus package. Again, other transportation road work that will be put off.

Construction delays in opening long-term care beds amount to over $4 million, something that I heard on this side - possibly from this very seat - that we need it now and we'll need many, many more well into the future.

[Page 444]

Delays in construction on the Colchester Hospital contributed to a $26.6 million savings in hospital infrastructure since the Progressive Conservative budget in May. I guess it will be open in time.

The rink revitalization program has been put on the back burner. Let's hope that some of the ice plants maintain a good season in our rinks in Nova Scotia because it doesn't look like much money.

The government can't reasonably count on savings that are similar to a Leon's Don't- Pay- A-Cent event. One time deals - Canada Games funding amounted to $2 million. Pure luck - debt servicing costs are down $13.5 million, mainly attributable to short term borrowing forced by the Spring election. The timing of payroll rebates, and NSBI give outs, meant that the province didn't have to pay $2.6 million this year.

In contrast to these items that just happened to save the government money in this year only, new spending commitments such as the IEF that the NDP choose to make are long-term commitments. The NDP choose these increases in spending without a sustainable plan for the future. There is no plan that details how the NDP will increase revenues. There is no plan for education. There is no plan that tells Nova Scotians how the NDP will develop the economy. There is no plan for trade. There is no plan for small business and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is worried.

Tax credits - the only thing the NDP Government has done to reward people for doing what they already have been doing. The graduate tax credit is a good example of poor public policy. In New Brunswick and Manitoba they tried efforts to entice graduates to stay in their province and after $100 million, there is no increase in the number of graduates who stayed. A closer look will reveal why. A promise to put $15,000 in students' pockets in the form of a tax credit really works out to $222 a year, hardly a reason to stay. It sounds great in a campaign brochure, that now students are going to save $15,000 over a six year period. It's a tax credit and a tax credit amounts to $222.50 over a given year.

The real way is accessibility. We all know that the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission has pointed out that 32 per cent of Nova Scotians capable of going to university do not have the economic means to even consider it. Where is accessibility? Low tuition rates and low debt, such as Newfoundland and Labrador have, is actually holding on to more of our students; they feel rewarded for having gone to school there. I know many from my own school who are staying in Newfoundland and Labrador and the stats are there.

Further, if you have graduated but you are still looking for work, what good is a tax credit going to be to you? This is why the Canadian Federation of Students and the Alliance of Nova Scotian Student Association do not support this tax credit. This is not an incentive and will only benefit those who were going to stay in the province, regardless.

[Page 445]

The home construction rebate - great idea, great idea. But in checking with one of the biggest home supply depots in the Annapolis Valley, it helped those who built homes in March and April and May and June. Not new homes, precious few new homes have been built through this program. It simply rewards those who were going to build regardless of the credit and should have little impact on the number of housing starts this year.

[11:00 a.m.]

The symbolic increase in the equity tax credit rewards those who already invest in independent business but provides little incentive for people to become new investors. Meanwhile, money for highways is down, and so is spending on seniors and the environment. Two areas in the budget that truly caught most people's eye is that the seniors and the environment budgets are down. Seniors, leading the nation with the highest average age population. There is less in the seniors' department in this budget and the same way for the environment.

What we do know is that a strong, vibrant economy will help graduate retention, will attract people to the province, will increase housing starts, will get builders building and investors investing. Unfortunately, there is no plan to do this. We are outsourcing responsibility.

The NDP is choosing to divide Nova Scotia. What they really do plan, however, is to lower tax rates on gas in Amherst to try to keep motorists from going to New Brunswick to fill up their tanks. They are creating an artificial border within our province, which will result, no matter how far you cast a net, in winners and losers.

What is worst is that they are willing to take responsibility for this. Tax regulation on gas will be moved to the Nova Scotia UARB, a group of unelected officials. The NDP is choosing to outsource responsibility.

When you carefully examine this budget in light of the NDP's first 100 days in power, a narrative becomes crystal clear. The NDP made promises that they knew they couldn't keep during the election, but instead of taking responsibility for their choices once in power - and make no mistake, these are the NDP's choices - they hire consultants to persuade the public the government has no room to govern, they have consultants soften the ground so that the government can break their promises, they outsource responsibility to non-elected officials, and when they present their budget to Nova Scotians they can only say, don't blame me, it was like this when we got here.

This is a budget built on choices. This is a budget with a $592 million deficit and a government that refuses to take responsibility. This is truly an NDP budget. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 446]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, member. The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is my pleasure to rise as Finance Critic for the Progressive Conservative Caucus.

Yesterday was an historic day in Nova Scotia. It marked the first NDP budget in our province, but yesterday also marked another important milestone in Nova Scotia, the first of what I know will be many more letdowns and broken promises made by this NDP government. Mr. Speaker, the honeymoon is over. It is clearly evident that this government was born on third base and believes it actually hit a triple.

I want to comment that our caucus clearly respects and understands the significance of bringing a budget forward to the people of Nova Scotia. I was part of a government that balanced seven consecutive budgets, helped restore the province's finances, and provided Nova Scotians with the opportunities that they needed to succeed, but the one thing that we did not do was try to introduce a budget that was everything to everyone. That's what this government has done - tried to make everybody happy.

Every member of our caucus has a stake in what the Minister of Finance has introduced before us. I wouldn't be surprised if many people in this room fully expect us to support the measures in this deficit budget. However, while we do agree with many of the measures put forth in this deficit budget, the one thing that we can stand united on is that we cannot - for the sake of all Nova Scotians - support a budget that jeopardizes the long-term fiscal health of our province. I want to say clearly and unequivocally, the Progressive Conservative Caucus will not be supporting this deficit budget.

We believe that voting against this deficit budget is about principle, not about politics - as the members opposite are trying to make fun of right now. We understand that many people will question why we voted it down when the budget contains so many of the programs that we brought forward in May.

Unlike the NDP, who put politics ahead of Nova Scotia in May, we are taking a stand against what we believe is simply the wrong thing to do in these fragile economic times. Contrary to what the NDP have been spinning in the news media and in this House over the last several weeks, the deficit budget presented yesterday is not a PC budget. This budget bears little resemblance to the Progressive Conservative budget tabled in May 2009. The one fundamental difference is that our budget, the Progressive Conservative budget, was balanced, this government's budget is not.

This budget has NDP written all over it and that's an important distinction because Nova Scotians ultimately have the right to know what their government defines as accountable. This government's tragic flaw is its shortsightedness. They are consumed by

[Page 447]

the past at the expense of tomorrow. The definition of this budget is surely an argument political science professors and students will study in the years to come.

The main thing I am certain of is that we had a plan in May that responded to the economic crisis that we were in. This deficit budget, clearly and without remorse, mortgages the financial future of our province on the backs of our children, our seniors and those who simply want a better life in Nova Scotia. This deficit budget will force generations of Nova Scotians to pay for the artificial mess this government has left us in. That, Mr. Speaker, we cannot support.

I see the Minister of Finance and the Premier over there "chu chutting" as we would say in French, they're making comments and they don't understand what faces Nova Scotia or what faces them in the future.

The Premier has said as recently as yesterday that this government needs to stop digging, to crawl its way out of the deficit situation we're in. The NDP Government has no one to blame but itself for putting Nova Scotians in this position.

I acknowledge there are items in this budget that are good for Nova Scotians. These are mostly programs and services that the Progressive Conservative budget proposed in May and I'm glad to see that they will continue to benefit the people of this province. However, if I may, Mr. Speaker, the one thing that we do not have to accept is the financial burden that this deficit budget places on our province.

The fact remains we balanced the budget with surplus dollars, whereas the NDP is running a deficit with borrowed dollars, with all the borrowed dollars interest and servicing fees that comes with it. (Interruption) They said it was free, yes, that's right, but we know that borrowing money does cost money. This is not living within our means and no amount of political posturing and rhetoric will remove that burden from the shoulders of that government.

The financials outlined in the deficit budget are misleading, furtive and parochial at best. They do not - as the Minister of Finance puts it - show us a truer picture of the province's finances. He says he believes his government's budget is an honest portrayal of the situation we are in. There is nothing honest about misleading this House and Nova Scotians. The Minister of Finance, who has become the author of the blame game, should know better. There is a recurring theme in the Minister of Finance's remarks, it has to do with something the honourable member for Cape Breton North alluded to the other night in his passionate response to the Speech from the Throne. It is what I would call the almost factor.

We presented a balanced budget, this government almost presented a balanced budget. We had a plan to address infrastructure spending, the government has shown it is

[Page 448]

willing to proceed with almost all of the infrastructure spending commitments. Just look at the cuts in Springhill, in Lunenburg and the health care system. It's almost like hitting the crossbar or missing an empty net, it only counts if you score.

The government has enjoyed a gracious honeymoon period over the last 98 days and they are almost starting to get it. But they haven't scored with this deficit budget, in fact, I would say that it even scored on their own net. They have said what they wanted to say, taking credit for previous government commitments and ideas and blamed us for the decision to run a deficit.

Now, let's consider some of the key facts outlined in this deficit budget; no money for the actual construction of the convention centre; $26 million in cuts to health care as emergency rooms across this province are being forced to shut their doors; $18 million of cuts to the justice centres in Springhill and Antigonish, and I know my colleague, the member for Cumberland South, will have more to say on that broken promise. I know the Minister of Justice has said he's willing to entertain any other places to move it. There's $29 million in drastic cuts to rural and secondary roads. This means that more than 116 kilometres of rural roads will not be paved.

Do we have an introduction? I'm more than happy to let the member do an introduction if the Speaker is okay with that.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, member. The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. JIM MORTON: Thank you. I would just like to take a moment to introduce two guests in the east gallery this morning. Gary Randall is here from Kentville. He is a member of my campaign team and a retired member of the West Nova Scotia Regiment. He's here with his daughter, Natasha Randall, who was also a worker on our election team during the recent campaign. I'd like to ask the House to welcome them this morning. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle has the floor.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: I, too, welcome the visitors to this gallery as they watch the proceedings in this House.

Mr. Speaker, I could go back to the start and start again, but I think I'll just start from where I left off. So, $29 million in drastic cuts to rural and secondary roads. This means that more than 116 kilometres of rural roads will not be paved. Maintaining rural roads was an essential aspect of the Progressive Conservative budget, and this has been abandoned by the NDP Government. I hope the backbenches of the NDP take note, because it's their roads that are first to go.

The member for Shelburne, will you let the residents of Cape Island know why there will not be any paving on Route 330? How about the member for Queens? I was on the roads

[Page 449]

the other day near Liverpool - will you tell the residents of Petite why there will be no paving on Route 331? The member for Lunenburg West, will you tell the members of your community why there will not be any paving on Conquerall Road or Logan Road? You know full well they need a lot of work. How about the member for Lunenburg? Will you tell the members that (Interruption)

MR. D'ENTREMONT: The Minister of Finance doesn't like the fact that I'm trying to give concrete answers and concrete examples of what this budget means to residents of Nova Scotia. He doesn't like it - he really doesn't like it. These are all roads that need work, as many roads do, across this province, and a cut of $29 million will not help get those roads paved.

The member for Lunenburg, will you tell the members of your community why there will be no paving on Trunk 10? The member for Chester-St. Margaret's, will you tell the members of your community why there will not be any paving on Highway No. 3 in Gold River? How about Route 333 in Timberlea-Prospect? I know the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal would love to see that road paved. How about the member for Kings North? Will you tell the members of your community why there will not be any paving on Route 359?

I could keep on going. There's the Melanson Road in Kings South. How about Route 215 in Hants East? How about the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley - no paving on Route 289? How about Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank, Trunk 2? The member for Pictou West? Mr. Speaker, I'm sure it would pain you to tell your constituents in Lyons Brook why they're not receiving any paving on Route 376, that so much needs the work.

The member for Pictou East - I know he howled the most about roads. Will he be able to tell his constituents who travel down Route 348 in Chance Harbour? Again, I could go on and on and on of all the roads that this would do. I could talk about the roads in my own constituency, that I'm going to have to tell my constituents that the NDP have completely forgotten them. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite - the Minister of Finance - had his opportunity to speak to this House just yesterday and we listened attentively. We listened with all seriousness and I expect him to do the same.

What about keeping the Pugwash emergency room open? Why have your efforts led to the correctional centre being removed, not only from Amherst, but also from all of Cumberland County? Mr. Speaker, I already know what they're going to say next. They're going to tell Nova Scotians that they have a plan, a plan. Maybe they're going to hire someone for these broken promises. Just bear with us, we couldn't do it all in this budget. Mark my words, that will be their excuse, as it has been over the last number of hours.

[Page 450]

[11:15 a.m.]

Some other programs that are noticeably absent from this Minister of Finance's deficit budget: $1.8 million in upgrades to the Fisheries Museum in Lunenburg; $2 million in aid for Nova Scotia's struggling cattle producers; and significant assistance so that Nova Scotians can access the caregiver allowance - not even talking about having to change the criteria so that people can actually get in on it.

There was no mention of tuition reduction where we committed to find a way, and pay a way, to get to the national average for tuition for students in Nova Scotia. In 2006 the difference was $2,000 per student. By 2010 it would have been at $710 and moving our way towards that zero number.

We made sure that we had $66 million in bursary funds available to Nova Scotian students going to university. They told us, clearly, that they needed money up front, not in tax breaks, not in tax re-forgiveness or whatever you want to call it, they need money to go to university now because if you don't have the money you can't sign up in the first place and that's what we tried to provide as a PC caucus.

All of these things have gone to the wayside as the NDP struggle to find money for their $54.1 million restructuring fund. Restructuring fund, I prefer to call it the NDP slush fund. This is of note because the wage negotiations are upcoming with Nova Scotia unions.

Here is our position. We believe all Nova Scotians, whether they're unionized or not, deserve fair and equal treatment through a conciliatory process that benefits all parties. However, there will be no negotiations as the $54.1 million slush fund will pay in full for the 408 union contracts that are up for renewal, all at the expense of other programs important to Nova Scotians. The slush fund is simply a hiding place so the NDP can placate unions and increase their wages, all under the guise of restructuring.

The commitments made by the Progressive Conservative government addressed critical sectors important to long-term sustainability of Nova Scotia and as a caucus, we are proud to have them included in this budget.

The one thing I can say is that a lot of work went into the preparation of our budget in May. At the time we factored in several issues, three of them being: the economy, how to leverage federal infrastructure dollars, and how to meet the needs of aging infrastructure in our universities.

Our biggest concern, next to what is missing from the deficit budget address, is the hundreds of millions of dollars of additional debt this budget brings us. This is a reasonable concern and I believe many Nova Scotians share my concern.

[Page 451]

It is no secret that it was our intention to use the surplus funds from our offshore differently. These funds, known as the offshore offset, were not to be put towards the debt but were to be used to help finance the programs and services that are important to Nova Scotians.

Debt repayment always remained a priority for us. We believed that suspending our repayment plan was the most prudent approach at the time and the one that made most sense in these uncertain economic times. The only alternative to using the offshore money would be to significantly raise taxes, cut jobs or programs, something that I am anxious to see if this NDP Government does in the future.

Again, the irony is overwhelming. Their plan to change the Provincial Finance Act is exactly what we attempted in May, the Premier knows this. He campaigned on the promise of balancing the budget next year, knowing perfectly well that his true agenda was to run a deficit this year and worry about the aftermath of that decision at a later date.

This budget right now breaks the law. It's that simple. This deficit budget leaves us in a dire situation as we look forward, and what does this actually mean for Nova Scotia next year? I know the Minister of Finance was very elusive on that question during his scrum yesterday with media.

Nova Scotians should be concerned that economists have publicly stated it would not be prudent for this government to raise taxes or cut programs at the expense of balancing the budget next year. Yet, we continue to hear from the Premier himself that he plans to balance the budget. This would come at a serious cost to Nova Scotians, hopefully not at the expense of critical cuts to critical programs. In the times of declining revenue, the government has limited options to use to present a balanced budget. The options are simple actually, raise taxes, cut programs, reduce jobs, and lay off workers.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is going to have to cut $210 million in current programs to balance his budget next Spring, not including all of the demands that will come from those departments when a new budget cycle begins. How will this impact the declining tourism industry? How will this hurt our health care system. These are questions that we must ask on behalf of the Nova Scotians that we represent.

The Progressive Conservative Budget was in surplus and we didn't have to resort to any of these methods. The NDP Government will have little choice however as they go forward in their budget in 2010. Will you see your gasoline taxes increase? I'm certain that this Minister of Finance is considering significant increases in consumption taxes. Will we see the home heating rebate withdrawn next year? How about the decision to reduce the essential items the provincial portion of the HST applies to? Only time will tell, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 452]

What about an increase in drilling fees for offshore exploration? I can only hope that this government isn't reckless enough to cut jobs. The Premier himself has already said that a cut to Communications Nova Scotia would help his government reduce spending by their commitment of 1 per cent. If Communications Nova Scotia is on the chopping block, what will stop them from venturing further into the Public Service to find cost savings?

Mr. Speaker, that's why I'm looking forward, looking to the future and I'm anxious to see how this government responds on Budget Day 2010. As the Minister of Finance said yesterday, " it starts today", because he said it starts tomorrow and the work that he's going to be doing to get the budget ready for next year.

Right now I'm very concerned about what this deficit budget means for Nova Scotians. I hope for the sake of every day-Nova Scotians they do the right thing. I don't know if they will. Already the Premier is setting the groundwork for increasing taxes, to cut programs, to cut jobs that benefit Nova Scotian families. This, Mr. Speaker, contradicts everything that the NDP stood for during the election when they rolled into towns from Yarmouth to Sydney, making promises to everyone at the expense of everything. This is unacceptable.

Nova Scotians need to remember that this government promised not to raise taxes, cut programs or lay off workers. That's why we were ready to use these resources that were available to us. I promised that government that the Progressive Conservative Caucus will be there everyday to remind them of those promises.

Mr. Speaker, certain measures in this deficit budget deserve greater attention and I believe health care is one of them. Health care is something that the former Opposition took great pride in chastising the former government over. Of course, I received a lot of that chastising.(Laughter) I've saved all those rocks and I'm ready to throw them back.

Mr. Speaker, health care spending in the district health authorities will be decreased by an outstanding $26 million this year- $26 million. This is nothing more than the NDP trying to offload any future issues regarding health care and services delivery onto the backs of the DHAs, the $26 million in infrastructure cuts ,when they need it so much. When their emergency room targets aren't met, they will simply say, no, it's up to the DHA to allocate those health dollars that we provide as they see fit. When our hospitals are overcrowded and there are not doctors and nurses to go around, they'll say, well it's up to the DHA to allocate the dollars that we give them. I will not allow this NDP to put the health care of Nova Scotians and their families in jeopardy. The PC caucus will be watching.

With Tuesday's announcement of a Provincial Emergency Room Advisor, appointed by the Minister of Health, comes a policy decision made by the NDP that they must live with and it will take a long time to get that policy done up. But they're going to have to live with those results.

[Page 453]

Our government had a sound strategy in place that was working and it did not come at the expense of the Nova Scotia taxpayer. Improving health care, as many governments throughout the world struggle to do, means tackling issues of great importance.

In closing, I would like to say that we're committed to working with our colleagues here in the Legislature. This has undoubtedly been a long road for many of us and we're ready to move forward.

Mr. Speaker, I would now adjourn debate on the Budget Address for another day.

MR. SPEAKER: The Estimates are referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

The honourable Acting Government House Leader.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. JIM MORTON: Mr. Speaker, I stand before you in this House to offer remarks on behalf of the people of Kings North with a sense of pride and humility. It's an honour to be elected to this House of Assembly. I'm proud to be a member of the first New Democratic Party Government in Nova Scotia, and privileged to sit in the House with colleagues on both sides of the floor who have been elected to serve the citizens of our province.

I'm proud to be part of Darrell Dexter's caucus and I want to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your election to your office, and I offer you my full support as you take on a challenging and critical role.

I also stand here with humility because those of us who are here today stand on the shoulders of so many others. I speak of the generations of MLAs who have come to this House before us and those citizens we represent who have hopes and dreams for a better Nova Scotia, citizens who know how important it is to mark a ballot, those who invest the effort to write a letter to the editor, the volunteers of boards and foundations, sports clubs, clubs and societies, the people who serve as tireless advocates for a better future, the businesses and organizations and employees who strive for excellence in their corners of the world. That history and those dreams create an obligation to pursue the agenda set out in the Speech from the Throne, read last week by Her Honour, Mayann Francis, the Lieutenant Governor.

[Page 454]

Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of history connected with this room and within the walls of this building. The House of Assembly dates as far back as 1819, long before Confederation. Eight years after it was constructed my ancestor, the honourable John Morton, was chosen in 1827 to serve in this House, in this very building, to represent Cornwallis, part of the same area I represent today. So it is with pride and humility and a sense of our heritage that I stand here 182 years later to continue the work of being a representative for the Annapolis Valley in this historic room. (Applause) You might say that the importance of the work we do here is in my genes.

I was pleased, and I dare say Nova Scotians were pleased, to read the front page headline in The ChronicleHerald on September 18th, the day after the Lieutenant Governor delivered the Speech from the Throne to those of us assembled here. "The Throne Speech has few surprises" boomed the headline. Now that's what I call an endorsement of openness and transparency. The speech is a reflection of our commitments. In fact, in the Lieutenant Governor's words, our government's first priority is to keep the promises we made to Nova Scotians. We plan to do what we said we'd do. Those promises are clear and I want to note some of them.

We assured Nova Scotians that we will live within our means. We promised to listen and make careful disciplined choices to the challenges we face. We have removed the provincial portion of HST from basic home electricity. We will increase the income threshold for the Nova Scotia Child Benefit. We promised to redesign the Employment Support and Income Assistance program. We underlined our commitment to make significant progress in the fight against poverty. (Applause)

We put in place a new home construction program to help stimulate the economy. We assured Nova Scotians that we will make good use of every single dollar of available federal infrastructure funding and that's exactly what we've already done. We have boosted the equity tax credit by $1 million, freeing up about $7.9 million for business innovation and development. We will set new ambitious targets for needed immigration.

We will set new ambitious targets for needed immigration. We have already begun the process to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent by 2020. We have set aggressive targets to increase our supply of renewable energy by 25 per cent by the year 2015. We will establish a community land trust to allow Nova Scotians to participate in the purchase of lands that can be preserved into the future.

[11:30 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we have underlined our goal of creating one of the cleanest, greenest, most sustainable and thriving economies in the world by 2020. We will establish a graduate tax incentive of up to $15,000 to keep college and university graduates here at home. We have promised to create 250 new subsidized daycare spaces. We have already put an

[Page 455]

emergency room advisor in place to keep ERs open and provide leadership to improve community health care. We met Dr. John Ross in this House earlier this week. We have committed to a new travel and accommodation policy that will assist patients and their families when out-of-province services are required.

We are undertaking the development of a five-year capital plan for highway construction, paving and bridges. We have promised to promote agriculture as a positive economic, social and environmental force; promised to further encourage Nova Scotians to buy local and pledged to maximize market opportunities for farm products.

Mr. Speaker, I have highlighted some of the promises outlined in the Speech from the Throne because I want to underline the significance of our government's legislative agenda. I'm reminded, as I review this list with the House, that we have a lot of work to do and of the lines from the great poem by the American Robert Frost, "But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep."

Let there be no mistake - we do have a lot of work to do and I know that those of us on this side of the House are already engaged in the tasks that will lead us to success and probably will also deprive us of considerable sleep. I also want to emphasize the connection between these commitments to Nova Scotians and the promises I made to individuals, families, organizations, and to my neighbours, as I sought their support leading up to the provincial election on June 9th.

Mr. Speaker, I'm proud that the list of commitments I've just reviewed and the promises I made to the citizens of Kings North are one and the same. I stand as a member of this government in support of those promises I made to my constituents. Those voters in Kings North who supported me, who had conversations with me, can rest assured that our government is pursuing the agenda that we discussed during the election campaign.

Like the headline says, Mr. Speaker, the Throne Speech has few surprises and I'm proud of that. I know the citizens of Nova Scotia want a government that keeps its promises and I'm proud to be part of Premier Dexter's NDP Government because it intends to do just that.

Mr. Speaker, we had an exciting election campaign in Kings North leading up to the June 9th election. As the honourable members on the other side of the House will know very well, Kings North was held by one Party since 1960 with only one exception. In the 1970s, citizens in Kings North elected my friend and resident of Sheffield Mills, Glen Ells, for a single term during a phase of two-Party politics. So we entered the campaign with a clear understanding of the facts and very determined to create change.

I stand here today, Mr. Speaker, because of the tremendous support our campaign effort received from my family, from my campaign leadership team, and from the many

[Page 456]

volunteers and supporters who contributed time, funding, skills, or one of the hundreds of sign locations that signals electors in Kings North wanted something different. I want to share the makeup of my campaign team because it illustrates the qualities of leadership, commitment and skills and values that it takes to achieve an important objective. All of our success as human beings come not from individual initiative, no matter how important that may be, but from our collective efforts. (Applause)

I'm quite interested in a system's theory on how human beings relate to other species and by the way, co-operation works not only for us, it works for other species too. As Jeffrey Masson and Susan McCarthy have pointed out, when lions hunt co-operatively, they catch substantially more prey than when they hunt singly. Let me tell you about our team, Mr. Speaker.

Dean Tupper of Historic Canard and David Hewitt, who can keep an eye on the Valley from his home on the North Mountain, led our team. Dean Tupper brings energy and commitment to the principles of organized labour to any cause and he challenged himself and the campaign team to excel in its ability to reach and identify supporters. He is proud and he should be, of what we accomplished.

David Hewitt combines his passion for justice and a sustainable environment with his discipline as an administrator to help the team stay on task, get our message out, and he kept us connected to the larger provincial campaign organization. Sheila Bond and Wayne Bond of Lakeville co-managed our sign efforts and with the help of their crews helped many recognize that Kings North was ready to embrace the tide of orange.

As official agent, Nancy Sampson-Henke, who lives in Kentville, with support from Sheila Bond, kept our finances in order and reined us in when we needed a little restraint, because sometimes we did. (Interruption) That's right, we live within our means. Pauline Raven from beautiful Delhaven on the New Minas Basin was the wizard of fundraising and used all of her skills to push the team to reach beyond anything it had done before. Pauline got help from several volunteers, but particularly from Marie Sanford who lives in Lakeville. Marie is one of those fundraisers who doesn't know the meaning of the word no.

A Kentville resident who I introduced earlier this morning, Garry Randall, led the team's door-to-door canvassing efforts, making it his goal to see that we reached out to every voter in the riding. Garry made sure that we kept going day after day and he is still ready to keep going now, knowing that election campaigns aren't the only time that voters need to be consulted.

Skip Hambling used his creative efforts and talents to help our message get noticed. We probably had the most interesting campaign headquarter windows in Nova Scotia thanks to Skip. Mary Ruth Crosby managed the office, keeping all of us coordinated during those

[Page 457]

hectic campaign days. Donald Llewellyn of Kentville stepped up to help with everything from office coordination to door-to-door canvassing.

We got leadership, support, and on-the-ground help from Marie Sanford, Debbie Kerr, Carol Harris, Don Fraser, Mick Brazeau, Philip Bailey, Rodney Bent, Charlene MacLellan, Keilani Tupper and Felicia Tupper. Each of these volunteers sat at our table to work through the processes that created a successful election campaign.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, there were many others, too many to name, who helped get our message out with phone calls, canvassing, sign work and the like. Without them we could not have succeeded.

I can, however, mention my wife and partner in all things, Donna McGrath, who took on a central role in the campaign. Donna managed much of the communication between the local and central campaign. Her support kept me organized and prepared and it was Donna's investment and talent that created the daily Web-based log each and every day of the campaign of commentary and photos that became a defining feature of our work in Kings North. I can only hope that Donna knows how much her efforts have contributed to my ability to stand here in this House today. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I have reviewed the contributions of our campaign team in order to thank them and to draw attention to the importance of citizenship. Their commitment and work created our success. The work and investment and creativity of dedicated volunteers like them, from all across our province, have helped each of us take our place as members of the House of Assembly. I will never forget that investment.

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss not to acknowledge that political success rests on more than a single election campaign. During the last 15 to 20 years, our political flame in Kings North was kept alive by a small band of committed New Democrats. I think of Don Fraser and Neil McNeil as I reflect on this period and I recall the long phase of our history when hope and the possibility of change was sheltered by a small executive committee led by Chester Sanford, Marie Sanford, Roger MacNamara and Marian Craig; these four never lost faith. (Applause)

I regret that Chester Sanford is no longer with us. He died not being able to see the fruits of his work, but his name lives on. Marie Sanford has created the Chester Sanford Memorial Bursary at the Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning. The bursary is designed for a graduate who displays a social conscience and is planning to pursue further education.

I've had the honour, with Marie, of presenting the bursary for the last four years at the Northeast Kings school graduation ceremony and it gives me pleasure to know that the values that guided Chester's life will continue to find influence into the future.

[Page 458]

Mr. Speaker, it is those values that Chester and I shared that led me to this House. After living in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick for almost 25 years, I moved back to Nova Scotia in 1999 to be closer to my family and to my roots in Somerset. I moved back with a clear commitment, to elect a New Democrat in Kings North. I'm reminded as I say this of the Canadian writer Christopher Ondajte's comment that the trick of success is to be single-minded. Well, I may not be single-minded, but I did make politics pretty much my business.

Some may ask, why focus on electing a New Democrat? There were many influences that led me to that position. In fact, Robert Stanfield and his decided use of government in creating a stronger Nova Scotia influenced my thinking. Pierre Trudeau's concept of a just society caught my attention when I was a young adult. Tommy Douglas and the emerging dominance of the welfare state in Saskatchewan and Canada made me realize that we could use programs like Old Age Security, the Canada Pension Plan and, of course, Medicare to create a better, more just country.

Closer to home the work of Father Moses Coady and Father Jimmy Tompkins in the development of co-operatives made an impression. My experiences at Acadia University as a philosophy major and training at Dalhousie University's Maritime School of Social Work - where, by the way, a young Alexa McDonough was one of my professors - helped me see that there are alternatives to how we organize our social and economic lives.

As a social worker in Nova Scotia, then in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, I became acutely aware that many of the problems that confronted me and my colleagues and staff - from cancer, to loss of employment and income, to homelessness and adolescent rebellion and family violence - are at one level private matters experienced by individuals and their families, but at another are issues that clearly require public solutions.

This thinking was reinforced when in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I invested much of my volunteer time in support of Alan Blakeney's NDP Government in Saskatchewan. During that time I helped re-elect MLA Randy Nelson and worked on campaigns that kept then MP Lorne Nystrom in Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, I learned something in Saskatchewan. I learned that politics could be more than about an opportunity for victors to feather their personal nests, like Tories and Liberals have been doing for more than 100 years. (Applause) Politics could be more than about who you know or about what group you belong to.

Alan Blakeney's Government valued entrepreneurship and it valued contribution. That NDP Government in Saskatchewan was about bringing services to everyone, not just the wealthy few. It was about ensuring the necessities of life like natural gas, telephone service, like health care, dental care and mental health services were made available to all citizens. Blakeney's Government was one that abhorred patronage and practised openness and transparency.

[Page 459]

That experience in Saskatchewan convinced me that we didn't have to base government on the foundation of patronage and privilege and backroom deals that have been my political inheritance as a Nova Scotian. I became certain that we could do better and that the people of Nova Scotia deserved better. This approach to government, the NDP approach, involves a paradigm shift. It involves a different set of values, a different way of thinking.

Tommy Douglas, the first CCF/NDP Premier in Canada - some of the honourable members will remember - started life with health complications that only got resolved because a surgeon luckily used Tommy as a demonstration case for his medical students. That procedure changed his life.

[11:45 a.m.]

Tommy drew some conclusions from that experience. He could have decided, for example, that it would have been only right to set up a foundation to give something back to others, to repay one act of kindness with another. That, of course, would have been a wonderful gift, but Tommy Douglas drew an altogether different conclusion, one that changed our lives as Canadians. Tommy's conclusion was that no one should have to depend on charity, as had been his experience, to access professional health services. That conclusion, and the fertile and co-operative climate of the Prairies, formed the foundation of publicly funded health care in Canada. (Applause)

That kind of conclusion made Tommy Douglas a great Canadian - a CBC poll a few years ago concluded that he is our greatest Canadian. I don't take issue with that poll but I think that the first leader of the CCF/ NDP, the man who was the Leader of the Party when Tommy Douglas was first elected a Member of Parliament, could vie for the title. James Shaver Woodsworth had a vision for a more democratic, egalitarian Canada. J.S. Woodsworth's background as a Methodist clergyman lead him to politics, and it was perhaps that experience that contributed to the creation of a grace or prayer that some of the honourable members will know.

Woodsworth wrote these words, Mr. Speaker: "We are thankful for these and all the good things of life. We recognize that they are part of our common heritage and come to us through the efforts of our brothers and sisters the world over. What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all. To this end, may we take our share in the world's work and the world's struggles."

Mr. Speaker, these values, this heritage, sum up why I resolved to help elect a New Democrat in Kings North when I came home in 1999.

[Page 460]

If we all create the wealth, why shouldn't we all share it? Why shouldn't our contributions to the creation of wealth be in relation to our capacity to contribute? Why shouldn't our share of that wealth be in relation to our needs?

It seems to me that if we are to build the kind of Nova Scotia that we all in this House want, we need a vision that includes welcoming and encouraging the contributions of every breathing Nova Scotian to the best of his or her ability. It means that we structure our legislation and policy so that those in need are able to access the resources they require to live a quality life.

It is those values that have brought me to the side of the House, that have brought me to stand with the first NDP Government in Nova Scotia. But, Mr. Speaker, it was love of family and of the Annapolis Valley that brought me home to Nova Scotia in 1999, and it is my increasing respect for the people and institutions that make up life in Kings North that have helped re-establish deep roots in the fertile environment of our county. There is much to be proud of and much to celebrate in our Kings North-Annapolis Valley community.

Kings North is a place that has experienced a confluence of cultures. Our history is vital to who we are. The riding I represent was a home where the rivers and streams, the forests and oceans supported a Mi'kmaq population for thousands of years. The dykes that continue to protect thousands of hectares of fertile farmland from tidal rivers are a testament to the ingenuity and heritage of the Acadians who made a home here before they became victims of history and were brutally expelled.

Kings North is also a place that was settled by New England Planters who took advantage of the newly available Acadian lands in the mid-18th century. Actually, my ancestor, Elkanah Morton - the grandfather of the honourable John Morton I mentioned earlier - arrived in Kings North in the 1760s, creating a place that has been home to his descendants for 250 years. Many of us still bear the names of those early Planters. All of that history, Mr. Speaker, influences who we are.

Kings North is a place of beauty - the amazing tides, the towering cliffs and the rocky beaches of the Bay of Fundy draw visitors from around the world. The head of land at Blomidon defines us. I recently had an opportunity to fly over Kings North and marvel at how the Cornwallis River meanders through the fertile green and brown of farmlands to become an impressive tidal force as it empties into the Minas Basin. Our lives and sense of direction in Kings North are organized by the North Mountain. The orchards of apples, pears, Christmas trees that find their homes in living rooms throughout North America and the Caribbean, plums, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and cherries, the growing vineyards that herald a new industry, the fields of carrots, potatoes, broccoli, onions, the acres of Halloween pumpkins, the expanse of corn and grains, and the herds of dairy cattle are made possible because the North and South Mountains shelter us from the cold winds of the Bay

[Page 461]

of Fundy. Kings North is part of a microclimate which supports one of the most important agricultural areas in the world.

There are about 8,000 homes in Kings North, homes with families that have ties throughout the world and everyday relationships with the 60,000 people that make up Kings County and Kings South and Kings West. Kings North is supported and invigorated by an array of institutions that serve us, provide employment, create vision for our future, and help us imagine the future we can build together.

I think, for example, of the Michelin Tire plant in Waterville that I recently toured with the Premier and the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. That plant is a marvel of technology with an impressively focused mission, and its hundreds of employees have transformed our county.

There is the Kentville Agricultural Research Centre, where science develops plants and technologies adapted to success in our climate. It was at that centre that Kentville resident Eugene Chipman helped develop the Scotia tomato plant, which some of you may have grown, and after decades it's still the best-selling tomato plant in Atlantic Canada.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Member, I wonder if you would mind an introduction?

MR. MORTON: Not at all.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. BRIAN SKABAR: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to introduce some visitors from Cumberland North. Olivia Pulsifer and her mother, Wanda. Olivia, stand up. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: It's great to have visitors and we certainly welcome all of our visitors here today.

The honourable member for Kings North has the floor.

MR. MORTON: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to draw attention as well to 14 Wing Greenwood, which is home to 2,200 military and civilian employees, many of whom live in Kings North. Greenwood has been a shaping feature of our life in the County since the base was used to train RAF pilots during World War II. These days the new commander of the base, Col. W. F. Seymour, has more on his mind than the defence of Canada. He's been charged with setting up childcare services for the base, a progressive development that I hope will be a model that other large employers can consider.

[Page 462]

Since 1838, Acadia University has been a place of learning and opportunity for the people of Kings North and beyond, helping link us with the world and bringing the world to our doorstep. More recently, the Nova Scotia Community College Kingstec Campus in Kentville has drawn students from across the province and the Annapolis Valley - students who are eager to prepare for the work of tomorrow.

We are fortunate to have access to resources in Kings North such as those delivered by Annapolis Valley Health and the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board. I am proud of the responsive and quality services these organizations have developed. The Valley Regional Hospital is within our borders, and schools like Aldershot Elementary and Northeast Kings Education Centre provide our young people with quality places to grow and learn.

Mr. Speaker, I'm particularly proud of the spirit of collaboration that exists between these two important parts of our public infrastructure. These organizations understand there is much to be gained by working co-operatively, not only with each other, but with many organizations, departments, and institutions toward an objective of building stronger communities. They understand that our health and our well-being are determined by the nature of the communities in which we are privileged to live.

One of the institutions within our Kings North borders, sometimes forgotten, is Camp Aldershot, another military base that had its beginnings in World War II and is now a thriving training centre and the headquarters of the West Nova Scotia Regiment. It's not unusual to see military personnel from around the world at the base.

I also want to mention the Kings Regional Development Agency, a force in Kings County for many years. The RDA provides leadership on many fronts, but it particularly provides a forum through which municipal governments and other organizations can work collaboratively. The RDA, for example, provided leadership in the development of the Valley Community Fibre Network, a high-capacity fibre optic network that stretches for 186 kilometres along Highway 1 between Dalhousie University and the Nova Scotia Community College Campus in Middleton. VCFN is an example of the innovative spirit and the use of technology that has the potential to transform our capacity to do sustainable business, from small communities in Kings North, connecting us to locations all over the globe.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, nothing can define Kings North without reference to agriculture. Our relationship with the industry is complex, and I will say more about this later. We are proud of our capacity to produce food. We are worried about the future of the industry. We are conflicted about the juxtaposition of farming and other development, but Kings North is undeniably farm country. At the recent open farm day, for example, 11 of the 52 farms opened for viewing in Nova Scotia were located in Kings County and the success of farm markets in Kentville, Canning, Port Williams and other locations is an indication that parts of the industry are flexible and prepared to adapt.

[Page 463]

Mr. Speaker, Kings North is a place certainly determined more by the boundaries laid out by Elections Nova Scotia than by how people in the area live their lives, but it is a place. Kings North takes in Kentville, the Fundy Shore from Canada Creek to Scots Bay; it traces the Minas Basin Shore from Cape Split to Stars Point, to the mouth of the Cornwallis River, and covers all places north Cornwallis to the Black Rock Road. Our part of the map is home to Kentville and to a number of villages and hamlets that are finding ways to build community in a modern, changing world.

Mr. Speaker, I personally live in Kentville, long the shire town of Kings County, and now the local centre of financial, legal and a broad range of professional services. Not long ago Kentville was voted the best place to live in Nova Scotia and as many know, it will soon also be home to a host of pumpkin people drawing visitors from near and far to enjoy harvest season in the Valley. Thousands of folks, and some honourable members who are sitting in this House, converge on Kentville every Spring to participate in the Apple Blossom Parade, part of a festival (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: Soccer too.

MR. MORTON: Soccer, that's right - part of a festival that now reaches back more than three-quarters of a century. Kings North is also home to Centreville, a growth centre that boasts Eagle Crest Golf Course and prides itself on being a good place to live and grow. It's home to Aldershot, the home of our local military base and to Steam Mill where fields of crops roll back from the highways. Meadowview is part of the riding, a tight-knit community bordering on Kentville. Its community hall is a centre of local activity and often helps provide services to the region beyond its borders.

Heading northwest, Mr. Speaker, we can discover Billtown, home of a fabulous strawberry supper when the crop is in season and nearby Northville where visitors can take in the heritage farm museum. Lakeville isn't far away. That community rolls up from the Valley floor to the beautiful shelter of the North Mountain. It boasts a lovely, deep freshwater, Silver Lake, a place to fish, swim or skate in the winter and has an active and determined Women's Institute that nurtures community life.

Just down Highway No. 221 is Woodville, a place of orchards, crops and for decades the location of a phenomenal Apple Blossom Sunday chicken barbeque that draws thousands and funds many important community projects. (Interruption) We have great food in the Annapolis Valley. I can tell you that this is an event that runs with military precision, using an army of community volunteers under the genial command of long-time resident George Foote.

Grafton is in the southwest corner of Kings North, home to a growing Mennonite community and mixed farming operations. Grafton is also the place where Murray Salsman

[Page 464]

created Marg's Glad Garden after Marg's death from cancer. Murray conceived the idea of raising and offering gladiolus as a donation to help deal with the often difficult costs of cancer treatment, turning his grief into a service for patients and their families throughout the region.

Mr. Speaker, if I might metaphorically step outside my own riding for a moment, I would like to visit Somerset, a community that borders on Grafton, the place where I was raised. I want to pay tribute to that community and my family who helped me to understand that we are all human beings connected to each other.

[12:00 noon]

Somerset when I was a child, Mr. Speaker, was a community with a three-room school, where a woodworking class might be taught by the teacher's carpenter husband and it was still possible to swim in the deep Cornwallis River without fear for pollution. It was a place then where everyone knew each other and where people understood, to use that African proverb: It takes a whole village to raise a child. I was raised on a family farm with my parents and grandparents, my younger sister and my brother.

My grandfather, Ernest Nauss, ran a small mixed farm and left me with an appreciation for hard work and stewardship of the environment. He understood that it was necessary to look after what we were given and that it is important to leave behind more than you received. My grandmother, Flossie Lydia Frank Nauss, was proud that the Lydia part of her name was after the first Christian woman in Europe. She was an active member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and to my, I must admit, consternation, regularly gave talks on the evils of drink in schools throughout the county.

She used the bus to regularly travel to visit the jail in Kentville to bring comfort, and I expect religion, to any current prisoners. Although we lived off the beaten path, homeless men, homeless troubled men often found their way to our doorstep expecting to be fed and provided with a place to sleep. They were never turned away. Although my grandmother might expect a visitor to take a bath in exchange for a meal. When my grandmother graduated from Grade 10, long before that, she received a book from a teacher, Miss. L.L. Nichols, inscribed with the words, "Strive to live worthily." I think she succeeded in that.

My mother, Grace Nauss Morton, taught adults at Kings County Hospital when that was still an institution in our community. She organized the Sunday School in Somerset and for many years was the leader of a youth group. Not long before she died, I asked my mother how the youth group got started. She told me that had she first led a CGIT group, Canadian Girls in Training, I looked it up on the Internet last night. It was intended for girls only. As a CGIT group evolved, boys in the community began to be a nuisance. They threw pebbles at the windows, they knocked on doors and ran off and other things of the like. Some leaders, I guess, would have called the police but, of course, in those days, who would you have

[Page 465]

called or she might have called the boys' parents to put a stop to the trouble, but my mother, rather typically, took another tack. She invited the boys in to see what was on their minds.

They told her that they were envious of the girls' opportunities to go on outings, to do crafts, to participate in activities. So my mother listened and transformed the CGIT group into what she called the Young People's Group. It endured for 25 years and provided an opportunity for dozens and dozens of adolescents to do interesting things and to grow in their own maturity.

Actually, at our reception after the Speech From the Throne last week, one of our guests who lives in another part of the province, approached me to say that she actually participated in that group 40 years ago

My father, John Morton, approached life with a certain stoicism. Towards the end of his own life, he was told by his physician that he had about six months to live, he returned home from that office visit and mowed the lawn. When I heard that, I recalled the story of the pilgrim who approached the Buddha in his garden. The pilgrim asked him if he knew that if you had one more day to live, what would you do? I'd finish hoeing this row replied the Buddha.

Mr. Speaker, these examples have influenced who I am as the families and communities all over Kings North and throughout Nova Scotia influence each of our citizens. That influence, I'm sure, is at work at Black Rock, where volunteers have been welcoming guests to a monthly breakfast of delicious food and warm conversation. The influence is at work in Sheffield Mills where volunteers pull together for the phenomenon of the Eagle Watch weekends and the upcoming Harvest Fair where I'm scheduled to milk a goat on Saturday. (Laughter)

There are stories to tell, Mr. Speaker, about all the villages and communities that make up the fabric of Kings North. Stories that illustrate Canning, Port Williams, Starrs Point, Canard and Gibson Woods. I could linger on the gingerbread cottages at Huntingtons Point, talk about the revival of Halls Harbour and the wonderful experience of hiking to Cape Split and Scots Bay, or I could talk a little bit more about Scots Bay and ask you to drop in behind Charlie Welton's house and see his mechanical inventions and see that nobody has to wait for General Motors to figure out how to invent an electric car.

We could take a look at Blomidon. The sight of that magnificent cliff, the home of Glooscap, from Highway No. 101 in Avonport, which is in Kings South, always tells those of us from the Valley that we're home. We could also explore Kingsport, Pereaux, Medford, and Delhaven. We could linger forever with thousands of tourists, looking out from the look-off at the Minas Basin, at the vista of farms and villages that stretch breathtakingly for as far as the eye can see.

[Page 466]

We could explore Bennett Bay, Arlington, Cunard and Starrs Point. We could visit Chipman Brook or stop at Baxters Harbour to glory in the 40-mile sunset, or to look across from the Old Wharf Road for a perfect view of Cape Split, but some of these descriptions will have to await another day or, better yet, a day trip to Kings North - maybe for the Pumpkin People activity.

It is possible that I've been presenting an idyllic impression of life in Kings North, and in fact I've wanted to show the wonderful place I have the privilege to represent. I've wanted to thank some of the people who invested so much in our political and community life. I've wanted to speak of the values and influences that have led me to this House. I've wanted to show how proud I am to stand as a member of this government and in support of the plans outlined in the Speech from the Throne.

But of course, all is not well. In Kings North we have roads and bridges to repair. Too many of our citizens - young and old and middle-aged - live with low, inadequate incomes and struggle with choices between food and shelter.

The Cornwallis River is no longer safe for swimming. A significant number of our citizens experience literacy problems that get in the way of opportunities. Our rural communities often feel isolated and without adequate resources. Health care, whether it's the availability of a nursing home bed or access to primary health care services, doesn't always match our needs. We're still overly focused on health services and not thinking enough about prevention.

As I indicated earlier, our agricultural economy is in trouble. Farmers are worried about the high cost of production, the availability of labour, and access to profitable markets. We hold conflicting opinions about agricultural land use versus residential and economic development.

These are some of the issues that concern the people of Kings North. They aren't simple issues with easy solutions. I know that the people of Kings North understand that, but I also know that we have the combination of climate, location, skills, and human spirit that are the foundation of an exciting, prosperous, inclusive future, one that promises better lives - not just for a privileged few, but for everyone in Kings North, for all Nova Scotians.

Several years ago I was in Dallas and took the opportunity to visit the memorial of John Kennedy's assassination at the Book Depository Museum. On the sixth floor there was - probably still is - an audio display, and I recall listening to the words of one of JFK's 1960 campaign speeches. He said, "We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier . . . The New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises - it is a set of challenges."

We, too, face a set of challenges. I'm confident that our government's plan, as outlined in the Speech from the Throne, will address these challenges head-on. I'm also

[Page 467]

confident that the citizens of Kings North are ready to support us and to work with us in the challenging days ahead. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, member, for a very interesting discussion of your riding. Would you be willing to adjourn debate?

MR. MORTON: Mr. Speaker, I adjourn debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Acting Government House Leader.

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, that concludes today's business. I have the honour of announcing the hours for Monday, from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. After regular business, we will have Committee of the Whole House on Supply and begin estimates, concluding with the remaining hours to return to Address and Reply to the Speech from the Throne. With that, I move that the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned until 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

[The House rose at 12:11 p.m.]