Each week the Legislature is in session we’ll give out four prizes for the best and worst moments, as recorded in Hansard.
A week after ‘Cheque’ Porter bumbled his way through the Tories’ odd narrative on road paving, Argyle MLA Chris D’Entremont stepped in, unknowingly setting up the Killer Bee Prize for Premier Dexter. D’Entremont asked about a road paving project in Lunenburg West where an NDP MLA lives, alleging impropriety, but the Premier swatted it away, tabling a letter from a ex-Tory MLA who had promised the road would be paved in 2008.
The gallery at Province House is not often moved to laughter. When that happens, it’s a good sign the Killer Bee Prize has been awarded.
Premier Dexter: For the information of the member opposite, I’ll table for him a letter from his former colleague, the Honourable Carolyn Bolivar-Getson, committing to the paving of that road. (Laughter)
The goal of Question Period is for Opposition MLAs to unveil a piece of information that journalists will find worthy of writing a story on. Current Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil asked a question and received an answer (bolded below) that could prove to be a very interesting story:
Stephen McNeil: Recently government is tendering for an expensive asphalt plant. My question to the minister is, if we do not know that the chip sealing has been in the best interests of Nova Scotia from a financial point of view, why are we ordering a chip-seal plant?
Bill Estabrooks: Further to the detail that was asked in the first question, I think it’s appropriate to be aware of the fact that in 2009 it was $91,000 per kilometre when it was chip sealing and it’s now at $40,000 in 2011, which means we saved over $1 million.
There are certain areas of this province where there was not enough competitive bidding, in our opinion. That lack of competitive bidding meant that the way we should be looking at this process is that perhaps we should have some of our own staff involved, whether it’s chip sealing or the asphalt plant – a mobile asphalt plant.
I want the member opposite to know – and I’m certainly not going to break the confidence of the people in this House, whether in your caucus or in this caucus – I’ve been asked many times, when you get that mobile asphalt plant up and operating, Mr. Minister, you could move it to my constituency and leave it there. They’re not all from this side of the House. (Applause)
So, which members of the Opposition are saying in public that they are against this asphalt plant, but lobbying Bill Estabrooks in private for that plant to go in their constituency?
The heavy-lifting in Question Period was all done by Michel Samson this week as he wins the Honey Bee Prize for good work for the second week in a row.
His solid question about the government’s response to Harper Government’s Justice bill, Bill C-10, his somewhat conspiracy-theory-themed but still interesting winter maintenance budget question, and his first questions as critic on fisheries and aquaculture get the attention of journalists.
Drone of the Week
1 drone noun \drōn\
a stingless bee that does not gather nectar or pollen
2 drone intransitive verb \drōn\
to talk in a persistently dull or monotonous tone
In Question Period last week, and the week before, Liberal MLA Diana Whalen asked, and re-asked, and three-asked NDP Finance Minister Graham Steele when he would revise the economic growth targets for this province.
Whalen is bright. Why her handlers are having her ask these beginner question in economics over and over again is unknown. She deserves better.
Here are a few examples of her softball pitches to Steele and how he hits them out of the park.
Diana Whalen: My question to the Minister of Finance is, is the minister going to revise the government’s projections for economic growth downward from the current 1.9 per cent to better reflect the updated economic facts?
Graham Steele: Mr. Speaker, of course the Department of Finance is looking very carefully at the international and national scene. Things are very volatile. Just in the last week, for example, we can have an apparent bond deal in Greece which sends markets up, and then a couple of days later, with the announcement of a referendum, we have the markets heading in the other direction because of the fear the bond deal is falling apart.
In this very volatile environment, we’re watching things very carefully, and if we believe that an adjustment to our forecast is warranted we will be making that adjustment at the time of the next forecast update, which is currently projected to be around the middle of December.
Diana Whalen: His continued refusal to heed their warnings puts the province at risk.My question to the minister is, why does the minister continue to ignore the advice of experts and when will he publicly release the true picture, sooner than the next quarterly review?
Graham Steele: In the normal course, our next forecast update will be around the middle of December, and that is when we will be indicating whether – given national and international conditions – a revision to our growth forecasts is warranted.
We are doing exactly the same thing that every Liberal Government has done before us and every Progressive Conservative Government has done before us, and I am surprised that the Liberal Party would be calling on us to make what you can only call a knee-jerk reaction in such a difficult and volatile environment.
Diana Whalen: When will the Minister of Finance wake up to the economic realities around him and revisit the growth forecasts?
Graham Steele: Mr. Speaker, the member has asked the same question that she asked last week and the answer, of course, is the same. We will be issuing a forecast update before the end of December.
Diana Whalen: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, what will it take for this minister to react to the changing economic conditions and update his growth targets to reflect changing economic realities?
Graham Steele: Mr. Speaker, as I said, I will release a budget forecast update before the end of December. It will incorporate all of the latest economic information.