The Bee’s Knees – Prizes for Week 4

Each week the Legislature is in session we’ll give out four prizes for the best and worst moments, as recorded in Hansard.

Bumble Bee:

When an MLA, in Question Period, throws a pitch at a Minister, it might be a fastball, a curveball or an occasional softball. Last week Kelly Regan played tee-ball. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report showing that from 2003 to 2009 progress on reducing child poverty stalled, and Regan wanted to know if the government cared. The first problem with the question? The NDP was elected in 2009, the year the study’s data ended. The second problem? The NDP had done a lot to address the issue in its first two years. The third problem with the question? The Liberals has voted against all the NDP measures to reduce child poverty. Bedford Liberal MLA Kelly Regan wins this week’s Bumble Bee Prize.

Killer Bee:

Jamie Baillie had a rough week. His one issue, a stand against First Contract Arbitration legislation, wasn’t resonating with the public. And then the Liberals, normally following the Conservatives on workers’ issues, gave up on the Tories stalling tactics causing Baillie’s hoist motion to fail. We’ll give him some credit though, for allowing the Premier to point out who’s creating rural jobs, and who’s voting against them, winning Darrell Dexter the week’s best quote:

Jamie Baillie: Mr. Speaker, over the last few days the Premier has repeatedly denied that there is a crisis in rural Nova Scotia. That is very distressing, but there is some hope because denial can be the first step on the road to recovery.

Premier Dexter: Mr. Speaker, I always tell people admitting you’re a Tory is the first step on the road to recovery. (Laughter) What I will do is, I will table for the honourable member the press release with respect to the $8.8 million investment that we made in Irving Shipbuilding’s ship repair unit in Shelburne, one that was matched by an additional $16 million by Irving themselves, one that is leading to good jobs in rural Nova Scotia. What’s more, Mr. Speaker, I would point out that the Opposition voted against that investment.

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

The Conservative’s hoist motion to delay the passage of First Contract Arbitration Legislation meant that each MLA could stand up and speak for an hour, repeating their speeches from the previous days. It’s a delaying tactic, and a standard part of our parliamentary tradition. But it does create terrible theatre. Here’s Allan MacMaster, winner of he Drone of the Week Prize for mangled metaphors.

Then you are showing real leadership, where you are maybe taking the company out of the hands of some – maybe it’s a large, private employer – and you are really having to deal with the same things that they have been having to deal with, and the same pressures. Then all the talk goes out the window, then the rubber hits the road, then the numbers don’t lie and then there’s an opportunity to turn that business around…

If you want to carry the big stick, why not walk the walk, as they say. I would love to see it and I say that in good spirit, because there’s always opportunity. If you really want to make a difference, instead of coming at it from a piece of legislation like this and saying, well, we’re not going to do the work, we’re just going to scrape our little piece out of whoever is doing the work, that’s not leadership.

I think we’ve all received that e-mail at one time or another about the ant and the centipede or something – it doesn’t really matter – but it was talking about how one worked hard all year to collect the provisions for the winter and the other did nothing towards that but wanted a fair share of it when the winter came…

So with those remarks, I’m going to start to wind down. I have to have another drink of water, I’m getting a bit parched, but I say that in good spirit because, you know, we’ll come and go from here. I think the average life of a politician is seven years.

Honey Bee:

During Opposition Days in the Legislature, MLAs debate topics like this:

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly remind the Government that they cannot continue to tax Nova Scotians into submission and strongly urge them to end their campaign of higher taxes, increasing power rates, and higher prices for gasoline.

Now, we’d expect anti-tax, anti-government rhetoric to come from the Conservatives. What’s sad about the state of Nova Scotia politics is that this motion came from a Liberal, Geoff MacLellan.

Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MLA Gary Burrill’s measured response, using refreshingly big words, was excellent, winning him the Honey Bee Prize for good work:

Gary Burrill: Their primary approach to the serious present difficulties would be simply to cut taxation, which means, of course, to cut hence public spending thereby stifling the very demand, the absence of which is the thin edge of the recessionary wedge to start with. That is to say, in the situation in which we find ourselves, what is required is not less taxation. What is required in Nova Scotia is intelligent taxation. When I say intelligent taxation, I’m not speaking about a theoretical matter or about an abstraction, I’m thinking about quite specific things.

For example, I’m thinking about the addition in 2010 of a new income tax bracket for those with incomes in excess of $150,000 by means of which the government was put in a position, financially, where it was able to cease provincial taxation on all seniors receiving the supplement thereby stimulating economic demand. (Applause) When speaking about intelligent taxation, about the unique, made-in-Nova Scotia manner in which relative to the 2 per cent increase in the HST in which the low-income offset for that was designed and implemented, what we call the Affordable Living Tax Credit, by means of which, at that time, there was a net transfer of income to those households with an income under $34,000 thereby again stimulating demand, which is what you need to do in a recessionary situation. None of this comes into view at all through the fog of negativity that we have in this resolution.

Secondly, I wish to state my agreement with the introductory clause of the third “whereas” of this resolution, which reads as follows: “Whereas the NDP promised to make life better. . .” This clause brings into view the question of course, better than what? The answer I propose to this is as follows: better than the type of government that has been suggested this week in the contributions of the Opposition Parties.

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