Each week the Legislature is in session we’ll give out four prizes for the best and worst moments, as recorded in Hansard.
A point of order raised by Liberal Andrew Younger received a thorough smack-down by Speaker Gordie Gosse this week, winning Younger this week’s Bumble Bee prize for the error prone.
Gordie Gosse: The member for Dartmouth East (Younger) suggested that because the Department of Finance “. . . sets the estimates for all other departments . . .”, in his words, questions can be asked of the Minister of Finance in Question Period with respect to all departments of government.
I have had research carried out by the Clerk’s Office and I am advised that nothing could be found to support such a proposition…
At this point I would like to caution all members that while I am generally not inclined to intervene on the subject matter of questions asked by members, I think there have been some cases lately of questions that have begun to cross the line into becoming unparliamentary.
We appreciate the work Gosse is doing to create the right tone in the legislature. During Question Period, Opposition MLAs ask Ministers about their Departments, not whether they ate three-day old macaroni (an actual question from last week’s Question Period).
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
We don’t know if Alfie MacLeod will run again or retire when next year’s election is called, but his short memory when it comes to his Conservative government’s advertising make for softball questions for the government. Government ads are government ads, not political ads. Alfie MacLeod wins this week’s Drone of the Week prize.
Alfie MacLeod: When will the Minister of Communications Nova Scotia stop trying to hoodwink Nova Scotians with their own money and put an end to the NDP propaganda plan?
Frank Corbett: Let’s start with a quote then I’ll delve in, a quote from the member for Argyle (Chris D’Entremont), “I don’t think government as a whole does a good job of (promotion). Not enough Nova Scotians know what kind of programs are out there. . . I don’t think we spend enough time explaining or advertising or getting those programs out there.” I will table that, Mr. Speaker.
They go on about the amount of money we spend. It’s 27 per cent less (than the Conservatives spent).
As NDP bill after NDP bill moved from Second Reading to Law Amendments on Monday with little comment from the opposition, NDP MLA Howard Epstein opened his remarks on the Community Easements Act with a quip designed to jolt the opposition benches back to attention and won this week’s Killer Bee prize for the cheeky:
Howard Epstein: What an interesting and surprising afternoon it has been. I don’t know if I can remember when we saw so many government bills go through so quickly in such a short time. I’m not sure if this is because the Opposition has decided that they want to set records and they thought they’ve found themselves in a race or whether, surprisingly, they have suddenly found themselves in agreement with the government’s agenda. (Interruptions)
Winning his second prize this week, Howard Epstein’s comments on the Community Easements Act did everything a government’s MLA should do. He explained the bill the opposition MLAs who don’t understand the law, and explained to the journalists watching why the bill is newsworthy. Howard wins this week’s Honey Bee prize for good work. Read on. This is a good bill, and worth your time.
Howard Epstein: Perhaps I’ll just jump immediately to the point that the honourable member for Dartmouth East (Andrew Younger) raised a moment ago, since he seemed particularly focused on the issue of whether the legislation is necessary at all. He seemed to be under the impression that easements of exactly the kind that are being provided for in this bill are able to be established through the existing legal regime, essentially through contractual arrangements… I want to say to the member that he should really be aware that the problem of easements is a complex area of law…
It’s very easy to put your foot amiss when it comes to the problem of who is entitled to a valid legal easement. That’s why it is that it makes sense to have a clear statutory framework that engages with this issue. It’s why it is that it makes sense that if we are interested in establishing community easements that we have a bill that resolves any of these legal questions. The whole point is to avoid the possibility of lawsuits…
Even if you could imagine a set of circumstances in which the community members were able to win such a lawsuit and establish a right of way, the owner will not have been compensated. The owner won’t have been paid anything. If a long-standing usage emerges and can be proven, the inhibition on the original owner’s land arises and has been established through court action, but no payment is made.
What we’ve done here is fashion a piece of legislation that provides the opportunity for individuals and groups and communities to negotiate with each other a financial arrangement designed to achieve what the group sees as a desirable result and which becomes acceptable to the owner of the land. We need a legal framework in order to accomplish that…
We’re finding that now it’s still a robust, modern tool that we can reinvent without the complexities of triggering possible lawsuits. That’s what this bill does, that’s what the minister outlined when he explained to us what the bill was designed to do.
We can think of other regimes that are in place. In the United Kingdom there are what are called “right to roam” laws… No Canadian province has that… These have been in place for about five or six years now and essentially it allows non-owners to walk up and down, all over the coast of the United Kingdom and to walk across paths that go across the land of other people. They can’t light fires and they can’t interfere with crops and they can’t come too close to the home of someone, but if there’s open land, there’s a legislated right to roam…
We are beginning to engage with what are community interests and one of the ways we are engaging with community interests is this bill. So I’m very proud to say that, after looking at it, we have found a way to follow through on a specific promise that was made by the government and to do so in a very innovative way. I look forward to the opportunity to vote for it.