The Bees’ Knees – Prizes for Week Six

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

Killer Bee

The last two weeks the Legislature is in session are always the most acrimonious. Lunenburg West NDP MLA Gary Ramey, after constant interruptions during a speech, offered this quote, which was a strong theme of the fall session.

Gary Ramey: Our NDP Government will drag them, the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives, kicking and screaming into a brighter future and we will leave it to them to explain why they want to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution, and why they do not want to be part of growth and progress. That’s what they’ll have to explain at some point.

Soon, the press will begin the ask how the opposition would create jobs, when they speak out against nearly every investment in nearly every community. Ramey wins the Killer Bee prize for the week.

Bumble Bee

Alfie MacLeod wins the week’s Bumble Bee prize for the error prone for forgetting he was on the governing side just three and a half years ago. Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald set him straight:

Alfie MacLeod: It’s obvious this Minister of Finance is an expert at the shell game, because what they give with one hand they take away with the other hand.

Maureen MacDonald: You really do have to laugh when a member of the PC caucus has the audacity to stand up on the floor of this Legislature and talk with righteous indignation about debt. That Party left debt to subsequent governments of any political stripe that cost close to $1 billion annually to service in the Province of Nova Scotia. The reason why we see programs under pressure – our health care, our education, and other programs – is because of the spectacular mismanagement of previous governments, particularly the former Rodney MacDonald Government.

Honey Bee

Liberal MLA Michel Samson and NDP MLA Sterling Belliveau share the Honey Bee prize for talking about an issue rarely raised in the Legislature – our lobster industry.

Michel Samson: What efforts is the minister making to ensure lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia receive the best possible price for their catch?

Sterling Belliveau: We have been doing a considerable amount. We have been working with the industry – not only with the Lobster Council of Canada, who has an initiative in marketing and branding lobsters. I am very proud of that, and we are also working on international markets, yes there are opportunities there but we are also working with the industry. We stood up for the independent fishermen on owner/operator, we stood up on protection of Georges Bank, and we’ll stand up on the fishing industry, the lobster industry of Nova Scotia.

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

Liberal Glace Bay MLA Geoff MacLellan, in a debate on the rural economy, talked about employment in Cape Breton, and criticized the deal to try to save Bowater in Queens County. The problem? MacLellan forgot the Liberals voted in favour of the Bowater deal, and were against the deal to save Cape Breton jobs at NewPage.

The Bees’ Knees – Prizes for Week 8

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:

The federal Conservative cuts to Parks Canada (Fortress of Louisburg in particular) saw Pam Birdsall and Manning MacDonald sticking up for Nova Scotia. But When Alfie MacLeod stepped up for the Conservatives, he chose to protect his Harper cousins in attempting to adjourn debate. He was defeated.  Alfie MacLeod wins the last Bumble Bee award of the session for trying, and failing, to limit debate.

Killer Bee:

In response to MacLeod’s remarks defending the Harper government, Pictou East MLA Clarrie MacKinnon’s opening stirred up a hornet’s nest in the opposition benches:

Clarrie MacKinnon: I really didn’t intend to speak on this but what really got me upset was my good friend, the member for Cape Breton West. I lived in that constituency, I know him well, I like him a lot but I can’t believe that he is an apologist for the Harper Government, I just can’t believe it. That is what he was doing in his remarks, he was saying that there were no job losses. (Interruptions)

The Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member for Pictou East has the floor.

Clarrie MacKinnon: Instead of taking the Harper Government to task for the cuts, he tried to transfer the blame to the provincial minister responsible for tourism and that is not fair. I used to think there were some Conservatives who were progressive. I don’t think there is anything such as a Progressive Conservative any more. (Interruptions)

The last Killer Bee prize of the session goes to MacKinnon for saying out loud what so many voters have begun to wonder.

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

Again and again, Conservative MLAs make themselves red-in-the-face with thoughts of labour voices finally getting a seat at the decision-making table. This week, Victoria-The-Lakes MLA Keith Bain, wins the Drone of the Week prize for criticizing labour advocates Linda Power and Ray Larkin. Governments have to work with all communities, including Labour, or have to work through some very tiring labour pains.

Honey Bee:

In a debate on Community Access Program (CAP) sites, Kings North MLA Jim Morton reminded Nova Scotians of the importance of the program the federal Conservatives have just cut, and winning the final Honey Bee prize of the legislative session.

Late in the evening of Thursday, April 5th, you will remember – as all my colleagues in this House will remember – that was the evening before a long weekend that began with Good Friday – The federal government sent a letter to CAP site officials across the country advising them that the program, which had been in place for more than 10 years, would be discontinued.

I think that decision tends to fail to recognize the value of those Community Access Program sites. These are valuable community resources. They contribute to economic development by giving everyone in the community access to information. They’re an important social resource, because they allow people to connect with family and friends, to make contact with the services they need throughout the community, and in fact, throughout the world.

In many cases what they’ve done is help introduce older Nova Scotians, in particular, to the world of computer technology and help them become more comfortable with a modern means of being in touch with each other. They’ve certainly created a means of access for economically disadvantaged or poor Nova Scotians, for those people who may be temporarily poor because they’re unemployed and don’t have the means to provide themselves with that kind of computer access. Those people who are receiving income assistance, or who maybe are living on minimum wage, have found a Community Access Centre as one of the important ways of staying in touch with the wider world.

There were 500,000 hours of CAP site Internet time logged in the fiscal year that just ended. The usage numbers over the years since 1995, when the program was implemented, have either remained stable or escalated. There has been no indication that the interest in this program has diminished.

The Bees’ Knees – Prizes for Week 6

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:

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).

Killer Bee:

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)

Honey Bee:

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.