The Maritime Link

Laurent Le Pierrès, in his Chronicle Herald editorial on the Maritime Link project, reasoned away many of the concerns around the electricity plan Darrell Dexter signed with then Premier of Newfoundland Danny Williams.

The fact of the matter is that the price of coal has jumped 70 per cent over the past eight years… The only way to change reality is to alter the facts on the ground.

At the moment, the advent of renewables is cumulatively adding one to two per cent annually to power rates. But the cost of doing nothing is not nothing. Clinging to coal is like staying on an escalator; at least with renewables, you hit a plateau.

There are hidden benefits, too. The less NSP spends on foreign coal — $250 million a year as it now stands — the more it invests in the local jobs that go with renewables. The utility’s economic footprint in Nova Scotia will keep growing since it is required by law to hit a target of 40 per cent renewables by 2020.

This will be difficult to do if the plan to import hydro power from Labrador via subsea cable does not proceed. In terms of energy, Muskrat Falls would deliver to Nova Scotia not only the equivalent of one coal-fired unit, but a stable, fixed-cost supply for 35 years.

Charlie Parker was given the opportunity to answer tough questions about the Maritime Link project on CBC Radio recently, including questions written by the Liberal and Tory parties. It’s worth listening to if you have questions about the cost and the benefits of this project.

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The Bees’ Knees – Prizes for Week One

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

During a series of questions about Muskrat Falls by Liberal MLA Andrew Younger, including the cost of energy imports from Hydro-Quebec, the Energy Minister gave a nod to the NDP’s new commercial ‘Ask Newfoundlanders’ about the Liberal’s pledge to buy power needed to meet renewable energy targets from the 4th largest energy utility in the world.

Charlie Parker: Mr. Speaker, I guess the honourable member probably has a better direct line to Hydro-Québec than others would have.

The quip wins Pictou West MLA Charlie Parker this week’s Killer Bee prize.

Bumble Bee

When the NDP recently announced they would be introducing tougher animal care laws, the SPCA and others applauded them. But not everyone cheered. The Liberal Caucus Office’s Director of Communication took to Twitter say legislation is not needed to deal with those who abuse animals. Disturbingly, the staffer went on to say the NDP was “screwing the pooch” on the issue, a bad choice of phrase considering the topic.

In Question Period, Kings West Liberal MLA Leo Glavine was more careful in his choice of words when questioning of NDP Agriculture Minister John MacDonell. However, Glavine too said legislation wasn’t needed.

This misstep by the Liberals further illustrates a fog of negativity that seems to have blinded that party. Just because you are the Official Opposition, does not mean you need to oppose everything.

Honey Bee

While most observers said the buzz words from Darrell Dexter’s Speech From The Throne last week were “turning the corner”, we preferred the repeated phrase “for the first time”. Gathered together in one speech, the NDP have quite a record of “firsts”.

For such a positive speech, without even a modest attack on the opposition, Darrell Dexter wins this week’s Honey Bee prize.

Honey Bee #2

Normally, we give a Drone of the Week award, but this week in the Legislature was quite spirited, with little nonsense. And MLA Chris d’Entremont had his best week in years – we felt he was also deserving of a Honey Bee prize.

We’ve posted d’Entremont’s questions about the Liberal trust fund here, but he showed he is more than willing to hit back against Stephen McNeil on policies too:

Chris d’Entremont: You know, the Liberals take the cake. While the Liberal Leader has no original ideas, only they could take a failed idea from one province and make it the centrepiece of their energy policy. In fact, it takes a special kind of talent to borrow a policy from another place that abandoned it because it was proven to drive up rates and impede the move to cleaner energy at the same time.

While we think the Conservatives’ promise to freeze rates hard to believe (how much will that cost the government?), d’Entremont is right to raise concerns about the Liberal’s commercial-sized plan on energy.

34 Nova Scotia Firsts

Darrell Dexter’s introductory speech to the new session of the legislature provided a good list of Nova Scotian firsts. Presented all together, they show how well the NDP have done on a variety of fronts.

We have cut his speech down to this list of firsts, and divided it into categories.

NDP Health Minister Dave Wilson

NDP Health Minister Dave Wilson

Nova Scotia Firsts – Health

  • Canada’s first Emergency Department standards
  • Nova Scotia’s Collaborative Emergency Centres – CECs – a national first, greatly minimized emergency room closures while providing same-day or next-day appointments for medical care.
  • for the first time ever, Nova Scotia’s highly skilled paramedics are delivering clot-busting drugs that save lives before a patient reaches the hospital.
  • Canada’s first-ever mobile emergency department will open this year as part of the New Waterford CEC.
  • Nova Scotia’s program of paramedics providing urgent care in nursing homes is another Canadian first, providing better care sooner without a stressful trip to Emergency.
  • for the first time, there is a strategy with funded action to provide real care and understanding to Nova Scotians with mental health issues and addictions.
  • Nova Scotia is the first province to adopt a physician resource plan. For the next 10 years it will influence decision making to make sure Nova Scotians have the doctors they need in the right place. The plan’s first step is the new ER coverage program, which matches doctors with ERs that would otherwise close.
NDP Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald

NDP Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald

Nova Scotia Firsts – Jobs and the Economy

  • the first-ever wide-ranging budget consultation, Back to Balance
  • for the first time in Nova Scotia, my government has taken action to ensure the protection of temporary foreign workers from exploitation.
  • the first province to sign a memorandum of understanding with the federal government that formalizes and strengthens the co-operative working relationship between Nova Scotia and Canada regarding consultation with the Mi’kmaq.
  • for the first time ever, Nova Scotia has a five-year roads plan, updated annually so citizens can see for themselves the immediate, mid-term, and long-term plans.
  • Nova Scotia’s first-ever flood mitigation plan is in development.
  • my government will soon announce Nova Scotia’s first-ever sustainable transportation strategy.

    NDP Culture Minister Leonard Preyra

    NDP Culture Minister Leonard Preyra

  • for the first time ever in Nova Scotia, my government will provide a steady and reliable source of funding to support the wealth of talent in our cultural sectors.
  • Nova Scotia will become the first Canadian jurisdiction to offer Social Impact Bonds, encouraging investors to support innovative, socially responsible projects by charitable and non-governmental organizations.
  • in partnership with universities and the private sector, my government will launch Nova Scotia’s first Innovation Summit to spur commercialization of research and move Nova Scotia into a leadership position as a competitive and innovative force in the global economy.
  • my government developed Nova Scotia’s first comprehensive immigration strategy. Last year, for the first time, Nova Scotia exceeded expectations and surpassed its immigration targets. As a result of this success, the federal government has increased Nova Scotia’s allocation under the immigrant nominee program by 20 per cent.
  • my government, in partnership with the farm community, is undertaking the first ten-year strategy for agriculture, called Homegrown Success.

    NDP Labour Minister Frank Corbett

    NDP Labour Minister Frank Corbett

  • to show clearly that provincial departments and agencies serve all of the people, my government now locates new and consolidated departments and agencies outside the Halifax area. This is the first time ever for this fairer policy.
  • for the first time Careers Nova Scotia centres are able to provide increased access to career training and job-search opportunities across the province, ensuring that more Nova Scotians have the right skills for good jobs.
  • for the first time, Nova Scotian students can get academic credit for real-world, community-based experience.
  • as outlined in Nova Scotia’s first aquaculture strategy, my government will develop comprehensive regulations and set the highest standards for fairness, efficiency, and environmental safeguards in Nova Scotia aquaculture.

Nova Scotia Firsts – Energy

  • NDP Energy Minister Charlie Parker

    NDP Energy Minister Charlie Parker

    for the first time, local and community-owned renewable power projects are financially feasible and viable as a result of Nova Scotia’s Community Feed-In Tariff Program, COMFIT. COMFIT has been hailed as a global first and a model for other nations.

  • my government was the first in North America to place a firm cap on greenhouse gas emissions from power generation, making Nova Scotia a global leader in environmental responsibility.
  • for the first time in history, Nova Scotians can secure a power supply that comes with a 35-year guarantee of price stability.
  • Nova Scotia and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador are undertaking the single greatest step in Atlantic Canada’s regional co-operation: the Muskrat Falls development and the associated Maritime Link. All four Atlantic Provinces and the federal government have supported this environmentally progressive project, which will transform basic elements of our regional economy while ensuring the lowest, fairest power rates.

    NDP Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau

    NDP Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau

  • this is the first time ever that two Atlantic Provinces have co-operated in this way to stand proud and improve the destiny of this region for generations to come, by making Atlantic Canada much more of a contributor to Canada’s prosperity and progress.
  • Nova Scotia was the first government in North America to mandate LED street lighting.
  • for the first time ever, Nova Scotia law protects power-rate payers from the cost of high corporate salaries and bonuses

Nova Scotia Firsts – Social Justice

  • Nova Scotia’s first Domestic Violence Action Plan, developed in partnership with dozens of community-based groups, is now being implemented. Nova Scotia’s first domestic violence court, located in Sydney, is part of the action plan.
  • Nova Scotia’s Affordable Living Tax Credit and Poverty Reduction Tax Credit are the first significant new investments in living memory that reduce poverty and help lower income Nova Scotians make ends meet
  • Nova Scotia will soon have its first-ever housing strategy.

    NDP Education Minister Ramona Jennex

    NDP Education Minister Ramona Jennex

  • Nova Scotia’s first ever action plan to address bullying and cyberbullying is now underway across the province, backed up with new laws to deal with behaviour that can have tragic results whether it occurs in person or on-line.
  • starting to turn the corner must mean a better start for Nova Scotian children, so that from the first months of their lives they have every opportunity for success. My government is establishing a Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, to better coordinate and improve the many ways that the province supports infants, young children, and their families in the first years of life.

The Bees’ Knees – Prizes for Week 7

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 NDP’s law that reduces the HST one point in 2014 and another point in 2015 seems to have confounded the Conservatives. Jamie Baillie has said often that if he is ever elected Premier, he would reduce the HST. When given the opportunity to vote on the legislation that will do so, his Conservatives called for a recorded vote so that the public would know who voted to reduce the HST and who didn’t. The stumble? Baillie and the Conservatives didn’t actually show up and vote, leaving only NDP and Liberal MLAs to vote and winning Jamie Baillie this week’s Bumble Bee prize for the error prone.

Killer Bee:

Liberal MLA Michel Samson was quick to point out the Conservatives shirked their democratic responsibility, winning this week’s Killer Bee prize:

Michel Samson: We all know that the recorded vote on the Financial Measures (2012) Bill was requested by the Progressive Conservative caucus under the leadership of the Leader of their caucus. I believe that their not even showing up for that vote is certainly a signature of what leadership we could expect from the Progressive Conservative caucus after that. (Interruptions)

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

When NDP MLAs introduce private member bills at the request of their communities, you can be sure that a Conservative MLA will declare a bill meaningless and accuse the government of just trying to pad their legislative stats. It’s a silly line that the Tory Caucus should retire. MLA Chuck Porter wins this week’s Drone of the Week prize for dismissing a bill introduced for the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival as unimportant. As Kings North MLA Jim Morton showed, it’s important to the festival, who pointed out that previous to his bill, the board would need to introduce legislation just to update their by-laws.

Chuck Porter: I’m glad to have an opportunity to speak to the two sentences that are in this bill this morning. You know, I think it’s fine that the honourable member puts forward a bill to make a rather simple change, and we’ve seen that go through the House. I mean it’s just a matter of adding to the number of bills over there – I think the session has been pretty limited on the value of what has been in the bills over there actually.

Jim Morton: I’m very happy to rise and just say a few words about the bill. I must say I was a little disappointed to hear the member for Hants West minimize the importance of this bill. Sometimes a very few words can matter a whole lot. Of course, the member for Hants West can probably be excused for not knowing that the Apple Blossom Festival has been guided by an Act of this Legislature since 1935.

Honey Bee:

On the heels of the NDP’s Natural Resources Strategy comes Bill 87, the Good Forestry Management on Crown Land Act. Pictou East MLA and Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker explained the changes needed to improve both the economic and environmental feasibility of the forestry sector, winning this week’s Honey Bee prize for good work.

Charlie Parker: The amendments help address the Natural Resources Strategy’s goal of advancing sustainable forestry management in the province. The proposed amendments stem from the message which the province heard loud and clear from Nova Scotians during the extensive consultations that led up to the Natural Resources Strategy…

The agreement states the terms and the conditions by which a forestry company may operate on Crown land. Currently there’s no legislative authority that allows government to enter into long-term licence agreements with forestry companies. Only short-term agreements are currently allowed under the Crown Lands Act…

Long-term agreements, we believe, are important. They are important for long-term planning and sustainable forestry management, both for government, which plans and oversees management of our forests, and for the forestry companies, which are integral to that management. The short-term agreements were not allowing enough time for good planning… Amending the Crown Lands Act will benefit Nova Scotians by giving government the control, through the terms and conditions of long-term forestry agreements, to manage and allocate Crown timber in the best possible manner.