Each week the Legislature is in session we’ll give out four prizes for the best and worst moments, as recorded in Hansard.
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 late debate last week, NDP MLA Jim Boudreau, Conservative MLA Eddie Orrell and Liberal MLA Keith Colwell spoke on Ships Start Here and the opportunity for Nova Scotia winning the federal bid will have on our economy. Well, actually, Boudreau and Orrell spoke about this historic opportunity – Colwell used his time to practice the Politics of Negativity and do his part to try to stifle optimism.
The real truth about this program, as the Premier said himself the other day, is that Irving Shipyard was awarded the right to negotiate – right to negotiate. The Irving Shipyard doesn’t have this contract yet… If you think you can get suppliers in Nova Scotia qualified in time to do this contract, you don’t know anything about manufacturing… It’s a really complex process and the government hasn’t talked about that, they talk about the community colleges. Community colleges don’t know anything about getting quality assurance for military contracts… The government has to understand this – and they’re probably going to run election campaigns saying they’ve got this wonderful job here, all these jobs for Nova Scotians, but the reality is that it’s not going to happen the way they’re saying it is – hopefully, hopefully. And I’m still not sure.
In addition to being boring, Colwell misunderstands the potential for Nova Scotia’s manufacturing. When the Halifax Shipyard builds ships, it does benefit Nova Scotian suppliers. It just does. Here’s Ships Start Here with some stats to counter Colwell’s negativity:
In 2009 and 2010, Irving Shipbuilding worked with 630 Nova Scotia suppliers
37 at more than $1 million
21 at $500K-$1 million
78 at $100-$500,000
Congratulations Keith, you may be upset at the Ships Start Here win, but you can console yourself with the Drone of the Week prize.
During Question Period, an opposition MLA can ask a Minister a question, and then two follow-up questions. The problem is, if you stick to your script and don’t pay attention to the answers, you look pretty foolish. Chuck Porter bumbled this week, asking the same question three times, perhaps surprised and confused he received the answer after just one. Here’s the exchange that wins Chuck Porter the Bumble Bee prize:
Chuck Porter: Will the Premier clearly state when the five-year plan – with the Renfrew Road paving item on it – was approved by Cabinet under his leadership?
Premier Dexter: Well, Mr. Speaker, again, I have no idea what they spent their time doing when they were in government but we did not bring a road-paving plan to the Cabinet. It wouldn’t because the money is allocated under the budget. You get an opportunity to question that fully during estimates. I have no idea why they would waste the time of Cabinet with such a thing.
Chuck Porter: Did the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations declare a conflict between his public duties and his personal affairs and absent himself from discussions about the Renfrew Road when the decisions were being made where to pave?
Premier Dexter: Mr. Speaker, I always said that it didn’t come to Cabinet so there were no discussions to be had.
Chuck Porter: Where were all the steps that the Premier took to make sure that the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations was not at Cabinet and not involved in any discussion that related to the paving of the Renfrew Road?
Premier Dexter: I’ll reiterate it for the member. There were no discussions at Cabinet about this matter whatsoever, so there was nothing that the minister had absented himself from. There was a road-paving plan that was developed by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. They are the ones that are in charge of it. We published it so that you could see it in advance, which is, in our view, exactly the appropriate way for things to be done. I don’t know how they did it in the past.
On the subject of roads, Premier Dexter wins the Killer Bee prize for the quote with the most sting. After Conservative Chuck Porter suggested the NDP had not taken the politics out of paving, the Premier called Porter on his party’s history political paving:
We pave roads that need to be paved… When we were elected we promised to take politics out of paving. That’s what we’ve done. We’ve published, publicly, the list of roads that we intend to pave, unlike the Progressive Conservative Party. I want to table for you a story that ran during the 2009 election in which the member for Hants West, who was campaigning at the time said, “I’ve proven, given that they call me ‘Cheque Porter,’ that I don’t have to be in cabinet to deliver in my constituency.” That’s how they used to do it, “Cheque” Porter.
MLAs are the people we elect to give careful thought to legislation, policy and the direction of the province. It was refreshing to see Michel Samson follow Jamie Baillie on the subject of the Electoral Boundaries Commission, which will redefine the constituencies in Nova Scotia using the Federal Government’s census data. While Baillie tried to make political hay out of cotton, Samson first reminded Baillie of his party’s history on the issue, and then talked about his experience with the last boundary review and then defending the well-respected Nova Scotians who will sit on the Commission, finishing with an argument to protect communities of interest and supporting the electoral boundaries resolution. For standing up for what he really believes instead of pretending to have a problem with a sound resolution, Samson wins this week’s Honey Bee Prize.
I have to say I found it slightly bizarre to see the apparent tactics of the Progressive Conservative caucus as it relates to this specific resolution. There seems to be a theme that’s developing with members of the Progressive Conservative Party somehow wanting government to be run differently than how they ran it for 10 years in this province. I have to say it’s not every day I agree with my good friend the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, but I found his response to the member for Victoria-The Lakes, who talked about the Keltic Lodge falling apart, amusing. I think the minister indicated that unless it started falling apart in the last two years, somebody else was in government for the previous 10 years and failed to make investments in that facility…
…This [Electoral Boundary Review] process is not perfect. There’s no real manual that tells you how to do this in a perfect fashion, but our goal is to try to make sure that while it may not be perfect, Nova Scotians will have seen this process as being open, transparent, democratic and not in any way favouring one political party over another. We want to do everything we can to make sure there is equality of vote, looking at some of our special considerations here in Nova Scotia and doing everything we can, as legislators, not only to make sure that Nova Scotians have good representation but to make sure Nova Scotians get out, vote, and feel part of their constituencies, and want to play an active role in the democracy that we have here in Nova Scotia.