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.

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The Bee’s 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.

Killer Bee:

Just as when Tories in Nova Scotia talk about jobs creation, debt repayment or equality, there is a queer sense of contradiction when they talk about Nova Scotia Power. Halifax MLA Howard Epstein calls them on this, with style, winning Week 6’s Killer Bee prize:

Howard Epstein: The age of miracles is upon us. Madam Speaker, let history take note that on a quiet Wednesday in December 2011, suddenly the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia has taken note of two very important social issues and facts. First, they have suddenly become aware of the problem of social inequality as measured by the extreme differences in pay between CEOs and average workers and, second, they have also become aware of the fact that 20 years ago when they privatized Nova Scotia Power, there were certain consequences that were negative for the ratepayers of Nova Scotia.

An Honourable Member: Well the Apocalypse is here.

Howard Epstein: Kill the fatted calf, the prodigal son has returned.

Bumble Bee:

The Liberals aren’t competitive on the South Shore. Liberal Manning MacDonald made headlines when he helped to ensure they won’t be in the next election either, calling the Bowater deal “nothing more than a political investment to save seats in Queens County”, and the industry “a dinosaur” in “a product that has reached the end of its life-cycle.” We disagree.

Liberal Manning MacDonald also forgot there was a paper mill in the Liberal riding of Richmond that the NDP is also working to make sustainable. His vocal critique of investments in mill workers and plant efficiency will be remembered on the South Shore. If the Liberals are lucky, journalists won’t ask Manning what he thinks should happen to the NewPage mill.

Honey Bee:

Volunteer firefighters from Queens County, visiting the legislature to be thanked for their work fighting the fire at White Point, looked on as the MLAs debated Bowater. NDP MLA Vicki Conrad had a particularly good day, defending these firefighters’ other jobs – at the Liverpool paper mill. She wins this week’s Honey Bee prize.

Vicki Conrad: Let’s look at the facts. If the Opposition wants numbers, we’ll give them numbers. How about these: in a global economic downturn our government has actively worked with partners involved in game-changing opportunities like the shipbuilding strategy, which will create 11,500 jobs. It will average at least 8,500 jobs every year…

They translate into work for a generation and bringing our children home from the western provinces. They translate into Nova Scotians staying at home, working at home, putting down roots at home, and thriving at home…

The Opposition is playing politics with a very serious issue in rural Nova Scotia – jobs. What we need here is real leadership, and that’s what we have – real leadership, not more rhetoric. If they still want to look at numbers, let’s try the rate of unemployment under their government’s record. Cape Breton unemployment peaked at 20.7 per cent in April 2001, under the Tories; it was at 26.6 per cent in March 1997, under the Liberals – and, interestingly enough, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Cape Breton South was the Minister of Labour and Minister of Economic Development around that same time period…

Mr. Speaker, we know that more work has to be done, but I would like to point out that as it stands today, Nova Scotia continues to have the lowest unemployment rate among the Atlantic Provinces. That’s because jobsHere is working. We are providing steady leadership for long-term economic growth in this province, for every region in this province.

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

Back-room-boy turned Conservative leader Jamie Baillie needs to learn that grocery stores won’t close down because of FCA, Nova Scotia will still have blueberries next year, and leaders don’t talk about their underwear.

Jamie Baillie: I hope that somewhere on the government side there is a member who has a Michelin plant in their riding or who has another manufacturer in their riding, who has a blueberry manufacturer in their riding, has a Sobeys in their riding, has a contractor in their riding, has a road paver in their riding, has a underwear manufacturing plant in their riding – which, by the way, makes very good underwear, I can tell you. I happen to be wearing their product myself right now.

As the Chronicle Herald put it, “One hopes for insight during debates in the House, but Tory Leader Jamie Baillie was a bit too revealing on Friday.” Several people wrote in to comment on Baillie’s speech about the “dark curtain of tyranny” but when your own bench shouts “too much information” after a comment, you’re deserving of the Drone of the Week prize.