The Bees Knees – Prizes for Week Four

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

In the first of his two prizes this week, Zach Churchill wins the Bumble Bee prize for the error prone for suggesting only the NDP are talking about the Liberal’s trust fund and the Allan J. MacEachen Institute.

Zach Churchill: I think it is a sad state of affairs that the NDP is still trying to perpetuate this story that’s really a non-story. No one is talking about this; no one is asking questions about it, but them. It’s because there has been an effort to mislead the public on what is actually happening here.

Actually, the Progressive Conservatives are talking about the trust fund as well.

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 the continued debate on the status of the tainted Liberal trust fund, Zach Churchill suggested there should not even be a debate because it might hurt the feelings of Allan J. MacEachen.

Zach Churchill: I really think what this government needs – who they need to apologize to is Allan J. MacEachen and his good name because in this sort of attack, this baseless attack that they’ve been perpetrating, they are attacking Allan J. MacEachen, who is a great Nova Scotian we are all proud of. He’s a proud Liberal.

What rot. The idea that one of the biggest scandals in Nova Scotia history, the monetary affects of which continue to this day, should not be debated in the Legislature because it might hurt someone’s feelings is juvenile.

Killer Bee

Kings North NDP MLA Jim Morton followed Cape Breton MLA Eddie Orrell’s debate on fiscal prudence and Nova Scotia’s balanced budget with a strong reminder of the legacies of both Opposition parties:

Jim Morton: Nova Scotia is only one of four Canadian provinces to prepare a balanced budget during this time, a budget which earned the Auditor General’s unqualified opinion for its revenue projections.

It’s amusing to have the member for Cape Breton North raise the question of fiscal prudence. His Party is the Party that left behind the fiscal mess that we were dealing with, and I would remind everyone in this House, left behind the structural situation that would have led to a deficit of $1.3 billion. It’s his Tory Party whose idea of health care policy was to invest millions in kiddy ATVs, it’s his Tory Party whose recklessness included spending the $68 million of the BFIT recreational program in three years, a program that was intended to be carefully spread over 10 years.

Maybe, Madam Speaker, the Tories still think they can buy the votes of Nova Scotians. I, for one, haven’t forgotten the $155 cheques that were delivered to many Nova Scotians during a couple of elections back. Tories and Liberals, when it comes to fiscal thinking, are content to bask in what I sometimes think of as the glow of magical thinking, that promise of lower taxes while combined with increased spending and increased services and more and better services. The problem is that neither the Liberals nor the Tories can show where that kind of thinking has actually worked.

That kind of thinking fuelled the Liberal’s 2009 election campaign. In the 2009 election campaign the Liberal Party made $227 million worth of promises and they outlined those promises in the 33-page booklet that led The Chronicle Herald to wonder in its editorial whose dog ate Page 34. I think what the Liberal campaign did was make some empty promises and had no plan. Perhaps the Liberals are content with, or comfortable with, the fantasy of easy money, because for many years they had access to as what we all know as the Liberal trust fund.

Honey Bee

In his speech before the Committee of the Whole House on Supply, Lunenburg West NDP MLA Gary Ramey also reminded the Legislature of the Liberal’s record of rolling back teacher’s wages as part of that party’s last failed attempt to balance their budget. It was Ramey’s simple point of Nova Scotia’s balanced budget that wins him the Honey Bee prize for good work.

Gary Ramey: I’m very pleased that Nova Scotia is one of four Canadian provinces that has been able to balance its budget while providing expanded services for its citizens. This is no mean feat and it’s an accomplishment that has been appreciated by my constituents and by many Nova Scotians across our province. It is a fact, however, the significance of which seems, for whatever reason, to have escaped my colleagues on the other side of the House; both the Liberal Party and those in the PC Party have tried at all costs to trivialize the importance of this accomplishment. It is a position which separates them from many of the citizens of our province.

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The Bees’ Knees – Prizes for Week Seven

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

In an otherwise excellent speech, in which he talked about how getting Nova Scotia off coal-power is important for both health reasons and for stable electricity prices, Pictou’s own Clarrie MacKinnon threw out a line about Stephen McNeil that became the story instead.

Clarrie MacKinnon: The only experience the Leader of the Opposition (Stephen McNeil) has on power electricity is the power it takes to run a washer or a dryer.

We believe that Stephen McNeil is in over his head on electricity as well, and many people are wondering if he is qualified to be Premier. But the quote was the final straw for reporters looking to do a story on the tone and tenor of the legislative session, and MacKinnon’s quote was the centre of that coverage.

To his credit, MacKinnon immediately apologized for the remark.

Honey Bee

Clarrie MacKinnon did offer Nova Scotians another significant reason to support Muskrat Falls in that speech, however:

I want to begin by talking about Hillside in my constituency and the legacy that has been left by Liberals and Progressive Conservatives to the people of Hillside. Now Hillside is in the lee of the coal-fired generating station in Trenton. I have been there on picket lines when I was in Opposition, I was there on picket lines when I was a part of this government because the people of Hillside have had fly ash coming out on them for years and years and years, and we are moving away from that. I’ve seen the window ledges, I’ve seen the cars, I’ve seen the swimming pools with fly ash. I’ve seen, worst of all, the slides and the toys of children covered with fly ash. Some people may snicker on the other side of the House but I’ve seen that. I’ve seen children playing in flowered fields and the flowers are covered with fly ash.

Hillside knows too well the effects of sticking with coal. Clarrie MacKinnon wins the Honey Bee prize for raising this again in the House.

Killer Bee

During a debate on why the Liberals criticize but don’t offer solutions, Kings North MLA offered this insight, winning the week’s Killer Bee prize for the quote with the most sting:

Jim Morton: We’ve had our economic difficulties here for many years as well, for decades, for more than a century. As I’ve said in this House before, my colleague for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has written a book called Away in which he describes one of the solutions that Nova Scotians have used for many years to deal with economic hardships and that’s to go somewhere else.

Throughout all this long history of troubles, who has had responsibility for governance in Nova Scotia? All I have to do is look to the other side. It is those folks on the other side who have had responsibility for governance in this province. They took turns in allowing Nova Scotia to flounder with old ideas that really favoured, in many terms, the privileged few. Some of us on this side of the House will know that Tommy Douglas has a great analogy in which he described that process as one of electing black cats and white cats. You could make a change without getting any change at all.

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

Allan MacMaster, and other Tories who want Nova Scotia to “go slow” on renewable energy, forget that the provinces with cheap electricity use hydroelectricity.

Allan MacMaster: What about $200 oil? We used to hear people talking about $200 oil. Oil is trading around $85 to $90 per barrel. No question, the price of fossil fuels has increased a lot in the last number of years, but there are reasons why it continues to fluctuate, and by that I mean it also goes back down.

The point of Muskrat Falls is stable rates for 35 years. Not a roller coaster of coal and gas increases and decreases, in world that is demanding more of both.

The Bees’ Knees – Prizes for Week Four

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

Honey Bee and Bumble Bee

In the Legislature, Notices of Motion are used by MLAs for two primary purposes; to recognize people in the community for their work, and to get under the skin of your political opponents.

Rarely are these resolutions newsworthy. But NDP Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald is determined to receive an apology from Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil for saying social workers are not qualified to be in charge of finances.

Maureen MacDonald: Whereas the Leader of the Liberal Party said in this Legislature that a social worker lacks the qualifications to be Minister of Finance; and

Whereas social workers are caring professionals whose training and skills include setting priorities and securing resources to meet often complex needs in situations that range from the mundane to those of life and death; and

Whereas there are and have been many social workers in positions of leadership in public office – for example, Kathy Dunderdale, the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the Liberal Party apologize to the social workers of Nova Scotia for demeaning their capacity to assume positions of responsibility and leadership in matters pertaining to public administration.

As Nova Scotians begin to wonder about Stephen McNeil’s qualifications to be Premier, Maureen MacDonald wins this week’s Honey Bee prize for good work for reminding us that Liberals are developing a history of dismissing the experience of women, whether an actress like Truro MLA Lenore Zann, a teacher like Ramona Jennex or a social worker like MacDonald.

Stephen McNeil wins the Bumble Bee award for waking up a hornets nest of NDP activists on the left who have a high regard for Maureen MacDonald. We received 14 emails from NDP supporters on McNeil’s attack – a record for one quote since we began giving out these weekly prizes.

Killer Bee

To listen to the Liberals and Conservatives talk in the Legislature, you would think they had never been in power in Nova Scotia. Either that, or their history was full of sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. Kings North MLA Jim Morton wins this week’s Killer Bee prize for pointing out that the NDP’s goal of giving youth a reason to stay in this province would never be necessary if the Liberals or Tories had made economic growth a priority.

Jim Morton: If you look at our history, we’ve been “Goin’ Down the Road,” as a great Canadian film of the late 1960s showed, for a very long time. You know that history of going down the road is something that my colleague, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley chronicled in a book that he prepared, called Away, which I think demonstrates so clearly that we’ve been going down the road to look for work for 150 years. During those 150 years, I think a reasonable question is, who has been presiding over that state of affairs here in this province? I don’t have to tell many people in this House who that is – it’s those guys over there.

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

The Liberal MLA from Preston, Keith Colwell, has already forgotten that Darrell Dexter won the 2009 election, not by promising everything under the sun, but by making 50 commitments for their first mandate. So far, they have met 49 of those 50 goals.

Keith Colwell: I can recall when the Premier of the province, the Premier who’s there today, was on this side of the House and promised everything under the sun to everybody who walked forward. It didn’t matter who they were, he promised it to them.

Colwell, as is often the case, is wrong. John Hamm credited the NDP with behaving responsibly during their time in opposition. The Liberals are the ones who promise to raise nearly every budget line while reducing taxes. Keith Colwell wins the Drone of the Week prize for confusing red with orange.

The Bees’ Knees – Prizes for Week Two

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

Honey Bee

The benefit of Muskrat Falls in terms of 35 years of stable rates and moving off coal are well known. This week, during late debate, Premier Dexter brought jobs into the equation as well.

Premier Dexter: The Maritime Link, which is where most of our investment will be made, has three key elements: (1) it creates an undersea cable link from Cape Ray, Newfoundland, to Cape Breton; (2) it includes two substations on either side of the cable; and (3) it includes the enhanced transmission grid leading to the New Brunswick border.

The construction of the Link will create 2,700 person-years of employment, in Nova Scotia companies with Nova Scotia jobs.

For reminding Nova Scotians of the job implications of the Muskrat Falls project, Darrell Dexter wins this week’s Honey Bee prize for good work.

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

Keith Colwell blames everything under the sun, moon and stars on the NDP. Unless it’s a success story – then he claims the government had nothing to do with it.

This week, he said “the price of food has increased by nearly 10 per cent since the NDP took over.” That sort of statement, both inaccurate and overblown, is typical of Colwell.

The price of food goes up and down depending on worldwide supply and demand. Weather and war change food prices – not a change in the government of a Canadian province. Keith Colwell wins the Drone of the Week prize for championing the politics of negativity.

Killer Bee

On a debate about food banks and poverty, Kings North NDP MLA Jim Morton reminded the opposition they had decades to work on poverty issues but did nothing, because the Liberals and Tories did not see poverty reduction as a “vote winner.” This passage below is a good example of how the NDP will rally their base, and wins Jim Morton this week’s Killer Bee prize.

Jim Morton: I think people are there these days because costs are rising in a world that continues to be on the edge of recession. But I think when you look at this bigger picture, we’ve had here in Nova Scotia a very long history of neglect of those people who are most vulnerable in our community.

I recall, before I stood in this House, being in a meeting with two Members of the Legislative Assembly – in fact, they were on the government side at that point – who were talking with a group of citizens about poverty, and who both agreed that in their particular constituencies the issues of poverty and the calls they got in their offices were the most significant calls that they received. They were the highest in volume and the most distressing. But they added to that that it wasn’t possible to talk about those matters because their other constituents just wouldn’t tolerate that, wouldn’t agree with their making that a priority.

I believe that it’s that kind of thinking, turning a blind eye, turning one’s back on poverty, decade after decade, that has left us with so much that needs doing. On the other hand, this government – our government – has been taking a close look at the realities of poverty. We’ve been taking practical steps, even in the midst of tough economic and recessionary times, to do something different.

Bumble Bee

Yarmouth MLA Zach Chuchill chastised the Conservative Party for bringing up Stephen McNeil’s own quotes as proof the Liberals promoted breaking the constituency of Shelburne in two.

The problem? The Conservatives’ point was that Stephen McNeil’s opinion changes with the wind. He spoke out both in favour of dividing Shelburne, and of keeping it whole. Zach Churchill wins this week’s Bumble Bee prize for the error prone.

The PCs distributed the piece below to the press gallery:

The Tories presentation of Stephen McNeil’s two opinions on splitting Shelburne, depending on his audience. Expect more of this from Jamie Baillie’s Conservatives as they try to become the real alternative in voters’ minds.