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 Bee’s Knees – Prizes for Week 3

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:

Rural MLAs care about the same things as their Halifax counterparts, but have an additional responsibility to help Nova Scotia’s farmers, fishers and forestry workers. Jamie Baillie just doesn’t seem to understand Cumberland County. In Question Period he asked the Agricultural Minister about food safety, with questions that at least seemed designed to anger farmers.

Jamie Baillie: If there is one thing he can do, can he assure Nova Scotians today that our supply of meat that is processed in Nova Scotia is safe to eat?

John MacDonell : Mr. Speaker, yes I can.

Jamie Baillie: I don’t know how the minister can say that because the Auditor General found that there is no formal policy in place for auditing the food processing facilities of our province… My question for that minister is, how can he possibly make that assurance to Nova Scotians when those audits are not being done by your own department?

John MacDonell: I think he (Baillie) is confusing two things. One is the issue around audits, the other one is the issue around inspections. One of the things that the Auditor General did say is that the provincial Meat Inspection Act requires that animals are inspected prior and after slaughter, and he indicated this is being done… Before any plant can operate in this province, the inspector goes in and does a walk-through of that plant and tells them that they can start or not. So when he says some haven’t been audited or inspected for a month or more, if they only do one slaughtering in a month, there is somebody in there that day to ensure that that plant can go.

Jamie Baillie: Well, Mr. Speaker, I’m sure all Nova Scotians will be rushing out to the nearest deli taking great comfort from that answer from the minister here this afternoon.

For the sake of Nova Scotia’s farmers, community-supported agriculture and farmers’ markets, we hope they DO take comfort in the Minister’s answers and ignore the parachute MLA in Cumberland South. Jamie Baillie’s scare-tactic wins him the Bumble Bee Prize.

Killer Bee:

In Question Period, Conservative MLA Keith Bain asked Deputy Premier Frank Corbett, who is in charge of the Chief Information Office a question about a provincial disaster plan mentioned by the Auditor General. After reminding Bain that the preceding government left them with plans jotted on a piece of paper after 10 years in office, and announcing the new plan will be in place by the end of December, Corbett offered this Killer Bee Prize of a joke on the Politics of Negativity for the gallery of the legislature:

That group is so pessimistic that when they smell flowers, they look for the funeral procession. (Laughter)

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 Question Period last week, Liberal MLA Zach Churchill, speaking on First Contract Arbitration legislation said:

I won’t stand up and suggest what the Leader of the Third Party said, that this is part of some sinister, job-killing plot or scheme, because I don’t think that’s the case.

And then Conservative MLA Keith Bain stood up and repeated his party’s belief that the Act to Prevent Unnecessary Labour Disruptions and Protect the Economy is a sinister, job-killing plot or scheme. As has been pointed out repeatedly, this type of legislation has been introduced and passed in Canada by governments of all political leanings. Yet, the conspiracy theory continues. Silly, yet worthy of the Drone of the Week prize.

Honey Bee:

Marilyn More has a quiet voice and seems exceedingly polite for a profession that sees a lot of bluster and bravado. Under repeated questioning and catcalls she professionally answered for her government, winning this week’s Honey Bee Prize for good work. A sample:

This government has taken a very balanced approach to improving the economy and stabilizing the workforce in this province. We’ve lowered the small business tax rate and we’ve improved equity tax and film tax credits. We’ve provided new incentives for innovation and productivity, and we’re also looking to see what changes we can make to make sure we have the most stable labour environment possible.

Believe me, if this government could put its arms around the province and prevent all the international economic factors from affecting us we certainly would, but that’s not the reality.

In terms of trying to improve labour stability in this province, every Party in Canada that’s ever been government has brought in first contract settlement legislation – the Liberals, the Conservatives, the NDP, the PQ, and the Social Credit as well. This is seen as a way to prevent stoppages and lockouts in those extreme situations – probably only two or three a year – which will happen in Nova Scotia. It’s a way to prevent those work stoppages and lockouts from happening to disrupt those businesses and the productivity of this province.

I’m very pleased, Mr. Speaker, that the honourable member has asked about the timing of this legislation. I think the best time to be thoughtfully discussing these things is when it’s not crisis-driven. (Applause)