Keith Colwell has it all wrong

No, we’re not writing about the off-the-ice incident with Percy Paris. We’ll leave that discussion with the referees and race-relations pundits.

The important point is this: in a week in which Stats Canada recorded Nova Scotia as the only province with three consecutive months of job creation Colwell was trying to lecture the government on how economic development works:

Keith Colwell: The Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism touted that Theriault Shipyard got a whole $20,000 to really help their operation. Now, $20,000 is great, and that’s a very solid, good, long-standing company in Nova Scotia, but Irving gets $300 million? There’s something wrong with this whole picture here – $300 million (for a $25 billion contract).

It’s like comparing Mars to Jupiter.

Keith Colwell: So $300 million that Irving could have done by themselves; they could have done it without the $300 million.

You don't spot the other team 20 points on a $25 billion contract.

You don’t spot the other team 20 points on a $25 billion contract.

But would they have? Could they have? Someone should really ask Jim Irving.
Or ask the federal bureaucrats who administered the national shipbuilding procurement strategy. Ask them whether or not bids required a provincial guarantee to protect the federal government from unwanted liabilities?
Or see here

Keith Colwell: People are starting to realize that there are going to be very few jobs from this.

“Very few jobs”  is Colwell logic.  As if a “few” workers are going to build a bunch of 21st -Century combat ships for Canada’s navy? It’s ridiculous stuff to be putting on the record in Hansard.

The key to the Ships contract, like the ships to be built, is scale. Large industrial projects drive economic growth because they are big. Lots of ships built, lots of jobs, lots of consumer spending,  lots of tax revenue, lots of houses built, lots of cars purchased, etc. Big projects encourage the small, spin-off, local business development. In the Ships context, there’s even a word for it: supply chain.

The Liberal logic is twisted: they are in favour of small companies operating in the supply chain, but against the company that’s at the end of the supply chain paying the bills?  It makes you dizzy.

The Ships opportunity is real. Missing it is not an option. Would the Liberals scrap the loan agreement and sacrifice those 10,000+ jobs and the $25 billion dollar contract?

The Bees Knees – Prizes for Week Three

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

Liberal MLA Diana Whalen challenged NDP Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald’s revenue projection assumptions in the balanced 2013-14 budget.

The problem? The major banks think the Finance Department’s projections might be too conservative in their outlook.

Maureen MacDonald: All of the economists in the big financial institutions in the country looked at the assumptions that were put together by the economists in the Department of Finance, and they compared those assumptions with their own forecasts, and they find the assumptions to be reasonable. In fact, they found the assumptions in the Department of Finance to be conservative compared to their forecasts for the coming year.

Whalen wins the Bumble Bee award for trusting her political researchers over the Canada’s leading economists.

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

Liberal MLA Keith Colwell complains about government spending on advertising. He says there is too much. And he says there is too little. This week, he was claimed John MacDonell could not get the word out about the Heating Assistance Rebate Program. MacDonell swatted Colwell’s complaint away:

John MacDonell: I think I have answered this question once a year for three years. I would think the member opposite would be aware, because his office should have received the applications that all MLAs received to give out to their constituents. If anybody is coming in there looking for an application, they should be able to get it from him.

For recycling a question for the third year in a row, Keith Colwell wins the Drone of the Week prize.

Killer Bee 

While we do not agree with Jamie Baillie’s stance that we should move away from Nova Scotia’s renewable energy goals, we share his concerns about Stephen McNeil’s electricity plan:

Jamie Baillie: For the Liberal Party to run TV ads promoting a policy that actually jacks our power rates up even more and manages to eliminate any hope of private investment in renewables at the same time – that is an amazing trick. The very policies that they promote have been proven a failure in New Brunswick, in Ontario, in Texas, in California, in all of those places the very policies that they advertise on TV, both drive up our power rates and stop the investment in renewables at the same time. That is why it’s important that they, too, be held accountable for what they say not just today, but for the future.

Baillie wins this week’s Killer Bee prize for taking on McNeil Liberals on multiple fronts, including on electricity.

Honey Bee

This week Colchester – Musquodoboit Valley NDP MLA Gary Burrill issued a challenge to Conservative MP Scott Armstrong to a debate on federal cuts to EI.

Burrill also got his provincial Conservative colleagues on the record on the changes to the EI appeals process. He introduced this resolution in the Legislature:

Whereas the system of appeals for employment insurance has, for many years, been comprised of Boards of Referees, tripartite bodies including local representatives from the business community and the labour movement, ensuring that appeals of decisions affecting EI claims have been heard by independent referees knowledgeable concerning local conditions…

Whereas the constituency offices of many MLAs have commonly provided advocacy, support, and representation services to constituents before Boards of Referees, very often resulting in much-needed reinstatements of EI benefits and much-merited reversals of disentitlements, disqualifications, penalty assessments, and the like; and

Whereas the federal government has abolished the system of EI appeals based on a national network of Boards of Referees, and replaced it with a centralized appeal system lacking entirely in local representation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly unreservedly condemn the eradication of the Board of Referees appeal system by the Government of Canada, and hereby register its profound disagreement with the removal of local labour and business leaders from the appeal process available to EI claimants in Nova Scotia.

Burrill’s resolution was met with a chorus of No’s from the Conservative benches, a mistake for a party in second place in much of rural Nova Scotia. Gary Burrill wins this week’s Honey Bee prize for good work.

Stephen McNeil’s Deficit Problem

The Liberals are good at complaining.

They complained about the deficit for years, but never said they would balance the budget, or how. They have called for, and will continue to call for (once the Estimates process is underway this week),  increased funding in pretty much every government department. But they won’t say where the money would come from to pay for those promises.

Stephen-McNeil-LiberalIt’s time to start asking Stephen McNeil serious questions about the deficit he’s proposing to run on, and the financial mess he is prepared to leave for future generations.

McNeil likes to complain about user fees, but he won’t commit to freezing them, or say where the revenue will come from to make up the difference and balance.

He has complained about “taxes”, but has no actual plan to reduce them, or which ones.

Worse than his non-answers on important economic questions is his voting record.  Stephen McNeil complained about the HST increase, but voted against the NDP’s legislation to reduce it next year.

Blogger Parker Donham, wonders if there is anything more hypocritical than the analysis of provincial budgets:

The finger-waggers never acknowledge the tradeoffs required for a government of the day to indulge their pet priorities. They never say, “Cut them, so you can fatten me,” and, “My cause is more deserving than their cause, because…”

Budgets are about choices. “We’re going to do this. We’re not going to do that. Here’s how much it will cost.”  You can agree with the choices or disagree with them, but it’s silly to pretend that funding one thing doesn’t mean unfunding another, or that programs can balloon while taxes plummet.

The problem for McNeil is that, while easy, this approach means his Liberals cannot help but contradict themselves. And they do: day after day, week after week, on issue after issue.

It is time for journalists to force Stephen McNeil to answer some questions about the choices he would make.

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.