34 Nova Scotia Firsts

Darrell Dexter’s introductory speech to the new session of the legislature provided a good list of Nova Scotian firsts. Presented all together, they show how well the NDP have done on a variety of fronts.

We have cut his speech down to this list of firsts, and divided it into categories.

NDP Health Minister Dave Wilson

NDP Health Minister Dave Wilson

Nova Scotia Firsts – Health

  • Canada’s first Emergency Department standards
  • Nova Scotia’s Collaborative Emergency Centres – CECs – a national first, greatly minimized emergency room closures while providing same-day or next-day appointments for medical care.
  • for the first time ever, Nova Scotia’s highly skilled paramedics are delivering clot-busting drugs that save lives before a patient reaches the hospital.
  • Canada’s first-ever mobile emergency department will open this year as part of the New Waterford CEC.
  • Nova Scotia’s program of paramedics providing urgent care in nursing homes is another Canadian first, providing better care sooner without a stressful trip to Emergency.
  • for the first time, there is a strategy with funded action to provide real care and understanding to Nova Scotians with mental health issues and addictions.
  • Nova Scotia is the first province to adopt a physician resource plan. For the next 10 years it will influence decision making to make sure Nova Scotians have the doctors they need in the right place. The plan’s first step is the new ER coverage program, which matches doctors with ERs that would otherwise close.
NDP Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald

NDP Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald

Nova Scotia Firsts – Jobs and the Economy

  • the first-ever wide-ranging budget consultation, Back to Balance
  • for the first time in Nova Scotia, my government has taken action to ensure the protection of temporary foreign workers from exploitation.
  • the first province to sign a memorandum of understanding with the federal government that formalizes and strengthens the co-operative working relationship between Nova Scotia and Canada regarding consultation with the Mi’kmaq.
  • for the first time ever, Nova Scotia has a five-year roads plan, updated annually so citizens can see for themselves the immediate, mid-term, and long-term plans.
  • Nova Scotia’s first-ever flood mitigation plan is in development.
  • my government will soon announce Nova Scotia’s first-ever sustainable transportation strategy.

    NDP Culture Minister Leonard Preyra

    NDP Culture Minister Leonard Preyra

  • for the first time ever in Nova Scotia, my government will provide a steady and reliable source of funding to support the wealth of talent in our cultural sectors.
  • Nova Scotia will become the first Canadian jurisdiction to offer Social Impact Bonds, encouraging investors to support innovative, socially responsible projects by charitable and non-governmental organizations.
  • in partnership with universities and the private sector, my government will launch Nova Scotia’s first Innovation Summit to spur commercialization of research and move Nova Scotia into a leadership position as a competitive and innovative force in the global economy.
  • my government developed Nova Scotia’s first comprehensive immigration strategy. Last year, for the first time, Nova Scotia exceeded expectations and surpassed its immigration targets. As a result of this success, the federal government has increased Nova Scotia’s allocation under the immigrant nominee program by 20 per cent.
  • my government, in partnership with the farm community, is undertaking the first ten-year strategy for agriculture, called Homegrown Success.

    NDP Labour Minister Frank Corbett

    NDP Labour Minister Frank Corbett

  • to show clearly that provincial departments and agencies serve all of the people, my government now locates new and consolidated departments and agencies outside the Halifax area. This is the first time ever for this fairer policy.
  • for the first time Careers Nova Scotia centres are able to provide increased access to career training and job-search opportunities across the province, ensuring that more Nova Scotians have the right skills for good jobs.
  • for the first time, Nova Scotian students can get academic credit for real-world, community-based experience.
  • as outlined in Nova Scotia’s first aquaculture strategy, my government will develop comprehensive regulations and set the highest standards for fairness, efficiency, and environmental safeguards in Nova Scotia aquaculture.

Nova Scotia Firsts – Energy

  • NDP Energy Minister Charlie Parker

    NDP Energy Minister Charlie Parker

    for the first time, local and community-owned renewable power projects are financially feasible and viable as a result of Nova Scotia’s Community Feed-In Tariff Program, COMFIT. COMFIT has been hailed as a global first and a model for other nations.

  • my government was the first in North America to place a firm cap on greenhouse gas emissions from power generation, making Nova Scotia a global leader in environmental responsibility.
  • for the first time in history, Nova Scotians can secure a power supply that comes with a 35-year guarantee of price stability.
  • Nova Scotia and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador are undertaking the single greatest step in Atlantic Canada’s regional co-operation: the Muskrat Falls development and the associated Maritime Link. All four Atlantic Provinces and the federal government have supported this environmentally progressive project, which will transform basic elements of our regional economy while ensuring the lowest, fairest power rates.

    NDP Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau

    NDP Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau

  • this is the first time ever that two Atlantic Provinces have co-operated in this way to stand proud and improve the destiny of this region for generations to come, by making Atlantic Canada much more of a contributor to Canada’s prosperity and progress.
  • Nova Scotia was the first government in North America to mandate LED street lighting.
  • for the first time ever, Nova Scotia law protects power-rate payers from the cost of high corporate salaries and bonuses

Nova Scotia Firsts – Social Justice

  • Nova Scotia’s first Domestic Violence Action Plan, developed in partnership with dozens of community-based groups, is now being implemented. Nova Scotia’s first domestic violence court, located in Sydney, is part of the action plan.
  • Nova Scotia’s Affordable Living Tax Credit and Poverty Reduction Tax Credit are the first significant new investments in living memory that reduce poverty and help lower income Nova Scotians make ends meet
  • Nova Scotia will soon have its first-ever housing strategy.

    NDP Education Minister Ramona Jennex

    NDP Education Minister Ramona Jennex

  • Nova Scotia’s first ever action plan to address bullying and cyberbullying is now underway across the province, backed up with new laws to deal with behaviour that can have tragic results whether it occurs in person or on-line.
  • starting to turn the corner must mean a better start for Nova Scotian children, so that from the first months of their lives they have every opportunity for success. My government is establishing a Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, to better coordinate and improve the many ways that the province supports infants, young children, and their families in the first years of life.

A Free and Inclusive Nova Scotia

There was a rare show of solidarity in the Legislature last week, over an NDP bill to add protection from discrimination for the transgendered community to Nova Scotia’s Human Right Act.

Premier Darrell Dexter:

These changes are about fairness and equality — the very basic rights of a free and inclusive society. They are also the same beliefs that New Democrat leaders have endorsed for years, from Alexa McDonough to Jack Layton.

For too long transgender Nova Scotians have faced discrimination, threats, insults and physical violence. This is not acceptable, and our government will not tolerate it.

Making these changes is the right thing to do. They are needed to ensure that transgender people have equal protection under the law and to help them feeler safer and more accepted in their communities.

This is why you elected an NDP government.

Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie:

As long as there’s one Nova Scotian who does not share in the equality, in equal rights, in the bounty and opportunity, in the freedoms of our province, then none of us is truly free and none of us is truly prosperous.

Halifax Citadel NDP MLA Leonard Preyra:

I’m always reminded of the words of Mahatma Gandhi in his long march for democracy in India where he said that a civilization is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable and marginalized people. As someone who has been involved in the human rights field for a number of decades now, I know that we sometimes forget that the protection of human rights is not about our freedoms of speech and expression, and not about protecting the rights of people who are like us. It’s not about protecting the rights of people who think like us or act like us. We are really judged by how much energy and passion we devote to protecting the rights of people who are not like us.

Cole Harbour – Eastern Passage NDP MLA Becky Kent:

I want to thank the people of Nova Scotia who have fought the battle for this change – our transgender community – thanks for not giving up, for believing in themselves and believing in humanity. When you’re faced with adversity over and over, when you’re faced with a pummeling of rejection and a pummeling of negativity that can tear you down, it would be sometimes an easier choice to give up that fight.

5 NDP MLAs, 2 Liberal MLAs and the Conservative Leader spoke on this human rights bill on second reading. A good sign for a Nova Scotia that the national media often portrays as an Alabama backwater.

The Bees’ Knees – Prizes for Week 4

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

Except this week.

In 2008, Pictou banned the pride flag from flying on government flagpoles. It was a low point for encouraging diversity. The outpouring of grief and solidarity we saw after the murder of Halifax human rights activist Raymond Taavel last week was heart-breaking and hopeful.

We are giving out just one prize this week, the Honey Bee, for Premier Dexter’s words the next day in the legislature. We reprint his statement in full:

Premier Dexter: I rise in my place today to talk about Raymond Taavel. Last night hundreds attended a vigil for Ray on Gottingen Street here in Halifax. The vigil, in fact, grew so large that police shut down the street. Someone there pointed out that Ray lived the kind of life that brought all these people out last night. His co-worker from the Shambala Sun, Barry Boyce, called him “a compassionate activist, without anger.” That is the description of a fine person by anyone’s measure.

The 52 members of the House represent all Nova Scotias. I’m sure I speak for all of us, as well as the people of the province, when I extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Ray Taavel. Nova Scotia has suffered a tremendous loss. We lost a person who chaired Halifax Pride and was an editor of Wayves Magazine. We lost a person who devoted his life to fighting discrimination, violence and intolerance. We lost a person who made Nova Scotia a better, more open and more inclusive place for everyone and on behalf of my colleagues, the member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island (Leonard Preyra) and the Minister of Health and Wellness (Maureen MacDonald) – both of whom Ray worked on campaigns with – you can imagine that this loss is felt very deeply.

Mr. Speaker, I read an article today from Wayves Magazine. It read:

“It’s tempting in this day and age of legislated liberties to think that a personal or collective vigilance is no longer required. It’s easy to lull ourselves into complacency, thinking there’s nothing more left to fight for, or nothing more to achieve. Fighting back comes in many forms: reaching out, building bridges, educating and, if need be, defending ourselves from physical harm.”

Ray wrote those words in 2010. Mr. Speaker, Ray was right. We are not done yet. We must continue to sharpen our collective vigilance. There is more to fight for, more to achieve, more bridges to build. This is not a time for complacency. It is tragic and so sad that it takes the brutal killing of someone like Raymond to remind us all of what he so clearly understood.

Mr. Speaker, the facts of this tragedy are not yet confirmed. It will take time to discover what happened that Tuesday morning and why. In this House and in this province we must all reaffirm our support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and we must also reaffirm our support for the many other communities that have been the object of hate and misunderstanding, including those who suffer from serious mental illness. Fear, misunderstanding and hate – that was not the way of the compassionate activist Raymond Taavel.

I would like to close with a quote that Ray posted on his Facebook page, a quote that I’m sure many of us have heard before but I believe shows Ray’s great character and wisdom and will serve as sound advice long after his death: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” I think we owe it to Ray to seek answers and define ways to protect ourselves, not through revenge but in the same manner that Ray would have, by understanding, by building bridges, by reaching out, and by educating.

The Bee’s Knees – Prizes for Week 1

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 Legislature opened with the Speech from the Throne, which included a fair bit of news, including the intriguing idea that not all provincial government departments – or the work they do – need be located in Halifax. There is simply no reason, in this age, for almost all government work to be concentrated in Halifax. Main Streets across the province could use those jobs and the economic benefits, especially as Halifax experiences an extended period of 5-6% unemployment.

This news seemed to unnerve Conservative leader Jamie Baillie, who had a chance to move on this file as Chief-of-Staff not that long ago, and did nothing.

Jamie Baillie: I will address right now one of the items that attracted a significant amount of attention yesterday and that is on Page 15 of the Throne Speech where the government says it will “seek locations outside this immediate area for new and consolidated agencies and offices of government.” That sounds nice … but until that day comes, what a cynical and cruel promise to make to the people of rural Nova Scotia.

New Brunswick’s Energy Department is sensibly located in Saint John. Ontario moved Natural Resources out of Toronto years ago. If When the NDP moves a department, even just one, out of Halifax before the next election, Baillie will look foolish. More importantly, his already shaky argument that the NDP doesn’t care about rural Nova Scotia will be destroyed.

So for that, Baillie wins the first Bumble Bee prize for the error prone of 2012.

Killer Bee:

After Baillie’s speech came this Killer Bee prize winning quote from the MLA for Halifax Citadel:

Leonard Preyra: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise here today and to say a few words in the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. It’s a particular pleasure to follow the Leader of the Third Party because he is such a great storyteller, particularly when it comes to works of fiction. I’m sure that speech he just delivered is going to be listed in the fiction section in our Legislative Library. I want to thank him for adding to the wonderful stories he’s been telling us about the year, particularly his reinvention of the Tory period in government. (Laughter)

Honey Bee:

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil started off well on Thursday, reiterating his support for the government’s renewable energy plan, while slyly pointing out Conservatives regressive position on energy, earning him the Honey Bee prize for good work.

Stephen McNeil: We can agree – maybe not all of us, but most of us – that the Lower Churchill Falls is an important project that I believe will allow us to move towards a more renewable, sustainable energy market in Atlantic Canada. For those who are confused about the fact that it potentially may cost Nova Scotians too much, the inaction on energy will cost Nova Scotians much more. (Applause)

Staying as far away as possible from Baillie’s attacks on green jobs is a wise move by McNeil. The Liberals may be able to eat into the progressive wing of the Conservatives’ vote by hitting them hard on their opposition to things like renewable energy and minimum wage increases.

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

Unfortunately by Friday, McNeil’s performance weakened, winning him his second prize in just the first week:

Stephen McNeil: I found it interesting as I was looking and reading this document that not once in this document did we talk about literacy and numeracy. Think about that for a second, not once did we talk about literacy and numeracy.

Well, we thought about it for a second, and found two other interesting words emphasized the the speech: education and learning.

You can play all kinds of silly games when looking for ways to criticize speeches. Why was fishing mentioned four times, but forestry only two? Why did Cape Breton receive more mentions than Pictou? Ultimately though, that sort of critique is juvenile.  The Opposition Leader needs better material.