Mourning Rehtaeh Parsons

rehtaeh-parsonsWe attended the vigil in Halifax for teenager Rehtaeh Parsons last week.  It was good to see Premier Darrell Dexter and PC Leader Jamie Baillie in attendance. They were there to mourn, to listen, to send a prayer. They were there more as fathers than as politicians.

It was comforting to hear their words in the Legislature as well. Thus far, it looks as if the opposition will work with the government on taking action on a number of fronts, especially violence against women and cyber-bullying/cyber-assault. Bipartisan progress far out-weighs any points gained by political posturing.

Marilyn More, the minister responsible for the Status of Women, and a Dartmouth MLA, also attended the vigil.  She will lead the government’s response, which includes a number of provincial departments:

  • Education and early childhood development
  • Justice
  • Community services
  • Health

Choosing More is a sound decision by the NDP. More is a wise and experienced leader, used to an inclusive approach on issues. She will also bring a feminist voice to the government’s work.

Darrell Dexter: Nova Scotia is mourning the loss of Rehtaeh Parsons, a young girl who has touched the lives of people all across the province, and around the world. I wanted to reach out to the members of this House and to all Nova Scotians to assure people that I will do everything in my power to create a community that is equipped to prevent these situations, rather than a community that struggles to find a way to deal with them.

Jamie Baillie: I know that many if not all of us in this House, in addition to being politicians, are also moms and dads, grandfathers and grandmothers, and so we are all affected, like all other Nova Scotians are, in a very personal way. I had this very talk with my own two daughters, last night at bedtime and again this morning, as they see the front page of The ChronicleHerald and they see the evening news. This is a discussion that is going on in my house about what can be done to protect people in the future who were in the circumstances of Rehtaeh Parsons and I believe it’s a discussion that’s going on in every household, by every mom and dad, with their own kids.

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)