The Fisherman and the Fundraiser

Lobster fishermen, including hundreds from the communities Michel Samson represents, came together these past 3 weeks to to raise the issue of low lobster prices. NDP and PC MLAs attended the fishermen’s rallies and meetings, but Liberals were nowhere to be seen.

The Liberal Office in Halifax did issue a press release on behalf of Michel Samson. But his absence in Arichat was noticed.

One reader suggested that Michel Samson’s fundraiser and Halifax landlord is the reason he failed to make it to the meetings. Edgar Samson (no relation) is a bulk buyer of lobster – one of Cape Breton’s largest in fact. And many fishermen believe bulk buyers are driving the price down to make more money as middle men. So we can see why a reader might suggest that.

“There’s absolutely no pattern to the lifestyle of an elected official. Some days, you’re going to come up on a Monday, other days you’ll come up on a Tuesday. It all depends on the week. It depends what obligations you have, and each week is different." - Michel Samson

“There’s absolutely no pattern to the lifestyle of an elected official. Some days, you’re going to come up on a Monday, other days you’ll come up on a Tuesday. It all depends on the week. It depends what obligations you have, and each week is different.” – Michel Samson

Our concern is that Michel Samson may be avoiding public appearances until the Auditor General finishes his review of the Liberal MLA’s living expenses. That would be a mistake. Spending the summer in Richmond County would go a long way toward fixing the perception that he only visits on weekends.

Fisheries Minister Sterling Belliveau spoke to fishermen at the last meeting before the boats hit the water again. He told them of NDP efforts to get Marine Stewardship Council certification for the lobster fishery as a sustainable industry. Belliveau talked to them about the panel being struck to look at the issue and also announced provincial support for an ad campaign to promote Nova Scotia lobster.

Stephen McNeil has been mostly quiet on Michel Samson’s case and that’s disappointing to see – Samson is one of the few capable people McNeil has in his Caucus.

Perhaps if McNeil would defend Samson with the same vigor with which he has defended Manning MacDonald’s multiple vacations while the Legislature sat, Samson would be more inclined to get out and about more often.

The Bees’ Knees – Prizes for Week Six

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

Killer Bee:

Colchester – Musquodoboit Valley NDP MLA Gary Burrill challenged Conservative MP Scott Armstrong to a debate on EI changes a few weeks ago, but Armstrong said Burrill could debate him in 2015. Burrill wins this week’s Killer Bee prize for beginning the debate in Nova Scotia’s legislature:

Gary Burrill: When I challenged Mr. Armstrong to meet me and debate on this subject, I’m afraid that I was inadequately precise. When I said that I would debate him at any time, I should have specified that what I meant by any time was not 2016 or 2015, or 2014. Rather, what I meant by any time was any time with a remote relation to the present. Now, remote, is, in fact, perhaps an important word here. To respond to people’s loss of their EI cheques and to their being forced to take jobs at 70 per cent of their previous wages, to respond to this by agreeing to discuss the matter in two years, speaks to a certain remoteness, a certain off-somewhere-being-pleased-with-yourself-ness, a certain failure to register or take in the financial difficulty of those who are around you. Therefore, I feel that I am within the bounds of fairness to treat Mr. Armstrong’s agreement to debate me only in two years’ time as, in fact, a “no”.

Bumble Bee

It is tradition in the Legislature to ring the bells for a recorded vote. Due to a public function about violence against women occurring in the building at the time, Frank Corbett asked that a recess be called, or that the bells be silenced. Unfortunately, the Liberals were feeling disagreeable, and the bells rang.

The Liberals receive a collective Bumble Bee prize for this nasty move.

Honey Bee

Fisheries Minister Sterling Belliveau gained praise from Liberals and Tories alike with his introduction of the Mariners’ Day Act, which designates the second Sunday in August as Mariners’ Day.

Sterling Belliveau: As promised in our government’s recent Speech from the Throne, this will be a special day for families and friends and indeed, all Nova Scotians. As Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, I’m bringing forward a bill that will honour all those fish harvesters who left port in early dawn but never came home. As a fisherman and as a fisherman’s son, I am asking you to join me in assuring the families of those lost souls that they will never be forgotten.

I come from Woods Harbour, Shelburne County, Mr. Speaker, the home port of the Miss Ally. We’ve had our share of fishing tragedies but you don’t have to come from my end of the province to share our sorrow. It’s an all-too-familiar story of many coastal communities and villages that dot Nova Scotia’s shoreline. It’s an all-too-familiar event for too many families.

This most recent fishing tragedy touched the folks all over Nova Scotia, indeed throughout Canada. Unfortunately our maritime history bears the names of men and women from all over the province who lost their life to the sea.

Mr. Speaker, the Mariners’ Day Act is dedicated to all those lost souls. Mariners’ Day will also serve to help promote safety practices within the fishing industry.

The Senators and Sterling Belliveau (on Fleet Separation and EI)

Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau

Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau

Nova Scotia’s Conservative Senator Stephen Greene wrote to Canada’s Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield calling for an end to fleet separation: “In my view, fleet separation is one of the worst industrial policies in Canadian history.”

Nova Scotia’s NDP Fisheries Minister Sterling Belliveau is fighting to protect east coast fishermen and their way of life. But Conservatives may be intent on eliminating the fleet separation and owner/operator policies.

Current rules ensure that licences stay in the hands of the local fishermen who do the work. Companies can not buy up licences and hire others to do the fishing for minimum wage.

This has resulted in a profitable fishery all over the Nova Scotian coast, with thousands of fishing entrepreneurs making a good living off lobster and crab.

If the federal government destroys this system, it will lead to foreign control of our inshore fisheries, and the further collapse of small fishing villages across Nova Scotia.

Senator Greene’s opinions on fleet separation are also wrapped up in an attack on EI. He wrote that fleet separation caused “the fostering of generations of dependency on EI benefits” and “the acceptance of massive EI fraud as part and parcel of a way of life.”

Under intense pressure from Sterling Belliveau and the fishing families he represents, the federal government has backed off on eliminating the fleet separation and owner-operator policies. But for how long?

In his last visit to Ottawa, Belliveau also urged a Senate committee, which is conducting a study of the lobster industry in Atlantic Canada, not to impose quotas on the inshore lobster fishery – another wise lobbying effort by the provincial NDP.

Belliveau and Nova Scotia’s newest Conservative senator, Tom McInnis, had a heated debate during the meeting when Belliveau attacked federal changes to employment insurance.

Belliveau said EI changes that require seasonal workers to take jobs outside of their field will cause a worker shortage in the fishing industry. But McInnis said fishermen can return to their jobs during fishing season. Of course, the fishermen won’t return. They will stay out west. Sterling Belliveau and the NDP are right on this issue. The fight must continue.

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.