The Bee’s Knees – Prizes for Week 6

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

Killer Bee:

Just as when Tories in Nova Scotia talk about jobs creation, debt repayment or equality, there is a queer sense of contradiction when they talk about Nova Scotia Power. Halifax MLA Howard Epstein calls them on this, with style, winning Week 6’s Killer Bee prize:

Howard Epstein: The age of miracles is upon us. Madam Speaker, let history take note that on a quiet Wednesday in December 2011, suddenly the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia has taken note of two very important social issues and facts. First, they have suddenly become aware of the problem of social inequality as measured by the extreme differences in pay between CEOs and average workers and, second, they have also become aware of the fact that 20 years ago when they privatized Nova Scotia Power, there were certain consequences that were negative for the ratepayers of Nova Scotia.

An Honourable Member: Well the Apocalypse is here.

Howard Epstein: Kill the fatted calf, the prodigal son has returned.

Bumble Bee:

The Liberals aren’t competitive on the South Shore. Liberal Manning MacDonald made headlines when he helped to ensure they won’t be in the next election either, calling the Bowater deal “nothing more than a political investment to save seats in Queens County”, and the industry “a dinosaur” in “a product that has reached the end of its life-cycle.” We disagree.

Liberal Manning MacDonald also forgot there was a paper mill in the Liberal riding of Richmond that the NDP is also working to make sustainable. His vocal critique of investments in mill workers and plant efficiency will be remembered on the South Shore. If the Liberals are lucky, journalists won’t ask Manning what he thinks should happen to the NewPage mill.

Honey Bee:

Volunteer firefighters from Queens County, visiting the legislature to be thanked for their work fighting the fire at White Point, looked on as the MLAs debated Bowater. NDP MLA Vicki Conrad had a particularly good day, defending these firefighters’ other jobs – at the Liverpool paper mill. She wins this week’s Honey Bee prize.

Vicki Conrad: Let’s look at the facts. If the Opposition wants numbers, we’ll give them numbers. How about these: in a global economic downturn our government has actively worked with partners involved in game-changing opportunities like the shipbuilding strategy, which will create 11,500 jobs. It will average at least 8,500 jobs every year…

They translate into work for a generation and bringing our children home from the western provinces. They translate into Nova Scotians staying at home, working at home, putting down roots at home, and thriving at home…

The Opposition is playing politics with a very serious issue in rural Nova Scotia – jobs. What we need here is real leadership, and that’s what we have – real leadership, not more rhetoric. If they still want to look at numbers, let’s try the rate of unemployment under their government’s record. Cape Breton unemployment peaked at 20.7 per cent in April 2001, under the Tories; it was at 26.6 per cent in March 1997, under the Liberals – and, interestingly enough, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Cape Breton South was the Minister of Labour and Minister of Economic Development around that same time period…

Mr. Speaker, we know that more work has to be done, but I would like to point out that as it stands today, Nova Scotia continues to have the lowest unemployment rate among the Atlantic Provinces. That’s because jobsHere is working. We are providing steady leadership for long-term economic growth in this province, for every region in this province.

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

Back-room-boy turned Conservative leader Jamie Baillie needs to learn that grocery stores won’t close down because of FCA, Nova Scotia will still have blueberries next year, and leaders don’t talk about their underwear.

Jamie Baillie: I hope that somewhere on the government side there is a member who has a Michelin plant in their riding or who has another manufacturer in their riding, who has a blueberry manufacturer in their riding, has a Sobeys in their riding, has a contractor in their riding, has a road paver in their riding, has a underwear manufacturing plant in their riding – which, by the way, makes very good underwear, I can tell you. I happen to be wearing their product myself right now.

As the Chronicle Herald put it, “One hopes for insight during debates in the House, but Tory Leader Jamie Baillie was a bit too revealing on Friday.” Several people wrote in to comment on Baillie’s speech about the “dark curtain of tyranny” but when your own bench shouts “too much information” after a comment, you’re deserving of the Drone of the Week prize.

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The Bowater Mill Investment

When NewPage shut down, it was a real test of the NDP’s commitment to rural Nova Scotia. And they acted swiftly, coming up with a comprehensive 7 Point Woodlands Plan to help woodlot owners and keep the mill on “hot-idle” while searching for a new buyer.

Some say paper mills may be a sunset industry of sorts, but they’re not ready to go the way of horse-wranglers and scissor-sharpeners just yet.

Vicki-Conrad

Darrell Dexter and Vicki Conrad at the forestry announcement in Liverpool.

Just as we saw with the community of Port Hawkesbury as the NewPage news hit, Premier Dexter spent time with MLA Vicki Conrad and the people of Liverpool the last few weeks as the Premier’s Office and the Mills Committee worked to save a town’s mainstay industry.

If you want to win the hearts and votes of rural Nova Scotia, you have to understand farming, fishing and forestry. Darrell Dexter gets that.

While Haligonians might complain about “corporate welfare” and “bailing out Bowater”, rural Nova Scotians know the existence of their towns depend on investments in our natural resource industries.

The Herald gets it too, writing:

No one rejoices in having to invest a lot of public money in revitalizing an important industry to keep it from failing. But sometimes that’s the right thing to do, if it’s done in the right way. The province’s $50-million outlay to help Bowater Mersey retool, innovate and cut costs, announced Friday, is one of those times.

For our Haligonian readers, imagine your economy if your shipyard closed or the arts left town – that’s the scale Queens County was looking at. Cut rural Nova Scotia some slack, and take solace in the fact environmentalists are onside as well. Here’s The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society:

Nova Scotia has very little public land. This agreement will go a long way toward protecting significant wilderness areas in southwestern Nova Scotia and help the province achieve its goal of protecting at least 12% of the provincial landmass over the next few years.

This is a win-win. Hopefully it will help keep the mill open and, at the same time, Nova Scotia gets to expand its public land base and protect important tracts of wilderness.