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.

Bumble Bee

In the first of his two prizes this week, Zach Churchill wins the Bumble Bee prize for the error prone for suggesting only the NDP are talking about the Liberal’s trust fund and the Allan J. MacEachen Institute.

Zach Churchill: I think it is a sad state of affairs that the NDP is still trying to perpetuate this story that’s really a non-story. No one is talking about this; no one is asking questions about it, but them. It’s because there has been an effort to mislead the public on what is actually happening here.

Actually, the Progressive Conservatives are talking about the trust fund as well.

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 the continued debate on the status of the tainted Liberal trust fund, Zach Churchill suggested there should not even be a debate because it might hurt the feelings of Allan J. MacEachen.

Zach Churchill: I really think what this government needs – who they need to apologize to is Allan J. MacEachen and his good name because in this sort of attack, this baseless attack that they’ve been perpetrating, they are attacking Allan J. MacEachen, who is a great Nova Scotian we are all proud of. He’s a proud Liberal.

What rot. The idea that one of the biggest scandals in Nova Scotia history, the monetary affects of which continue to this day, should not be debated in the Legislature because it might hurt someone’s feelings is juvenile.

Killer Bee

Kings North NDP MLA Jim Morton followed Cape Breton MLA Eddie Orrell’s debate on fiscal prudence and Nova Scotia’s balanced budget with a strong reminder of the legacies of both Opposition parties:

Jim Morton: Nova Scotia is only one of four Canadian provinces to prepare a balanced budget during this time, a budget which earned the Auditor General’s unqualified opinion for its revenue projections.

It’s amusing to have the member for Cape Breton North raise the question of fiscal prudence. His Party is the Party that left behind the fiscal mess that we were dealing with, and I would remind everyone in this House, left behind the structural situation that would have led to a deficit of $1.3 billion. It’s his Tory Party whose idea of health care policy was to invest millions in kiddy ATVs, it’s his Tory Party whose recklessness included spending the $68 million of the BFIT recreational program in three years, a program that was intended to be carefully spread over 10 years.

Maybe, Madam Speaker, the Tories still think they can buy the votes of Nova Scotians. I, for one, haven’t forgotten the $155 cheques that were delivered to many Nova Scotians during a couple of elections back. Tories and Liberals, when it comes to fiscal thinking, are content to bask in what I sometimes think of as the glow of magical thinking, that promise of lower taxes while combined with increased spending and increased services and more and better services. The problem is that neither the Liberals nor the Tories can show where that kind of thinking has actually worked.

That kind of thinking fuelled the Liberal’s 2009 election campaign. In the 2009 election campaign the Liberal Party made $227 million worth of promises and they outlined those promises in the 33-page booklet that led The Chronicle Herald to wonder in its editorial whose dog ate Page 34. I think what the Liberal campaign did was make some empty promises and had no plan. Perhaps the Liberals are content with, or comfortable with, the fantasy of easy money, because for many years they had access to as what we all know as the Liberal trust fund.

Honey Bee

In his speech before the Committee of the Whole House on Supply, Lunenburg West NDP MLA Gary Ramey also reminded the Legislature of the Liberal’s record of rolling back teacher’s wages as part of that party’s last failed attempt to balance their budget. It was Ramey’s simple point of Nova Scotia’s balanced budget that wins him the Honey Bee prize for good work.

Gary Ramey: I’m very pleased that Nova Scotia is one of four Canadian provinces that has been able to balance its budget while providing expanded services for its citizens. This is no mean feat and it’s an accomplishment that has been appreciated by my constituents and by many Nova Scotians across our province. It is a fact, however, the significance of which seems, for whatever reason, to have escaped my colleagues on the other side of the House; both the Liberal Party and those in the PC Party have tried at all costs to trivialize the importance of this accomplishment. It is a position which separates them from many of the citizens of our province.

Job Killas

Liberal MLA Zach Churchill: “I find the NDP “job killas” line about the Liberals so hilarious and absurd.”

Projex Atlantic President Scott Richards: “If the message that we send to Alberta is that it is difficult to get started here, they are not going to come.”

Unfortunately for Churchill and the Liberals, it’s not just the NDP that are wondering why the Liberals are attacking each and every job investment announcement.

With the Liberals speaking out against every bit of good news in Nova Scotia, others have begun to wonder what their strategy might be. Stephen McNeil’s doom and gloom attitude in the face of our province’s brightening prospects has been noticed, not just by the Tories and the NDP, but by the business leaders visiting the Legislature.

On Wednesday, McNeil stood in the Legislature and questioned the integrity of the president of a company that has come to town creating $90,000/year jobs for Engineering graduates. Did McNeil know that Scott Richards was sitting right behind him in the Gallery? Or does he just not care? Either way, it was another telling example of McNeil’s poor judgement.

Scott Richards, the President of the Atlantic Region of Projex, has asked the Liberals to stop making his company a political football. He was in town for a week, and while McNeil was happy to throw insults around in the Legislature, the Liberals did not meet with him.  Here is his letter, sent to editors and the Liberals:

As someone born, raised and educated in Nova Scotia, one of the happiest moments in my 20 plus years of working in business and creating jobs was leading the expansion of Projex into Nova Scotia last year.

For more than a decade, Projex operated successfully out of Calgary, with more than 200 engineers and other specialists providing services to a wide range of oil and gas companies in Alberta. But Projex hit a major barrier in its growth as a business – a hot Calgary job market where engineers were difficult to retain at a reasonable salary.

That’s why Projex chose to locate and invest in Nova Scotia so that we could meet the high demands of Canada’s oil and gas sector in Alberta from a more cost effective location. Since September 2011, Projex hired more than 40 people to our Halifax office, earning an average salary of more than $90,000. We made these hires without a single penny of government support and without a single tax break. Not a single employee of Projex left their previous employer based on government support of Projex, because there hasn’t been any government support in our first year of business in this province. It is false and misleading for any company, organization or politician to make this claim. During this time without any government incentive, twelve hundred people have applied for jobs in our Halifax office. Five hundred of those applicants live in Nova Scotia, seven hundred of them live elsewhere, mostly in Ontario and Alberta.

While Nova Scotia’s tremendous advantages gave Projex plenty of reasons to come to Nova Scotia last year, engineers continue to be in high demand, not only in Calgary, not only in Halifax or across Canada, but around the globe. To meet the growing demands of our energy customers in Alberta, Projex needed the certainty around business costs to make a commitment to significantly grow our workforce, either in Nova Scotia, or another jurisdiction. That’s why we concluded an agreement with the Government of Nova Scotia through Nova Scotia Business Inc (NSBI) to create 440 new jobs in Nova Scotia supported by a tax rebate.

Here’s the great thing about NSBI’s longstanding payroll rebate program first established by a previous Liberal government and expanded by a previous Progressive Conservative government and now used by the current NDP government. It helps companies reduce their business costs through lower payroll taxes, but only after they have created and maintained jobs. No new jobs; no tax break. Government and by extension the taxpayer is not out any money by supporting Projex or any other company through NSBI’s payroll rebate program. It’s the ultimate economic development tool because it always protects the taxpayer interest, which is probably why it has been championed by all three parties in this province.

For more than a year, countless Nova Scotians have warmly welcomed Projex to this province, which, as a Nova Scotian leading the Nova Scotia Office, makes me feel both proud and humbled. Premier Darrell Dexter, Nova Scotia Business Inc CEO Stephen Lund, Greater Halifax Partnership CEO Paul Kent, Dalhousie University President Tom Traves, Halifax Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Barbara Pike, to name but a very few. We are also working hard to give back to our community in which we live and have launched our first United Way of Halifax workplace campaign and already have our corporate name on the wall at Canadian Blood Services on Bayers Road.

Projex applauds Premier Darrell Dexter and his government for acting on the recommendation of Nova scotia Business Inc., where investment decisions are made through a private sector board of directors free of all political considerations.

In the meantime, we would welcome the opportunity to address any questions anyone has with our commitment to investing and creating jobs in Nova Scotia before they decide to criticize Projex’s decision to support the creation of good jobs in Nova Scotia.

As a company, we are always prepared to be accountable to any government program for which we qualify for support. All we ask is to not make us a political punching bag, as that has the potential to hurt our ability to actually deliver the jobs over the next five years as well as Nova Scotia’s reputation for attracting investments and new jobs.

When Liberals laugh at the idea that they are hurting the economy of Nova Scotia with their politics of negativity, they should recall the last sentence of Scott Richards’ letter.

The Bees’ Knees – Prizes for Week Two

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

The benefit of Muskrat Falls in terms of 35 years of stable rates and moving off coal are well known. This week, during late debate, Premier Dexter brought jobs into the equation as well.

Premier Dexter: The Maritime Link, which is where most of our investment will be made, has three key elements: (1) it creates an undersea cable link from Cape Ray, Newfoundland, to Cape Breton; (2) it includes two substations on either side of the cable; and (3) it includes the enhanced transmission grid leading to the New Brunswick border.

The construction of the Link will create 2,700 person-years of employment, in Nova Scotia companies with Nova Scotia jobs.

For reminding Nova Scotians of the job implications of the Muskrat Falls project, Darrell Dexter wins this week’s Honey Bee prize for good work.

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

Keith Colwell blames everything under the sun, moon and stars on the NDP. Unless it’s a success story – then he claims the government had nothing to do with it.

This week, he said “the price of food has increased by nearly 10 per cent since the NDP took over.” That sort of statement, both inaccurate and overblown, is typical of Colwell.

The price of food goes up and down depending on worldwide supply and demand. Weather and war change food prices – not a change in the government of a Canadian province. Keith Colwell wins the Drone of the Week prize for championing the politics of negativity.

Killer Bee

On a debate about food banks and poverty, Kings North NDP MLA Jim Morton reminded the opposition they had decades to work on poverty issues but did nothing, because the Liberals and Tories did not see poverty reduction as a “vote winner.” This passage below is a good example of how the NDP will rally their base, and wins Jim Morton this week’s Killer Bee prize.

Jim Morton: I think people are there these days because costs are rising in a world that continues to be on the edge of recession. But I think when you look at this bigger picture, we’ve had here in Nova Scotia a very long history of neglect of those people who are most vulnerable in our community.

I recall, before I stood in this House, being in a meeting with two Members of the Legislative Assembly – in fact, they were on the government side at that point – who were talking with a group of citizens about poverty, and who both agreed that in their particular constituencies the issues of poverty and the calls they got in their offices were the most significant calls that they received. They were the highest in volume and the most distressing. But they added to that that it wasn’t possible to talk about those matters because their other constituents just wouldn’t tolerate that, wouldn’t agree with their making that a priority.

I believe that it’s that kind of thinking, turning a blind eye, turning one’s back on poverty, decade after decade, that has left us with so much that needs doing. On the other hand, this government – our government – has been taking a close look at the realities of poverty. We’ve been taking practical steps, even in the midst of tough economic and recessionary times, to do something different.

Bumble Bee

Yarmouth MLA Zach Chuchill chastised the Conservative Party for bringing up Stephen McNeil’s own quotes as proof the Liberals promoted breaking the constituency of Shelburne in two.

The problem? The Conservatives’ point was that Stephen McNeil’s opinion changes with the wind. He spoke out both in favour of dividing Shelburne, and of keeping it whole. Zach Churchill wins this week’s Bumble Bee prize for the error prone.

The PCs distributed the piece below to the press gallery:

The Tories presentation of Stephen McNeil’s two opinions on splitting Shelburne, depending on his audience. Expect more of this from Jamie Baillie’s Conservatives as they try to become the real alternative in voters’ minds.

The Bees’ Knees – Prizes for Week One

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

Premier Darrell Dexter had a very good week as the Legislature opened. He promised to press the opposition on their plans, or their lack of plans, and put the Liberals back on their heels.

Stephen McNeil’s recent pledge to party faithful, in front of Globe and Mail and CBC journalists, that he would cut energy efficiency programs was a serious error that did not go unnoticed by the government.

Premier Dexter: Unfortunately, this is a problem that the Liberal caucus has – they speak from inexperience. We know what they’re doing. They want to haul people down the road of deregulation. They have said, if you can imagine, that they are going to cancel all of the energy efficiency programs …  a cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face-stick-your-head-in-the-ground policy, which is exactly what we can expect from the Liberal Party.

For putting a spotlight on the Liberal’s energy policy, Darrell Dexter wins the Honey Bee prize for good work.

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 new line of the Liberal Party makes very little sense. They claim that by investing in Nova Scotia’s ship yards, manufacturing sector and forestry industry, Darrell Dexter has somehow lost jobs.

Stephen McNeil: If it wasn’t for this government, 1,310 other Nova Scotians would be working today.

But by not investing in these industries, a Liberal government would have thrown thousands of people out of work. They are attacking the livelihood of families, not corporations. Stephen McNeil’s rhetoric on corporate welfare wins him the Drone of the Week prize.

Killer Bee

During an aside on his discussion of the disastrous P-3 school deals signed by the previous Liberal government, NDP MLA Mat Whynott listed budget items that could very well be cut by Liberals if they were ever in power again.

The MLA for Hammonds Plains – Upper Sackville had mentioned the NDP’s Affordable Living Tax Credit, the Poverty Reduction Tax Credit, the Caregiver Program, and the increases to child benefits as things the Liberals would cut when he was interrupted by Yarmouth MLA Zach Churchill.

Zach Churchill: All I would ask is that the member opposite provide any sort of documentation that can help prove his point. Table the documents, then. If you believe it, table the documents.

Mat Whynott: Mr. Speaker, the document that I’m talking about, for the honourable member for Yarmouth, is called the budget. It’s called the budget. It’s tabled every year. That’s the document I’m talking about.

The Liberals, of course, voted against the budget. For shutting down the most fustian and jejune MLA in the Legislature, Mat Whynott wins this week’s Killer Bee prize.

Bumble Bee

While still occasionally mentioning their unhealthy attack on renewable energy, the Tories are getting better on the electricity file. Jamie Baillie needs to avoid these sorts of stumbles.

Jamie Baillie: The Premier has already hitched his wagon to a gigantic mega project, Muskrat Falls, which is a 50-year decision that this province had to make in a very short period of time and yet he has rigged the review of Muskrat Falls because he insists that they can only look at alternatives that are consistent with his renewable energy plan.

Darrell Dexter: They have the right to look at any experts’ reports they want. They can look at natural gas.

A small error, but worthy of this week’s Bumble Bee prize for the error prone. Baillie used to promote the Muskrat Falls deal, just like he used to promote renewable energy. He should go back to his previous positions.