Author: Richard Starr

Revenue windfalls produce Nova Scotia budgetary crumbs

While their criticisms of the Nova Scotia  budget have had some things in common, the two opposition parties in the legislature have also stressed different, but equally important, shortcomings. The NDP has questioned the unfair distribution of the budget’s rewards, with leader Gary Burrill describing the $70 million tax cut for big business to “a banquet feast laid on the table of the corporate sector of the province compared to crumbs cast on the floor for everybody else.” Some of those crumbs – for affordable housing, income assistance, disability supports –  were discussed last week. For its part, the...

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On social policy promises Nova Scotia budget rings a familiar bell

Last week’s Nova Scotia budget, the eighth from the McNeil Liberals, was greeted by most as a pre-election offering. That may yet turn out to be the case, but to my eye, the 2020 budget more closely resembled the one brought in a year before the last provincial election. That 2016 offering, coming only a few months after Justin Trudeau and his sunny ways temporarily captured the hearts of Nova Scotians, tried to put a smiley face on a provincial Liberal government that had spent the previous two-plus years preaching austerity. Dubbed “Working Together for a Stronger Nova Scotia”...

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Child poverty dips but Nova Scotia income picture remains dismal

Just in time for the self-congratulatory rhetoric of the provincial budget, Statistics Canada released the results of the Canada Income Survey (CIS) for 2018. The latest personal income numbers show that (what else is new?) Nova Scotia remained at the bottom in terms of both poverty rates and median income levels. Only the new figures on child poverty will require any rewrite of the dreary message track of the past couple of years. On that score, when the CIS came out last February it infamously revealed Nova Scotia as the only province in the country with a jump in...

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Provincial broadband cash lets feds and telecoms duck responsibility

A couple of years ago, when thanks to a year-end windfall the McNeil government stashed $120 million into a slush fund for high speed internet expansion, I questioned why a province – with social spending needs that ran the gamut – would make such a choice. It seems my qualms were very much in the minority. A few months later, when the books were closed on the 2017-18 fiscal year the windfall turned out to be even bigger than expected and the McNeil government added another $73 million to the pot – formally known as the Internet Funding Trust....

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Frontier Mine should have been headed off before the impasse

The Frontier oil sands mine has jumped to the political front burner lately. Whether the federal government will approve the northern Alberta project was the second question the Conservatives asked when parliament resumed last week. Naturally the Conservatives wanted it done, right away. But the Bloc, feeling its oats in the minority parliament had a different idea, calling approval “the end of us meeting our greenhouse gas reduction targets and the end of the Paris agreement.” And this week there is word that the Liberal caucus is split on the issue, one that has been framed as a litmus...

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Richard Starr, The man behind the Point

About Richard

RICHARD STARR has had careers as a journalist, public servant, broadcaster, political staffer and freelance policy adviser. He is author of numerous newspaper and magazine articles, a former radio and TV producer and weekly newspaper editor, and the author of three non-fiction books. Starr has lived in Dartmouth for more than 30 years.

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