Category: Nova Scotia Politics

Fiscal Update wins bank’s praise but Liberals aren’t bragging

Well after the federal government and most other provinces reported on the impact of the pandemic on public finances the McNeil government finally got around to releasing a fiscal update last week. As will be recalled, the 2020-21 provincial budget was passed in early March but outdated within days as COVID-19 trashed all assumptions about revenues and expenditures. But although it was a long time coming, the update did not tell us a lot that is new about the state of Nova Scotia’s finances. The marquee number, a deficit of $853 million, was close to, but slightly below, the...

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Parting gift from the AG, threatened lawsuit from J.P.

Normally it is the departee receiving the gift. But the practice was reversed this week when Nova Scotia’s auditor general delivered his final report to our missing in action legislature. Michael Pickup, who is leaving after five years to take the same job in British Columbia, bequeathed the McNeil government a thumb’s-up on its plan to use the widely discredited P3 approach to replacing the Victoria General hospital. While it was far from an enthusiastic endorsement, Pickup’s headline conclusion – that the public private partnership model was selected “based on a reasonable and appropriate business case” – will come...

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Democracy in Nova Scotia: Still Closed Until Further Notice

The theme of recent COVID-19 updates in Nova Scotia has been “opening up.” Opening up the economy and opening up society have been on the agenda. But opening up democracy – not so much. Indeed, the past week provided more evidence, if more is needed, of Premier McNeil’s disdain for the views of others. Sadly but not surprisingly, the Premier held firm in his opposition to a public inquiry into last month’s mass shooting, despite calls from both opposition parties in the legislature and a host of civil society groups. Ditto to a public inquiry into long-term care homes....

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McNeil moves to new crisis, taking attitude with him

There was an interesting piece in Saturday’s Globe and Mail dealing with autocrats and the pandemic. Stephen Holmes and Ivan Krastev, authors of The Light that Failed: A Reckoning found a correlation between populist autocrats and galloping rates of COVID-19. There is compelling circumstantial evidence citing Trump and Putin, as well as Bolsonaro of Brazil, Lukashenko of Belarus and Ortega of Nicaragua, members of what’s been called the Ostrich Alliance. They are all sticking heads in the sand, and like Trump, meeting the current pandemic with “magical thinking, cowardly blame shifting and a weirdly dazed immobility.” The authors contend...

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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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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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