Category: Nova Scotia Politics

COVID update: Death count delayed is accountability denied

Last October I discussed how the Nova Scotia government’s management of COVID-19 information has worked to keep bad news about the pandemic on a low key. Since the first quarter of 2022, at least 600 Nova Scotians have succumbed to the disease and hospital admissions have averaged  more than 50 per week. Despite that, news coverage over the last year or so has been muted. A key tactic for keeping COVID deaths out of the headlines has been the abandonment of regular briefings by the Premier and the Chief Medical Health Officer. Also gone are daily reports of hospitalizations...

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Nova Scotia budget spends big but excludes the neediest

The elevator conversation critique of the Houston government’s second budget practically writes itself – money for everything but the wellbeing of those who need it the most. The budget, which the PCs seem intent on pushing through the Nova Scotia legislature ASAP, manages to be both parsimonious and profligate. The tightfistedness is most blatant in the refusal to increase income assistance rates. As the NDP’s Gary Burrill put it, failure to at least index assistance to inflation is “a scandalous and a shocking moral failure.” Meanwhile, extravagance characterized much of the remainder of the budget. The Premier seems to...

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McNeil biography leaves out impact on health crisis of Ex-Premier’s hard line approach

Although he clearly admires his subject, it would be wrong to call Dan Leger’s recently-published biography of Stephen McNeil a hagiography. To his credit the veteran journalist presents Nova Scotia’s ex-Premier warts and all, albeit while slapping on thick layers of rationalization to conceal the blemishes. Leger argues that McNeil should “be in the mix” in any discussion about “premiers of consequence,” along with other regional leaders like New Brunswick’s Louis Robichaud and Frank McKenna, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Joey Smallwood, Joe Ghiz of P.E.I and – reaching way back – Nova Scotia’s Angus L. Macdonald. Leger’s case for admitting...

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Houston puts on the populist cape to fight power rate increases

While Alberta Premier Danielle Smith captured most of the media attention for her populist attack on the Canadian constitution, Tim Houston was also busy last week burnishing his populist-autocrat credentials. Smith showcased her much-anticipated Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act as a way of stirring up anger and resentment against the Central Canadian liberal establishment, currently personified by Justin Trudeau and his government.  Houston’s masterpiece was his five-page letter calling on the Utility and Review Board (UARB) to reject a rate increase agreement – a so-called settlement agreement – between Nova Scotia Power and major customer advocates. Like...

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State of democracy in Nova Scotia going from bad to worse

Only the most die-hard watcher will have noticed but there was an unlikely filibuster in the Nova Scotia legislature last week. In a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, the Liberals went on for many hours about the the Houston government’s power-hungry, anti-democratic ways.  The ostensible subject of the lolygagging was a bill making minor changes to governance of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. But the Liberals kept this routine bill in committee for several days, using it as a club to batter the PC government for marginalizing MLAs while consolidating more power at the...

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COVID-19 and the art of managing the news

A week ago during question period in the Nova Scotia legislature the leader of the opposition accused  the Premier of delaying the monthly release of  the primary care wait-list because it contained bad news. A few hours later – and about a week after the normal delivery date – the list was released. And sure enough, the news was bad.   The number of names on the “Need A Family Practice Registry” increased by over 5,500 in September, a jump of five percent. But by the time the news came out  late Friday the legislature had adjourned for the weekend....

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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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