Category: Nova Scotia Politics

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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Status quo Nova Scotia byelections shed no light on the political road ahead

Anyone expecting clear harbingers of things to come from this week’s three byelections in Nova Scotia will likely be disappointed. There were several possible omens to watch for, but none materialized as the status quo prevailed. Standing pat was most apparent in Argyle-Barrington, vacant because of the resignation of Tory MLA Chris d’Entremont, who like his colleagues in two Cape Breton districts is abandoning the Tim Houston-led provincial Progressive Conservative party and seeking greener pastures with the unprogressive Conservatives at the federal level. The byelection result in d’Entremont’s former riding was almost a carbon copy of the outcome in...

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Sackville-Cobequid by-election:not momentous,but interesting for sure

With the usual caveat against reading too much into a by-election, there is a lot to ponder in the wake of this week’s vote that saw Conservative Steve Craig win the Sackville-Cobequid seat by a narrow margin of less than 200 votes over the NDP’s Lara Fawthorpe. First off, despite the closeness of the final vote, it was a disheartening loss for the NDP, a “bitter pill to swallow”as Gary Burrill put it in his message to members. The party had held the seat for almost 35 years, its procurement a watershed in the NDP’s slow evolution from a...

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Budget Officer reports deserve more attention from provincial politicians

The Conservatives managed to squeeze in a small gotcha in the last question period of the fall session of the Nova Scotia legislature. The topic was something of a snoozer – the annual Fiscal Sustainability Report (FSR) from Ottawa’s Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). In numerous QP exchanges over the past year the Premier and various ministers have extolled the government’s budgetary brilliance by citing the PBO’s 2017 conclusion that among all provinces and territories only Nova Scotia and Quebec could boast sustainable fiscal policies. The PBO’s 2018 report, released a few weeks ago, shows that Quebec is now the...

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Offshore royalty shell game produces political dividends for McNeil government

Nova Scotia’s offshore natural gas has been running low for a very long time, but the royalties generated during the heyday of the nearly depleted fields continue to deliver political benefits for the government. In March, just before the end of the fiscal year, the Premier stood before an suitably appreciative crowd of beneficiaries to announce a surprise spending spree. The $245 million splurge was made possible by a financial windfall resulting in large part from an arbitration ruling recalculating offshore royalties from the Sable project dating back to 1999. Rather than put the newfound cash into social programs...

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Need to ask: Why more provincial subsidies to the internet?

Sometimes the politics of this place are mystifying. A few weeks ago, with the alarming result of under funding long term care hitting TV screens, the government announced it will spend another $120 million on higher speed rural internet. What are the Liberals thinking, I wondered? A lack of capacity in nursing homes leaves elderly patients to linger in hospital beds, stranding those who need those beds stuck in emergency or worse – in an ambulance parked outside, waiting to be admitted to backlogged ERs. You might think that kind of televised evidence of crisis would spur a government...

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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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