NDP's first six months: very well but….

 Nova Scotia’s new New Democratic Party government isn’t so new anymore. A week from tomorrow, it will have been in office six months.

How well has it performed?

At one level, the answer would have to be very well. Darrell Dexter’s government has demonstrated a level of calming, policy-wonkish competence sadly lacking during the chaotic, what-shall-we-pave-today reign of former Tory Premier Rodney MacDonald.

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The NDP clearly learned by watching the endless parade of do-as-we-didn’t Tory gaffes. Even when the new government’s ministers momentarily forget themselves—Deputy Premier Frank Corbett’s big-whopper $441.48 restaurant bill comes to mind—they’ve been wise enough to apologize (“I screwed up and it won’t happen again”) and move on. Ernie Fage? Compare and contrast. I rest my case.

The government has also made progress in eliminating the most outrageous entitlements—fees for chairing committees that didn’t meet, peddling taxpayer-bought office furniture for personal gain—too many of our elected officials believed they were entitled to.

On the other hand, it must be said that the New Democrats have broken—or will break—every important election promise they made during last spring’s campaign.

Such blatant backsliding would normally lead to howls of voter outrage, but the NDP’s popularity remains high. That’s probably because we, as voters, never expected them to keep those promises. We would have been angrier if they had, especially after this fall’s sobering economic analysis from experts the government hired to get it off the hook it had created for itself.

For me, however, the most troubling blemish on the NDP’s early record is how easily it seems to have slipped into playing Nova Scotia politics-as-usual on appointments and government spending decisions.

The NDP recently used its majority on the all-party human resources committee, for example, to keep MLAs—and the public—from finding out about all candidates being considered for appointments to provincial boards and commissions. While in opposition, the party led the fight to make that process more open and transparent.

And last week the NDP’s Cumberland South riding president and former candidate resigned because he says the government is playing “old-style politics” on the location of a new provincial jail. The Tories had promised two jails—arguably old-style politics too—but the NDP canceled those, and now plans to build just one to save money.

Intriguingly, allnovascotia.com reports Justice Minister Ross Landry’s home riding is the “leading contender” as home to the new institution.

Those are not good omens so early in their tenure.

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Copyright 2009 Stephen Kimber, Website
  1. Perhaps Nova Scotians had just enough of the good ode byes and Mr. Dexter having paid his dues was awarded the top post with a full mandate. Most people speak of politicians and used car salesman in the same breath, not that used car salesman are bad people they just sell used cars and the public has for years been sold a used bill of goods over and over again by politicians. Politics is an honourable profession and now and then people stand tall behind one like Mr. Bill Casey for and example.

    Our new Premier appears to have started well first by not trying to rewrite the sins of past governments, good, and lets hope he continues to do so. What most if not all the good citizens of Nova Scotia want is, show up for work and run our daily political affairs in a just manner without a whole lot of fan fare. His year of historic election was 2009 and the next is 2010 having said that most if not all the ways and means of doing a province’s business is really cut and dry. Keep it clean, do not waste our money, keep our civil service gainfully employed, fix/maintain what should be fixed and maintained only. The difficult will arise, stand tall and take a page out of Mr. Obama’s book, do not rush to judgement. I would like to remind our Premier Nova Scotians are not defeatist people as history had proved this month on December 6th 1917. Having built a fine city acting as the gateway to the west and beyond suffered a tragedy never experienced, picked up the pieces and moved on to prepare not only Canada but North America a vital staging area to make a significant contribution to the success of WW II.

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