Kimber’s Nova Scotia
What’s that I smell?
Last spring, in the lead-up to the election, then freshly-minted wind-up-doll premier Rodney MacDonald gleefully played handout hopscotch, announcing a multitude of multi-million-dollar projects, expansions, upgrades, grants and good times from Yarmouth to Sydney.
This spring in the follow-up to his less-than-spectacular budget, our no-longer new but still on-message (revised message) premier and his cabinet minions are currently criss-crossing the same territory, trying to convince skeptical voters they really meant what they promised last year (and will undoubtedly promise again before the next election).
On Thursday morning, Education Minister Karen Casey showed up at Middleton High School to, in the genteel words of the Annapolis County Spectator, “compliment students for their exemplary behaviour during their march on the Legislature April 2, and reconfirm her department’s promise that the school’s new gym and music room would be delayed by only six months.”
Oh, yes, that delay.
Last year, the Tories promised — and failed to deliver on — a $2.2 million expansion and upgrade for the school.
The same day in Cape Breton, Premier Rodney announced the government was committing… er, re-committing $1.5 million this year for renovations to the East Richmond Education Centre in St. Peter’s. No kidding.
That project was first announced — wait for it — in 2002. And then announced and re-announced. But somehow, it still got left out of this spring’s provincial budget.
And it ain’t over ’til it’s over. MacDonald promises that Education Minister Casey will be back in Sydney this week with more “good news.”
Perhaps there really is an ‘I’ in Team
You may recall last week’s item on the kerfuffle in Shelburne over what to do with the site of the former Shelburne Youth Detention Centre.
Team Shelburne, the committee set up to hear proposals for what is now grandly called Shelburne Place, has apparently approved a project more prosaically called “Proposal A.” But no one knows what it is, or who exactly is behind it.
Well, you can now officially count the ex-chair of Team Shelburne, Darian Huskilson among the know-nothings.
Huskilson, who is also mayor of Lockeport, resigned this week, complaining he is as in the dark as anyone about the deal. “As, Chair I do not know who we are dealing with. I cannot tell you if the Youth Centre is sold or when the closing date is…The reality is that the public knows as much as I do, and my participation has little or no impact on a deal that apparently has already been determined by other players.”
Huskilson claims Shelburne Municipal Warden Paulette Scott has been meeting regularly and without Team Shelburne’s approval with the unnamed someone who wants to buy the land to build the unnamed something. When he wrote Scott to say he was uncomfortable with the secret meetings, she ignored him. So he quit.
Now that’s the question
At first blush, it all seemed innocuous enough. Certainly uncontroversial. On Wednesday, the Cape Breton Post published a photo of a local Pentacostal minister and some members of his congregation greeting wheelchair-bound Winnie MacKay and her grandchildren as they arrived at the local airport “to move home after living in Alberta.”
But when the photo was published on the paper’s website, a reader in Brantford, ON, was quick to snipe: “What is the big deal about this? It is nice that people return home to Cape Breton, but to have it in the paper for the arrival?”
And then the Calgary hit the Cape Breton… er, the fan.
By Friday morning, there were nearly two dozen responses on the web site, many from reluctant Cape Breton gone-aways in Ontario and Alberta. Many expressed bafflement at Brantford Man; more expressed the wish to join those in the photo.
“More power to the family who moved home,” wrote Lorraine Crawford from Toronto. “I have been away about 44 years and I still call the place home.”
Declared a “Proud Caper” from Whitney Pier: “It is the people that make our Island, and that is why we make a big deal out of welcoming our former residents home.”
While agreeing such stories are “very heartwarming,” one astute reader had a suggestion for the paper’s editors the next time they published such a photo. “It would help if the story mentioned whether or not the parents were fully employed upon their return to Cape Breton.”
Kiss me, I’m a doctor…
Memo to Prime Minister Stephen “when-a-government-makes-an-investment-in-the-health-of-people-it’s-making-an-investment-in-the-country’s-future” Harper: the doctor shortage has become so acute in Digby county that the local hospital’s emergency room was shut down for 19 days so far this year.
The town and the municipality are so concerned they’re considering pooling resources to help the local health board attract new physicians.
Earlier this month, the municipal council discussed hiring a professional recruiter — they charge $8-10,000 for every doctor they land — or even offering “signing bonuses” to new doctors.
“It is too bad we have to do this, too bad the government doesn’t provide packages in rural areas,” lamented Digby mayor Frank Mackintosh, “but if this is what it takes, we’ll do whatever we have to get a doctor in town.”
South West Health, which runs the hospitals in the region, does have its own fulltime recruiter, but Shirley Watson-Poole says it isn’t easy convincing doctors to locate there. “We kiss a lot of frogs,” she concedes, “but we don’t get them all.”
Someone must have more faith in Nova Scotia Power than I do.
Two weeks ago, “a perpetrator or perpetrators” cut the copper ground wires from eight power poles in New Minas. The would-be copper thieves did the deed in the middle of the night in “blustering wind and rain.”
If the messy weather had resulted in a power outage followed by a surge, local RCMP officer Cst. Les Kakonyi deadpanned to a reporter from the Kentville Advertiser, they might have had the robbers “dead in their tracks.”
Though they don’t have any suspects, Kakonyu suggested anyone noticing people carrying tools around power poles should give them a call.
Chances are they aren’t NSP maintenance workers!
Louise Lorifice may have already been relegated to irrelevancy by the national media, but … Louise Lorifice? Oh, right, Louise Lorifice, the NDPer many believe is campaigning to be the answer to the Trivial Pursuit question: Name the other major party candidate who ran in the Battle of the Central Nova Media Megastars?
While jet-setting Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay — he of Belinda, Condi and the dog who may or may not have been Belinda — and bus-hopping Green Party leader Elizabeth May — she of the spruce budworm battles, the Sierra Club and all that hugging that may or may not have been Stephane — duke it out in the national media, Lorifice is quietly getting in a few shots back home.
In an interview with the New Glasgow News last week, Lorifice was asked what she thought of Dion’s decision not to run a candidate against May in Central Nova.
you have a hockey tournament [and] one team withdraws because they want a weaker team to win,” Lorifice jabbed, “you lose your fans pretty fast, to say nothing of team morale. I think you could apply that comparison to political maneuvering.”
Not as welcome as the flowers in…
Speaking of the Green Party leader, Elizabeth May is drawing fire from proponents of the Keltic Petrochemicals-Maple LNG project at the Strait of Canso.
May wants the federal government to undertake a full environmental panel review of the $4.5-billion project instead of the current but less rigorous “comprehensive study process.”
Allan Murphy, the Conservative candidate in the neighbouring riding of Cape Breton-Canso, has accused May of trying to delay the project and claimed her criticisms were “politically driven to gain support from the environmental lobby.” The project is expected to employ 3,500 during construction, and create 400 fulltime jobs. “The last thing Cape Breton-Canso needs is the job-killing combination of Stephane Dion and Elizabeth May,” Murphy declared
Countered May: “What are they afraid of?” She says that in her 30-year involvement with environmental assessments, “those projects that are subjected to panel reviews tend to be improved through the process. Think of it as a planning tool. So there is not a case to be made, other than as a scare tactic, that it would slow things down.”
Back at ya, Allan.
By the way…
A recent press release from the companies behind the Keltic petrochemical plant included the thanks of a grateful corporate entity to all the fine folks who’d supported them in their hour of application.
“Keltic and Maple are grateful to the people of Guysborough County, in
particular, the Honourable Ronnie Chisholm, Minister of Agriculture and
Ronnie? Not Ron? Or Ronald? Or even the Honourable Ronnie?
Was that how the “person of interest” who hitched a ride with Chisholm outside a Tim Horton’s on a cold night in March referred to him.
“A ride, Ronnie?”
ANNAPOLIS COUNTY SPECTATOR, CAPE BRETON POST, DIGBY COURIER, KENTVILLE ADVERTISER, NEW GLASGOW NEWS, PORT HAWKESBURY REPORTER, SHELBURNE COAST GUARD.