This is the campaign we spent 3 years waiting for?


What to make of Liberal leader Stephen McNeil’s plan to save taxpayers money by making Nova Scotia Power responsible for (and responsible for footing the bill for) what is now the regulated, arms’ length, non-profit — and working very well, thank you all the same — energy-reducing agency known as Efficiency Nova Scotia?

The reality is that funding for the agency comes from a levy on our power bill. If NSP was required to “pay” for its own energy efficiency, that levy would simply be tacked on to our power rates instead, probably invisibly and almost certainly creating yet another profit centre for our private public utility.

More to the point, do we really want Nova Scotia Power — the chicken in charge of creating electrical demand — to take control the hen house of encouraging energy efficiency? Can you say conflict of interest?

According to its website, Efficiency Nova Scotia’s various conservation programs have so far cut our annual provincial electricity load demand by 4.3 per cent, a not insignificant decrease at a time of steadily increasing power rates.

If McNeil’s proposal is from the if-it’s-not-broke-make-it-worse school of governing, Jamie Baillie’s plan to totally eliminate corporate taxes on small businesses enters stage right from the trickle down, if-it’s-never-worked-let’s-keep-trying-it-again-anyway graduate school of Reaganesque poli-nomics.

While Baillie over-heatedly accuses the NDP of driving us down the road to Detroit-style ruin, the Tories fiscal plan not only doesn’t cut our debt — the ultimate cause of Detroit’s bankruptcy default — but his corporate catering simply shifts more of the burden of providing important public services into the lap of ordinary taxpayers — or eliminates those services altogether.

Meanwhile the NDP, which delights in donning the mantle of budget-balancing, prudent financial managers when it suits them, has been spending for months as if there will be no tomorrow — and certainly no next term plan in which to keep those painfully balanced books in the black. The NDP can’t again claim it didn’t know the true state of the province’s finances.

It is disheartening to realize that — with all the time our political parties had to prepare for the inevitability of this campaign — they had so little of thought-through substance to offer during its first week. Let’s hope this week is better.

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