Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Owe Murray Scott an Apology

Just before the last provincial election my MLA Murray Scott came to my door to solicit my support. I like Murray, and I continue to think that he was an excellent MLA for our area. (He has since retired and we are now represented by Jamie Baillie.)

I told Murray then that I could not support him this time. I knew the  NDP candidate and I thought that he would do a good job. So I told Murray that I was voting for change provincially. I told him that I hoped for him that he would win the seat but I hoped for me that we would have change. I told Murray, and this is a quote that still rings in my ears, that "I was tired of Cape Breton style politics", politics based upon who you know, and in-groups, and special interests buying access.

So I voted for change.

It was probably six weeks later that we found out that Deputy Premier Frank Corbett was entertaining his buddies with big meals on expenses in downtown Halifax restaurants, and that he would not reveal who his guests were. Details are here:

It was only a few months later that the MLA expenses scandal broke. Our provincial Auditor-General reviewed the expenses claims for the previous three years and concluded that many of the claims were inappropriate. A few MLA's were charged with fraud and their cases are before the courts. But the vast majority of the claims that the AG flagged were simply inappropriate, which I take to mean "not in the interests of citizens and taxpayers". We were purchasing laptops and cameras and an attaché case and Barrister's Society fees for the Premier. And lots of other odd things for other MLA's.

The bad news just kept coming. A long-awaited report on the state of the forest was finally released, but the Government did not like the conclusions so they hired a consultant to give them a better report which they could release at the same time. The volunteer report seemed to side with the interests of the people, and the paid-for report seemed to side with the interests of the off-shore corporate players in the industry.

The Volunteer Planning agency was disbanded. This is an independent organisation that is funded for its operations with a very modest staff but relies on volunteer officers and experts for its work. It can go out on behalf of the government and solicit opinions and suggestions and concerns from the citizens of Nova Scotia and then compile a report. They do excellent, first class work. But the agency was folded into the provincial Department of the Treasury and the volunteer officers were dismissed and replaced by bureaucrats from the department. As Deputy Premier Frank Corbett said so ingenuously when announcing this move: Why should we support this group when they give us advice that we don't want?

The one that finally tore it for me was when the government of Premier Darrell Dexter gave the Toronto-Dominion Bank $1.8 million in payroll rebates to open an insurance call centre in Nova Scotia. Anytime anyone is given a payroll rebate it means that the rest of the taxpayers are making up for the taxes not paid. The Toronto Dominion Bank is the largest and most profitable of Canadian banks, and I help to make it profitable by paying them exorbitant fees every month for my business accounts. The new employees of the TD call centre are now already working at private brokers' offices all across the province. The Government of Nova Scotia is using private sector tax dollars to subsidise the competition to the private sector taxpayers. And what is a bank doing selling insurance anyway?

It has only taken two years for Darrell Dexter to become Rodney MacDonald, the premier that I refused to support when Murray came calling. I apologise to you, Murray.

I wonder how long it will take for Mr Dexter to become John Buchanan?

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