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March 2021 - Will there be two elections this year?

There has been so much going on during the last month, it is difficult to know where to start. For instance, near the first of the month provincial Liberals chose Iain Rankin as their new leader, who will automatically become Premier Stephen McNeil’s replacement. There is a major uproar, which started in Bass River, about the EHS response times which has also evolved into complaints about volunteer Fire Fighters, not being involved in or receiving messages about local 911 events.

Winter finally arrived last weekend with depending where you lived a dumping of 12-24 inches of snow, followed by freezing rain, which turned to rain as temps rose overnight to 12-13. Tuesday morning an onslaught of cold air turn everything into a skating rink.

Recently two matters things have been much in the news and a third matter, at the county level, will become very contentious. As we stay somewhat isolated from Covid-19, within our own bubble, people have lots of time to dwell on "discussions" happening while joining friends for coffee.

First the conjecture there might be two elections this year. Many believe Prime Minister Trudeau might pull the plug and send us to the polls before the end of June. In Cumberland-Colchester the announcement by at least two people who will seek the Conservative nomination to run against incumbent, Lenore Zann. So far Colchester Councillor Tom Taggart and David Phillips, Business Development Officer for the Truro Colchester Partnership for Economic Prosperity have announced their intentions to seek the nomination. It is rumoured a professional in the Truro area medical field will also seek the nomination. No candidates from Cumberland and Amherst areas have reached the speculative stage.

The number of current Liberal MLA’s who have indicated they will not be seeking re-election continues to rise, giving speculation newly installed, Premier Iain Rankin (sworn in Tuesday, February 23) is facing a quandary - when to send us to the polls. By law, he must call an election by May 2022. The 40th Nova Scotia general election was held on May 30, 2017. His problem is not wanting to be in the election cycle close to a Federal Election. It appears to be a guessing game. Will Trudeau go before end of June or wait until later this fall?

So far, according to my memory, the following Liberals will not be seeking another term. Included in the list with the year first elected in brackets includes: Stephen McNeil, (2003), (former premier), Karen Casey (2006), Leo Glavine (2003), Geoff MacLellan (2010), Gordon Wilson, (2013), and most recently Mark Furey (2013).

The second saga is that 100+-Million Americans have been afflicted with a major winter storm, including a week-long deep freeze throughout the entire state of Texas. Imagine Dallas receiving a foot of snow. After the temperatures started to moderate, thawing and melting of snow started, the real damage was with the number of frozen pipes which have basically demolished entire homes. Interesting photos included a chandelier with icicles almost a foot long; ceilings which had fallen due to excessive water dripping from the room above and kitchens with up to three inches of water.

Texas has experienced cold spells in each of the last three decades, but state leaders and electricity executives failed to implement winterization changes mandated by various investigative commissions. All of Canada and many USA states successfully operate power generation and natural gas plants during more severe winter conditions. It is estimated the repair costs will exceed that from Hurricane Harry, which was in excess of $18-Billion (USA dollars).

Colchester Council is facing one of its most difficult "stick-handling" decisions of all times, as it discusses implementing a Noise By-law. It will be far more contentious that the recent uproar from its 2019 dog and kennel by-law.

In today’s legal climate, rest assured following implementation there will be several court battles naming not only the county, but individual councillors as people seek solutions to "unintended consequences". Legal bills will mount and taxpayers will be paying through increased insurance premiums and settlement costs if it reaches that stage.

Until next month. Maurice

 


 

February 2021  - Confusion Around CoVid-19

Even though I didn’t change the subject title of this column as result of Thursday’s announcement, I had to change the lead-in to this writing.

Karen Casey’s announcement she will not re-offer in the next provincial election, is a sad moment for Colchester North, but not unexpected. Fifteen years in politics, turning 74 in April, following a successful career in the education system which started in 1967, she has achieved much more than most of us. She was a pioneer in so many ways.

She will be missed, but deserves the time to enjoy grandchildren, and other family events she has missed over the years.

KAREN: Thank you and wishes for good health.

Now I can resume where I intended to go in the beginning.

Premier McNeil and Dr Strang have done a tremendous job disseminating information on Covid-19 and how to keep the infection rate down. Their dedication over the last 10 months has been nothing short of a miracle, because most politicians and public servants are not as forthcoming.

Nova Scotia has among the lowest rates of transmission and serious cases, other than the early mishaps at Northwood, which still accounts for the majority of fatalities. With their honesty and directness, although the public did not like what they were asked to do they paid attention to McNeil and Strang. Restrictions on shopping, dining out, visiting friends and family, participating in sporting activities, or attending sport functions caused major upheavals in normal life.

Restrictions and much heavier workloads has put paramedics, essential emergency staff, medical and staff in the provinces health centres in a very difficult position. It was not just turmoil and working restriction conditions in the workplace, but the additional stress "might they become exposed" to Covid-19, or take it home to family members.

Thankfully most Nova Scotians agreed with strict adherence to Pandemic protocols, but some of our most valued volunteers are confused and feel somewhat marginalized. We must not let that continue, as their volunteering is the backbone of many communities. I’m referring to hundreds, if not, thousands of Volunteer Firefighters and Ground Search and Rescue Units.

We need to ensure they can perform their duties in case of emergencies and train to keep them ready to react or meet to keep the unit functioning.

Throughout Colchester and Cumberland Counties, they perform a valuable service when emergencies arise. I have had overtures from a few individual members and executives, who feel they are overlooked.

I received the following information from one group referencing social distancing and number of people permitted to meet, which stated: "After multiple inquiries, organizations such as Fire and GSAR are being told we are exempt only during emergency calls. How can sports teams meet and practice, and emergency services can`t? Most volunteer Fire and GSAR services cannot run daily operations as quorums are required. Training is vital to keep these types of organization personnel and equipment emergency ready".

I posed a question to Dr Strang during one of the frequent briefings. However, he seemed steadfast the number of people allowed in a group was ten. During the same briefing, he and Premier McNeil raised the limit (and other restrictions) from 25 to 50 groups such as sport teams, arts and culture. These groups can expand their activities, such as practice, virtual performances, but are still restricted to no fans or people in the audience.

Another piece of information filling my email inbox included the following: "Why are Nova Scotia Ground Search and Rescue Teams restricted to groups of 10 persons for their business meetings and the training they need to conduct to be search ready. While we are allowing sports and organized arts and culture to train and practice in groups of 25 persons without practicing physical distancing?"

We need to ensure we do not cast aside or forget the many hours of volunteering firefighters and search and rescue teams donate to the betterment of their communities.

Regardless of family events or work duties they are always there to help us during emergencies.

Thank you. We will always strive to show our appreciation. - Maurice

 


 

January 2021 - Can you become a multi-tasker?

As we say farewell to 2020, with the co-Vid-19 pandemic we should not spend a lot of time looking in the rearview mirror. As we spend more time than normal by ourselves or with those in our "very tight" family bubble, we have plenty of time to think about how we should look forward to consider how we can improve our "multi-tasking" skills.

If we don’t look ahead we will be caught "blindsided" by the things which are racing toward us, We need to immediately consider paying down Co-Vid debt and climate change.

Nova Scotia has moved from a budgeted surplus to at least a $778-Million deficit, mostly created by the government’s attempts to keep the economy moving and citizens from starving, or homeless.

The increase in the deficit is a change of $833.9 million from the $55-million surplus anticipated in February and a $74-million change from the July forecast. Total revenue of $11.41-billion is $186.6-million less than budgeted. Total overall expenses are projected at $12.32 billion, which is up $708.7 million.

Additional appropriations were required for 10 government departments for a total of $298.8 million, with the majority of expenses related to COVID-19. Government had a choice, either increase the deficit or permit those less fortunate to face even tougher situations.

If we forget about looking in the rear view mirror, we need to think about how we will help pay down the debt and what government services we will accept being reduced or eliminated. Just because the pandemic was surging, other global situations continued to head our way at amazing speed.

Protocols surrounding CoVid-19 change almost daily. For months, I have mentioned Premier McNeil and Dr Strang have been on-top of things and are constantly advising Nova Scotians, what is necessary to keep the number of infections as low as possible.

Out of the corner of their eye, McNeil, his cabinet and Dr Strang’s team of professionals have also been aware of the onslaught of problems sure to face us about global trade, tourism rebounding, and climate change.

Strengthening our efforts to fight climate change could be an asset for the local economy. If we did less "on-line" shopping from companies remote from us and put more effort into shopping local, even if it is in an "on-line" manner, you will contribute to the betterment of all of us.

If you have become a dedicated or frequent shopper from Amazon, please take this into account. In addition to contributing to the misery and downfall of our local business entrepreneurs, your decision to use Amazon as your favourite on-line retailer, you are contributing to your family or neighbours working less hours at a retail store. That has an immediate negative impact on survival of local businesses and the household income of family, friends and neighbours.

I am not saying local businesses do not contribute to increases of plastics becoming a problem in our oceans, streams and environment. They do. Solutions can be found locally. Climate change problems caused by packaging from Amazon is much harder to control and very difficult to solve.

In 2019, Amazon, a one of the largest global online shopping venues, generated 46.86-Million pounds of plastic, mostly from packaging. Compare that to the 134-Million Pounds of lobster landed at wharves of over 600 communities in Atlantic Canada in 2015-16 fiscal period.

Lobster is not a plastic, but the economic impact is over 2,700 inshore lobster vessels in the 2015-16 season generated revenues of $876 million for commercial and communal commercial license holders, a record for the region. Nearly a one third of the poundage taken from the oceans via lobster landings was replaced with some form of plastic.

We might claim from an ecology point of view too many lobsters are harvested annually, but it’s a regulated resource. You as on-line shoppers are far more destructive.

We need to start multi-tasking to solve the problems created in 2020 and what lies ahead in rebuilding the economy and to stop furtherance of climate change problems.

Happy Holidays and Best wishes for the New Year. - Maurice.


 

MMaurice Rees, Publisher
The Shoreline Journal
Box 41, Bass River, NS B0M 1B0
PH: 902-647-2968; Cell: 902-890-9850
E-mail: maurice@theshorelinejournal.com