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June 2021 - Be Strong! Be Brave! Be First! Be Safe!

Prior to and since Confederation, Nova Scotians have exhibited traits of strength, bravery, compassion, and doing what has been right for country and colleagues. A year after CoVid-19 took over our lives, we have continued with these traits. Most of us went even further, by demonstrating a willingness to obey, when then Premier McNeil said, "Stay the Blazes Home". Heeding his request resulted in Nova Scotia being Canada’s leader in fighting the virus and the safest province in Canada.

This has lead to many wishing to move here, including former residents deciding now is the time to "return to their roots". Some people are purchasing properties in a virtual manner, without ever viewing the property. Prices have escalated to historic highs and the number of properties sold continues to escalate.

Concern is being expressed the upsurge in pricing is pushing ownership far beyond the reach of most Nova Scotians, but that is a story for another day.

Nova Scotia’s safeness, from the virus, is exhibited by 53 of the total 72 deaths occurred at a sudden and uncontrollable outbreak at Northwood Senior’s Complex. Since its beginning in 1962 Northwood has evolved into the largest not-for-profit continuing care organization east of Montreal.

Yes, all deaths are unfortunate, but with only 20 province-wide, excluding Northwood, Nova Scotia quickly rose to be the safest province in Canada. Being strong, brave, and a desire to succeed we are able to hold our heads high for being Canada’s pandemic fighter regardless of which matrix is used to determine results.

Obeying the request of political and health officials got us to this enviable position. Unfortunately a small number defied everything – not stopping travelling, refusing to wear masks and social distance - causing May’s recent upsurge of over 1,600 cases and more patients in ICU’s than a year ago.

Thanks for them we are in a lockdown banning us from: shopping in traditional ways; throwing many in the hospitality and retail sector out of work; unable to visit family and friends, and prohibited from travelling outside our town or municipality.

When you encounter some who defy all, extend your appreciation for their actions contributing to loss of employment; travel restricted to your municipality and an increased level of loneliness.

Additionally, if you see someone not adhering to protocols, do everyone a favour. Call the authorities. It is not snitching. It is your civic duty to protect the health and safety of all citizens.

When we exit the most recent upsurge things will start returning to the "new" normal, permitting us to travel province-wide, return to work, students will be back in school and the economy will start rebounding.

Those to have stayed on the straight and narrow obeying every request will continue to exhibit a high level of nervousness, because we are unsure if the person next to us has been vaccinated. Traditionally, the "honour system" has been enough, but as has been demonstrated there has been a small number of non-conformists, who were less compassionate continuing not to heeds warnings and requests.

For those who were good "foot soldiers" doing as requested to lessen the pandemic - proof and confirmation is lacking. We need to be "totally" sure. Government should find a way to reward us. We don’t expect government to put something in our pockets, or to give us a medal.

Simply respect and recognize us for our efforts.

Politicians could provide the "assurance" with one simple act. Issue a new health card, which included coding showing we are totally vaccinated, when and with what vaccine.

A decision of this nature would not create a new bureaucracy, would be economical and not infringe on anyone’s constitutional rights and be automatic upon vaccination. Businesses could start swiping Nova Scotia Health Cards, to ensure added safety and as a marketing tool.

The new card would be used as admission requirements permitting concerts and sporting events to be held with safety to help rebuild the economy letting us lead a comfortable safer life.

Nova Scotia would be the country’s leader assuring CoVid protection. This simple act would permit us to be: Be Strong! Be Brave! Be Safe! and Be First! - Maurice


 

May 2021 - Where’s the Common Sense?

(This column was written on April 17th. Since then the number of CoVid-19 cases have surged to new highs, bringing the centre part of the province to a standstill, and borders will remain closed for another month. This will definitely impact my prediction of a June 15th election. It is more reasonable to assume we might go to the polls later in August. To avoid a summer campaign an election date of September 21 is more probable suggesting the writ could be dropped August 20th).

What I am going to write is primarily based on data from the United States, but the essence of the message, "Where is the common sense" is not foreign to Canada.

USA banned administrating additional doses of the J&J vaccine because six people out of 7-million administered vaccines suffered a blood clot reaction. This meant 6,999,994 people received the benefit of the vaccine.

Meanwhile eight people, plus the shooter were killed in a mass shooting at a FedEx plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, which was the 45th mass shooting incident in the United States within 30 days an average of 1.5 incidents per day. In USA a mass Murder is one where at least four people, not including the shooter, were killed or injured.

Legislation has passed through the US House of Congress yet 100 senators have failed to act. Current president, Joe Biden was a senator almost two decades ago.

My question is: "Where is the common sense"? In the free world – primarily Canada and USA politics has become so polarized common sense is not-existent. USA leads the way, but unfortunately Canada is not far behind.

Here’s a Canadian example. Climate change is of concern and we wish government would do more, but at the same time we resist paying the freight to make it happen.

Conservative leader, Erin O’Toole, understands the dangers behind climate change. During the AGM he pleaded with the executive and delegates to recognize Climate Change. To his dismay and many Canadians, the next day the executive and registered attendees refused to include "climate change" as a recognizable problem and voted not to include it as part of the party platform. I won’t say what I would have done if "I was Erin O’Toole", but you can guess.

The Liberals are not "lily white". Far from it, they have amassed a long list of things lacking common sense. Close to the top \is lack of immediate action to eliminate sexual discrimination and sexual abuse by cleaning up the military brass. Canadians revere our military, but when sexual abuse or discrimination of any kind is paramount we become irate, and demand immediate action. Culprits should be punished not over time, but RIGHT NOW!

As normal taxpayers, we have a role to play. When something is wrong we should be raising HELL, demanding immediate action. Our problem is we are too "laid back". We want things to change, but are fearful to take action, because we might be "singled out".

Nothing will change, to our complete satisfaction, unless we "raise hell and demand action".

Here’s a local example of how to achieve change. In Nova Scotia the Bio-diversity Act was re-introduced. Within 10 days about 4,000 private woodlot owners and the industry formed a coalition demanding action. Backed by a strong advertising campaign, their demands gained traction. Sources indicate former Premier McNeil, Karen Casey, MLA and former MP, Bill Casey reached out and snapped Premier Iain Rankin’s suspenders, which added to the forming revolt in the party caucus. Immediately, many parts of the Act were changed. It passed a week later after three hours debate. This demonstrates change happens if we organize and apply pressure when we are adamant.

CoVid-19 surges have changed the probability of an early Federal Election. To get ahead of the Feds, I predict we will be going to the polls on June 15th or 22nd. In Nova Scotia the writ is normally 34-36 days. If Rankin is to pull the plug, he will have to do it by May 4th or 11th for an election on June 15th or 22nd, (35 days).

That’s my pick, but I can be totally off base. - Maurice

 


 

April 2021 - Bancroft & Friends VS Government

Tomorrow, April 1st will reveal a multitude of things, not as an "April Fools Joke", but a decision by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court which will set the destiny of what will or could happen with the 100+ Provincial Parks and Premier Rankin’s legacy.

An unintended consequence of the decision will be the life-long reputation of Premier Iain Rankin, who might have his reputation established within the first month of winning the Liberal leadership and automatically becoming premier to succeed Stephen McNeil.

Premier Rankin was thrust into the middle because he was Minister Lands and Forests, in March 2019, when the provincial government delisted "Owl Head" Provincial Park as a park enabling it being secretly sold to a private developer wishing to establish a Golf Course within a development plan for the 284 hectare Eastern Shore coastal property.

Rankin is culpable as are others in the matter, because as a cabinet member he assisted the government to keep the "delisting" a secret for over nine months. Recently, a large portion of Rankin’s campaign to win the leadership was based on protecting the environment and pushing ahead for a green economy.

If the Supreme Court decision rules in favour of Bob Bancroft and friends, Rankin has a credibility problem. His future actions will reveal if he abides by his decisions in March 2019, or he aligns himself with his recent appeals for environmental protection and a green economy.

The facts are simple. The 100+ areas referred to by the provincial government as "provincial parks", including Owl’s Head, are vulnerable to ongoing political whims. The areas are vulnerable, because the provincial government has not officially and legally designated them as part of the Provincial Parks Act.

Rankin could avoid province-wide criticism by immediately announcing a program to move forward to officially enact the 100+ parks into the Provincial Parks Act and a community-based plan for their enhancement should the court uphold Bancroft and Eastern Shore Forest Watch friend’s claim the site was removed from the protected areas designation unilaterally and without public notice.

This writer who is concerned, not a tree hugger, about the environment and demands honesty, integrity and transparency from elected officials, I have some thoughts about the possibilities, and what could happen:

  • All provincial parks should become enshrined into the Provincial Parks Act;
  • Forested parts of the parks should be farmed to enhance value, be an educational tool, and become an icon of the community;
  • Local volunteer groups would willingly step forward to assume a meaningful role;
  • Park staff and local groups could arrange public events to demonstrate forestry techniques using horses and oxen, no machines, which would become an educational tool for school students, park visitors and 30,000 owners of forest land;
  • If the areas were "farmed", forest enhancement techniques such as management, thinning, etc could be used as practical demonstrations for students considering a forestry career, give them some on-site experience on a volunteer basis.
  • Products harvested on a moderate basis could be used as bark mulch, firewood for park campsites and limited conversion of timber into sawn lumber.
  • Quantities generated would not be large but there companies and dealers who specialize in selling "portable sawmills" and local contractors who would jump at the chance to demonstrate their product and skills.
  • Proceeds from the sale of sawn lumber should be used by local volunteer groups and park management to deliver the programs how to create a "model forest".
  • In areas where there are stands of maples, why not create a series of maple syrup demonstrations?
  • There are many more options available not mentioned here.

First and foremost such a program should not be handled or directed from Halifax or regional Department of Forestry offices. Policy should be established, then ongoing execution turned over to local park management, who work hand-in-hand with local volunteer groups and professionals.

I am not suggesting the decision will be in favour of Bob Bancroft and Friends, but how Premier Rankin reacts to the April 1st Supreme Court decision will determine his legacy.

Until next month, enjoy the passing of winter and the oncoming spring weather. Maurice

 


 

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