NS Politics Potpourri

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Hunky_Monkey

Quote:
The new Insured Health Services Act is the most progressive change to health law in decades, says the Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network. “Today is a great day of patients’ rights and the future of Medicare in Nova Scotia,” says Kyle Buott, Provincial Coordinator of the Health Network. “The new law bans queue-jumping while reinforcing the bans on direct billing, extra-billing and user fees in health care.” The changes reaffirm the province’s commitment to the five principles of the Canada Health Act – Universality, Accessibility, Portability, Comprehensives and Public Administration. It creates new, though limited, appeal mechanisms for patients. The new law will help move more physicians off fee-for-service payments and onto alternatives payment plans – this is good for both patients and physicians. “I am very pleased to see this legislation come forward today. In my thirty years of working to protect, strengthen and extend Medicare, this is the single most important legislative initiative ever taken by a government in this province, and long overdue,” says Ian Johnson, Vice-Chair of the Health Network.
http://nshealthcoalition.ca/2012/11/22/november-2212-media-release-great...

janfromthebruce

WTG NSNDP for this!

KenS

More on the NDP's image, still from this month.

 

 

KenS

This cartoon ran a couple weeks ago. Jessome complaining about it just gave DeAdder an opportunity for a follow-up.

 

scott16

Is there any chance of the NDP being re-elected? Is Darrell Dexter the new Bob Rae?

Can someone from Nova Scotia tell me?

KenS

Bob Rae didnt know what he was doing.

Chances are they will still be the government after the election. And I wouldn't entirely rule out another majority.

We have so much to look forward to here.

KenS

Talk about pushing our faces into it, we got this lovely missive from the Premeir last night.

 

Your sacrifice and commitment built a better future

This morning I announced our NDP government will keep its commitment to table a balanced budget this spring. The credit for getting back to balance belongs to you and the thousands of other Nova Scotians whose hard work made this possible. 



I realize the past four years have required sacrifice and commitment. By making the right decisions in tough times, we New Democrats are building a better future for you and your family. 



The previous Conservative government overspent by $1 billion in its final years. They had $457 million offshore royalties in one year alone, and made long-term spending commitments. Offshore royalties have fallen to $25 million this year. 



That’s the mess that we New Democrats found in 2009. The Tories had put Nova Scotia on the path to a $1.4 billion deficit. How could an untried party live within its means? 



The NDP is proving the doubters wrong while protecting and improving the important services that matter so much to families. 



While bringing the province back to balance, the NDP government is keeping ERs open, improving reading and math, keeping class sizes small, and investing more in poverty reduction than any previous government. We are starting to turn a corner thanks to investments that ensure more good jobs, more and stronger small businesses and more opportunities for young people to start their life here. 



The Liberals and Conservatives broke contracts, rolled back wages, paid nurses to leave their profession, slashed public services, yet added more debt and deficit than the NDP. 


We don’t want to revisit those days. But I need your help. Click on this link to help ensure Nova Scotia keeps moving in the right direction.

Thank you. 



- Darrell Dexter

1springgarden

It should be an austere few years as Dexter eliminates Nova Scotia's $277 million budget deficit in one fell swoop this April and then his already legislated 1% HST cuts kick in for each of 2014 and 2015, cutting a further $190 million out of the budget each of those years.

Today's Chronicle Herald editorial cartoon, referring to NDP Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald who recently suggested a balanced budget this year might be neither feasible nor desirable.  Tellingly, MacDonald was not in attendance at Dexter's Back to Balance announcement yesterday. 

 

 

KenS

The political theatre is Finance Minister MacDonald talking up how its going to be tough, but people tell us they dont want more spending cuts. [And we'll listen now because there is an election coming.]

But they've known since before beginning this messaging that the HST cuts are being moved over the horizon.

KenS

I figured I should explain this:

KenS wrote:

The hyper-aggressive cutting of the last 2 years was so that they could collect the political benefits of balancing the budget [absolute political necessity], AND of the HST tax cut.

Looking down the road in 2009-2010, if this government was going to get to a balanced budget without any further tax increases after adding back the 2% to the HST, then there were going to have to be significant spending cuts. Because both offshore gas royalties and equalization payments from the feds already had decreased under the previous PC government. The immediate increase of the HST could only go part way to closing that structural gap between revenues and expenditures.

But the Dexter Crew wasnt satisfied with only "Back to Balance". The depth of the cutting into the education budget was so that they could also have the political benies of the the HST tax cut. With the benefit of hindsight, it is apparent that Graham Steele dissented on planning for the HST cut... but was assured that would be discussed later. When later came, the line from inside the bubble is that we are doing the HST tax cuts. So Steele quit. Good on him.

But that was 12 to 18 months ago when all of that unfolded of going out on a limb with the HST tax cuts. Since then, government revenues have declined more than expected, and the knife edge balanced house of cards came down.

So the HST tax cuts had to go. Oh well. We told the base they were a necessity. We "asked their opinion," and they agreed. The sheep will agree that a reversal is necessary.

That same 12 to 18 months ago the "Back to Balance" of getting out on deficit was in itself never in doubt. What made it difficult was adding in the HST tax cuts.

Take away the planned tax cuts and budget in balance is a piece of cake.

KenS

Actually, the smoke signals and trial baloons have been that they are going to backtrack on the HST cuts- at least delay them.

The minute they did that, I said oh, thats where the balanced budget is going to come from. How they have packaged it since, and will continue to do so until tableing the budget, is just theatre.

The hyper-aggressive cutting of the last 2 years was so that they could collect the political benefits of balancing the budget [absolute political necessity], AND of the HST tax cut.

They told themseves, and inside circulation among the base, was that the HST cuts in the future were also a promise they made to the public and therefore a political necessity. But it was never true- there was no promise in 2009 or 2010 to bring back the HST to where it was before this government raised it. And insisting on going through with it is why Finance Minister Graham Steele quit. Now, its just an expendable.

1springgarden

Okay, thanks for the additional clarification.  The YEAH BUT is: recall Dexter pre-empted Graham Steele's April 2012 budget by announcing the HST cut legislation (first 1% cut is still scheduled for April 2014).  After which Steele resigned.  Now Maureen MacDonald is out doing her pre-budget consultations, talking about revenue being down and balance possibly not feasible due to softness of the economy, and Dexter makes an announcement - on his own - that this year's April budget will be balanced.  Politically necessary, probably, but feasible, how? We will see.

If pushback from the NDP base causes the HST cuts to be delayed beyond April 2014 implementatiion, then GOOD!  We need to keep pushing back if this April 2013 so-called balanced budget delivers a truckload of service cuts.

The thing I conclude about Dexter is, for all the theatre, smoke signals, winks etc., you can't trust him.  If it walks like an austerity, tax cutting duck and talks like one...

1springgarden

Also Ken, check the implementation date for the first 1% HST cut, because I read that it is April 2014 and therefore delaying it will not help or be a factor in the April 2013 budget.  I think that due to declines in income-tax revenue that a balanced April 2013 budget will not be a piece of cake at all.

KenS

If the government was going ahead with implementing the HST cut as it was presented last year, then in this budget you would see concrete firming of that. They can't just say, "As we said last year, HST tax cut in April 2014."

I can't guess ahead even generally how they are going to present and spin it. But if my read is correct, the HST cut will fade out of specifics. Everyone will know what that means, ask questions immediately, and the government will not say it is still happening April 2014.

I dont know how they'll spin it. But this isnt rocket science. "We listened to what Nova Scotians are telling us. Families blah blah... etc." Including figuring out how to not explicitly say "the HST cut is not happening in the near future". [And likely never will. Because Nova Scotians will be telling us the same thing next year too. Etc.]

KenS

1springgarden wrote:

Also Ken, check the implementation date for the first 1% HST cut, because I read that it is April 2014 and therefore delaying it will not help or be a factor in the April 2013 budget.  I think that due to declines in income-tax revenue that a balanced April 2013 budget will not be a piece of cake at all.

I made general reference to this already. But to expand a bit- they can't just roll out a major tax cut, after barely having wrestled down the deficit. Given the narrowness and tightness of the NS fiscal situation- starting a tax cut that cuts revenues immediately in April 2014 requires a 'longer wave' of fiscal juggling. They would have to be able to produce some combination of surplus this year and new cuts for this year, into next year, and on. A year ago, they apparently thought they had it. But after revenues continuing to slip even more than projected, its just not going to happen.

1springgarden

I agree that any move to a balanced budget in April 2013 will need to be fully digested before tax cuts become viable.  Will be interesting to see them *not* talk about the HST cut.  A return to economic growth should be a prerequisite to funding it i.m.o.  That's why I was so pissed off when they announced it despite no economic growth at hand.  Also, I think a lot of Nova Scotians will be wary of a "Rodney MacDonald-style" balanced budget, that doesn't pan out, stand up to scrutiny etc.  Will watch closely for April 4 budget reveal.

KenS wrote:
I made general reference to this already. But to expand a bit- they can't just roll out a major tax cut, after barely having wrestled down the deficit. Given the narrowness and tightness of the NS fiscal situation- starting a tax cut that cuts revenues immediately in April 2014 requires a 'longer wave' of fiscal juggling. They would have to be able to produce some combination of surplus this year and new cuts for this year, into next year, and on. A year ago, they apparently thought they had it. But after revenues continuing to slip even more than projected, its just not going to happen.

KenS

The date has always been 2014, but even having it then has both a direct effect on the budgeting itself; and it has a very significant effect on the credibility of the budget estimates.

And I understand what you are saying about the round this year of budget chatter from the government being just like 'pre-empting' Steele last year. But in the first place, the 'pre-empting' explanation is what the media and pundits settled on, not what leaked out from the government. When it happened, that didnt make sense to me. I didnt know or guess what was going on; but it didnt make sense, and the 'pre-empting' had no confirmation. The media are still saying 'Dexter stole Steele's thunder in 2012'. Steele resigned as Finance Minister because Dexter upstaged him? Come on now. 

As much as Steele is prepared to say privately is that the same 3 or 4 people decide everything- and that was no different.

At any rate, leaving that aside. I've watched these people, and worked with them. And nothing I saw last year made sense to me as I watched it unfold.

This year, watching Maureen MacDonald's "I dont know musings" looked very familiar.

"This is more challenging than we expected it to be."

"But everyone is telling us that they don't want to see further [deep] spending cuts."

Since reporters have seen this so many times before, they reasonably surmise that this is going to be the excuse for not having a balanced budget. A reasonable assumption, but still an assumption.

I looked at it and said, its their excuse for abandoning the HST tax cuts. Not eliminating the deficit would be political suicide. They would do deep cuts again if that was required to balance the budget. But they wont take the polical flak of more deep cuts to keep the HST tax cut promise.

So, cue a whole bunch of theatre so that the HST tax cut that wasn't just melts into the background. And away we go.

Nifty, eh?

KenS

bump      in the road

jerrym

A former provincial Liberal cabinet minister has been convicted of fraud and breach of trust today.

"Former Nova Scotia cabinet minister Russell MacKinnon has pleaded guilty to fraud and breach of trust for his role in the province’s spending scandal. MacKinnon entered the plea on the fourth day of his trial at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax. ... Judge Felix Cacchione sentenced MacKinnon to an eight-month conditional sentence to be served in the community, followed by four months of house arrest and a year of probation.

MacKinnon is one of four politicians charged two years ago following an investigation by the province’s auditor general into constituency allowance spending.

Former Liberal Dave Wilson served four months in jail last year after admitting to defrauding the public purse of nearly $61,000.

Richard Hurlburt, a former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, was sentenced to a year of house arrest after pleading guilty to charges of fraud and breach of trust.

Independent member Trevor Zinck is charged with theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust.

His trial is scheduled to start in June."

http://www.thetelegram.com/News/Local/2013-03-15/article-3200792/Former-...

 

 

KenS

If you listen to CBC Radio in NS, there were daily lengthy reports on MacKinnon's trial. The testimony made you really wonder why he didnt just plead guilty. Like, where is the lawyer?

Then in the middle of about the 4th day, he pleads guilty. Strange. [Let alone the substance.]

Zinck is the only one still in his seat when charges came down. He was booted out of the NDP. Havent heard whether he is running, but I'm sure he has a remaining loyal consituency following. And he's the incumbent. Odd duck, dont see why he wouldnt run, even if he doesnt make a serious attempt [with what?].

He can't win. But the Liberals are after this seat, and Zinck even just as a name on the ballot won't help. And the mighty NS NDP does piss all to organise. [Nver has really.]

Hunky_Monkey

I read he was running.  From what I hear, the NDP has been organizing behind the scenes especially in finding a strong candidate for that riding.  I know the Liberals are making a play for it along with Dartmouth South, but don't underestimate how many people detest Joanne Bernard.  Even her "friends" detest her.

 

KenS wrote:

If you listen to CBC Radio in NS, there were daily lengthy reports on MacKinnon's trial. The testimony made you really wonder why he didnt just plead guilty. Like, where is the lawyer?

Then in the middle of about the 4th day, he pleads guilty. Strange. [Let alone the substance.]

Zinck is the only one still in his seat when charges came down. He was booted out of the NDP. Havent heard whether he is running, but I'm sure he has a remaining loyal consituency following. And he's the incumbent. Odd duck, dont see why he wouldnt run, even if he doesnt make a serious attempt [with what?].

He can't win. But the Liberals are after this seat, and Zinck even just as a name on the ballot won't help. And the mighty NS NDP does piss all to organise. [Nver has really.]

KenS

Organizing "behind the scenes"... read: looking for a candidate [at least].

Heaven forbid there would be some actual organizing before an election is imminent.... like the Libs do at least in places.

David Young

I wouldn't worry about Trevor's Darthmouth North seat in the next provincial election.

Former NDP M.L.A. Jerry Pye (1998-2006) is going to be running again,

Jerry's very well liked by the voters he represented, and will have no trouble winning that seat back for the NDP whenever the election is called.

 

Hunky_Monkey

David Young wrote:

I wouldn't worry about Trevor's Darthmouth North seat in the next provincial election.

Former NDP M.L.A. Jerry Pye (1998-2006) is going to be running again,

Jerry's very well liked by the voters he represented, and will have no trouble winning that seat back for the NDP whenever the election is called.

 

 

Really?  He got his ass handed to him in the municipal.

Hunky_Monkey

KenS wrote:

Organizing "behind the scenes"... read: looking for a candidate [at least].

Heaven forbid there would be some actual organizing before an election is imminent.... like the Libs do at least in places.

I'm not too familiar with the riding.  I heard provincial is making it a priority.  Do you live there, Ken?  

David Young

Jerry ran in the Dartmouth East municipal district, not the Dartmouth North provincial riding he won 3 times.

 

Hunky_Monkey

David Young wrote:

Jerry ran in the Dartmouth East municipal district, not the Dartmouth North provincial riding he won 3 times.

 

Ah... didn't know how much of the municipal district was in the provincial riding... it's called Harbourview-Burnside-Dartmouth East so wasn't too sure.  Do you know if there is much overlap if any?

Hunky_Monkey

Is Pye running fact or speculation or rumour, David?  

KenS

News to me that Jerry is going to run.

Knowing Gerry somewhat, and his feelings over the last several years.... thats a surprise. But he has not liked "retirement."

Jerry got drubbed in the municpal. But he'll be a shoo-in if he does run in Dart North.

As to Dartmouth South- barring a screw-up of huge proportions, it will most likely be held, even with the usual non-preparation on the ground. That is helped by the boundary change loss of Portland Valley.

ETA: the munipal district sprawls, but does overlap Gerry's old turf.

David Young

I had heard several weeks ago at an NDP function that Jerry would be seeking the nomination again.

The person who told me that was very convincing, but I have no first-hand evidence, so it could have been just speculation.

He'd be a shoo-in IF he did run again.

 

Hunky_Monkey

I worry a bit about some of the open ridings but so far, we have some great candidates coming forward.  Just had a contested nomination for Halifax Armdale that resulted in Drew Moore as the candidate.  In Fairview Clayton Park, it's a three way contested nomination with some great candidates.  Seems many are younger with strong community connections.  And in Halifax Chebucto, Gregor Ash is seeking the nomination.  

Seems the quality of our candidates is pretty strong unlike most of the Liberal candidates.  And surprisingly, the Tories seem to be attracting better candidates than the Liberals with one or two exceptions.

KenS

Last week there was a "monor cabinet shuffle". Very minor. Cabinet member Marilyn Moore is not re-offering. She won't be missed.

Stuck on a back page was a bigger deal. Principal Secretary to the Premeir Matt Hebb has left for an executive position at Dalhousie University. Matt was one of the 3 or 4 people in the bubble who decide everything.

And more immediately: Matt Hebb has been running the NDP's campaigns for a decade. While the campaign skill base in the NS NDP is very deep, as far as I know they have never recruited any campaigners except yes people. Not who you want in charge.

KenS

Has it ever been announced, like at Council or just word of mouth, who the Campaign Director is?

Not that it should have come up- since everyone would just be assuming that Matt Hebb was doing it.

KenS

A friend sent me Matt's resignation letter to Council. It's dated the 15th- the day of the public announcement, last Friday.

Just the pro-forma upbeat stuff. Nothing about a replacement.

Slumberjack

The NSNDP can still count on the fact that Merged Services has mostly only caught the attention of the public service unions.  In this sense they now stand to benefit from years of corporate propaganda against organized public sector workers.

KenS

Anybody going to the Leader's Levee on Saturday?

Good time to find out the plan on a Campaign Director to replace Matt Hebb.

[I've sure got a lot of 'reminders' about the Levee. " Come on, by a ticket already."]

jerrym

KenS wrote:

Anybody going to the Leader's Levee on Saturday?

Good time to find out the plan on a Campaign Director to replace Matt Hebb.

[I've sure got a lot of 'reminders' about the Levee. " Come on, by a ticket already."]

Ken your bitterness towards the Nova Scotia NDP that was evident a year ago seems to be gone. Can you explain your apparent change of attitude? Out here on the wet coast I don't hear that much about Nova Scotia, let alone its politics.

Charles

KenS wrote:

Anybody going to the Leader's Levee on Saturday?

Good time to find out the plan on a Campaign Director to replace Matt Hebb.

[I've sure got a lot of 'reminders' about the Levee. " Come on, by a ticket already."]

I'm actually going to my first Leader's Levee in, like, a decade!

KenS

I have not changed my opinion jerry.

a.] I like to have all the facts. [not just the ones that are fodder for diatribes]

b.] I'm a political junkie.

So, sometimes the questions I would ask are going to be like questions that would be asked by folks entirely aboard the train.

Hunky_Monkey

Gregor Ash was nominated tonight as the NDP candidate for Halifax Chebucto.  Great meeting.  Strong speech by Darrell.

Charles

My wife, Tanis Crosby, the Executive Director of the Halifax YWCA, announced this morning she is seeking the nomination in Halifax Atlantic (incumbant Michele Raymond is not seeking a fourth term - note, we've held this seat since 1991 over seven successive campaigns; this was former provincial leader and current Dartmouth MP Robert Chisholm's seat for 12 years before Michele; I had the pleasure of being Michele's Official Agent in the '06 election though I confess I'm a little more excited about this one Laughing)

janfromthebruce

Congrats Charles and to your wife Tanis - you go get'm!

Slumberjack

The problem in Nova Scotia, and practically everywhere else in Canada, is that to work against the NDP automatically works to the benefit of the other gangs.  We're presented with a choice between red, blue, and orange lollipops, like at the carnival.

janfromthebruce

I agree. Take Ontario - we are still but now greatly diminished trying to climb out of the Bob Rae NDP govt. The corporate machine wants to ensure NDP govts never get elected and thus ensure either Blue or Red get elected so really nothing changes for ordinary people, except lollipops.

KenS

Interesting:

Amid skeptics, Nova Scotia vows to end deficit

Quote:

Two members of an independent panel, struck by Mr. Dexter just after he won his 2009 majority to look at the province’s finances, believe balance can be achieved now because of decisions the government made early in its mandate.

“Dexter made some pretty difficult choices early on,” said Donald Savoie, a public administration expert from New Brunswick and the chair of the expert panel. He points to the two-per-cent increase to the HST that the Premier announced just after he was elected and had made a commitment not to increase.

Did you see anything about that HST tax increase being reversed, as promised last year?

I'm not saying that the government consults with Donald Savoie. More likely that being someone who understands the multi-year fiscal dynamics, and the key role of revenues, he has likely come to the same conclusion as I have put out in this thread: that the media and pundits have got it wrong. The Dexter government's orchestration and posturing over the past few months is not in preparation for waffling on eliminating the budget deficit... it is the reactionary and politicaly inept promise of the HST tax cut that is going by the wayside.

The second member of that panel the new NDP government who is also quoted is Economist Elizabeth Beale, the president of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council.

There is one more economist who was on that panel- Lars Osberg. But Lars wrote a letter signed by many long time NDP activists, condemning the Dexter government for its betrayal.

 

Hunky_Monkey

Any thoughts on the new budget in Nova Scotia?

Very pleased Dexter has expanded the children's dental program.  The NS Liberals had cut the program when in office and the Tories did the same before that.

Insulin pumps will be covered for those under 18.  Considering a pump costs over $7000 and monthly supplies can run $1000, this is a positive move forward.

 

KenS

Absolutely any government even in the worst of times throws out a few little goodies,

Congratulations.

Thoughts on the budget?

Congratulations. Team Orange seems to have got away with it, though its a bit early to be saying that. I'm sure they are doing their polling to see if the public uptake is benign enough to pull the plug and go for an election call in the next month.

All the attention is on whether the budget will be balanced. The consensus of observers seems to be: very skeptical on that one, but does it really matter one way or the other? In other words: no reason not to stick with the Dexter government for another run.

I had predicted an accounting for the plans around the HST cut planned to kick in a year from now: that either explicit questions would be asked, or that knowing those would be coming the government would head them off by acknowledging they were 'contingent'.

It looks like that is not going to happen. Good for re-election of the Orange Team. Bad for us.

Had the government taken its lumps before the election on making the HST cut next April contingent, it would have been with the same script as we hear now:

"We've been listening to people, and they dont want any more severe cuts to education." [They told us the same thing last year, but this is an election year.]

So, unfortunately for us, the government has not already taken its medicine and its lumps before the election over backing away from the bone headed regressive HST cuts. Now an NDP minority governement will risk being voted out on the Budget for not following through with the HST cut- and another 1% the following year. $160 million in NEW [additional] cuts, has to come out of the big envelopes of health, education, and welfare. So it will be back to the grind after a one year reprieve.

Slumberjack

This doesn't even rise to the level of effective chicanery, because it's quite obvious as to why school closures have been put on hold for the time being.  Same with merged services layoffs and outsourcing, which are being suspended, ostensibly to allow for a more comprehensive review across all programs that were previously spared.

Quote:
Education Minister Ramona Jennex has asked school boards to suspend the school review process for 2013-2014. She also wants boards to delay any school closings decided in 2012-13.

Slumberjack

Hacktivist group Anonymous calls for peaceful protest

Quote:
 Ross Landry's reversal of his decision [to] not investigate this case after a media blitz is clearly an indication that his sudden interest is purely an act of public relations damage-control,” the release said about Nova Scotia's justice minister.

 

Hunky_Monkey

I don't think Ross Landry has changed his mind to some degree.  He can't involve himself in a police investigation or in the public prosecution.  What he has done is ask those two independent departments to review the case again.

I'm not sure if anything will change.  It was investigated by the HRP-RCMP intergrated sex crimes unit and the evidence was thoroughly looked over by two sex crimes prosecutors... one experienced in sexual assault and one in child porn cases.  Both determined the evidence wasn't sufficient to obtain a conviction in a court of law.  And as we all know, sometimes there's evidence to say someone is guilty in public opinion but it's a different story in a court of law.  This is probably one of those cases.

The mother of the young woman has asked for calm, no vigilanty actions, and not to name the alleged attackers.  I hope the emotional public respects that.

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