The Real Thing

July 29, 2016


It has been my privilege recently to speak at a number of nominating meetings–for Denise Peterson-Rafuse in Chester-St. Margaret’s, for Lisa Roberts in Halifax Needham, and to accept the nomination I was honoured to receive earlier this week in Halifax Chebucto.

These occasions provide an opportunity for taking the measure of the McNeil Liberals. And when you do this, one theme that emerges over and over is their loose relationship with the truth.

Take the Film Tax Credit. One thing the Liberals were especially clear about in the 2013 election was their commitment to maintain that program, and yet they eviscerated it in 2015. Its loss–according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, in a study of the industry the government has ignored–has cost the province $180 million in economic activity and 3,200 jobs.

Or we can think about the debacle earlier this year with the Seniors Pharmacare program. It was a bad thing that they almost tripled premiums for thousands of people in the program, but it was made worse by the fact that these increases were something they had committed would not happen.

In that instance, the government issued a public apology. While they were at it, they might have also apologized to the 90,000 people in the province without a family doctor, to whom they gave their word in 2013 that a Liberal government would mean a doctor for every Nova Scotian patient.

At the core of the McNeil Liberal enterprise, there is this pervasive element of falseness. For they are not, actually, even liberals. Liberalism, though not our viewpoint, is nevertheless an honourable tradition.  But it’s one which doesn’t have a single real adherent in the 34-member McNeil Liberal caucus. These people are, rather, austerians, which is another word for Harperists, Herbert Hooverists, Mike Harrisists–those who actually believe that any price is worth paying in order to accomplish the ideologically-driven be-all and end-all goal of balancing the budget.

It’s an outlook that has been left in the rear-view mirror of credible public policy, is past its best-before date in the judgement of the world, and is, in the words of Nobel-prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, “absolutely wrong.”

Whatever imperfections we have in the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party, here is one thing that can truthfully be said of us: We are who we say we are. The opening words of our constitution speak about our “egalitarian principles.” These are the principles on the basis of which we stand for a $15 minimum wage, for the elimination of community college tuition, and for making Nova Scotia the first jurisdiction in North America that gets all its children out of the food bank business.

That’s the real thing.

In solidarity and hope,