rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Patronage portents come early for Nova Scotia's new premier

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Photo: Tom Flemming/flickr

It is too soon to draw conclusions, but the patronage portents from Stephen McNeil's first three months in power are not promising.

First, there was the case of Glennie Langille, the defeated Liberal candidate and former party communications chief. Without benefit of a competition, McNeil handed her an $85,000-per-year plum as the province's new chief of protocol.

The apolitical position -- which involves co-ordinating official ceremonies, hosting royal and other high-mucky-muck visitors, and managing the Order of Nova Scotia -- was previously held by a public servant.

There was no good reason, and no need, for McNeil to plop the job back into the fetid patronage pool. That he publicly defended his appointment ("a great choice") and dismissed criticism ("I've answered more questions here from each of you," he told reporters, "than I have from anyone out on main street") shows McNeil sliding down the slippery, entitled-to-his-entitlements slope that would eventually cost Darrell Dexter his job.

The latest example -- awarding a tender to a freshly formed consulting company owned by Chris McNeil, the premier's brother -- is more complicated.

The $16,750 contract, which is renewable for up to four years, is to devise a training course for the transportation department's 40 compliance officers, the folks who inspect heavy commercial vehicles at highway weigh stations.

McNeil's company, Seventeen Consulting -- named after the 17 siblings in the McNeil family? -- was one of three bidders. Although tenders closed Oct. 30, the province didn't post the results until Dec. 30.

The province says it referred the contract to Conflict of Interest Commissioner Merlin Nunn "as a precaution," but it doesn't say when, or if that was the reason for the delay in awarding it.

The McNeil contract and the bidding process may have been entirely above board, as may be the fact that Seventeen Consulting wasn't officially registered with the Registry of Joint Stocks until the day after the tender closed. Chris McNeil, the former HRM deputy police chief, is certainly qualified for the contract. And he shouldn't be denied the opportunity to participate in a legitimate bidding process simply because he is the premier's brother.

There is some doubt of the benefit but no doubt Stephen McNeil has used up his benefit-of-the-doubt card.

Like this article? Chip in to keep stories like these coming!

This article first appeared in Stephen Kimber's Halifax Metro column.

Photo: Tom Flemming/flickr

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.