Ralph Surette

Ralph SuretteSyndicate content

Ralph Surette is a veteran freelance journalist living in Yarmouth County.
Columnists

Polls, byelections and ruts: Taking the temperature of politics in Nova Scotia

Photo: Tom Flemming/flickr

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It's that peculiar time again -- roughly midway (already!) in a government's life -- when the exhilaration of a new voyage hits the potholes.

Just before last spring's budget, I was tempted to say that the Liberal government of Premier Stephen McNeil seemed to be doing all right, everything considered. Then I remembered that's what I said about the previous NDP government at about the same point, just before it started flaming out.

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Canada's civil servants fed up with Harper government's muzzles

Photo: flickr/ Stephen Harper

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Here's more regarding my standing prophecy that federal civil servants, seething under Stephen Harper's repressive yoke, will spit out the full story between now and the election.

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'Mother Canada': Harper builds another monument to himself

Photo: pmwebphotos/flickr

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For those who still don't fully understand the game, the "Mother Canada" controversy should provide some enlightenment.

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Columnists

Future of Nova Scotia's energy efficiency is on the line

Photo: Maëlick/flickr

The future of Nova Scotia's quest for energy efficiency, its status as Canada's leading jurisdiction in that regard, and the wisdom of the Liberal government on energy matters will be on trial before the Utilities and Review Board this coming week, as the board deals with a demand by Nova Scotia Power Inc. to slash efficiency programs by nearly half.

You'll remember that Efficiency Nova Scotia, an independent, non-profit energy conservation utility, was funded by a charge on your power bill, which aggravated many.

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Harper shows hints of desperation as election showdown approaches

Photo: pmwebphotos/flickr

In a rare acknowledgement that Atlantic Canada actually exists, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Truro recently to buck up support for his candidate against Bill Casey, the Liberal standard-bearer for Cumberland-Colchester.

Casey's the former Tory MP who got booted out of the Conservative party in 2007 for a principled act of opposition to one of his party's early acts of duplicity: obliterating a signed agreement with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland on offshore revenues called the Atlantic Accord.

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Columnists

Nova Scotia government back on the hook over salmon farming

Photo: Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation/flickr

Here's a downer. The McNeil government appears to be slipping into the rut the NDP government was in. That rut got it turfed out of office: sudden herky-jerky decisions out of central command, no one consulted, the public rattled and things blowing up. You've heard the to-do over film credits, university governance and sudden cuts to community groups. And now this one is back: our old friend the open-pen salmon issue.

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Take courage, Atlantic Canada: Join forces and reject Harperism

Photo: pmwebphotos/flickr

Premier Stephen McNeil grumbled about a few little things but declared himself generally satisfied with the federal budget. My heart sank. Sometimes I think we're out to prove Stephen Harper right: that we do have a "culture of defeat" on the East Coast.

The proof of it would be our official acquiescence to Harperism, one of the tenets of which is that Atlantic Canada is of no account and can be safely chucked to the sharks, but also that Maritimers in particular have a residual innocence and can still be bought.

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Nova Scotia budget repairs the boat but doesn't do any fishing

Photo: bambe1964/flickr

It's at risk of being lost amid the commotion over cuts to the film tax credit, but last week's budget, for better or worse, marked a milestone on the icy road to wherever it is we're going in the rickety wagon of Nova Scotia politics.

That is, after years of working up to it, a government has finally touched the brake on public spending and seriously tried to streamline public services. Backed by major reports advising this, considerable public support, a somewhat improving economy and dry runs by previous governments, the budget, in the main, represents a large consensus. Significantly, I thought, neither the opposition parties nor the public sector unions complained very much.

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Power utility deal is a light-bulb moment for Nova Scotia energy

Photo: Jason Michael/flickr

Have you ever been exasperated -- nay, infuriated -- by good news?

This unusual sensation hit me when I saw that story last week about Nova Scotia and New Brunswick power utilities intending to save up to $20 million a year by operating their two systems as one.

So easy -- apparently just a casual agreement, a technical shuffle, and voilà.

The infuriating part is that this bit of daylight illuminates the ruinous and sometimes outright imbecilic affair that has been our energy politics for the past 50 years, a swamp from which we have yet to emerge. Is this a sign of better things?

In other words, why couldn't this -- and other logical energy interconnections with New Brunswick -- have happened years ago?

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Beyond dirty politics: Harperism threatens democracy itself

Photo: pmwebphotos/flickr

It's getting worse.

Stephen Harper is now serving notice that he's willing to tear the social fabric of the country apart if that's what it takes to get his party re-elected. That is, if torquing democratic process, the rule of law, election rules, the tax system etc., etc., to make them conform to Harperism isn't enough, he'll throw stink bombs in the public place in the expectation that, amid the chaos, he'll be seen as the strong hand who can straighten things out.

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