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Next steps for health-care reform in Nova Scotia

At last. We have the best plan ever on health care with the recent report by Dr. John Ross. And the government has accepted all his recommendations to stream patients away from overcrowded emergency rooms through ER reforms, collaborative care clinics and in other ways. But what now?

Here's the skeptical argument first, from my Deep Throat in the system, an ER doctor with many scars from the bad old days of politicized health care. Notably, as a consultant, he was involved in the Alberta reforms of a few years ago -- similar to what's being proposed here -- that now seem to be coming apart because of political bungling.


Nova Scotia's NDP government at 18 months

The NDP government, you may have noticed, is suddenly a hive of activity. At 18 months, with its many studies and policy processes maturing, it's making the stands that will mark its mandate. Some of its moves are more successful than others.

On the positive side, the long and bitter forest policy debate seems, remarkably, to be coming to an adequate conclusion. Clearcutting is to be reduced by half within five years, among other things. Environmentalists are happy. The industry not so much, but it seems willing to give it a go. If it holds -- there are still many ifs -- this is big. Not just for forestry, but as a demonstration that bitter division can be overcome and some things can be made to work in Nova Scotia. For the longest time, we doubted that.


Collapsed bridge raises infrastructure questions in Nova Scotia

I was playing pool with some buddies in Carl's shed in Tusket on Tuesday night, when Gordon said, "What's that rumble -- is that a big truck?" We checked the window. No truck.

A few minutes later, Eddie got a call. His face went stiff and his eyes darted. The Tusket bridge, a half kilometre upstream, had collapsed.

What!? When we arrived, there was a lineup of cars plus a large flatbed truck with a road machine on board -- all within minutes of crossing the ill-fated structure.


It's now or never for Nova Scotia health care

One thing about our health care system in Nova Scotia: It produces good reports on what to do. It's doing it that's the problem. Now, at the end of a string of studies going back a decade and a half, the one by Dr. John Ross on emergency care nails it once and for all. If nothing happens now, we're really in trouble.


NDP takes Nova Scotia politics to a higher plane

The buzz lately is about the new Conservative leader, Jamie Baillie, who by all accounts is a sound fellow. What are the prospects for him and his party? With three parties jockeying, asking that question is almost the same as asking where our politics are going generally -- and notably how the NDP government is doing, its success or failure determining how the opposition will do.


A lion of Nova Scotian economic development

I've been visiting a neighbour this summer: Robert Manuge, a name at the centre of a defining epoch in Nova Scotian economic history. At 89 and ailing, he's anxious to make a point about economic development then and now. Manuge was general manager of Industrial Estates Ltd., the economic development agency set up by premier Robert Stanfield in 1957. He invited me to his home at rural Lake Annis, Yarmouth County, to sift through a dozen thick scrapbooks assembled by IEL staff at the time.


Doing energy policy right in Nova Scotia

We should ban these outside energy experts. Every time one shows up at a Utility and Review Board hearing to remind us how muddled our energy practices are, it makes us look bad. This time it's about the planned $200-million-plus wood-burning power plant at Port Hawkesbury.

As if it wasn't enough that the project will devastate the forest even more than it already is, that burning wood is apparently as bad as burning coal and won't reduce greenhouse gas, and that a similar plant in New England was apparently built for half the projected cost, along comes U.S. renewable energy consultant Barry Sheingold to tell us that Nova Scotia Power Inc. hasn't done its homework on the project.


Nova Scotia: Health minister's optimism put to the test

It's been a year and a half since I left off writing about the crucial, politically charged and bureaucratically overwrought subject of health care, awaiting developments with the new government. Recently, I've been looking for signs of where we're at.


Young blood for shaky Grits, but no government-in-waiting

The Liberals win byelections in Yarmouth and Glace Bay with bright young fellows. Is something going on in our politics? The Liberals on the march, perhaps, against a fading NDP?

Let's inquire.

It is a marvellous victory for the Liberals -- especially in Glace Bay where logic would have dictated that they'd be in bad odour because a sitting Liberal resigned amid scandal. It's especially good for Stephen McNeil, whose iffy status as leader is firmed up.

But I wonder. How long is the idealism of two bright young fellows going to last sitting around with some of the old horses in the Liberal caucus? Will they end up like most of them -- locally strong MLAs in a party that doesn't really have a core?


Lobster fisheries: Economic struggle on the high seas

I went lobster fishing off West Pubnico with a young buddy last week. At one point, he indicated a boat ahead and said, "See that guy. He's not making any money. He's got a 750-horsepower engine." It turns out that not making any money, and the many things that might prevent you from doing so -- like a costly engine, or a couple of lost lobster pots at $100 each - is pretty well the only topic on the lobster grounds these days. This is a big deal for the economy of the Maritimes. Lobster is a billion-dollar-plus export industry, but it's especially the case for Western Nova Scotia where nearly half the Atlantic catch comes from.

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