MLA MacFarlane’s resolution was ‘laced with partisan vitriol,’ says Minister Delorey
It’s been almost six months since Nova Scotians went to the polls and elected a Liberal government. That’s roughly the amount of time that Minister Randy Delorey has led Nova Scotia Environment. But he’s known about Boat Harbour for many years.
“Being from Antigonish, Pictou County is our neighbor,” he said. “I have the advantage of it not being a foreign issue. I have friends in the Pictou area who keep me informed of the situation there, it wasn’t a stranger to me.”
Delorey said his background as an academic and researcher at St. FX led him to investigate what’s happening at Boat Harbour. He poured over stories and information on the University of King’s College Journalism website, along with other materials, to get caught up.
While he indicated he was present for the drafting of the local Central Nova Liberal Association’s policy resolution to clean up Boat Harbour, the vote was left to members of the local riding associations.
“Policies get established to give the party direction. They’re a barometer from the grassroots as to what they want the caucus to do,” Delorey said. “Always remembering you can’t do everything for all people at all times.”
Resolutions in the Nova Scotia legislature are fairly routine. They range from recognizing business leaders, anniversaries and students to the more substantive stance of the legislature. Last Monday, MLA Karla MacFarlane’s resolution sought the latter.
“It is a very substantive type of policy and to suggest moving it forward was negative because it was laced with partisan vitriol language,” said Delorey.
The resolution, number 801 in the Hansard record of debates and proceedings, included references to the Liberal’s alleged role in Boat Harbour, including a deal with the mill owners to put the cleanup costs squarely on the backs of taxpayers.
MacFarlane asked for request waiver of notice and passage without debate, which means that there would be no debate on the content of the resolution. For Delorey and members of the Liberal caucus, they couldn’t let a resolution that accuses their party to the exclusion of others slip by.
“It’s not that we don’t support moving forward constructively on Boat Harbour,” he said. “If there’s a desire for the opposition to have a grown up discussion about it we’ll be there.”
Delorey said that Boat Harbour and the environmental issues facing Pictou Landing First Nation is a file that he is currently engaging with.
“I’m actively on it and I’ve learned a lot in my time in office. We need to ensure we have the right information to approach this. It’s an issue that has been looked at by all three parties that have formed government.
He noted that previous government have had great intentions that led to false starts and broken promises. MacFarlane told The News last week that all parties are guilty and responsible for the clean up of Boat Harbour.
“We want to make sure we have an action plan. It’s a very complex problem and consultation and community engagement is crucial,” he said. “Boat Harbour shouldn’t be viewed as a partisan tool.”
Delorey said that throughout this year, Nova Scotia Environment staffers have been working fill the gaps with regard to information on Boat Harbour. He indicated that some of the information and proposals are dated.
While he indicated that the Department of Environment is looking at Boat Harbour, Delorey had no specific timeline or dates for action on the file.
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