Ex­ces­sive ex­pense spending doesn’t be­long in so­cial demo­cratic party


Over the years I have been very vo­cal and crit­i­cal of our pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments, go­ing back to Ger­ald Re­gan and his band of out­laws. I loved to poke fun at them and to point out their many das­tardly deeds – ev­ery­thing from elec­tronic toi­let seats to their bla­tant pa­tron­age ap­point­ments.

Most of th­ese gov­ern­ments im­ple­mented changes that lined the pock­ets of politi­cians and their friends in big busi­ness. Re­mem­ber the Lib­eral liquor toll­gate saga, the sale of Nova Sco­tia Power to pri­vate in­ter­ests, and the sad his­tory of the Westray mine that ended in dis­as­ter. In all of th­ese deeds the only peo­ple hurt were or­di­nary Nova Sco­tians.

I have seen the wages and the bar­gain­ing rights of work­ers eroded with the swift pen of an­tiu­nion gov­ern­ments. I wit­nessed the en­act­ment of the Miche­lin Bill that took away work­ers’ right to the union of their choice. We all sat through the dis­man­tling of our health-care sys­tem to the point of hospi­tal work­ers be­ing forced to work un­der­staffed shifts and emer­gency de­part­ments be­ing closed.

We see their strug­gle just to main­tain a sem­blance of ser­vice to the sick and el­derly of our prov­ince.

And, of course, Cape Bre­ton­ers have preached for years about the un­fair dis­tri­bu­tion of the fed­eral trans­fer pay­ments that seems al­ways to favour the Hal­i­fax area at the ex­pense of the rest of Nova Sco­tia.

All through those tur­bu­lent and hurt­ful years I was out bang­ing on doors along with a hand­ful of other ded­i­cated men and women as well as many youth, try­ing our darnest to elect a gov­ern­ment we knew would make the lives of all Nova Sco­tians bet­ter. We be­lieved the NDP gov­ern­ment would make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in how a prov­ince was gov­erned.

We were dif­fer­ent. We would put an end to the sell-off of our re­sources; we would stop the em­bar­rass­ment of pa­tron­age; and, more im­por­tant, we would have an hon­est and car­ing gov­ern­ment putting or­di­nary Nova Sco­tians first.

I be­lieved we were the saviours of the prov­ince and that the era of cor­rupt gov­ern­ment would be over.

So it is with a very heavy heart that I write this. I have been very quick to crit­i­cize other gov­ern­ments and now I must ac­knowl­edge the re­al­ity that pigs at the trough are still pigs at the trough, re­gard­less of their po­lit­i­cal colour.

It re­minds me of the Tommy Dou­glas story about Mouse­land. The poor mice would keep elect­ing cats. First they would elect a white cat, and af­ter years of suf­fer­ing un­der this cat they would elect a black cat, and so on.

Well, if looks like we elected a spot­ted cat but it still is a cat and the poor mice will still suf­fer un­der the rules of a cat.

I tried to con­vince my­self that the Nova Sco­tia NDP were in fact the real deal. But it is get­ting hard to main­tain that.

I be­lieve every­one can agree that the sys­tem our MLAs en­joyed at our ex­pense is very flawed. And I be­lieve that now that it has been ex­posed by the au­di­tor gen­eral, the Dex­ter gov­ern­ment will put in the nec­es­sary changes to pre­vent a re­peat of this sorry saga. But the trou­bling thing is that mem­bers of the gov­ern­ment, too, had to get caught be­fore they acted. This speaks vol­umes about their in­tegrity and moral con­vic­tions.

As a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Nova Sco­tia New Democrats, a long-time card-car­ry­ing mem­ber and fi­nan­cial con­trib­u­tor to the party, I have to pon­der se­ri­ously my re­la­tion­ship with the party I once ran for and spent many years build­ing up.

When I look at a num­ber of MLAs in our party, I see peo­ple who are not long-time so­cial democrats. Per­haps what is needed is for this party to con­vene a meet­ing with all of its elected mem­bers, not to dis­cuss a plan of action to deal with the me­dia on this is­sue but to give each one of them a his­tory les­son on what it means to be a so­cial demo­crat and what our party truly stands for.

I can as­sure you that ex­ces­sive spending of tax­pay­ers’ dol­lars does not be­long in our party. Let’s leave that for the ex­perts – the Tories and the Lib­er­als.

It’s time to show our true worth. Tear down this wall of cor­rup­tion and put in its place a trans­par­ent, ac­count­able gov­ern­ment. bull.

I can go to the gro­cery store, buy a bag of pota­toes, bring it home, dump the con­tents in my yard, tramp on them and laugh while I think of peo­ple starv­ing in for­eign coun­tries.

There is no law against me telling my neigh­bour that I don’t like him be­cause he smells bad.

I can take a per­fectly good dog to the vet and have it put to sleep for no rea­son. I can pick my nose in pub­lic. I can do all th­ese things. But should I? Are any of th­ese be­hav­iours right? Are any of them moral or eth­i­cal?

Do I have to have reg­u­la­tions in place for me to see that they are not?

Buy­ing pa­tio fur­ni­ture, espresso ma­chines and the like on the tax­payer’s dol­lar is wrong no mat­ter what the rules say. Peo­ple who do th­ese things, in my opin­ion, have no stan­dards, no morals, no ethics.

My gov­ern­ment is sup­posed to rep­re­sent me, and I have stan­dards. So my elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives should have stan­dards. Any­thing else is just un­ac­cept­able, no mat­ter what the “rules” are.

Wendy Wishart Syd­ney

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