I haven’t heard much from our erstwhile premier in a while. This is quite possibly because I don’t watch/read enough news. It is also quite possibly because he is in hiding over the fear that his appearance will create record low approval ratings for the NS Conservative Party. After talking with Kevvy at lunch, I thought this would be a good idea: Henceforth, for as long as it doesn’t bore me, on every Wednesday afternoon, I shall collect and post any and all unique stories appearing on Google News in which The Fiddler is quoted, as a means of proving/disproving his actual existance. Stories which just rehash prior public appearances/press scrums will not be repeated.
Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald said the province hasn’t changed its position on equalization.
He said he expects Ottawa to respect the framework of the Atlantic Accord, a joint agreement that was overhauled in 2005 to protect the province’s offshore revenue from equalization clawbacks.
But the premier also acknowledged it took years to reach a deal on the accord, and he doesn’t expect the issue to be resolved overnight.
Premier Rodney MacDonald refused to discuss specifics of the IWK dispute, referring to ongoing negotiations. But it was clear that he was prepared to act quickly to bring the strike to an end.
“The message (the ministers) received was to be home, if at all possible, by Monday evening or Tuesday,” he said. “That wasn’t happening without a reason.”
The premier acknowledged that he discussed the IWK crisis with new Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil on Sunday but would not say whether back-to-work legislation was discussed. “I had some brief discussion, but did not go into full detail.”
MacDonald said he was also unable to discuss essential services legislation but sent a pretty strong message of where his government is headed. “As premier, I’m not going to allow the health of Nova Scotians to be put in jeopardy — short term or in the long term.”
He said compensation for Nova Scotia workers is very comparable to what is paid in the rest of Atlantic Canada, noting that 70 per cent of the province’s $3-billion health-care budget is spent on salaries and benefits.
“I’m obviously concerned about dollars and cents, but to me an issue like the one we had this week shows the need to make sure that employees are treated fairly and that the public is treated fairly. I think we need to look at this issue long term, and as a government I’m prepared to do something.”
“I don’t believe they understand how suppressing Nova Scotia’s potential violates every principle behind the concept of federation,” MacDonald said.
Nova Scotia must currently choose between keeping offshore revenues under the accord, or giving it up to enter into a more generous equalization formula. MacDonald told the crowd that he was disappointed Harper’s government didn’t live up to their agreement.
“I will make them understand that a deal is a deal is a deal,” MacDonald promised.
The evening began with each of these guests performing humorous speeches on what they would do differently.
“That’s easy,” Manning said. “I would win more.”
MacDonald continued the playful mood by starting his speech with a series of jokes. But he quickly grew serious when he began discussing the accord.
The room, which had been filled with frequent bouts of laughter, went silent as MacDonald outlined his commitment to keep fighting for both the accord and the new equalization formula.
That’s it for this week. Does three print media quotes represent an abundance or a paucity of airtime (papertime?)? I honestly don’t know, given that I don’t keep track of this sort of thing. My initial guess would be that it isn’t much press for a Premier. Tune in next week, if you care.