Examining the standards of Nova Scotia government is a study in contrasts. Take the mill just outside the village of Pictou. That mill has been violating UN health standards and sickening surrounding people for decades. It is singularly responsible for numerous leaks of toxic waste into the Pictou’s bay and expels air pollution with some chemicals ranging thousands of times over the legal limit. Its violations have effectively been ignored by Nova Scotia’s government (currently the Liberals), and despite current public outrage regarding the mill (now operated under the auspices of Northern Pulp, a subsidiary of an Asian pulp company that has repeatedly come to international attention for illegal deforestation and environmental atrocities), the mill continues to operate as our government shows no real interest in forcing a resolution that is actually for the health and benefit of Nova Scotians.
This example could easily be extended to the many resource-based industries that go on around the province. Nova Scotia government effectively allows forestry to police itself. With only about 1% of old forest remaining, NS government continues to allow the cutting of old forest. Mining companies have created tar ponds that are now decades old, and these still fester upon the land near communities and must be cleaned up at public expense.
Nova Scotia governments bought into the call center scandal a couple decades back. You might be wondering why this was a scandal. Because these are low paying, high stress jobs, and the wages are low enough that between government subsidies to attract call centers and the benefits that must be supplemented to their employees, NS taxpayers were coming out in the red for every call center employee.
Under the NDP, there was a $200 million guaranteed loan given to a foreign corporation to open an industrial wind turbine factory in New Glasgow despite mounting evidence that wind turbines were a dead end for green power generation as their output is not large on average, nor is it reliable. Despite waning global interest in the things, NS funneled more taxpayer money to yet another lost cause. And what happened to that mill? It was effectively shutdown by that foreign corporation almost as soon as it got going. Anyone but me wonder what happened to that investment money?
The bottom line is that NS governments have allowed big corporate to take advantage of Nova Scotians health, safety and finances for decades, and to do so virtually without consequence. In the latest example of governmental incompetence and corruption, the Liberal government received a complaint against Gordon Fraser who runs a small, family-operated abattoir for local small farmers. The complaint was almost certainly from the NS Turkey Marketing board which the government gave a monopoly over turkeys to some years ago. The Turkey Board wanted to assure that they are the sole monopoly holder over turkeys in the province.
Anyway, Gordon’s been running his abattoir for decades. His work has never made anyone sick, nor have his customers complained. But on the basis of the turkey board’s complaint that someone could remotely, possibly get sick some day, the NS government could not move fast enough to shut him down. Effectively, if Nova Scotians complain of big corporate misconduct, government doesn’t care. But if big corporations complain, our government (this time the Liberals) only ask, “What would you like me to do, sir!” And then off goes our government, goose-stepping to big corporate orders.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Nova Scotia governments have two sets of law: one for big corporations and another for Nova Scotians. The former basically gets an unlimited number of get out of jail cards. The latter get to pay the piper.
We need better.