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Bait & Switch side of "Regulatory Excellence"

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

This blog elaborates a bit on some of our recent bait and switch experiences that are mostly referred to in a general way in Regulatory Excellence.

The poster child for Ray Plourdes pessimistic comments in the article is the sad 'evolution' of Nova Scotias Forest "Strategy" from the excellent work of the review committee launched by the PC government, through the problems of bringing it forward in the hands of the apparently very supportive NDP government Natural Resources Minister John MacDonnel, through the industry complaints to the Premeir Dexter's office that resulted in his removal.... to the eventual "strategy" built around aspirational goals and "new regulations" to ensure no actual demands are made on industry to make any movement towards those goals.

Few expected how much worse it could get after this discouraging article from 2011  written in the midst of that process.

As noted in the article, the bright side of the recommendations from the Aquaculture Review is that even though inherently  polluting open pen farming was not banned, it is expected that if the regulatory recommendations are adopted by government the companies currently in business would have to close up shop.


If our provincial government will even seriously consider that option.

The list could go on.

The current controversy over fracking is somehwat different. Unlike with aquaculture, the challenges to government and the policy review process are taking place before the industry has established a foothold. Still, proponents start the process with every advantage.

In the case of fracking, the NDP government tried to social engineer acceptance by striking an "internal review". Ostensibly that review was to look at all the questions of whether we should even have fracking in Nova Scotia, period. But the committee of civil servants spent all its time looking at "best practices" of the industry- meaning the best the industry is willing to do- and drafting the templates for future regulations. That appeared to mostly amount to following the lead of New Brunswick.

New Brunswick government bragged that it's regulations were the "strongest on the Continent." But there are very few actual regulations. It is mostly a very long grocery list of guidelines- things the regulators MAY require.

With the industry and their champions in the Petroleum Directorate of the Energy Department not having managed to establish a fracking beachead before the public woke up to what this was all about, fracktivists currently have momentum in our favour.

Even then, it has required an incredible effort from hundreds of very engaged people, to get the upper hand over the mere dozen or so in government and industry who have only to coast on the assets of their power.

And their power base has almost nothing to do with legislation and regulation.



In the public talk in which Susanna Fuller's front page Herald interview is based she talks of transformational change and regulatory excellence. 

It is not that activists should give up the struggle for tougher regulations as only a trap. But it is the transformation of our means of livelihood that Fuller talks about that is required. We only get substantively tougher regulations some of the time. If after much work we do get that, improved regulations is only the consolation prize.

Elevating regulatory excellence to a goal in its own right is not just a difference in rhetorical emphasis. Even the very recent record of our stuggles tells us it is a call that sets us up for failure.


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