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Failing grades for mainstream parties on key environmental issues

Green Party receives A- overall, other parties all get F's

by Ryan McDonald

A coalition of Nova Scotia environmental groups found little to cheer about in the current election campaign.  Photo R. McDonald
A coalition of Nova Scotia environmental groups found little to cheer about in the current election campaign. Photo R. McDonald

Where do the provincial parties stand in terms of the environment? This is a question that Sheila Cole, advisor to the Nova Scotia Environment Network (NSEN) Board of Directors, believes has been ignored in this election campaign.

NSEN is a non-partisan umbrella group that serves to connect environmental organizations active in Nova Scotia.

NSEN’s Election Readiness Caucus released their grades of each of the parties based on their response to a thorough, 27 question, environmental questionnaire. The questions covered issues like renewable energy, environment and the economy, water and coastal issues, food, mining and forestry and landfills/toxic waste.

“I was shocked. There is the low level of commitment to action from all major political parties, except for the Greens. said Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director of the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club.

With the exception of the Green Party which received an A-, all other parties received failing marks.

The parties were graded on three categories: knowledge and comprehensiveness of the answers, environmental soundness, and how specific the responses were in terms of budget and policy.

“It saddened me and it scared me” said Fitzgerald, regarding the lack of forward vision and specific solutions presented by the NDP, Liberal and PC parties.

Meanwhile the shining light was the Green Party.

“Only the Green Party is looking at the larger, interlocking parts that the other three parties are overlooking,” said Richard Bell of the Eastern Shore Forest Watch, the third presenter on the panel.

Despite the “F” marks received by the three mainstream parties, Fitzgerald said that the failing marks do mask that the responses showed that at least some of the environmental issues facing Nova Scotia are understood.

However, the parties lost major points because they lacked commitment to environmental protection and did not offer concrete changes in terms of policy and budget.

NSEN’s full report and grades can be found here.



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Topics: Environment
311 words


Halifax Media co-op supports the Green platform??

Our assessment:  

Something wicked this way comes OR

The Green Fog - full cost not low cost OR

The green police state

Grade: F

Mr. Percy in his preamble hints at what is to come in the Green Party of Nova Scotia’s (GPNS) Election Platform, ‘Healthy Economy, Healthy Communities, Healthy Environment’, how an outdated model of governance needs to be changed.

Change is what is needed here in Nova Scotia since the province is heading for a bleak future,  depopulation, historically low political participation, a failing democracy, people leaving to go ‘out west’, the highest costs/taxes and the poorest growth in Canada, the private-sector’s complete lack of confidence in government, continuing government politicization of the economy; Nova Scotia after 50 years of constant malaise is becoming a backwater.

Mr. Percy advocates big change in the GPNS platform;


It has 10 pages of text finished off with an explanation of why none of their ideas are costed (lack of data), but they affirm that “all of the ideas expressed here in our platform document are revenue neutral at worst and will actually reduce spending in many  cases. “ We are not convinced.

Many parts of this platform are vague. For instance “a Green Government will address the key issues related to climate change and energy security.” What does that mean? Does this mean a few small initiatives or a massive re-alignment of government economic policy? So we have no way of telling whether this is a good or bad idea and how much is the cost (addressing climate change sounds expensive). We have sorted them into different ‘piles’ based on our best understanding.

They make 58 promises.

Promises that will increase costs in the economy; 8

Items such as ‘food security’ which will force consumers to consume local products rather than the lowest priced product. GPNS wants to bring in ‘full cost accounting’ which “explicitly values human, social, and natural capital”, how this is to be done and who does the costing is not explained, but it certainly will not produce lower costs. Everything from chocolate bars to new cars would be more expensive.

Promises that involve more government spending; 29

The key word is ‘supporting’ some activity. GPNS also wants to “buffer” the agricultural and fisheries sectors “from the market forces”. This is also know as subsidies and price fixing.  This will probably be very expensive and will produce an anemic economy in those sectors. GPNS also wants to start rebuilding the rail system, another expensive project.

Promises that are too vague or confusing to be assessed;  9

Promises that are nonsensical; 2

Increasing the immigration quota will do nothing because Nova Scotia lacks prosperity to retain immigrants and the GPNS notion to reduce the civil service given all of the new activities by government makes no sense. We believe the civil service will have to be expanded.

Promises that are good ideas and should be noted; 5

·        Harmonization of federal and provincial regulations.

·        Guaranteed annual income (IF tied to a flat tax scheme to create Negative Income Tax).

·        Greater economic and regulatory cooperation with the other two Atlantic provinces.

·        Study of electoral systems by a Citizen’s Assembly.

·        Require that environmental protection policies and regulations are supported by adequate enforcement.


There are two additional aspect of the platform that need airing:

Green Jobs (5 promises)

GPNS wants to “generate green jobs across multiple sectors by stimulating existing businesses, initiating new businesses” They then offer a solution “To offset layoffs in industry”. Clearly this is a massive intervention into the private economy by government, ‘approved’ businesses will be subsidized while disapproved businesses will be forced to close either by regulation and/or imposition of fines according to full cost accounting.


You own a wood lot. You clear some big trees to build a new garage. Under the GPNS “any new project would be developed within a sound ethical and social assessment framework.” You have ‘damaged the environment’ therefore you must pay the cost. Also your neighbors feel the loss of the trees detracts from the neighborhood; you have damaged you social environment and again you must pay the cost. For this to work government needs to maintain extensive oversight of all private activity so it can intervene, in this case using your private property, and have the means of coercion to enforce compliance. Assessing the vague “ethical and social” cost will, no doubt, be done unilaterally by government with apparently no recourse to the legal system.

In short the GPNS wants to establish an ideological regime with extensive invigilation of individuals, a regime which can exercise unilateral power over you on any pretext that they determine in the name of the environment. This is also called a police state. This is a massive and terrifying invasion of individual rights. 



Ideas to fix our dying democracy?

Nothing substantive.

Plan to deal with our potentially crippling debt?


Commitment to balance the budget?


Make government more transparent?

Nothing substantive.

Reduce the size of government.

No. Probable large new spending.

Lower taxes?

No. Probable tax increases.

A vision to empower the private sector?

No. The opposite, greater regulation and higher costs.

Plans to explore a regional approach to regional problems such as power rates.

Minimal and vague.



A massive and frightening vision. A left-wing totalitarian green socialistic movement that wants a green police state. Before it was dictatorship of the proletariat, now it is dictatorship of the environment that individuals must be subjugated to.


The green police state.  Grade: F

Good break down. I concur

Good break down.

I concur with the conclusion that the Green Party equates to a Green Police State.

Thanks for posting a reply.
Good to see some intelligent people are still alive in this world.

Failing grades for mainstream parties on key environmental issue

I think it's important to give perspective to this with regard to the NDP's accomplishments during their tenure in office. The Nova Scotia NDP banned uranium mining, and put any consideration of hydraulic fracturing under a responsible review process. They extended the moratorium on gas and oil drilling on Georges Bank indefinitely.

The NDP passed the 1st law in North America putting a hard cap on GHG emissions from electricity (which causes a full 50% of our total GHG emissions!) and set a target requiring that 40% of electricity generation must come from renewables by 2020.  And, they are making that happen through wind developments large and small (COMFITS), investing in Efficiency Nova Scotia, and negotiating Muskrat Falls.

With respect to Efficiency NS, the NDP followed a best practice model with a small fee on our electric bills; yes, a little monthly reminder to conserve, but they also contribute an additional $20 million annually for non-electricity conservation. The best way to meet our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) targets is to reduce our consumption, not leave it to Nova Scotia Power, which has a vested interest in increased power usage.

On St. Margaret’s Bay, after ten years hard work by citizens, they got us the 8,600 ha. Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness on the Chebucto Peninsula, got us top-up financing to save Troop Island, and put eleven more Bay Islands under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act. They bumped up the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prospertity Act's (EGSPA) goal of 12%-by-2015 protected lands goal to 13% and came out with a concrete plan to make that happen. 

The NDP “Bought back the Mersey” bringing 225,000 hectares of working forest and spectacular woodlands back into Nova Scotian hands and kick-started a community forest initiative which will see profits from the sustainable harvest and restoration of these lands help revitalize our rural economy and get things going again.

A powderkeg of contention, they faced down the explosive issue of net cage aquaculture by forming a committee under two of Canada’s leading environmental lawyers, Dalhousie's Meinhard Doelle, and the father of EGSPA, Bill Lahey.  Also on the committee, the EAC’s Policy Head, Mark Butler, the Chair of the NS Coastal Coalition, Karen Traversy, Terry Paul, 15 term Membertou Chief, Bruce Hancock, Director of the Aquaculture Association (of which Cooke Aquaculture is notably not a member), Lisa Fitzgerald of the Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council, and the NS Salmon Association’s Carl Purcell. This is not a committee that will fade into the woodwork. These are some of the industry’s smartest and most articulate critics.

There have clearly been significant blunders: delays in introducing the new forestry policy and then gutting the definition of clear-cutting to make the promises to cut it by 50% meaningless; some exceedingly  bad policy with respect to open-net fin-fish aquaculture. Top their credit, the NDP announced a ban on whole-tree harvesting in June of this year, an important step forward with respect to forestry policy

Each of these accomplishments has been a hard won battles. Now we have a party and a caucus on-side, conversant with environmental issues and willing to act. Do Nova Scotians want to begin all over again with a new government? Ask yourself that question before stepping into the polling booth.

Chris, Fair enough. But these


Fair enough. But these are tertiary inremental concerns when we look at the big picture. Depopulation, collapsing government revenues, unbearable taxes and costs, plummeting democratic involvement. These are THE ISSUES that we should be discussing and solving.



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