Brian Comer was told: Cape Breton is "getting everything"?—E61

Episode 61 of a Cape Breton Podcast with Joe Ward, Boxer Shorts Media. 

At the Nov. 1st meeting of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, Brian Comer, MLA for Cape Breton East and cabinet minister for the Houston government, spoke in support of Bill 340 despite the objections raised by the CBRM.

During his comments, he claimed that when he goes to his caucus to request something, he is told "you can't be asking for anything else for Cape Breton. You guys are getting everything." The link provided for the full session, over 11 hours long, is included below.

It may have been convenient for Comer to boast of everything that Cape Breton was receiving in order to back Bill 340. However, if we examine the factors upon which the health of the municipality may be judged, the state of the CBRM isn't one that would lead you to believe we're "getting everything" just because there are some overdue infrastructure projects underway.

Nov. 1, 2023 - House of Assembly Proceedings:


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Raymond Mac Donald Follow Me
There just may be an issue with the management of the funds we have,like having the worst collection rate of property taxes in Nova Scotia or not applying for assistance for the Thanksgiving storm of 6 years ago just to mention "the other side".
Joe Ward My Post Follow Me
There’s likely no real issue with tax collection, except that tax rates are so high and economic wellbeing so low that higher rates of arrears are expected.
Raymond Mac Donald Follow Me
There was an issue as admitted by the CAO.They needed to hire a tax collector.
Joe Ward My Post Follow Me
They did hire a tax collector a few years ago, and stated it had resulted in improved collections. The issue was collecting taxes. The root cause of the issue was as I noted.
Raymond Mac Donald Follow Me
Improved collections does not mean there was not a collection problem because there was and maybe still is.The blame at the time{along with personel shortage} was put to covid and resulting financial hardships of citizens related to that.All total nonsense that could have been handled by "planning".
Joe Ward My Post Follow Me
Far more complex than that. Can’t draw blood from stone.
Allie Macinnis Follow Me
Yes, there was a “ tax collector “ mentioned in the Bible - that’s why we need one - 🙏🏿
Max MacDonald Follow Me
There are parallels between Nova Scotia Conservative politics and Republican American politics. In the 1980s, Regan Republicans insisted that any government regulation of business or provision of a basic social safety net was “socialism” because, they claimed, the tax dollars that such government action cost would come from those with money—who they implied would be white people—and thus would redistribute wealth from hardworking white men to those who benefited from such programs. We have seen where this has lead. The notion that Cape Breton gets everything, meaning industrial Cape Breton or CBRM today, started in Nova Scotia in the 60s when the Province was trying to extricate themselves from propping up the Steel Plant. If the government could portray Cape Bretoners as lazy hicks living off government largess, as takers who contribute nothing to the economy, the rest of the Province would support their withdrawal from Sydney Steel. This strategy worked then and is working today. In this regard, Cape Bretoners can be likened to Black Americans as pawns in the political system. In the 1970s Kenzie MacNeil put it this way: How much tax goes to Halifax And how much of it comes back? How much steel and how much coal Left on the westbound train track?
Joe Ward My Post Follow Me
I met with Houston and he affirmed that he was going ahead with the $15 Million, but he did not miss the opportunity to mention everything that was given to us to prop up Sydney Steel. It is *definitely* something that was always a component of his thinking. But, he'd be better off wearing the hat of financial analyst, and not the ugly one partisans wear—if he's a true solutionist, and not regressing to that of an obstructionist. Kenzie's words ring true. I loved hearing him explain political history stuff on the few occasions we got to chat. :)
Charles Sampson Follow Me
Max, since the 1970s, all governments have been lowering taxes in a race to the bottom. For instance, Dr. Susan Rosenthal in her informative article online on March 15, 2023, Canadians Are Losing Medicare I think was her title. In her article, she stated that prime minister Pierre E. Trudeau back in 1977,, reduced the federal commitment from the 50% to just 20%. That reduction over 40 some years helps explain why health care is now in serious trouble. With the policy of reducing taxes for the wealthy becoming a concern for maintaining a country’s infrastructure and services for its citizens, there is the massive growth of the tax havens to avoid being taxed. A former parliamentary secretary to former federal finance minister Bill Morneau met in Paris in 2017 I believe with 66 other officials from other countries who were concerned over the tax leakage that was preventing them from maintaining their infrastructure and proper level of public services for their citizens. This Canadian official knew at the time the Harper in 2015 had changed the Income Tax Regulations 5907 (11) that would allow this untaxed money to re-enter Canada untaxed and no record of this would be kept. According to Stats Canada, the top 20% in this year hold almost 68% of the wealth, while the bottom 40% have under 3%. The consequences of the past policies are the source of our present problems.
Christine Bonnar Follow Me
“ You guys are getting everything “. Mmmmmm, what guys Brian Comer? You must be living in a different province because what I see living here, the CBRM has high amounts of poverty, roads that are beyond the patchwork that is done, towns that look like they are so depressed, subdivisions that have no sidewalks, ditches and property taxes that are unsustainable by so many people. Are you walking around with your eyes closed and covering your ears at the same time? I don’t mean to sound so harsh, but I am so fed up with what I see going on here and cutting our equalization back by 2 million when in fact we needed more is beyond belief……oh I forgot, Houston needs all the money he can muster because he is putting forth bandage solutions to his speeches of the Promises of fixing healthcare instead of bringing doctors, specialist and nurses into our area. Just keep growing HRM because the little guys means nothing to you.
Joe Ward My Post Follow Me
Comers job was to stand up before everyone and sell Bill 340, whilst attempting to dampen criticism for the fact that they not only took back the $15 Million Houston felt was necessary when he was trying to gain our support in his leadership bid, and then actually reduced the prior grant to an even lower amount. Yes, they did take provincial fees for corrections and public housing off of our books, but they left the far larger education service fees and didn't freeze it. If they are expecting it to be heralded as an amazing reform of our municipal services arrangement that will be celebrated for decades, then they must be drinking a heck of a lot of expensive micro brewed beer.
Christine Bonnar Follow Me
Joe, of course they left the education and clawed back the housing and corrections (which is all their responsibility) because education rises at a rate of one million a year where the other two categories does not. We at CBRM have been shafted by Houston and Lohr. We will pay the price dearly when it hits every one of us in our pocket book when our taxes keep rising. By the way everyone….i will swear on a bible that MR. Houston said it to my face at the firehall in North Sydney when he was campaigning for Premier that he would double our 15 million. He did not say to me it was once only. Now not only did he out and out lie, he has now taken 2 million away. I don’t have the fancy words, but I will speak the truth and say it as it is.
Joe Ward My Post Follow Me
All of his early indications were that he would double it. There was some very careful wordplay. "In good faith" came early, and then I started hearing "in the first year" (which is not "only"), but they were always gearing towards its removal, IMO. As a conservative with a financial background, he should justify why he saw the need then, but can't see it anymore. The catch 22 is that we either have a real need, or he didn't see the need but gave us the $15 Million to secure his leadership spot.
Raymond Mac Donald Follow Me
When I'm out and about I see Halifax and Ottawa money at:Downtown Community College,Regional Hospital,CBU including new med school,New Dawn and I don't pay particular close attention to that sort of thing.Just imagine if our own CBRM elected officials and senior administration paid more attention to tax collection,spending and budgeting.Someone may even spring for a well deserved library!!! Imagine that.
Joe Ward My Post Follow Me
There's no Halifax or Ottawa money. There's provincial investment and federal investment, and federal equalization investment (from "have" provinces). It's *all* sourced from taxpayers. When we see infrastructure built or upgraded, it's because that's what the government does. They collect our taxes and provide said infrastructure (among other things). What did we do to earn investment in upgrading the Regional hospital? Well, we closed failing emergency rooms, and get cancer far more frequently than we should, likely due to our dirty industrial beginnings, at a time when the safety standards were not as integrated or advanced as they are today. It's not a gift. It's a vital need, particularly with an aging blue collar population and excessive outmigration of younger folks in the preceding decades. Most spends represent not just infrastructure, but an infrastructure debt that accumulated because multiple governments weren't deploying what was required. But, we do pay taxes. None of it is a gift from Halifax. In a have-not province, if we want to consider the investment a gift, it's a gift from Canadian tax payers in *have* provinces that fund the federal equalization pool. Without that, Nova Scotia is insolvent. Ironic that they're ready to scold a municipality for being near insolvency without an equalization pass-through via the municipal capacity grant. There are all kinds of reasons to criticize the CBRM, particularly mayor and council. However, the NSEF has made the point that the comparative budget of the municipality does *not* stand up well to others in Canada of similar size. Specifically, that our budget is too low. If Houston would take education off of our books and declare our police services a provincial police service (savings us $28 Million+), we'd have a chance to show whether or not we could successfully manage the municipality without a complete stranglehold.
Raymond Mac Donald Follow Me
It {tax $} came from us,yes.But we gave it to them so now it's theirs.They don't have to give it back.Generally speaking what I seen over the years is competence gets rewarded and whining does not.
Joe Ward My Post Follow Me
Based on the quantitative economic scorecard of this region, it's remarkable that people don't actually plead, let alone whine. Your depiction sounds a bit more like the modus operandi of the corporate world. However, if those who couldn't stay solvent on their own weren't propped up, then federal equalization would be gone and Nova Scotia would be in big trouble. Nova Scotia spends billions in federal hands outs, but we have to beg for $15 Million or so? LOL. ;)
Charles Sampson Follow Me
Ray, just as the constitution is not owned by the governments, as former Nova Scotia Chief Justice MacDonald ruled overruling a 1950 SCOC decision that the Constitution belongs to the country, taxes are paid by taxpayers and governments must account for their use to the public. Control by powerful wealthy corporations of the political system is being reward and that is not necessarily competence.
Charles Sampson Follow Me
Ray In 2021, StatCan reports these wealthiest tax filers received $811,800 in total income, up 20.5 per cent from the previous year. And you guessed it, the richer you are, the better you did in 2021. The top 0.1 per cent pulled in $3,230,000, up 27.6 per cent. The top 0.01 per cent managed a whopping $12,542,100, up 30 per cent from 2020. As the report concludes, “These levels of income including capital gains were much higher than they were at any other point in the past 40 years, accounting for inflation.”

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