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Like It or Not, It’s Time to Talk Politics

It looks like municipal elections in Nova Scotia are a go for mid October.

And while health, job security, education, and figuring out our new normal has all of our attention, we cannot ignore the importance of local municipal leadership.

I used to think that provincial and federal elections were most important for Cape Breton Island, but I have come to realize that municipal politics is equally and often more important.  

That’s because whatever local issues our mayor and council choose to focus on will directly influence what our provincial and federal government representatives also choose to focus on — and ultimately support with funding.

When someone says that healthcare and education are provincial responsibilities, or that poverty is a federal responsibility, please do not accept that rationale. While that may be true in some respects, it is not how decisions are actually made.

With the uncertainty that our future holds, strong local leadership is needed now more than ever.

For incumbents already in office and running for another term, I hope you will soon share your track record of success for local citizens to consider.  And, that you won’t expect to win votes with name recognition alone.

For new candidates running for council or mayor, you need to start sharing soon if you hope to reach and convince enough voters to write click your name on the ballot. People are very comfortable voting for the person they already know. If you want to break that habit, you have to demonstrate that you have something better to offer.

With door-to-door canvassing unlikely to be an option, candidates will no longer be able to rely on winning a vote simply by showing up with a smile and a handshake. You are going to have to win with clear messaging and a thoughtful communications strategy.

And part of that strategy is clearly explaining what you will fight for. Yes, fight. It’s not enough to simply say that some things are good and some things are bad. Explain your priorities and how you will achieve them for the good of all citizens.

We’re all counting on you!

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Lloyd Allan MacPherson Follow Me
An important topic that doesn’t get much attention from a budget starved municipality is this: per the federal equalization workbooks, in 2018/19 (latest) 23.1% of the total equalization transfer was sent to Nova Scotia to address fiscal tax capacity related to one of five categories equalization is provided for - in this case, property and misc. resources. In a per-capita scenario, that would represent close to a quarter billion dollars to the CBRM. At what stage is the municipality going to invest in creating a local initiative to address this? Cash-strapped councillors with all the best and forward-seeming ideas are ineffective, no matter what lively backgrounds they bring to the loc(ko)al show. How can we expect anyone to excel in a bankrupt region? With the premier having “ZERO!” interest in opening and getting to know the finer details of these financial workbooks, who’d want to wrestle with the province for survival? #defundnomore
Mathew Georghiou My Post Follow Me
Very true that the prospect of being voted into a role where your hands are tied is not very appealing. On the other hand, it's an opportunity for true leadership to emerge and make progress on the funding issue. Perhaps even solve it.
Lloyd Allan MacPherson Follow Me
That’s going to take some next level leadership knowing that comparably-sized municipalities in Canada operate on $340,000,000+ while the CBRM operates on half of that and being a coastal region, have our own share of infrastructure challenges not seen in land locked areas. Perplexed as to why the business community hasn’t been more vocal about this ongoing funding issue. If there were a competition on for business funding, I’m sure there would be players at the table ready to go after it. Why no outcry in these camps?
Mathew Georghiou My Post Follow Me
Decades of political agendas, personal agendas, self-interest, incompetence, and apathy have created the situation Cape Breton is in. The only thing that can change that is pure leadership supported by influential people and a large number of vocal citizens. Generational change also helps.
Joe Ward Follow Me
If the business community over the decades has come to believe that all municipal representatives are(will be) ineffective, and this Premier and his predecessors(successors) are intent on giving ”zero” attention to Equalization distribution, they may realize their best focus is on sustaining and growing their business within existing economic conditions and restraints. If the belief that getting them on board could produce a positive result, an act of leadership for those of that mind, therefore, would be to develop a strategy to do so.
Lloyd Allan MacPherson Follow Me
CBRM running on a respectful budget, one that is supposed to be bolstered by equalization, would still have challenges not seen in other demographics in Canada due to our isolation and market/demographic limits (volume). Adding a funding disparity to clearly one of North America's most marketable locations is by choice and is reinforced through apathetic stances like "No provincial government or Premier is going to increase the Equalization Payments to CB, and others, to the level suggested...". We don't transcend constitutional reforms with this attitude. I don't do crystal ball gazing. This isn't a municipal funding issue. This is "Tax and Miscellaneous Resources" category that the general public doesn't understand because if they did, there'd be thousands of people lined up outside Province House at this stage. This funding has never been applied to the source in Nova Scotia and without that helping hand (versus non-stop welfare payment to the HRM), the conditions will worsen. The federal (de)funding of healthcare (decrease by 50%) adds to the complications this elder demographic experience. Growing business along the lines of the SDG Act of Nova Scotia could be the opening CBRM has been awaiting but still, in its legislative authority, it allows for very little wriggle room outside of the current Liberal circle. That's disconcerting. The "inclusivity" of an economic lever could be shut down by exclusive arrangements within the current power structure. The "...sustaining and growing their business within..." focus puts us already at an advantage - moving our social capital off-line from mainstream and back into the cosmo-local to bolster that sector is a moment away, hopefully.
Joe Ward Follow Me
"the general public doesn't understand because if they did, there'd be thousands of people lined up outside Province House at this stage" There's an indication of the potential for progress right there. This is a reflection that those who do claim to know what's going on are clearly not communicating it effectively to those they expect to take action (versus the "choir").
Mike Johnson Follow Me
Lloyd, the "apathetic" adjective is more amusing than accurate, so i'll leave it alone. However, i will stand by the original Comment. Changing Equalization to send the 23.1% directly to the Municipalities, (if that is what you are suggesting?) would not only need a Constitutional Amendment that would not be recognized or needed across the rest of country, it would require a complete and monumental re-structuring of the Provincial Budget and the basic premises on which it is founded. And it would all have to be done without alienating HRM, (as you noted), which is where the "political suicide" resides. Because, unless one does not accept the fact that there is a limited amount of $, and we are already spending it, we would have to pull money from existing departments, of which Healthcare is the largest. Do we really want to pull $100s million from Health and give it to CC and CBRM Council to manage? As disappointing as the performance of the provincial government has been over the years, they are still better equipped to manage 'most' universal provincial needs....though we should be doing a much better job of communicating and influencing those needs. And, the plight of many of the NS Municipalities does have to be addressed. But first we need to elect some people in CBRM who have both the will and the ability to actually deal with the issue. Who can get the Province to the table, develop some credibility, negotiate realistically and create an environment where a Premier sees it a politically popular process. Btw, this is was the subject of Mathew G's original Post ....Leadership in CBRM, and to have the Candidates who are campaigning for it, state their positions.
Mathew Georghiou My Post Follow Me
Mike what you say in this comment is EXACTLY the reality.
Lloyd Allan MacPherson Follow Me
I didn't mean to be jovial Mike - the apathy has key indicators - when someone starts talking about "restructuring provincial budgets" and "constitutional amendments", this is polispeak - avoid it and there's a good chance apathy isn't going to follow you around. The apathy is present from the business community, our university, and the political public - the general public mirrors this. Once the business community, our academics, and the political players start to make sense and refuse the apathetic stance, then the critical mass of the general public will be guaranteed (unless media makes the amends necessary). In the case where media makes the amend, the business community and the academics then appear without clothes next to our political class - avoiding that situation is in everyone's best interest. Let's elect those people but at the same time hope that they don't represent hidden party colors and really represent the public at large. The 23.1% floating around wasn't provided by CBU; it actually streamed in from the University of Calgary. Imagine Alberta wanting to know how that transfer is being handled by provinces. Every citizen of Canada should be worried about how this UNCONDITIONAL (?) transfer is handled apparently. Why enshrine it in '82? So that business could be conducted the same way as previously mandated? "Reasonably comparable" is easy to verify through one of the categories provided - property and miscellaneous resources. Mike, isn't the wording of the constitution what should be complied with (reasonably comparable)? How is that vague? Have you compared?
Charles Sampson Follow Me
Mike, What amount of the 23.1 per cent of the Equalization payments are you saying rural Nova Scotians and the CBRM would get? What Constitutional Amendment are you saying would be needed? Why are you introducing Health Care into this discussion about Equalization? Health Care is a separate file that, too, is seriously under funded, thanks to both the Liberal and Conservative governments.
Mike Johnson Follow Me
Charles IMO Equalization is part of a much larger problem that has yet to be recognized by the current Govt.....that too many municipalities in NS are failing! So until that fact is accepted and we can get them into discussion and negotiation, i have no idea how much funding will be needed or how it will be delivered. And though i did not introduce Equalization to the discussion, it is V relevant as a new Mayor should be in the Premier's office within weeks, with as many provincial peers as possible behind him. As for Healthcare, it is only to point out that any additional funding for Municipalities must come from existing provincial budgets, and it is the largest expenditure, and the most sensitive. Btw, if we wanted to have a separate discussion, i would suggest that Healthcare funding IS adequate, (AND all we afford), the flaws are mostly in how and where it is delivered. And having spent 35 years working in Healthcare within the private sector, i know almost as much about it as you do about the legalities and nuances of the Equalization legislation.
Charles Sampson Follow Me
Mike, When the federal government continues to send this significant per cent of the increasing total Equalization payments related to the property deficiency in tax capacity and it is NOT used to address this tax capacity deficiency, what are the citizens outside the Capital Region to do? When government is not accountable or transparent, what are citizens to do? The Equalization payments are not supposed to be a never-ending transfer, but the way the system is being manipulated here, rural Nova Scotia and the CBRM cannot afford to continue to afford the Capital Region. Regarding Health Care: It is not a private sector commodity. Too many health care services are not profitable.
Mike Johnson Follow Me
Charles I agree with you re HRM, and we need to get started ASAP on the discussions. The next Mayor should put on the Chain of Office and sit outside the Premier's until he opens the door. You are also correct that this Govt is neither transparent, nor prepared to be accountable, and thanks to his misguided COVID popularity, McNeil is less inclined than ever. Plus he has never admitted to a mistake or changed his mind, so we'd better hope we have a new audience in the near future. Btw, we were manufacturers & distributors of supplies and equipment, not Service providers. And by the end of the 90s doing that at much less margin than your local retailers. My exposure comes from talking and working with healthcare professionals and employees from the CEO to the storekeeper in every province.
Lloyd Allan MacPherson Follow Me
"As for Healthcare, it is only to point out that any additional funding for Municipalities must come from existing provincial budgets, and it is the largest expenditure, and the most sensitive." That healthcare funding was destroyed in 2014, left unchecked by a promise to revisit from Trudeau - so anyone who has any background in healthcare and is somewhat associated with either the Liberal or Conservative parties should be the first to back away from that party loyalty if they understand what was done by Conservatives in 2014 and promised in the Liberal campaign afterwards. Add in that the Canadian Constitution Foundation is a federally registered charity (funded by the Weston family) seeking to prop up Dr. Brian Day's challenge in BC, you can start to see Horgan as a feather of the left wing of the same lame duck the Conservatives attach to. All your years working in healthcare, I'm sure you are up on all this federal defunding and positioning towards a privatized industry in Canada?
Mike Johnson Follow Me
The de-funding, (or downloading to the Provinces), of the original healthcare formula, started long before 2014. But reviewing the history is not going to help us now, as with a $ trillion+ national debt, there's not apt be new money any time soon. VERY briefly, Healthcare needs a rolling 15-20 year, cradle to grave strategy, that would shift much of focus from Acute Care to wellness, home care, and changing damaging behavioral habits. For instance, Type 2 diabetes is extremely expensive and is mostly self-induced. It would take 2-3 years to develop a Plan, and maybe 7-8 before it would have an appreciable impact, but in 10-12 you'd have made some real progress. Though it is generally beyond the scope of politicians to see that far, (and you get votes through bricks and mortar), Frank McKenna did some good work 30 years ago in NB, and they have the best Extramural Program in the country as a result.
Charles Sampson Follow Me
True, the under funding of health care predates the 2014 changes. However, the 2014 high percentage reduction was too significant that it attracted a lot of attention because its impact affected all future Health Accord funding. Harper knew what he was doing and was not a supporter of public health care. He was carrying out the program of the National Citizens Coalition he formerly headed and now that he was in a position to do so. But necessary changes in the economy are going to be disruptive since the current system is not stable or sustainable. You mention the trillion dollar debt situation. Before this pandemic, most Canadians have already paid over a trillion dollars in interest cost on the national debt since 1974 change to the Basel Committee, Switzerland and Mulroney’s cancellation of the legal reserve ratio requirement. Like Equalization, most are probably unaware of this too. Much like the health care reductions in particularly federal downward trending of its financing over the years. Over the last four decades taxes have been lowered by all governments such that governments have a revenue issue. This becomes more obvious when a crisis strikes like today with the pandemic. The trillions in tax havens has been a consequence of these tax cuts. The economic model that is creating such instability and inequality has gone by its best before date. This is all coming to the forefront now as there has to be a transformation in the world’s economies that must not keep externalizing its cost to others or the destruction of the environment. Failure to do so is not going to be good for mankind.
Mike Johnson Follow Me
I agree, except for that to happen we need major changes to the MGA, as noted below from Comments a year ago. The people who could really make progress and do the job in CBRM are reluctant to run with the current restrictions. And even when they do (read Rankin MacSween), we are not smart enough to elect them. :( "Mayor of CBRM might be the toughest job in the Province right now, maybe only second to Minister of Health. We have a failing economy, terrible demographics, generally disinterested and uninformed voters, (many of whom want to live in the past or re-create history), and only a few Councillors who offer any support or understanding of the issues. Plus you are handicapped by the MGA, and have a shrinking tax base. Finding the right person to deal with those issues and still move Us ahead is a real challenge. There are probably a dozen people on the list who could get elected and many more would be an improvement over the incumbent, but who could actually do the job? It will take somebody strong enough to reduce expenses & staffing, while shrinking indulgent budgets in order to better invest our limited funds, and create some excitement around new & entrepreneurial strategies, during a simultaneous education of CBRM Citizens. Good Luck!"
Joe Ward Follow Me
I think we need to "patch" the MGA as needed. Major reform can't happen in one shot. Our council and administration would never understand what's required anyway. At least they've shown no indication that they would. I believe we can achieve a 0% tax on new construction (housing) right now, and probably within the current limits of the Municipal Government Act or a rather small and expedient patch.
kim sheppard Follow Me
I've said the same thing myself over and over...a politician saying"education, healthcare is a provincial matter" is a "copout" . If its affecting your constituents...its a Muncipal matter as well!
Joe Ward Follow Me
Our mayor is supposed to be "lobbyist in chief" for the CBRM, and the Councillors backing him/her up. If we're not going to keep asking for something, why would we expect anyone to give it to us? We have a bunch of councillors that grumble for the camera when the topic of Equalization comes up, but then do nothing and hope the NSEF group does all the work.
Mike Johnson Follow Me
Re a couple of Comments above: -No provincial government or Premier is going to increase the Equalization Payments to CB, and others, to the level suggested. It would simply be political suicide and even the few with real leadership and conscience are not prone to doing that. Having said that, it would be in their best interest and that of the Province to accept and act on the fact that you can't continue to have local governments going bankrupt. We've had 6 significant ones do that already, and have many more on the brink.....so something has to be done. -Tim Houston has at least recognized the Municipal funding issue and committed to increasing it to all, which would mean $15 million to CBRM, which is a start....IF we are smart enough to elect him, (which is not as likely due to COVID). McNeil will never respond to the issue, because he never changes his mind, or admits that he's made a mistake. - We need major changes to the MGA, and it should even be politically acceptable to do that. For instance instituting a mandatory retirement age of 70 would be an initial first step, and would at least create some room for new people and new ideas. Otherwise, in CBRM we are apparently going to re-elect the old white male dinosaurs forever.
Joe Ward Follow Me
An effective approach has to take into consideration the limitations of what we might expect from them. We could have been underfunded by billions, but nobody can take seriously the idea that we could recover that overnight. It falls into the sunk cost fallacy.
Great points Mathew. With the municipal elections right around the corner, we need to start to hear for those running. The NSEF has been lucky enough to have a good relationship with all Councillors in the past. They have attended our meetings, protests and debates on the "Equalization" issue but we have not seen much action in the council chambers on equalization. It is discussed but that is where it ends. We have not seen our Mayor at any of the above mentioned events and could this be the reason for the lack of progress made on this issue? The NSEF has made is very clear what is needed at the Municipal level to start to see fairness across this province. The CBRM Council (Majority) must put a motion forward to have the equalization issue debated and addressed by the NSFM (Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities) province wide. Over 50% of the voters in this province are outside the capitol region and most of rural Nova Scotia, is struggling financially. 23.1% of the yearly transfer to the province is sent to address the fiscal capacity issue related to property but has never been used to address this capacity deficiency. The Federal Government is sending this funding to help us but the politicians and party loyalty is getting in the way. That is only one of five categories in the Federal determination of the yearly transfer. We have to agree with Mathew's comments.......The time to FIGHT for Cape Breton is now and we need to hear how these incumbents and new candidates will do that. We are all watching and listening.
Joe Ward Follow Me
Council has taken next to no action and sat on their hands, which is basically a decades-old seating arrangement for several of them. Why not open every Council meeting taking turns passing the following recommendation: "As Council member for District X, I would move a motion today, July 21, 2020, Mayor McDougall, that council once again reaffirms recognition that federal equalization funding is inadequately allocated in the province, that the CBRM is drastically underfunded, which has increased our tax burden to unsustainable levels, stunted potential for economic growth or sustainability, and makes it harder to deliver the services to our citizens. I so move." Seconded. Unanimous vote in recognition. Every. single. meeting. Treat the funding challenges as an ever-present reality, not as a check-the-box-by-showing-up at an NSEF event and nodding their head in agreement *excuse for inaction*, whenever the camera lens pans in their direction.
Charles Sampson Follow Me
Are local elections really about only local issues? Are municipal governments really designed to be an independent level of self-financing government? Why is the federal Equalization funding transferred without any accountability? Why is the Equalization category involving the municipal deficiency in tax capacity related to property and miscellaneous revenues NEVER applied to the reason that generates it year-after-year-after-year? Why are town disappearing into a neighbouring larger political unit when the funds continue to flow from the federal government? Why hasn’t an audit been done on these federal payments as called for by the Liberal Party AGM in 2011-12? Why does Tim Houston not answer these two questions when posed on his “Ask Tim” FB site? Are citizens outside the Capital Region being treated to the benefits derived from this Constitutionally enshrined obligation? What is the evidence of this outcome? Why are local, provincial and federally elected politicians silent about this federal funding when their political party of choice is the government? Is the dismantling of the rural economy and that of the CBRM a government agenda? Is the elected government really the body that is responsible for this agenda?
Mike Johnson Follow Me
Think you got some of your answer today...... https://www.facebook.com/TimHoustonNS/videos/406800703613954/?v=406800703613954
Mathew Georghiou My Post Follow Me
If I were leading the charge on equalization, I would commend this commitment by Tim Houston and make it widely known (ie, give him the carrot) and then pressure the leaders of all the other parties to do the same or better to also get a carrot ... or else get the stick. For the record, I'm not affiliated with any political party but I know a win when a see it. Also, just for fun, I will muse that the timing of this reaffirmation seems like an unusual coincidence ... planted question perhaps? Doesn't matter but nice to consider that perhaps the needle is being moved :-)
Charles Sampson Follow Me
Leading the struggle for fair Equalization is a Committee, not a leader of one or two, etc. Tim Houston’s $15 million offer represents about 6% of what that category generates in this one year. Hard to sell that as “a win.” The NDP offered $50 million per year for 3 years. What is more important is that an audit is necessary to open up this government manipulation so all Nova Scotians can witness this level of government corruption.
Mathew Georghiou My Post Follow Me
Houston's commitment is a two step process: (1) An immediate doubling of the eq fund from $32 to $64 million (of which CBRM gets about half) as a good faith gesture to avoid further delays; (2) The entire municipal funding criteria be reevaluated with the expectation of being replaced with a better and hopefully fairer system. That's where the audit comes in with the final formula likely being much more (but no way for you or anyone to know until we see the results). Isn't that a path to achieve exactly what you have been asking for? As to the NDP, can you help me understand how the $50 million breaks down ... and is the NDP committing to creating a new formula as well? Where does the 3-year commitment come in?
Charles Sampson Follow Me
Houston had mentioned $15 million when he was campaigning for the leadership. Casey mentions the sum for the provincial grant is $30.5 million. Is Houston also including the Foundation Grant? He didn’t say so from what I have heard. Houston has NOT answered the audit question he was asked by me, along with the one category for the municipal tax capacity provided every year, which is federally provided to address the reason towns and villages are financially unsustainable. I have NOT heard Houston mention the word “audit” yet. He knows this 23.1% amount is provided to this province because of this municipal deficiency, and given this was never applied in the past years, why is he allowing just a token amount to continue? If he was concerned over the towns already gone and the recent municipal units considering the dissolution path, he would be ensuring no further communities need go through this. He has NOT answered this question either. Why? Promises by politicians are not something you can be guaranteed to be honoured AFTER an election. “Expectation of being replaced with a better and hopefully fairer system” are your words, NOT HOUSTON’S. As for the NDP, I heard only what I previously stated. Nothing further.
Mike Johnson Follow Me
It is a win and should be seen as that. Plus the commitment to negotiate is really what CBRM has been asking for since the Morgan days.....though not during CC's tenure. I believe the question came from Willie Currie who is VP of the Glace Bay riding association, where John White will become the next MLA. Think it would have to be a coincidence unless he is reviewing this increasingly long conversation. :) I am not affiliated either, but do support Houston who is more progressive and flexible than the incumbent. He also seems to believe in 'due democratic process', which too many politicians choose to ignore these days.
Charles Sampson Follow Me
Mike, You are entitled to your opinion about this promise by Houston. But he is a politician making a promise during a leadership campaign. And the $15 million or doubling of the current grossly inadequate provincial funding is a known fact to the leaders. Even the NDP DEXTER and FRANK CORBETT took John Hamm Conservatives to take in 2005 after the report A QUESTION OF BALANCE was out reporting municipalities were funded about 40% Of their costs. Like the Conversatives in power and the Liberals in power., the NDP was NO DIFFERENT. So, you can see I have no trust in promises made by a politician seeking power. Furthermore, with so many years of such underfunding of municipalities outside the HRM creating the financial hardships in rural Nova Scotia and the CBRM, the offer is inadequate even from the one category of the five federally funded in these Equalization payments that addresses this problem. I may be wrong, but I think Houston did say he would double this money -if elected premier- to the municipalities and then study this funding policy further. I don’t recall the word “negotiate” for any additional funding. If you have him stating such, I would appreciate the link. Recently, I asked him about a audit and the 23.1% on his “Ask Tim” FB, but he has NOT answered. So, from our exchanges - when occasionally it happened - with politician federally and provincially when in Opposition over many years using the government’s OWN data, what further study than an audit and promise to account for this transfer SEPARATELY needs to be done?
Mike Johnson Follow Me
Charles Think you should listen to the link that i sent you; here it is again. Houston V specifically uses the words "Re-negotiate"....twice! And also mentions "Property Taxes" which is also a large issue in CBRM. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=406800703613954 I share your cynicism on politicians and partisan politics in general, but am not yet ready to lump them all to together. What is more discouraging is when we get an honest, capable and ethical candidate (Rankin MacSween, John White as MLA in GB, Gord MacDonald in District 1, Cyril MacDonald in District 3, etc.), we too often fail to elect them. It will be a huge mistake if we don't give Houston a chance....he's got the right stuff and we know exactly what we have right now!
Charles Sampson Follow Me
Mike, Thanks, I listened to it and then sent the following email to Tim Houston. Your Name: Charles Sampson Your Questions: Although you have promised -if you become premier - to doubled the current grossly inadequate municipal funding and have promised to re-negotiate a new equalization program with the municipalities, the ongoing cumulative economic consequences of years of this under funding are simply not being seriously recognized or addressed with a mere doubling of this funding. If you are serious about re-negotiating a better deal, I am suggesting you begin that re-negotiations now with a more economically sustainable dollar amount. Also, you have not indicated the time frame after becoming premier when this new re-negotiated funding will begin. But, more importantly, this unacceptable and unaccountable government manipulation of these federal billions of dollars is a practice that you have NOT addressed. Why? Political parties/leaders of three political parties when NOT in the premier’s chair have publicly stated the problem with this federal transfer. The Liberals in 2011-12 AGM called for an audit, but cannot pronounce that word since forming government. The NDP in 2005 took your former leader and premier Hamm to task during an Oral Question Period using the 2005 A Question Of Balance Report, which reported the municipalities were funded about 40% of costs. Later, Premier Dexter suffered from an amnesia of power -that affects N.S. premiers - and then couldn’t remember his previous 2005 political attack on Hamm. Now, you, too, are in this situation today. Will you succumb to this amnesia of power too? So, will you begin to end this political corruption by stating today any government you form will immediately do an audit of these federal Equalization payments? Will you accept as a start of this re-negotiations of a new deal to adjust substantially upward your promise to double the government funding to municipal?
Mike Johnson Follow Me
Charles, if by some chance you have not yet sent that email, why don't you wait a bit and i'll give you a call?
Charles Sampson Follow Me
Mike, Already sent. It is similar to one posted before. Being in the position he now is in, he could make a play for the vote outside the HRM by promoting himself as the leader who will make government more transparent and accountable. This would help to force this issue and the Liberals as corrupt if they refuse to do an audit. The public will be given a choice.
Mike Johnson Follow Me
Mathew For the record, i am no longer affiliated either, but have been temporarily to support Earlene MacMullin and Houston's run for the PC Leadership. I believe quite strongly in voting for the best candidate, in the hope that if we elect enough of the right people, we will eventually get better government. Since moving back to CB, i've voted for candidates from the 3 major parties and at least twice for the Greens....rather than writing in "None of the Above"! -:)
Charles Sampson Follow Me
The questions I asked were dealing with an audit and why the one category of the five dealing with property and its deficiency in tax capacity that is funded federally but not used for the reason that generates that part of the total Equalization payments. The audit was called for by the defeated Allie MacLeod and Eddie Orrel who called upon the MacNeil government to do it. Tim has not answered my questions.
Joe Ward Follow Me
There's too much focus on what's really bad, and can't be changed, and why it's everyone else's fault for not caring enough. If we think we understand the problem better than everyone else and have ideas about a solution, then it's not everyone else's fault for not being on board. It's *our fault* for failing to find a way to have them take an interest, understand our perspective, and act in some helpful way. *Our fault*.
Lloyd Allan MacPherson Follow Me
Joe, did we create this mess? Do we have the means to correct it? What else needs to be done to bring attention to it? CBU's political science and economics department should be in the forefront of this discussion - where are they? Why do we have to appeal to the Centre for Public Policy at the UoC? There's no fault to spread around but to get to the heart of the issue, the root cause for the disparity and lack of attention need to be addressed. Justice MacDonald proclaimed that it was only between the province and Ottawa to deal with this issue. That leaves "our fault" out of the equation for the time being, wouldn't you agree?
Joe Ward Follow Me
No, it's our fault, specifically those of us who suggest there is a solution and imply that we can prescribe it. For as long as we do so ineffectively, we can't simply blame others for their lack of understanding or action. This thread is an example. Mathew's article was written to convey clear meaning to a specific audience, and he has done so effectively. However, most of our comments are so convoluted, the general public would probably pay a fee not to have to read them. That's on us.
Lloyd Allan MacPherson Follow Me
There is a whole heaping of fallacies attributed to this comment, Joe. The prescription is a combined effort. How do you prescribe in vacuum. If the educators are unavailable for comment, the business leaders are too far in their own shells to take a firm stance, and the politicians don’t touch the subject matter because it’s been before the courts, where do the public fit in to this scenario? How does the subject matter get convoluted to the point where budgetary analysis is no longer a point of discussion? You are worried about messaging and I get that. Budgetary analysis is going to be ongoing. The sunk cost fallacy likely led people to “wiki-economics” - is this what you mean by convoluted?
Joe Ward Follow Me
I think by "convoluted" I mean that if the general public attempted to read our comments here, they'd file it away as indecipherable nonsense, not worth the effort of continuing. If we believe that we need them to do something different, and we want to be the ones to tell them what that something is, we're going to have to learn to communicate better. If someone doesn't knock on our door and ask us for advice, but we still want to give it, we have to find a way to get the attention of our desired audience and find a way to influence them. And that's essentially the core message for the article, I think. There are going to be a bunch of people coming out of the woodwork to run for Council, and none of them have a very good chance of winning unless they find a way, as Mathew wrote, "to demonstrate that you have something better to offer." By re-stating the problems, we're not offering much value. You'll hear people proclaim that "child poverty rates are unacceptable", but won't have a clue how they could improve the situation. You'll hear people proclaim that we're getting a raw deal on Equalization and rhyme off a list of everyone who has failed us in this regard, but not be able to articulate a strategy to get anyone to do anything differently about it. That's probably precisely why our incumbent councillors don't like to talk about it very often. They haven't a clue on how to move the needle and it's uncomfortable to feel inadequate and in over their heads.
Charles Sampson Follow Me
Joe, You are not being clear as to what is lacking in the communications made to government about the underfunding of municipalities. After all, the information being communicated to government is its own information. Why is it a one-sided responsibility to solve this underfunding being placed on the victims of government behaviour? The attempts to get government to discuss its policy does not happen because the government refuses to engage in a discussion or answer questions.
Joe Ward Follow Me
I’m looking at this from the perspective of: if I want something nobody intends to give me, how do I figure out a way to get it anyway? What are the levers that get action if communicating the disparity falls on the deaf ears of weak politicians? Given that the next decades-long federal Liberal Dynasty representative has taken the baton in Cape Breton, I think it’s time to rebrand poverty and unfairness. Kelloway Max Tax Kelloway CPP What’s that? Child Poverty Persistence. A recognition that MP Kelloway’s refusal to take action on Equalization Fairness is perpetuating our economic decline and its resulting impact on the children of Cape Breton. Taking the Kelloway scenic tour - a ride to Alberta for Cape Breton families who have given up on having a stable job opportunity. Brand them into action.
Charles Sampson Follow Me
Having the government’s information turned back on them is necessary to get the public to recognize this injustice.. This process takes time. The politicians are faced with handsome rewards for being party loyalist, and this is difficult to get most politicians to instead represent the local area. The past election results may have been a beginning message for politicians who were defeated or for those who decided not to re-offer. If this is the case, trying to keep this issue before the public and the politicians may reproduce more results of sending this message to defeated politicians in the coming elections.
Joe Ward Follow Me
What would you guestimate is the current ETA for an Equalization breakthrough given the current methodology?
Let's start with an audit. Let's look at what we are dealing with here. The Liberals are the ones who said in 2011-2012 that an audit was needed to determine the funding problem and what is happening with this transfer. The secrecy around this issue is the problem. It is time for transparency! Do you think if Cape Breton remained silent on our issues we would see the money that is being spent right now. The people of the island are the ones who need to decide, not government, about our future.
Lloyd Allan MacPherson Follow Me
When you say "current methodology" what do you mean? Is it the current method of the academic/business community being relatively silent on an issue that affects every sector of society on this island? Without business and academia on board, it's hard to predict an ETA. Once the neutrality of these individual sectors (who should have a fair grasp of percentages and fiduciary responsibility) disappears, expect a quick flip. I don't do crystal ball gazing. I just know that to organize a proper civil rights movement, if leadership in the business community and academia remain neutral, they actually side with the oppressor - in this case, every level of government who is affected by underfunding. The "current methodology" is nothing more than an independent educational force. The good news is that every time they seemingly jump into another damaged sector (ie: healthcare), more disparity and government promise-making (forgetting) is exposed.
Joe Ward Follow Me
"current methodology" = whatever we're trying at present time. You're repeating the problem statements. What are the solution statements?
Lloyd Allan MacPherson Follow Me
The problem statements are a part of the solution statements - when all sectors of society (education/business/governance included) are as vocal and demanding of reforms, a solution is inevitable. Once that critical mass is engaged, we start working to our true potential as a region - "true leadership" is all cylinders running, not one or a few. "Why can't you hear our voice - is there a reason to deny? Is silence the only choice? Do you not think to reply? How can't you see our pain - is a blind eye all you give? Do we all bleed in vain - don't we all just want to live? So take your time but listen up - questions are about to get tough." https://soundcloud.com/eagle-eye-view/peaceful-revolutionstough-questions-podcast-intro
Thank you Mathew for this important article and conversation. I wanted to ask a simple question to the politicians. "What is your plan?" We can talk about the past until the cows come home but we all know there is so much to discuss about why we are in this situation and I can certainly talk about Equalization until the cows come home but the big question to all these new candidates is " What is your plan" That is what I would like to hear from all who are running. The community, I am sure, would appreciate hearing this important question answered. The NSEF is here to discuss any options with regards to funding from the province and what has happened in the past. We have over 20 years of data and information and it is available to all who are running. Rev. Dr. Albert Maroun
Joe Ward Follow Me
Exactly the right question.
This is a great conversation going on here. All sides are valid and I guess we need to hear from the people running at this point. It will be interesting to see so many passionate people running this time and challenging the status quo. The discussions and conversations being held around this issue are important for our future and we need to support all the candidates and hear what they have to say on the issues that negatively effect us. The time for change is now and we need to start to come up with the solutions but first we need to know where things went wrong. A problem is harder to fix when we are unaware of where and when it started. Keep it going and thanks to Go Cape Breton for getting the ball rolling. Russ
Lloyd Allan MacPherson Follow Me
It's all about challenging the status quo! It is a recipe for change. https://soundcloud.com/eagle-eye-view/status-quo-defeat
Mathew Georghiou My Post Follow Me
May I propose ... if you want someone (in this case government bureaucrats and politicians) to do something they resist doing, then you have to use an age-old tried-and-true strategy for influencing human behaviour. That strategy is the carrot and the stick. Sometimes this strategy works with just the carrot. Or just the stick. But when it doesn't, you need to carry both. The efforts I have seen for the pursuit of equalization, from the lawsuit days to present day, have mostly been the stick. And, not a big enough stick. The strategy needs both the carrot and the stick. And you cannot rely on duty, honour, and moral responsibility to be the carrot — it has to be much more than that. I have a strategy in mind that would utilize this approach to quickly move the needle on municipal funding, but the strategy can only work if Mayor and council are totally committed to making it happen.
Charles Sampson Follow Me
Your strategy is...?
Mathew Georghiou My Post Follow Me
The strategy is ... ...not worth wasting time writing out when we do not have the single most important ingredient necessary: A Mayor and council that are totally committed to making it happen.
Mike Johnson Follow Me
Agreed....and let's focus on changing that, which was the original topic. And, ensure that "the next Mayor" (as stated previously) has the wherewithal to manage a relationship with the "new Premier" that's in the best interest of everyone in CBRM. It's all about Leadership and we haven't had that here or in Halifax for a long time.
Lloyd Allan MacPherson Follow Me
I don't know if you can expect anything more than a political response to this inquiry, Charles. I've never proclaimed a strategy personally, I've just been working in circles with people looking for like strategies in communities globally who experience the same results from a consumer/business-oriented system. If you asked half the people here on this article if they were interested in GDP-growth, they'd probably tell you it is the cornerstone of humanity. I always thought housing, energy sovereignty, and food security were... hackhumanity.net https://worldsummit.global/ https://p2pfoundation.net/ https://sto.envienta.com/ Interesting groups - they aren't activists but they appreciate them.
Lloyd Allan MacPherson Follow Me
Matthew, it's funny you refer to the "carrot and stick" - seems like the people of the CBRM have been beat with the stick while settling with only a shaving of the carrot peel. When that most recent federal equalization table indicates 23.1% (2018/19)of the total transfer being sent to the province based on a tax capacity deficiency (property and misc.), one would think the business community should be incensed by that statistic - prior, Charles Sampson uncovered this to be as high as 26.8% (2011-12). I'll remind you that this is only one of 5 categories equalization is meant to address - that total transfer for the CBRM, assuming a per-capita basis, equates to roughly to $250mn/year. That's a whole lot of carrots. The stick appears to be held in the HRM.
Mathew Georghiou My Post Follow Me
Lloyd, I say this with love, but ... "broken record." Right now, the numbers don't matter. The stats don't matter. The history doesn't matter. Everyone knows that NS municipalities are underfunded, including those in a position to change that. Numbers are not going to change that any more today than they did 10+ years ago. The numbers will become meaningful AFTER there is leadership committed to and in the right position to fix the problem. The numbers will help identify the deficiencies (as per the AUDIT that people have been advocating). But before the necessary leadership exists, repeating numbers and stats makes it all just gobbledygook that confuses people. I think this is a point that Joe W. has been trying to make. If we can agree that people "in power" know that municipalities are underfunded, then the question is why do they not fix it? Exploring the depth of this question gets us closer to understanding the human behavior that is blocking change from happening. And it helps us understand the carrot and stick that may be needed to move the needle. Mike J. in a comment above speculates as to one reason why the Province won't give more money to CBRM — that speculation is worth thoughtful consideration.
Lloyd Allan MacPherson Follow Me
The numbers always matter in business and economics. Those statistics, when wielded by business/academic leadership, become powerful tools in negotiation. The history is what describes this is a calculated attempt and not just an off-year. Everyone apparently doesn't know municipalities are underfunded, by design, and a part of a greater attempt to grow HRM and shrink populations and community development in outlier areas. Those numbers have always been meaningful. They don't suddenly become relevant when those planets miraculously align. The deficiency is political manipulation on a provincial level and with ZERO! oversight from the federal leaders (Battiste/Kelloway/Cuzner/Eyking), expect the same result. Percentage of funding v. what people pay here in taxes - is this what you are refering to as confusing gobbledygook? Joe makes reference to a sunk cost fallacy yet he refers to these exchanges as not educational for the general public. I'm still not convinced that it is the general public that needs the education at this stage when politicians are silent or despondent (put academics and the business community in there as well). If we can agree that "people in power" extends out beyond who is our 4-year flavour of the decade, we might be able to agree on pretty much everything else. I'd like to listen to more of what Mike Johnson has to say but with his background in healthcare, and no mention yet of the federal defunding from a political standpoint, brought on by the Conservatives and carried through by the Liberals, I'm not sure what is to be heard. He brings an entrepreneurial optic to the discussion apparently - is it better left behind the scenes under an NDA? I'm not asking for that portion of the federal transfer to be given direct to municipalities. What would be interesting is if the "general revenues" was expanded to include separate accounting for that "property and misc." category. It's the one they can't pretend belongs elsewhere.
Charles Sampson Follow Me
Matthew and Lloyd: For me, the “carrot and stick” strategy is being totally held or in the possession of the government. The “carrot” is being consumed by the government, and as Lloyd mentions, we are receiving only the stick blows.
Joe Ward Follow Me
With Equalization, there are signs of some yielding (an NSEF achievement). However, the offers of increased transfer amounts are (as would be expected) from a party that's extremely unlikely to form the government (NDP, $50 Million), and a party that isn't currently polling as though they'll get there (PC, doubling and then review). People have a good sense of how political promises change after the election is over (e.g. Steve Gilliespie's insistence on term limits for council). But it's something. However, the leverage of offers from other parties might not have worked, given that the Premier came to our Chamber of Commerce and made everyone giggly with nervous admiration when he said the topic gets "zero" interest. Meanwhile, Derek Mombourquette and Geoff MacLellan have gotten very comfortable dodging the question and will take the risk at the polls. This might work out ok for MacNeil, since COVID-19 has scared the public so badly, and people tend to cling to their leaders in times of crisis (e.g. George Bush Jr). Clarke won because of a flood. MacNeil will win because of a pandemic. We have a weak council. If we had a bold one, we could start taking bold steps. I'd bring a motion to council to suspend payments to the province for provincial service fees, and I'd do it *before* the provincial election. With MacNeil's stubbornness, it might bring forward a situation of brinkmanship. However, does he really want to suspend provincial services to the CBRM before an election? Would he withhold our transfer in retaliation? If he did, I'd announce temporary "MacNeil layoffs" in the CBRM to withstand the suspension of funding. Then I'd call for other municipalities who are receiving Equalization (the provincial transfer) but facing insolvency to follow suit. Let the Premier deal with that situation, and let it become national news for months, leading up to the next election and see how well that works out for him and his Liberal MLAs.
Mike Johnson Follow Me
Geez Joe, you're giving away our negotiation strategy, though withholding provincial service fees would be towards 'last resort'. Initially, you'd sure like to try and convince the new Premier that it is in his best interest to deal with the issue. In Houston's case at least he recognizes it, and it's a problem in his own riding. As for G Mac and Mumblequette, I don't think either will be around, though with the change in his riding geography, the latter has a chance.
Joe Ward Follow Me
We're safe. We've established that they're not listening. ;)
Pamela Murdoch Follow Me
WOW! Read All comments and felt All frustrations. These conversations ARE OUR HISTORY! Protests are happening all around the planet because of government putting the profit of insane taxes above human beings; using OLD belief systems that create racism; separation of cultures and putting human beings (voters) into ranks according to their incomes. Not giving the people a voice and deciding who deserves our basic human rights of shelter; healthy food; clean water and clean air to breath has become dependant on gov! How do we take our human rights back instead of leaving it to a handful of mostly men to CONTROL? The world is showing their disgust and fast losing respect for RULERS! I have written the Prime Minister about the poverty in CB; only to be passed off the both the Federal finance office & then Provincial finance office before disappearing completely. I've joined NSEF & did interviews with the people outside of the pavillion when the Premiere came for his "ZERO" speach; the food banks and their increasing #'s for assistance; using my own time & with very little money. There is no low-income housing available since the students came and no independant housing for people with disabilities. Our cost of living is hugely above our incomes & our municipal counsel has been Silent for the most part or dishonest about solutions. I live in poverty like the majority but majority doesn't Rule! Am I not taking enough ACTION???
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