Citizen Steele’s factual guides to #NSpoli

If you’re interested in Nova Scotia civic affairs, you should be following NDP cabinet minister turned law prof and CBC commentator Graham Steele on Facebook, and checking in regularly with his blog, a Citizen’s Guide to the Nova Scotia Legislature.

Laws are like sausages — best not to see them being made. (Usually, but perhaps incorrectly attributed to Otto von Bismarck.)

Graham Steele does not believe “Laws are like sausages — best not to see them being made.” (Usually, but perhaps incorrectly attributed to Otto von Bismarck.)

Steele, who’s a friend, is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some fellow MLAs, including members of his own caucus, thought him too much above the partisan fray of the house. This is precisely the quality that makes his advice to citizens so useful. He is experienced enough to know the rules and procedures, but independent enough to explain how things really work.

Frankly, he’s rocking it, with even-handed explanations (on Facebook) of MLAs’ pay, the recent fiscal update, and the vanishing principle of ministerial responsibility. and on the Citizen’s Guide, with sage advice about how to communicate effectively with your MLA and how to present to the Law Amendments Committee.

The Citizens Guide already has 36 entries on a multitude of topics, and the Facebook feed brings a constant stream of level-headed commentary on political events of the day. His play-by-play of the McNeil Liberals’ Fiasco Weekend earlier this month was riveting. (I can’t find the specific post, but he was, I think, the first to point out the premier’s dreadful mistake, mostly overlooked by Province House reporters, of making himself the face of government’s tough approach to the teachers. Better let the Education Minister be the bad gal, then come in to celebrate the resolution when it finally happens.)

And don’t forget Steele’s CBC columns, which often bring fresh perspective to the political fracas of the day. See for example this rare dissent from the unwarranted reverence political reporters display for every cockamamie recommendation from the Auditor General.

Steele is producing the sort of explainers political reporters could write, but mostly don’t for fear of boring readers. It’s what civics classes used to cover before teachers got too weighed down by, you know, all that photocopying. It’s a wonderful resource for political spectators, one I suspect may become his next book.


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