Tagged: Mark Eyking

MLA Eyking, in office 64 days, takes 28-day vacay – updated

[See Update in second to last paragraph.]

Just 64 days after taking her seat in the Nova Scotia Legislature, newly elected Liberal MLA Pam Eyking left Canada for a 28-day family trip to Australia and Taiwan.

Eyking and her husband Mark, MP for Sydney-Victoria, left Canada on Boxing Day. Her office said she is expected back in Nova Scotia Thursday, the 23rd. Contrarian learned about the trip from a prominent Cape Breton Liberal who asked not to be identified, but said party members are annoyed at her taking a long foreign vacation so early in her term as MLA. Elected October 8, Eyking was sworn in as MLA October 22.

Longtime Liberal MLA Manning MacDonald resigned his seat last May after his decision to take a month-long Florida vacation while the house was sitting came under fire. The house has not been in session during Eyking’s absence.

Eykings and McNeilLaurel Munroe, communications advisor to Premier Stephen McNeil, said the Eykings spent two weeks in Australia visiting “their son, who lives there,” then continued on to Taiwan where Mark Eyking is on “a Parliamentary trip.” She said did not have details on any Parliamentary business he was conducting, but said such trips are common for MPs.

Asked if McNeil had approved Eyking’s trip in advance, Munroe said, “she made him aware of it before leaving, but MLAs don’t require approval unless house is in session.”

Munroe said the premier, “told her to make sure her constituency office is ready to handle any constituent inquiries that come up while she is away.”

A staff member in Mark Eyking’s Ottawa office who did not know the nature of the MP’s business in Taiwan offered to have a staff member who did return Contrarian’s call, but the other staffer did not call back.

Facebook pages of Eykings’ two sons list both men as Ottawa residents, but photos show one of them at an Australian surf camp in late October.

In an email to Contrarian, Pam Eyking said she was, “currently in Taiwan doing business trade for the riding and area. Over the next several days I have meetings lined up for CBU, Cape Breton fishers, and the Cape Breton tourist association.”

She did not respond to questions in a follow-up email seeking details about the meetings and comment on the propriety of leaving the country for an extended trip so soon after her election. She did offer to meet after she returns to Cape Breton.

Cape Breton University President David Wheeler did not respond to emails seeking details on any meetings Eyking is attending for the university in Taiwan. confirmed Monday that university officials “did speak to Ms. Eyking about making links for CBU in Taiwan before her departure.” The Cape Breton Tourist Association ceased to exist in 2007. The island’s tourism industry has been represented since 2003 by Destination Cape Breton.

[Disclosure: I have been friendly with the Eykings for many years, but I have also been vocal in criticizing Pam Eyking’s decision to run for the provincial legislature.]

Parker Donham, election outlaw

Mugshot-bw

You may have heard Elections Nova Scotia’s allegation that I violated the province’s election act Saturday. I don’t believe I did,  but however the controversy turns out, you may want to know how I got myself in this putative pickle.

On Saturday, I drove to Halifax, where I will do election night commentary for CTV. I had misread the yellow election card that came in the mail, and mistakenly thought I could vote Saturday at any returning office. Turns out that option expired last Thursday.

At the Blues Mills polling station, the helpful returning officer informed me the only two places I could vote that day were the advance poll at Geroge’s River and the returning office in Alder Point. The closer of the two, George’s River, was 104 kms back in the direction from whence I had come. This would add 2-1/2 hours to what should have been a 3-hour drive to Halifax. I considered skipping the vote altogether, but as it happens, I have an unusually keen interest in the outcome of the election in Victoria-The Lakes.

Keith_BainI have known MLA Keith Bain for 40 years. I believe he preceded me as president of the Boularderie Home and School Assoc. For many years, he was Chief of the Big Bras d’Or Fire Dept. in which capacity he helped my neighbours set up the Ross Ferry Volunteer Fire Dept. He served several terms on the Cape Breton-Victoria District School Board. He was the storekeeper in a one-store village, its own form of community service.

I cannot recall an important community meeting in the last 40 years at which Keith was not present and making a positive contribution. Never unpleasantly partisan, always trying to make things better for his community. Last year, he and Liberal Kelly Regan were the MLAs who most consistently kept the heat on Denise Peterson-Rafuse over Talbot House. In short, a decent man with an impeccable record of community service.

Running against him is Pam Eyking,* who has no comparable record of community service and whom I have never seen at a public meeting. Absent that fact she is married to Liberal MP Mark Eyking, there is no possibility she would be the nominee. I like Mark, and I have voted for him more than once, but I find Pam’s decision to run for the Liberals opportunistic and unbecoming.

Mark.PamA Liberal landslide could possibly sweep Pam into office. That’s the thing about landslides. They take out a lot of good people, along with the unpopular government that is their target.

As I sped through Iron Mines, Iona, Christmas Island, and Beaver Cove, I was annoyed at myself for not voting earlier, and annoyed at Pam for getting me riled up enough to drive 100 km out of my way.

“Why am I going to all this trouble,” I asked myself. “Because I want to be able to tell people I voted for Keith.”

As I approached George’s River, that idea morphed into a plan to show people I voted for Keith—by taking a snapshot of my ballot, and sharing it on social media.

I gave no thought to violating the NS Election Act, let alone testing it. My only thought was to come up with an effective way to make a political statement to my fellow electors in Victoria-The Lakes.

Elections Nova Scotia’s response is quite possibly wrong in law, and to my ear, disproportionate in tone. I would have thought the agency had more important matters to tend to three days before an election.

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* New Democrat John Frank Toney will poll well in Eskasoni and Wagmatcook, but he has no realistic chance of winning the seat. Nor does Stemmer MacLeod.

Jumpshot

Dexter at Holy Angels

Premier Darrell Dexter shot a few baskets Monday afternoon during a courtesy call at the former Holy Angels High School, which New Dawn Enterprises is turning into a center for cultural organizations and entrepreneurship. Pictured in the doorway is Blair Oake, recently retired manager of City Printers, who will manage the facility. Seated in the stands, wearing a blue shirt,  is New Dawn president (and defeated mayoral candidate) Rankin MacSween.

Dexter squeezed in a series of meet-and-greets en route to the NDP’s Cape Breton-The Lakes nominating convention in Eskasoni, where Mi’kmaq John Frank Toney was acclaimed. Toney’s nomination, tacitly endorsed by Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny, is good news for Conservative MLA Keith Bain, who faces a tough fight in a greatly expanded riding against Liberal Pam Eyking, wife of Mark Eyking, MP for Cape Breton-The Sydneys. Toney’s entry into the race essentially takes the large Mi’kmaq community, where Bain is not well known, out of play as far as the front runners are concerned. Racking up a large margin in Eskasoni had been a key element in the Liberal strategy.

Since polls show the Liberals to be the main threat to the Dexter government’s re-election, NDP strategists may be content to help the popular Conservative retain a riding they have no realistic hope of winning.

[Photo: Mike Targett]

How to cast a strategic vote in Nova Scotia

I don’t usually repeat posts, but this election is important, so for any who missed it, here is Contrarian’s Guide to Strategic Voting in Nova Scotia.

In the latest Angus Reid poll, 49 percent of Liberal voters and 36 percent of NDP voters expressed a willingness to consider voting for a candidate other than their true preferences, in order to “avoid a specific outcome.”

If you are one of those Liberal, New Democratic, or erstwhile Progressive Conservative voters, and you want to avoid the specific outcome of a certain authoritarian demagogue getting unfettered control of the House of Commons, you may be wondering how to vote Monday. This guide is for you.

Contrarian’s Guide to Strategic Voting in Nova Scotia

With three-way races and a still dynamic vote swing underway, this is a hard election to predict. Seven of Nova Scotia’s 11 federal ridings appear to be in play — an unusually large number.

Two of these — Halifax West and Dartmouth—Cole Harbour — appear to be tight contests between Liberal incumbents* and NDP challengers. They will not affect the size or strength of the Harper caucus, so vote your personal preference in those races.

Five are tight contests where the Harper candidate could win, or could fall to a New Democrat or a Liberal.
Central Nova
Peter MacKay faces a tough challenge from high school physics teacher and former Pictou town councillor David Parker, brother of MLA Charlie Parker and a shrewd electoral tactician in his own right.

MacKay has committed many unprincipled acts in his political career, but the alacrity with which he took on the task of vilifying whistleblower Richard Colvin was surely a nadir. Colvin is a genuine Canadian hero, a civil servant who put aside his own career interests to expose Canada’s complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees. As a civil servant, he could only remain mute in the face of MacKay’s character assassination (although opposition members of the Commons did eventually call him back for a lone round of dignified rebuttal testimony). For this alone, seeing MacKay go down would be altogether sweet. Vote NDP.

South Shore—St. Margaret’s

This is a tight race between incumbent Harper guy Gerald Keddy and former New Democrat MP Gordon Earle, with another former MP, Liberal Derek Wells, well behind. Liberals and Greens should vote NDP.

Sydney—Victoria

For months, Cecil Clarke has mounted an energetic campaign against nice guy farmer MP Mark Eyking. The NDP usually run second in this riding, but Kathy MacLeod, their candidate this time, is weak. The orange tide may boost her vote, however, and it’s hard to say which potential winner she will hurt the most. This race is much tighter than national pundits realize. In particular, the strategic voting site Project Democracy has mistakenly declared it a safe Liberal seat. Vote Liberal.

West Nova

This riding constantly swings back and forth between the Liberals and the Conservatives. Incumbent Harper guy and former Buchanan cabinet minister Greg Kerr faces a stiff challenge from former Liberal MP Robert Thibault. Vote Liberal.

Kings—Hants

Steven Harper visited this riding Saturday to shore up support for defeated provincial cabinet minister David Morse, his candidate to replace Liberal Scott Brison, a floor crosser who fled the CPC. New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives (real conservatives) should Vote Liberal

Four ridings are not in play. Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, sadly, will stay in Harper’s camp. Cape Breton—Canso is safe for Liberal Rodger Cuzner, and both Sackville—Eastern Shore and Halifax are safe for NDP incumbents Peter Stoffer and Megan Leslie. The latter was thought to be in trouble early in the campaign, but the Liberal collapse ended that threat.

* A few parliamentary purists, including our old friend Ian McNeil, object to the term “incumbent” in Canadian elections, because once the writ is dropped, former office-holders are no longer MPs. It is (or for years, was) CBC style not to use the word. I regard this as silly unnecessarily fussy. Everyone understands the term to mean, “seat-holder at dissolution.”

Contrarian’s guide to strategic voting in NS

In the latest Angus Reid poll, 49 percent of Liberal voters and 36 percent of NDP voters expressed a willingness to consider voting for a candidate other than their true preferences, in order to “avoid a specific outcome.”

If you are one of those Liberal, New Democratic, or erstwhile Progressive Conservative voters who would like to avoid the specific outcome of a certain dangerous demagogue getting an unfettered majority in the House of Commons, you may be wondering how to vote Monday. This post is for you.

Contrarian’s Guide to Strategic Voting in Nova Scotia

With three-way races and a still dynamic vote swing underway, this is a hard election to predict. Seven of Nova Scotia’s 11 federal ridings appear to be in play — an unusually large number.

Two of these — Halifax West and Dartmouth—Cole Harbour — appear to be tight contests between Liberal incumbents* and NDP challengers. They will not affect the size or strength of the Harper caucus, so vote your personal preference in those races.

Five are tight contests where the Harper candidate could win, or could fall to a New Democrat or a Liberal.
Central Nova
Peter MacKay faces a tough challenge from high school physics teacher and former Pictou town councillor David Parker, brother of MLA Charlie Parker and a shrewd electoral tactician in his own right.

MacKay has committed many unprincipled acts in his political career, but the alacrity with which he took on the task of vilifying whistleblower Richard Colvin was surely a nadir. Colvin is a genuine Canadian hero, a civil servant who put aside his own career interests to expose Canada’s complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees. As a civil servant, he could only remain mute in the face of MacKay’s character assassination (although opposition members of the Commons did eventually call him back for a lone round of dignified rebuttal testimony). For this alone, seeing MacKay go down would be altogether sweet. Vote NDP.

South Shore—St. Margaret’s

This is a tight race between incumbent Harper guy Gerald Keddy** and former New Democrat MP Gordon Earle. Liberals and Greens should  vote NDP.

Sydney—Victoria

For months, Cecil Clarke has mounted an energetic campaign against nice guy farmer MP Mark Eyking. The NDP usually run second in this riding, but Kathy MacLeod, their candidate this time, is weak. The orange tide may boost her vote, however, and it’s hard to say which potential winner she will hurt the most. This race is much tighter than national pundits realize. In particular, the strategic voting site Project Democracy has mistakenly declared it a safe Liberal seat. Vote Liberal.

West Nova

This riding constantly swings back and forth between the Liberals and the Conservatives. Incumbent Harper guy and former Buchanan cabinet minister Greg Kerr faces a stiff challenge from former Liberal MP Robert Thibault. Vote Liberal.

Kings—Hants

Steven Harper visited this riding Saturday to shore up support for defeated provincial cabinet minister David Morse, his candidate to replace Liberal Scott Brison, a floor crosser who fled the CPC. New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives (real conservatives) should Vote Liberal

Four ridings are not in play. Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, sadly, will stay in Harper’s camp. Cape Breton—Canso is safe for Liberal Rodger Cuzner, and both Sackville—Eastern Shore and Halifax are safe for NDP incumbents Peter Stoffer and Megan Leslie. The latter was thought to be in trouble early in the campaign, but the Liberal collapse ended that threat.

* A few parliamentary purists, including the ineffable Elly Alboim, object to the term “incumbent” in Canadian elections, because once the writ is dropped, former office-holders are no longer MPs. It is (or for years, was) CBC style not to use the word. I regard this as silly. Everyone understands the term to mean, “seat-holder at dissolution.”

** An earlier iteration of this post misidentified the CPC candidate in SSSM as Derek Wells, who is in fact the Liberal candidate, a former president of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia, and, like Conservative Keddy and NDip Earle, a former MP in this very riding. My apologies to both. With the Liberal collapse, Wells is an also-ran. Liberals who place a high value on preventing a Harper majority should vote for Earle.

Dredge it and Cecil will be LG?

Perhaps this post deserves elaboration.

By any measure, dredging Sydney Harbour is a dubious use of public funds. It may yield modest increases in commercial shipping, but dreams of a container terminal here are but a fantasy. Despite the massive boom in world shipping that characterized the 2000s, the two container piers in Halifax continue to limp along at half capacity. Plans for a third pier at Melford are years ahead of those for Sydney, where a putative terminal proponent seems to have vanished.

Yet the Cape Breton public has been massively oversold on the concept as the only possible salvation of Cape Breton’s economic future, to the point it has become a political sacred cow, and anyone who opposes it a Judas.

This is the worst possible message for Cape Bretoners: to promise a single, steel-plant-scale silver bullet to solve our problems — with the silver furnished by federal and provincial taxpayers, of course. Most area politicians and business leaders recognize this campaign as a cynical fraud, but the political momentum behind the concept is such that none dare speak against it.

New Dems want to protect their slender Cape Breton base in an election that promises to be much more difficult than the one that catapulted them to power. Liberals don’t want to give the other parties an edge in that election. Cecil Clarke wants to give his campaign for Parliament a boost.

Clarke cannot beat MP Mark Eyking in a federal contest. No one running on a Harper ticket could, and Clarke barely held his own provincial seat last year. Clarke will lose, but will he also win by losing? Insiders quietly ask what federal plum Harper and Peter MacKay have dangled to induce him to run.

On the steps of Province House last evening, a New Democrat MLA offered a chilling prediction: Clarke will be Nova Scotia’s next Lieutenant Governour, when the incumbent’s term expires next year. At a cost of $38 million in matching federal-provincial tax dollars.

Where is Dennis Ryan when you need him?