Doing a little catch-up here after a week of long-distance travel on short notice. Scott Gillard, constituency assistant to MLA Howard Epstein, objected to the inference I drew from a brief first-contract strike at Summer Street Industries in New Glasgow, where professional union negotiators pursued rigid workplace rules with wilful indifference to the rights and sensibilities of the developmentally challenged men and women that organization serves. The CUPE functionaries failed, thanks in part to pushback from their own members. Had the NDP government's first-contract arbitration had been in place, I suggested, an arbitrator ignorant of disabilities issues could have effectively wrecked a wonderful non-profit organization. Gillard calls this the "my cousin Louise" argument:
No matter how valid the legislation, in this case, may be there will always be someone (my cousin Louise) who can share an exception to its effectiveness. I think it is a red herring. To oppose Bill 102 on the basis that, in a specific situation, it would not have served its intended purpose is a bit much. [caption id="attachment_9103" align="alignright" width="250" caption="Darrell Dexter - Throwing a bone (Tim Krochak phot/Chronicle-Herald)"][/caption] You may have been able to provide and example of an exception to the benefit of the legislation but whether you are right or wrong on the implications of the legislation in this situation is irrelevant. Finding a specific situation where something may not work falls short of making a convincing case in opposition. Good legislation is hopefully the goal of government. No government assumes their legislation is perfect. Frankly, it's just this type of argument that reminds us of the complexity of a government's legislative agenda. There's always going to be a "my cousin Louise" type exception.
Gillard has a point. I was arguing from a very specific, though not unique, set of facts. and they have limited application to disputes involving conventional businesses. To be completely honest, I saw the first contract arbitration issue as an opportunity to lay out the disgraceful behaviour of a union that thinks of itself as progressive. But what's the case for Bill 102? What bad situation will it remedy?. Union people say over and over that collective bargaining works in Nova Scotia. For the most part, I think they are right. Why not let it play out? Why impose settlements on unwilling parties? After the jump, Gillard responds:

Back on the last day of June, CBC Radio's Information Morning program put Justice Minister Ross Landry on the hot seat for the Dexter Government's embrace of the Civil Forfeiture Act, a right-wing scheme to short-circuit the presumption of innocence. More accurately, the program's listers put him on the hot seat. The act lets cops seize property from suspects as long as they can convince a court the assets probably came from criminal activity. No proof needed. Just probability. As a standard of justice, it's more Queen of Hearts ("First the verdict; then the trial") than Justice Blackstone  ("Better ten guilty...

The following message greeted Scott Gillard, constituency assistant to Halifax Chebucto NDP MLA Howard Epstein, when he logged onto his Facebook account Tuesday: [Maybe you should "like"] Michael Ignatieff. Many who like Jack Layton like him. Well, Scott, for the sake of the country, maybe you should....

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As Nova Scotia’s new government begins its third week in office, a critical early mistake is coming into focus: Darrell Dexter’s 12-member cabinet is too small for the job at hand. Cabinet selection inevitably requires consideration of gender, ethnicity, and geography: Women must take a prominent place; there must seats for Cape Breton, northern Nova Scotia, the south shore, and the valley; Metro MLAs must not appear to dominate. Legitimate political and cultural considerations of this sort do not necessarily trump such factors as experience and merit, but they compete with them. That leads to problems.
Jay Wilson challenges contrarian's references to Howard Epstein's Judaism:
In the article, “Howard’s end”,  you referred to him being, “The only Jew currently serving in the legislature.” By itself, it’s an accurate statement, but something of a throwaway statement as well. By itself, it has little relevance unless you had a specific reason for putting it in. My assumption upon reading it was your desire for full disclosure of the facts. Then in your most recent article entitled “You have my iPhone and I know where you are,” in reference to Kevin Miller losing his iPhone, you wrote, “...the chances of getting it back looked more and more like a Jewish environmentalist’s chances of getting into the Nova Scotia cabinet.” It seems to me that you’re making the implication—saying it without really saying it—that Howard Epstein was passed over for cabinet, in some part, because he’s Jewish.

Howard Epstein will not be in Darrell Dexter's first cabinet, nor will he be offered the Speaker's chair. He may or may not be offered some sort of assistant ministerial position, akin to a parliamentary secretary in the federal cabinet, but it appears unlikely he will accept this. Word of the slight is rocketing around left circles in Halifax. The only Jew currently serving in the legislature, Epstein is best known for his storng, somewhat inflexible, environmentalist views. He was director of the Ecology Action Centre from 1991 to 1994, the year he first won election to Halifax City Council, representing the city's...

A canny Liberal friend of contrarian suggests that Premier-about-to-be Darrell Dexter would be wise to follow Jean Charest's example and select a gender-balanced cabinet. That would mean five or six of the 11 ministers Dexter will name tomorrow would be women. A key advantage of this approach is that it would disarm the party's already isolated left wing, giving Dexter more leeway to keep Howard Epstein out of harm's way—placing him, say, in the speaker's chair. Do the math: Dexter promised a cabinet of no more than 12 members. He will take one seat himself. Cape Breton must get another, also Pictou, Kings, and perhaps Guysborough. Add five or six women, and it doesn't leave much room for white males from Metro. The left would be hard put to complain about a cabinet that raised the participation of women to an historic high.
crest-logoCREST Halifax has uploaded  a video of last Tuesday's all-party debate on environmental issues, which was sponsored by the Ecology Action Centre. The video of the two-hour debate is divided into 10 segments. Unfortunately, they are not annotated, so contrarian can't point you to the particular segments where Howard Epstein tried to defend the NDP's plan to subsidize coal-fired electricity, the many places where Green Party deputy leader Brendan MacNeill oversold the concept of feed-in tariffs for wind power, and the spot where the NDP, the Greens, and the Liberals all but nixed the proposed Donkin coal mine.

You almost had to feel sorry for Howard Epstein as he struggled to defend the NDP's $28 million carbon subsidy at last night's all-party environmental debate, held at Dalhousie Medical School. Howard is a lifelong energy policy wonk. He knows it would be asinine to use millions in taxpayer dollars to create incentives for Nova Scotians to consume more coal-fired electricity. But alas, that's the heart of the NDP's energy strategy, driven no doubt by focus groups showing "ordinary" Nova Scotians are pissed off about rising power bills. Said Howard: The price signal is important, but you can't ignore the poor....