NDP leader Darrell Dexter today promised to provide 1,000 home insulation grants for low to modest income households. This is a much better idea than Dexter's plan to subsidize carbon production by removing the provincial share of HST from home electricity bills. Here's why:
  • Insulation grants will cut the province's CO2 emissions, while the carbon subsidy will increase them.
  • Insulation grants will target homeowners most in need, while the carbon subsidy will go disproportionately to the well-off, because they use more electricity.
  • Insulation grants will create jobs for carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and local businesses, while the carbon subsidy will have little or no employment impact.
  • Insulation grants will produce permanent reductions in home heating costs, while savings from the carbon subsidy will last only as long as the tax break is in place.

Liberal, NDP, and Green party reps at last night's election forum on environmental issues expressed grave reservations about letting Xstrata open its proposed undersea coal mine at Donkin, Cape Breton. CBC reporter Jennifer Henderson has tape of the exchange, which has the potential to blow into a major issue in Nova Scotia's coal communities. Guess what? They have a point. Donkin coal is too dirty to burn in our own power plants under current and planned emissions standards. Why should we export it to be burned elsewhere? Isn't that like issuing a license to pee in the far end of the...

windmills-s2 Kings South Green Party candidate and deputy leader Brendan MacNeill was the surprising star [*] of last night's all-party environmental forum. The Acadia environmental studies major, who already has an environmental technology diploma, came across as thoughtful, poised, well-prepared, persuasive. Unfortunately, like many Nova Scotia environmentalists, MacNeill has been seduced by the independent power producers' self-serving lobby for guaranteed, above-market rates for their product. After the jump, a brief explanation of why this approach is wrong-headed for Nova Scotia.  
david-croft-sDavid Croft, Green Party Candidate in Dartmouth South-Portland Valley, hopes to get 500 votes. He blogs about the pressure to pretend he can win the riding, where the 2003 Green Party Candidate won 308 votes to New Democrat Marilyn More's 4493. Moneyquote:
I count lying as manipulation... [T]his is what I would be doing if I stood in someone’s door and said to her face I could win. And it would be that most awkward kind of lie, because both of us would know it was a lie and neither of us would want to say it. Me, for the shame of having to admit such a thing, and her, because it would cut precious nanoseconds off in her attempts to close her door in my face.
When Flygbussarna, a Swedish airport bus company, wanted to drive home the environmental superiority of riding buses to the airport, it commissioned a 300-tonne ad.

50 crushed cars = one effective bus ad

The Acne Advertising group assembled 50 junked cars into one bus, which it placed along the road to Sweden's largest airport. The resulting sensation raised environmental consciousness even as it slowed airport-bound traffic to a crawl.

. Flygbussarna added a live video cam of the "bus," counted the cars passing the site, and calculated the amount of carbon that would have been saved had motorists taken the bus instead of their cars. It's an inspired campaign, but it also demonstrates why can't have rational discussions during Nova Scotia election campaigns. If a pol here dares even to hint at an inconvenient truth, reporters and rival politicians pile on like pirannas.

Let's get a few things straight. The province ran a deficit of roughly a quarter billion dollars in the fiscal year just ended. We could have balanced the books by using the extraordinary payments from the Crown share adjustment, but legislation passed by the Hamm government prevents that. Without changing that law, that one-time resource revenue has to go toward debt repayment. (There are two good reasons for that law:  (1)  thanks to the excesses of the Buchanan administration, our provincial debt is far too high, and needs to be paid down to a reasonable level. (2) Non-renewable resource revenue should not be used for current expenditures; it should be used for things that produce lasting benefits. Otherwise, we're robbing future generations.) So last year's quarter billion dollar deficit is water over the dam. It's gone. We can't wish it back.

If you believe governments get defeated, as opposed to opposition parties getting elected, then the satisfied/dissatisfied question in today's CRA poll poses an ominous portent for Rodney MacDonald. Satisfaction with MacDonald's government fell from 54% in February to 45% over the weekend. Rodney's personal popularity as leader also fell to third place at 20%, behind Dexter at 30% and McNeil at 24%. CRA was lamentably thin on details. The news release lists the leading party in each region, (Metro: NDP 44%; Rural Mainland: PC 35%; Cape Breton: Liberal 39%), but the tables give no regional  breakdown. In any case, the sample size,...

Don Mills of Corporate Research Associates has released his latest poll, one of the few that will be taken during this campaign. It shows the NDP inching up toward, but not yet reaching, majority territory. The Liberals are also gaining, while the PCs are slipping behind. Read the CRA news release or download the detailed tables....

I began this blog suggesting that voters are ready to turf Rodney MacDonald, and I've yet to hear anyone take strong issue with this observation. But if most people expect an NDP government, they're still reluctant to predict that outcome. After all, this is Nova Scotia, and an NDP victory has never happened before. It almost happened once, 11 years ago, when NDP leader Robert Chisholm (remember him?) nearly toppled Russell MacLellan, leading the N-Dips to 155,361 votes and 19 seats.  (The Liberals also got 19 seats, and 158,380 votes. As governing party, they were able to retain office.) In the last election, Darrell Dexter beat Chisholm's seat tally by one, but he has never surpassed Chisholm's '98 vote total.


A few factors contributed to Chisholm's 1998 surge:  Voter unease with Alexa McDonough had suppressed the NDP vote in previous elections;  Once Chisholm succeeded McDonough, pent-up voter interest in the NDP bloomed. At the time, voters were increasingly unhappy with the Liberals under Russell MacLellan, yet still too sour on the Tories to give the rather stiff newcomer John Hamm a try.