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NS Auditor-General on problems with P3 schools' contracts / Irving-supplied gas stations close in Massachusetts / Phone-in: Doug Bethune answers automotive questions

When Public-Private Partnerships were all the rage in the 1990s, provincial governments sold the concept as a way to construct and operate schools more cheaply than they could on their own. The efficiency of the private sector, it was argued, would save taxpayers' dollars on building & running these public insitutions.
In Nova Scotia, it didn't take long for cost overruns to raise questions about this new model. The Conservative government of John Hamm first reduced the number of planned P3 schools, and then abandoned the approach entirely.
But more than 30 P3s were built before the programme ended. And now, the P3 contracts that establish "who's responsible for what" have become a problem, as evidenced by the latest Auditor-General's report.
Jacques Lapointe says the Department of Education has not met the "very high duty of care" required in managing the massive financial obligations : $830 million over 20 years.
He joined us to discuss the weak points in accounting and the challenge of planning for the day the leases expire. [To read the Auditor-General's report, click here .]

This week, Irving Oil's parent company, Fort Reliance, announced that "current economic conditions" have forced the company to abandon a plan to build a new office complex on the Saint John waterfront.
As an illustration of those "current economic conditions", about two dozen gas stations in New England supplied by Irving Oil have closed in recent weeks.
For years, Irving has been steadily developing markets for its fuel from Maine as far south as Rhode Island. It provides gasoline to more than 300 stations throughout the Northeastern US, and although the company doesn't own those stations, the gas is sold under the Irving banner.
Martin Luttrell, a business reporter with the Telegram and Gazette in Worcester, Massachusetts, told us about the closure of Irving-flagged stations owned by the CK Smith fuel company. Then, we spoke with Liza Dubé, Public Relations Director for Irving Oil Marketing in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Our automotive expert, Doug Bethune, talked about turmoil in Toyota land - from sticky accelerator pedals and concerns over electrical systems to inconsistent brake feel in certain 2010 models of its flagship hybrid, the Prius. He also answered your questions about cars, trucks and vans.

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