Accomplishments claimed but few plans in throne speech
NDP approaching 4th year in power
The provincial government claimed dozens of accomplishments on Tuesday in a Speech From The Throne opening the spring session of the Nova Scotia legislature — one many observers expect to be the final sitting before a provincial election.
"What this sets out is how many firsts have been accomplished by this government," Premier Darrell Dexter told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
"We are going to balance the budget this year. We are only one of two jurisdictions in the country likely to do that," he said.
As the New Democratic Party approaches its fourth anniversary in power this June, the political jousting has been become sharper.
Following the throne speech, both opposition parties attacked the government's financial credibility citing a $27-million error in last year’s budget exposed recently by Nova Scotia Auditor General Jacques Lapointe.
Lapointe said the government was aware of the mistake — which made the books look better than they were — but did not correct it.
"When this finance minister stood and made the claim they were on track when they all knew that was false. I believe Nova Scotians are now going to ask themselves, ‘How can we believe anything that comes out of this government,’" said Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil.
The latest Corporate Research Associates polling data suggest a high level of voter dissatisfaction, with the Opposition Liberals leading in popular support.
Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said the provincial debt has risen by a billion dollars since the NDP won a majority in 2009.
"They've done nothing to stop that. There's nothing about jobs and the economy ... As far as I'm concerned we're in an election campaign now. The throne speech is proof of that," Baillie told reporters at Province House.
"It’s a hodgepodge or collection of promises for the future to a whole variety of different groups. But to me that is just a pre-election document."
The speech promised to create an independent panel to review allegations of sexual abuse at the Home for Colored Children.
It also promises the creation of a Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to coordinate services for infants, young children and their families.
During the speech there were also promises made to increase penalties in animal cruelty cases and expand the the role and the number of nurse practitioners.