Nova Scotia·Opinion

CBC's Jean Laroche, Graham Steele, hand out political prizes

Brewed over a cup of Christmas cheer by legislative reporter Jean Laroche and news analyst Graham Steele, here’s some recognition for issues and people that stood out from the crowd in 2014.

CBC reporter Jean Laroche and analyst Graham Steele reflect on on last year in N.S. politics

Province House in downtown Halifax. (CBC)

The political apparatus in Nova Scotia shuts down over the holiday season.

Graham Steele is a former MLA who was elected four times as a New Democrat for the constituency of Halifax Fairview. He also served as Minister of Finance. Steele is now a political analyst for CBC News. (CBC)
Jean Laroche has been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995. He has spent more time at Province House than any sitting politician in the provincial legislature. (Robert Short/CBC)
Our provincial politicians’s focus turns to home, family, and of course, constituency events like jumping into the ocean at Herring Cove.

In the absence of real news, it’s a good time for top-ten lists, predictions, and awards.

Brewed over a cup of Christmas cheer by legislative reporter Jean Laroche and news analyst Graham Steele, here’s some recognition for issues and people that stood out from the crowd in 2014.

The Pump Up the Volume Award 

The first award is for the issue that deserves to get more attention in 2015 than it did in 2014.

Jean: The story I think should have gotten more attention in 2014 is the success of the collaborative emergency centres (CECs) — what it's meant for rural communities and access to primary care.

Graham: Municipal reform burst onto the scene in 2014, as one small municipality after another, for example Bridgetown, Hantsport, and Springhill, concluded they couldn’t make a go of it. This process is almost always painful, but it’s important, and will continue into 2015.

The Turn Down the Volume Award 

Our second award is for the issue that got more attention in 2014 than it deserved.

Jean: Hydraulic fracturing. A lot of ink was spilled — and air time devoted to — an issue that, at the end of the day, had no practical effect. The outcome —no fracking in Nova Scotia for the foreseeable future — was going to be the same whether or not the government adopted the Wheeler Report recommendations.

Graham: The Bluenose II, (or III, or whatever it is). There has never been a project like it, and there won’t be again, so it’s hard to know what lesson to draw from it, other than governments shouldn’t build wooden ships. But it has become a symbol of waste and mismanagement, which makes it difficult for the government to get its message through on other issues. And it’s about to get a whole lot more attention, when the Auditor General report comes out.

The Moving On Up Award 

This award is for the MLA who makes a solid contribution in the legislature and seems destined for greater things, like a Cabinet post?

Jean: Margaret Miller (Hants East) is a former national president of MADD Canada, a member of four House committees, and the deputy speaker. Suzanne Lohnes-Croft (Lunenburg) is vice-chair of the House’s economic development committee, and member of the Public Accounts Committee. Both do solid work, week in and week out.

Graham: Kevin Murphy (Eastern Shore) has done an excellent job in the Speaker’s chair, which is a big accomplishment for someone who was new to the legislature. It’s a strange place, but he handles it well. He’s respected by all sides and carries off the role with the right balance of firmness and flexibility. Brendan Maguire strikes me as another new MLA with character and ability.

The Credit to Their Profession Award 

This last award, the most highly-coveted, is for MLAs who stand out for their consistent, productive performance in the legislature. 

Jean: For the Liberals, Geoff MacLellan (MLA for Glace Bay and minister of transportation) is a no-nonsense guy, not particularly partisan, and a straight shooter. For the PCs, Karla MacFarlane (Pictou West) stands out among the crop of rookie MLAs. She listens and works hard. For the NDP, Dave Wilson (Sackville Cobequid), mainly because he’s the only one on the team that seems to still have fire in his belly. A contender to be the party’s next leader.

Graham: I support all of Jean’s picks. If I could make some honourable mentions: Mark Furey (Lunenburg West and minister of municipal affairs), for a quietly competent job on a tough portfolio; Allan MacMaster (Inverness) who stood out for his work defending the rights of victims of child sexual abuse; and Gordie Gosse (Sydney–Whitney Pier), who came back from serious personal health issues to give one of the best speeches of the year.

Congratulations to the winners!

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