Nova Scotia

Opposition parties call out government over newspaper ad

Premier Iain Rankin says the ad is nothing more than his party linking a strong vaccination program with a strong economic recovery from the pandemic.

Tories, NDP accuse premier of politicizing pandemic for political gain

This ad, paid for by the Nova Scotia Liberal Party, appeared on the front of last weekend's edition of The Chronicle Herald. (CBC)

NDP Leader Gary Burrill says he's reminded of a former professional wrestler when he looks at a recent ad from the Nova Scotia Liberal Party related to the vaccine rollout program.

"Years ago there used to be a wrestler in the Atlantic Grand Prix circuit called 'No Class' Bobby Bass, so I think Bobby's alive and well," Burrill quipped to reporters at Province House on Tuesday.

At issue was an advertisement on the front page of the weekend edition of The Chronicle Herald, paid for by the Nova Scotia Liberal Party. Beside a picture of Premier Iain Rankin, the text says "the Rankin government is making the necessary investments in Budget 2021-22 to efficiently distribute and administer vaccines across the province.

"Under our plan, every adult in Nova Scotia who wants a vaccine will have access to their first dose by the end of June."

Tory Leader Tim Houston, who raised the issue of the ad during question period on Tuesday, accused Rankin of taking credit for the work of public health officials and health-care workers.

'Pot calling the kettle black'

The premier is fast to accuse opposition members of bringing politics into conversations about the pandemic, but he doesn't seem to see the irony here, said Houston.

"That's the very definition of the pot calling the kettle black, because they know that they're the ones politicizing the pandemic and that ad is just further evidence," he told reporters.

There is a place for all public officials to promote awareness of the vaccine campaign and other public health protocols, but Houston said that's not what's happening in this ad.

"There is no mention of public health in that ad, there's no thanking [Chief Medical Officer of Health] Dr. [Robert] Strang, there's no thanking health-care workers," he said.

"It is just, 'Under our plan.'"

Promoting what the party stands for

Rankin disputed the accusation that his party was politicizing the pandemic for its own gain. It's widely believed a provincial election will be called before the end of the year.

Rather, the premier said people should look at the ad as promoting what his party represents.

"They should interpret that as the Liberal Party thinks that a strong vaccination plan and evidence-based response to the pandemic is strong economic policy," he told reporters.

"That's what we believe in as a party."

But Burrill said there is "a certain smallness, a certain pettiness in the Liberal Party attempting to wrap itself up in the honourable accomplishments of public health" officials.