Spending 'not about an election,' says Rankin as more funding announced in N.S.
The Flower Cart in New Minas is the latest group to benefit from what appears to be a pre-election blitz
The governing Liberals in Ottawa and Nova Scotia continue to roll out spending in what appears to be a pre-election campaign by the Trudeau and Rankin governments.
Premier Iain Rankin and Liberal MP Kody Blois denied that funding announced Monday for The Flower Cart, a New Minas-based social enterprise organization, is a signal that elections are about to be called.
"Today is not about an election. It's about investing in a critical service for the community of New Minas, and we're going to continue to support these types of investments," Rankin told reporters at an outdoor news conference.
The provincial and federal governments previously announced funding of $500,000 and $1 million, respectively, for The Flower Cart, which runs a variety of social enterprises aimed at providing training and work for people with intellectual disabilities in the Annapolis Valley.
Rankin pledged an additional $500,000 on Monday, while Blois more than doubled the federal government's support for the group to $2.1 million. The funding puts The Flower Cart over its fundraising target of $5.8 million announced in 2019.
The group's programs are currently being run out of three locations, but the plan is to build a single building to house all of the work in New Minas, with construction potentially starting this summer.
Although the group's fundraising target has been met, executive director Jeff Kelly said that amount is being reassessed in light of this year's increase in the cost of construction materials.
Kelly deflected a reporter's question about the timing of Monday's announcement.
"I can't comment on any timing issues — I'm just happy to get the money and to get the project started," he said with a chuckle.
There has been a string of funding announcements from the federal and provincial Liberals in recent weeks, fuelling speculation Nova Scotians could soon be going to the polls to elect new provincial and federal governments.
Rankin refused to say whether he would hold off calling an election while the province is under a state of emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Blois said the funding for The Flower Cart is not about a looming vote, noting he has been in talks with the organization "for quite some time."
"Any suggestion this is just an overnight election spending, this project has been in the works for some time, and I'm very pleased to see the government of Nova Scotia be a part of this," he said.
The new building will allow The Flower Cart to help another 40 to 50 people gain skills and work, along with the 200 people the group is already assisting.