Nova Scotia

Minister drops bid to buy Crown land

Nova Scotia's natural resources minister has withdrawn his request to buy a piece of waterfront Crown land.

Charlie Parker says it's just bad 'optics'

Nova Scotia's natural resources minister has withdrawn his request to buy a piece of waterfront Crown land, saying Thursday the

bid wasn't worth the negative attention it generated.

Charlie Parker had defended his request as above board, but opposition politicians said it was a conflict of interest.

On Thursday, he said he had dropped his bid to buy the land that abuts his Pictou County home. He said it was a personal decision and the result of "optics."

"I guess when I saw the editorial and the cartoon yesterday in The (Halifax Chronicle) Herald, it's not everyday you get both of those," Parker said.

"The media attention has certainly been a factor here and I just think it's the right thing to do at this point in time."

Parker had argued that it was no different than an ordinary citizen making the request to buy the land, which had been expropriated 25 years ago.

Opposition parties had said that as Parker is the minister responsible for the department that sells such land, it was a conflict of interest.

All above board

Premier Darrell Dexter said Parker was above board in submitting an application for the land and in recusing himself while the department assessed his request. He also alerted the conflict of interest commissioner.

Parker was planning to buy a 0.2-hectare strip of riverfront property that was next door to a home he owns in Pictou County.

"It's not the end of the world if I don't have it," Parker said. "It's a very steep bank at the end of the property."

Rules posted on the Natural Resources Department website say the government doesn't put Crown land up for sale as general policy because of the limited amount of Crown land available and existing commitments on such land, such as parks and forestry licences.

There are exceptions that allow for sales to municipalities or community groups for public benefit, sales to support economic activity and sales to alleviate undue hardship where it is in the province's best interest.

Crown land is not sold for speculative purposes or for residential or cottage lots, the rules say, and anyone looking to buy Crown land must be able to show that all other reasonable alternatives have been explored.

With files from The Canadian Press