Nova Scotia

Put power back in public hands: labour groups

Labour leaders are urging the provincial government to return Nova Scotia Power to public ownership.

Labour leaders are urging the provincial government to return Nova Scotia Power to public ownership.

The Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council passed a resolution last month opposing rate increases and calling for the return of a Crown corporation for electricity.

Kyle Buott, president of the council, has followed that up with a letter to 25,000 members.

"Sisters and brothers," he writes, "I have never written to you with such urgency."

Buott is urging unions to adopt similar resolutions. He wants to be prepared for Sept. 13, when the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board holds a hearing into the proposed rate hike of six per cent over two years.

"You combine that with what Nova Scotia Power has done by giving its executives huge million-dollar salaries and stock options and throwing parties for its management and I think it just leaves a bad taste in folks' mouths," he said.

The province privatized the Nova Scotia Power Corp. in 1992. Nova Scotia Power Inc., now owned by Emera, raised its rates seven times in the last 11 years.

Buott dismisses the idea that buying back the utility is too costly.

"The cost of Nova Scotia Power and bringing it back under democratic public ownership ranges from zero to $4 billion, and so it depends on the way we choose to bring the corporation back under public ownership," he said.

Buott is asking unions to meet this week to discuss the power company.

Organizers have scheduled a sing-a-long on the Halifax waterfront for June 7, when Emera holds its annual general meeting.