There is good news for agriculture in Nova Scotia as we can say with pride that we are the only province in Canada to see our number of farms increase over the past three years.
© Submitted photo
Madame Fatima Pepin, left of the Assemblee du Quebec and Lenore Zann chat during the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association recently held in Quebec City.
Another thing we can be proud of is the announcement the Department of Agriculture will be moving from Halifax to Truro-Bible Hill.
This not only means that 34 head office jobs will be moving here, but it affirms our community as the provincial 'hub' for excellence in agriculture.
And with the merger of our beloved Nova Scotia Agricultural College and Dalhousie University, we can also proudly call Bible Hill 'a university town' - with agricultural research an important aspect of what we have to offer.
Our researchers in the agri-food business are very important to our local and provincial success, but without our hard-working and dedicated farmers where would we be?
I'd therefore personally like to thank all of our local farmers for providing us with an abundance of healthy local food.
I have been busy helping to create, maintain and develop more jobs for our community, as well as mentoring many youth.
Premier Darrell Dexter was in town recently to help me make a funding announcement for ECP (Intertape Polymer), which received $52,590 through the Productivity Investment Program for new equipment and training for staff.
I also made a funding announcement with Chief Bob Gloade as Millbrook First Nations is the first Mi'kmaq band in the province to be approved under the Community Feed-in Tariff program (COMFIT) for a three-turbine wind farm project. This will be operational in 2013 and located far from any residences.
Other announcements I've made include $212,475 to the Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council's FIT program to develop new job site technology and the Northeast Nutrition feed mill in Truro will be expanded, which will create over 30 new full-time jobs. This is part of a $25 million overall investment in job creation for rural and coastal Nova Scotia.
I recently had two meetings with Truro and District Chamber of Commerce president Don Hay and executive director Tim Tucker to discuss challenges and concerns of the local business community. My colleague MLA Gary Burrill attended one of these meetings and Rob Bennett, CEO of Nova Scotia Power attended the other.
I took advantage of this opportunity to ask Bennett a question many Nova Scotians have been asking: "Would you consider selling NSP back to the province, and if so, how much would you require?" His answer? "5.3 billion dollars."
He also explained why the price of electricity (which is presently tied to the price of coal) has increased 75 per cent in the last 10 years. Bennett said individual companies used to own different coal mines but now just four or five huge multinational conglomerates own the whole coal supply around the world. Therefore they have a monopoly on the price, which affects the amount NSP has to pay them, which in turn costs the consumer more as well.
Bennett said deregulating the energy market (Stephen MacNeil's suggested solution to the problem) has not been successful anywhere it has been tried, and has in fact actually increased the price in these jurisdictions. In California, for instance, when their government deregulated electricity, prices soared and it led to the now infamous "rolling blackouts" for customers. It was a fiasco. I know because I was living there at the time. That ill-advised decision caused untold suffering for vulnerable seniors, people already living on the poverty line, middle class families, hospitals, schools and small business owners.
As well, in spite of Jamie Bailey's constant suggestion the province should stop even trying to "go green" because of the upfront cost to build and change our infrastructure, Bennett told chamber members our NDP government is in fact doing exactly what is the best possible solution in these times of world-wide surging power prices and dangerous global warming: getting our province off fossil fuels (coal and oil) as quickly as possible and switching to renewable sources of energy. This will give us sustainable local sources and a stable price - something former governments should have gone ahead and done already.
In the spring session of the House I led a debate with both the Liberal and Conservative caucuses on this topic. Check it out (among other speeches I've made in the Legislature) on my newly updated website: www.lenorezannmla.ca
I recently represented Nova Scotia in Quebec City at the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association where I attended many interesting sessions in the beautiful Assemblee Nationale du Quebec (Quebec's National Assembly).
Parliamentarians from across Canada and other Commonwealth countries gathered to discuss many interesting issues including Native rights and governance styles, and many elected officials from First Nations, Metis, and Inuit communities were in attendance.
A presentation I found particularly interesting was by Hunter Tootoo, House Speaker for Canada's newest provincial territory of Nunuvut, which came into existence on April 1, 1999.
Tootoo's presentation 'Consensus Government in the Canadian Arctic' explained how his government is one of only two in Canada that operates on a non-partisan basis. Decisions are therefore made as a group consensus and criticism is not used simply to score political points or make newspaper headlines but actually to help make better-informed decisions.
A very thought-provoking presentation indeed.
Another important discussion focused on how to get more young girls and women interested in political careers, as well as how to encourage Canadians to accept and support women as political leaders.
I energetically took part in these discussions and was chosen as one of two women from across Canada to draft new vision and mission statements for the Commonwealth Women's Parliamentarian Association of Canada.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you in these and many other ways.
Lenore Zann is the NDP MLA representative for the constituents of Truro-Bible Hill.