NDP Caucus News Release
Robert Chisholm, Leader
July 4, 1997
LIBERALS HAVE FAILED CAPE BRETONERS ON NATURAL
There are many farcical aspects to the current Liberal
Leadership Race. One of the most absurd is the way in which the
candidates are at each other's throats over the failure of
Liberals in Halifax and Ottawa to protect Cape Breton's interests
in the development of offshore natural gas.
That the Liberals have failed Cape Bretoners on this issue
is without question. This project could well have major
repercussions on Cape Breton's economy, yet the Liberals haven't
even bothered to investigate its socio-economic impact.
In broad terms, three possible impacts of this project can
Under one scenario, the effects would be very negative. If
Nova Scotia Power purchases large quantities of gas to fuel its
power plants at Tufts Cove and Trenton, Cape Breton coal will be
displaced and Cape Breton coal mining jobs will be lost.
As Stephen Drake, president of District 26 of the UMW noted
in a letter to the media this past week, the impact on the coal
industry will be even more severe if large companies like Stora,
Kimberly Clarke, Oxford Frozen Foods, Michelin and Trenton Works
use Sable gas to run their operations. But despite the
potentially devastating impact on Cape Breton, the Liberals
haven't given a second thought to the effect of the large-scale
introduction of gas-fired energy in this Province.
A second possibility is that little or no gas will be burned
in Nova Scotia, that it will be shipped holus-bolus to the United
States (with a bit set aside for the Irvings in Saint John).
Under this scenario, which now seems more likely with the
Liberals' acceptance of high pipeline toll rates, Cape Breton
coal jobs may not be affected.
However, benefits flowing to Cape Breton and Eastern Nova
Scotia from the gas resource that lies offshore will be minimal.
The Liberals have failed to ensure that the majority of jobs from
the offshore will go to Nova Scotians, let alone people from the
Eastern Counties. They have also failed to ensure that gas
liquids will be kept in Nova Scotia to stimulate the development
of a petrochemical industry.
In fact, what Liberal inaction has done is to preclude a
third option, which would be to develop the offshore for the
benefit of Cape Breton and the Eastern Counties. This could be
done by nurturing a petrochemical industry in the Strait Area and
extending the pipeline to Industrial Cape Breton, thus improving
the competitiveness of companies like Sysco. That way, natural
gas would not be a threat to Cape Breton's future but a basis for
But developing that option would have required a commitment
from the Liberals. It would have meant planning and consultation
with the community. Most of all it would have called for some
tough negotiating with the gas companies.
Instead of tough negotiating, the Liberals sold out to Mobil
and Shell. As Nova Scotians have become aware of the sellout and
have begun to express their disgust, the leadership candidates
have begun to see the light. With the exception of Bernie
Boudreau, who continues to defend the bad deal struck by the
Provincial government, the candidates now say they want a new
There has been much posturing and finger-pointing on the
issue. But Cape Bretoners will not be fooled, because the record
is clear. Over the last four years the Liberals have utterly
failed to protect the interests of Cape Bretoners as they've
blundered ahead with the offshore project.
Nova Scotia New Democrats have suffered two great losses in
recent days. On July 3, Michael James (Mickey the Boo) MacDonald
died at the age of 87. A former miner, union leader, co-operator
and provincial and municipal politician, Mickey represented Cape
Breton Centre in the House of Assembly for 18 years, first as a
CCF member and then as a New Democrat after the founding of the
NDP in 1961. From 1953 to 1963 Mickey was Leader of the CCF/NDP.
Mickey MacDonald was was a staunch believer in the values of the
social democratic movement and fought his entire adult life for
the interests of ordinary working Nova Scotians.
Mickey MacDonald's death follows by one week the passing of
Ron Cavalucci, the Provincial Secretary of the NDP. A veteran
organizer, Ron served the party in Manitoba and Ontario before
coming to Nova Scotia in 1996. His tenure in Nova Scotia was
nothing short of spectacular, being marked by a smashing
provincial bylection victory in Fairview in June, 1996 and the
breakthrough capture of six seats in the Federal election this
In their separate ways, Mickey MacDonald and Ron Cavalucci
made great contributions to the New Democratic Party and to
political life in Nova Scotia in general.