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Question period 

Lezlie Lowe is looking for answers about Rodney MacDonald.

Stephen Hawking, author of A Brief History of Time, says one cannot “predict future events exactly if one cannot even measure the present state of the universe precisely.”

Hawking (who’s quoted in Bill Bryson’s staggeringly good A Short History of Nearly Everything) is talking about an especially tricky theory of quantum physics. But think about those words from the renowned theoretical physicist and consider the election bid of our province’s theoretical premier, Rodney MacDonald.

MacDonald’s been in the political soup since 1999, first as a Hamm cabinet minister. Now he’s looking to make his theoretical premiership bona fide with a mandate from voters June 13. But how much do we know about him? Is it possible to measure the present state of the Rodney MacDonald universe precisely?

We know MacDonald’s view on the Nova Scotia Arts Council. As culture minister he closed the arm’s-length funding body in 2002 and replaced it with an Arts and Culture Partnership Council.

In a May 11 press release, MacDonald-appointed minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage Judy Streatch says provincial funding for arts and culture has been boosted by 32.5 percent since the Arts Council’s axing.

Cultural consultant Andrew Terris, however, counters that Stretch’s 32.5 percent figure is inflated. Terris says that increase in funding needs to be plotted on a chart against the culture division’s 80 percent increase in salaries and benefits and its 51 percent increase in administration costs since 2000.

So what exactly is the state of the universe when it comes to MacDonald-led culture funding?

There are other Tory unknowns governing us these days. Federally, that is. The Globe and Mail’s Ian Brown penned a crotchety feature Saturday outlining the litany of press restrictions the “control freak” he calls “Big Daddy Harper” has put in place on Parliament Hill.

Journalists are complaining, even if the majority of the country is too dense to see that Harper is working to ball-gag democratic principles and stomp on the transparency he touts as his government’s strongest quality or, at least, saving grace.

Despite the muzzle, one of Harper’s MPs started trying to bite last week.

Saskatoon-Wanuskewin MP Maurice Vellacott joined forces with anti-abortion Liberal MP Paul Steckle at a press conference a week ago today to promote the link between breast cancer and abortion. The connection is a myth. There is no reliable evidence to suggest therapeutic abortion causes breast cancer (that’s not just my pro-choice bias, that’s the position of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society).

Stephen Harper’s not wading in where Vellacott’s flapping his anti-abortion gums. All Canadians know is that during a 2005 policy convention, Conservative party members voted not to introduce legislation limiting abortion access during their first mandate. Harper toed that line during his campaign for the PMO.

What about theoretical premier Rodney MacDonald, who’s on the lookout for his first mandate in Nova Scotia?

MacDonald’s press secretary, Sasha Irving, says the 34-year-old is personally anti-abortion, but he doesn’t intend to introduce legislation to limit access to abortion on a provincial level. Even past his first mandate? “Never,” says Irving. “Never, ever.”

Stephen Hawking’s right. There is no way of knowing what might happen in the future if we can’t even know what’s going on today. The lesson for Nova Scotia voters isn’t in quantum physics, it’s to ask questions. You’ve got until June 13 to get the answers you need.

Still have questions? Email: lezliel@thecoast.ca

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