The former African Nova Scotian affairs minister says it’s a shame the newly appointed PC minister of the department is “playing politics with equity.” Tony Ince, the Liberal MLA for Cole Harbour, says he briefly met Pat Dunn to exchange pleasantries, but the new minister has not attempted to discuss the African Nova Scotian affairs file with him.
“If the intent was truly to work with us, the first attempt should have been to pull the community together,” Ince said in an interview Friday. The Liberal MLA held the ANSA minister role between 2013 and 2021. “To me they’re playing antics, they’re playing games. And I’m baffled by that.”
Dunn said Thursday he’s reached out to two of Nova Scotia’s four Black MLAs for advice, Tony Ince and his Liberal colleague Angela Simmonds. Simmonds says that’s not quite accurate.
“We shared a casual conversation, it was really collegial. I’m disappointed if that’s his idea of reaching out or consulting,” Simmonds said in an interview Friday. Ince’s interaction with Dunn was similar.
“It was a group of gentlemen being cordial, that’s all it was. In terms of consultation, there’s been none whatsoever,” Ince said. “In my eyes, this is a tactic that we have been used to in our community for generations. It’s divide and conquer, it’s to confuse, it’s talk,” he said.
Premier Tim Houston apologized Thursday for offense caused by his appointment of a white minister to the African Nova Scotian affairs department. Simmonds says his apology missed the mark.
“The premier, in his apology, referenced consulting the community and that [the offense] was not intended. I think this misses the concept and the sincerity of what exactly you’re apologizing for. It’s not about the intent,” Simmonds said.
She added that her concerns are not with Pat Dunn as an individual, but with how racism is entrenched in decision making in Nova Scotia’s government.
Ince and Simmonds say reaching out to set up a meeting or discussion would have been easy, and they remain open and willing to have these conversations. “My expectations are for true, earnest and forthcoming conversations that are going to be difficult. Conversations they will be uncomfortable with. When you’re ready to do that then I’ll work with you,” Ince said.
“It's never too late because it’s about my community. It took us 400 years to get here, so in my eyes it’s never too late.”