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Hamm and cheese 

Editorial by Bruce Wark

First we had Bacon, Tory premier Roger that is. Then we had Hamm, as in Tory premier John. Who will be the next Tory Sausage? Expect the media to be abuzz with speculation in the coming months. Most political news these days is all about top dogs, er, I mean, top wieners. Last week for example, when Hamm announced he was quitting as Nova Scotia’s Chief Wiener, the daily rags went into a frenzy of oinking about how great he was. Premier Pork Chop balanced the budget, they squealed in unison, as if balancing books is the most important thing a government can do. A Herald editorial praised Hamm for plunking the entire $830 million from the offshore gas agreement onto the provincial debt. Never mind that poor people are worse off now than they were 15 years ago, with minimum wages too low to live on and welfare rates thousands of dollars below the StatsCan poverty line. Three months ago, I wrote about how Nova Scotia welfare rates have been falling since 1989. Poor people are trooping to food banks, the province has one of the highest child poverty rates in the country and the Halifax rags are snorting about how Hamm balanced the books. Whatever happened to the Joe Howe tradition of comforting the afflicted?

And whatever happened to journalism that looks at the facts instead of parroting right-wing propaganda about deficits and debts? As the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has pointed out, the federal government’s high interest rate policies, coupled with federal transfer payment cuts and Nova Scotia’s below-average tax rates, are responsible for our debt, not lavish spending on social programs.

Hamm ran a clean, ethical government, the papers oinked as they ignored a Tory scandal far worse than Bumbling Buchanan’s warehouse full of fancy toilet seat covers. As I reported back in August, it’s not your average, garden-variety political scandal—the kind in which politicians misspend a few million dollars of public money. This scandal is one in which hundreds of millions are being transferred from all of our pockets into the coffers of huge auto insurance companies.

First, the Hamm Tories conned Liberal boy scout leader Danny Graham into supporting their insurance bill. After it sailed through the legislature, the Tories drafted regulations giving the insurance companies almost absolute power over the fate of anyone unlucky enough to be injured in a car accident. For nearly two years, the companies have been telling badly hurt victims that their pain and suffering is only “minor” and not to expect one cent more than $2,500 in compensation. Under the Hamm government’s regulations, the definition of a “minor” injury is so ludicrously broad that it applies to accident victims who can no longer care for their children or other family members as long as they can provide the “essential elements” of their own care—whatever that means. As I wrote in my previous editorial, if you suffer chronic pain that requires ongoing medical attention, daily medication and that forces you to move to a ground-floor apartment because you can no longer climb stairs, sorry, your pain is now considered “minor.” If you suffer post traumatic stress disorder or clinical depression because of an accident, don’t expected one nickel more than $2,500. So-called psychological injuries are now and forever only “minor,” thanks to good Dr. Hamm and his cronies. Patient, heal thyself!

Poor Danny G. complained his Liberals had been “hoodwinked, duped and hosed,” by the duplicitous Tories. But now the papers are telling us that Premier Pork Scraps is an honest fella. “Hamm made integrity an integral part of his government,” Herald girl guide Marilla Stephenson grunted. “Refreshingly, no political scandals have occurred under his watch.” Sheesh, whatever happened to the Joe Howe tradition of speaking up for the people?

Yes, first we had Tory Bacon, then we had Tory Hamm. Here’s hoping the next Chief Sausage leads the Tories into the political oblivion they deserve. Oink. Oink.

Feel the tories have been pigging out on Nova scotia politics? email: bwark@accesswave.ca or go to my homepage: www.accesswave.ca/~bwark.

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Vol 25, No 47
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