Get fracking facts
Premier Stephen McNeil appears to be doubling down on his fracking ban, notwithstanding some recent self inflicted confusion and in spite of a report that values our onshore natural gas reserves at between $20 billion and $60 billion US. In fairness, there is anti-fracking hysteria and popular backlash for any government pursuing the fracking option. But there are also potential benefits.
At the very least, Nova Scotia should send a fact-finding delegation somewhere fracking is successful. How effective are their environmental standards? If they are inadequate and cannot be improved with modifications, by all means maintain the anti-fracking status quo. But at least give it an honest look.
If environmental safeguards are as good as can be expected (bear in mind there are risks to everything), then Nova Scotia can benefit. The reward is greater energy self-sufficiency, lower energy costs because the source is local and an influx of high-paying jobs in the fracking industry. An unwillingness to seriously explore potentially lucrative economic options such as fracking (or gold mining on Warwick Mountain) condemns us to more poverty than otherwise, continued out-migration and "have not" status in perpetuity. —Kris Larsen, Halifax
Failure of Services
The recent Coast opinion piece by Gayle Collicutt makes the case for an audit by the auditor general of the Department of Community Services ("Audit needed at community services," Voice of the City, Jan 18). Given the department's woefully inadequate performance and its continued refusal to acknowledge its role in the Abdoul Abdi file, there ought to be a comprehensive review. I say this because DCS is failing in other areas of its mandated responsibilities as well.
The Services for Persons with Disabilities program is repeatedly coming up short in how it administers its Alternative Family Support program. My wife and I, as AFS providers, wrote the minister over a month ago to convey our concerns and request a meeting. We have yet to hear from the minister. An appeal to the premier's office to prompt the DCS to respond to our request similarly went unanswered and unacknowledged.
One wonders if "non response" is a deliberate tactic to discourage public criticism of the government and how it executes social policy. If so, it is disingenuous, does nothing to correct existing problems, shows contempt for the electorate, erodes public confidence and undermines the kind of responsible, accountable and transparent government that should be the aim of every provincial administration.
In another Coast story, the connection is made between Abdi's case and systemic abuses at the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, both of which are DCS responsibilities ("Abdoul Abdi and the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children," City story by Kieran Leavitt, Jan 25). With the provincial inquiry into abuse at the Home for Colored Children refusing to publicly comment on Abdi, well-known advocate Irvine Carvery observed that "the silence is deafening." Indeed it is.
If "non response" is how DCS and the government have decided to deal with critics, then it is a cowardly abdication of leadership and legitimacy. It is also a grave injustice to all the vulnerable clients of community services and their families who are not being well served at all by those responsible for looking after those who require compassion and special care. —Bill Meagher, Halifax
How schools are run is not a matter for the teachers ("Nova Scotia teachers set strike vote," Reality Bites story by Jacob Boon, posted at thecoast.ca Feb 13). Their primary function is to teach our kids to read, write and do math. But we are pumping out illiterates from Grade 12, because the system is failing them.
Our system is not set to direct students towards a community college or trade school, but university only. Any kids who are not university inclined get lost in the system, as teachers only concentrate on the elite students. So I hope the teachers vote for a strike. Any strike would be illegal and could lead to some teachers losing their jobs. —posted at thecoast.ca by Philip Turnbull