Opinion

Tim Olive writes this Opinion piece on the controversial financial ask by Cabot Links for taxpaying dollars from Ottawa & Halifax for an $18 million airport at its two golf courses in Inverness.

Olive is a former Tory Nova Scotia Cabinet Minister and a Dartmouth South MLA

By Tim Olive

What is it about Nova Scotians and in this case Cape Breton and our historic need for government funds to advance any major private sector project?

From coal mines and heavy water plants to electronic manufacturing; from railways to tourism facilities; from tire plants to fish plants and the list goes on.

On June 18th, four corporate/private jets touched down at the Port Hawkesbury Allan J. MacEachen Regional Airport.

I had high hopes that the days of blatant patronage to support economic growth, initiated by the private sector, was finally over and that those “untouchable individuals” so anxious to make more money finally realized there were no more tax dollars available for their pleasure.

Alas it is not to be and here we go again on the road to another eventual taxpayer supported project that will be assumed/consumed by government tax dollars or worse, pending an ultimate closure, a huge financial loss to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia because the Federal Government has been out of the Airport Management Business since 1999 – in case we forgot.

If these great golf courses are that wonderful then it should not be hard for the owners to secure private sector funding for a private airport without any financial guarantees from municipal, provincial or federal governments.

The voters of Nova Scotia handed the federal liberals all of the seats in the last election, partly as a result of the backlash against then PM Stephen Harper and not the Progressive Conservative Party, and were promised good honest government without the historic liberal backroom wheeling and dealing of days gone by.

A jet at the Port Hawkesbury Allan J. MacEachen Airport.

Billy Joe MacLean is correct, MP Rodger Cuzner has, up to this point, left a positive legacy in his federal riding and in fact all of Cape Breton.

He did it by good logical sensible reasoning and cooperation with the private sector without major financial commitments from any level of government. His successful efforts in cooperation with the provincial government to eliminate the wasteful and political stench of DEVCO and its party hacks was a fine example of how a politician should represent not only his residents but the greater good of the province.

I hope that he rethinks this political pressure from a small minority of well heeled Nova Scotian’s and a few of the 1% in Upper Canada who have no interest in what is best for Nova Scotia taxpayers, but rather only what best serves their personal and political activities.

A jet at the Port Hawkesbury Allan J. MacEachen Regional Airport.

When a federal government ignores one region in Canada that, in the case of Yarmouth, NS, is refused federal support for a sea transportation link to the eastern USA yet provides four billion dollars to build a new bridge and its highway infrastructure on the American side of that bridge between Windsor, Ont and Detroit then we start to understand the inconsistencies in our Canadian Federation.

Yet we still hear from a small elite group of self indulgent financiers in Nova Scotia who have no idea how the average family in this province is making ends meet when the opportunity to have those same families pay, through the highest taxes in Canada, for their recreation in the case of this private Cabot Links Airport and golf course.

We lack the leadership in this province with the premiers recent support of this project. A province that cries out for Health Care and Mental Health Reform.

That has its highway infrastructure now considered the worst in Atlantic Canada where once we were the best.

Where our basic Education system has been depleted to such an extent that our kids are being pushed through the school system without gaining the basic knowledge they need to effectively continue to the secondary level whether it be NSCC or university.

There is no business case with any validity that would justify taxpayers dollars going towards a new private airport in Inverness, Cape Breton or any other location to service the exclusive lifestyle of Canada’s rich and famous.

This public purse investment would be at the expense of the current Port Hawkesbury Airport.

Especially since our history has shown us that if this Cabot Links Airport were to happen it will not be long before Municipal Governments in the region end up with the bills and the operations.

Municipal governments do not deserve to be treated with such disrespect by the Federal government.

For its part the provincial government will just write off the loss at year end as they have managed to do for the last thirty or so years in the many cases of private sector investments gone bad.

Federal investment dollars will sing their same song, that it was their responsibility to support economic development in the region.

They do not however clarify in their justification that the investment was void of a sound business case, as is this taxpayer funded request.

The people paying the taxes to both the Provincial and Federal Governments in Nova Scotia must voice their opinion on this abhorrent investment in a private sector recreation enterprise, a private airport to service a privately owned golf course, that 99 percent of Nova Scotian’s cannot afford to visit.

If the Premier and his government are permitted to approve this funding request then as Nova Scotia taxpayers we should be ashamed that we allowed this to happen without voicing our concerns.

This total disregard for his responsibilities as the Premier to protect our tax dollars against questionable funding requests should not be taken lightly by anyone, especially the taxpaying public.