More women than ever will sit in the next session of Nova Scotia’s legislature. The nine women elected on Tuesday, June 13, make up 17 per cent of the members of the Legislative Assembly, and the Advisory Council on the Status of Women is celebrating the achievement. “I’m excited about this accomplishment for our province,” said Sonja Power, chair of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. “We still need more women in the House of Assembly, but we’re starting to see improvement.” Women contribute to public decision-making in many ways, including being elected to public office. They volunteer for provincial agencies, boards, and commissions and for municipal boards and committees; they voice their opinions in public consultations; they support candidates in elections; and they become informed about issues and vote. Ms. Power says women’s participation in public decision-making is vital for two reasons. First, without women, half the talent pool is being missed. Second, when women are not adequately represented at the table, their perspectives and concerns can be lost. The United Nations estimates that at least 30 per cent of a decision-making body must be women in order for women’s concerns to be adequately represented. “We’re fortunate that so many women offered to run in this election,” said Ms. Power. “Standing for political office is hard work, and it’s not a sure thing.” She also thanked the Nova Scotians who supported women candidates: all the political parties, many riding associations, and countless individuals who worked behind the scenes during the election. The Advisory Council on the Status of Women has held two non-partisan campaign schools for women and will hold workshops in two more communities this year. It also works with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, the YWCA, and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations on a project to encourage more women to take part in municipal government. More information is available on the council’s website at www.gov.ns.ca/staw .
(Update)The New Democratic Party showed up at Queen’s Park Tuesday morning ready to grill the premier on the gas plant scandal — but they were preempted by the Progressive Conservatives, who say they have extensive details of the budget the Liberals plan to unveil next month.Tory leader Tim Hudak says disgruntled public servants leaked details about how the Liberals plan to reveal their upcoming budget plan. “They’ve drafted senior civil servants in what they call a budget leaking team. It’s unprecedented abuse and civil servants don’t like it. It’s not their job. That’s why we have whistleblowers.”The documents say the budget will include money for in vitro fertilization, school nutrition programs, incentives for businesses and the end of the hydro debt retirement charge on residential bills.“We’re talking about 39 spending announcements totalling $5.7 billion dollars. We can’t afford it.”He says the budget is to be presented to the legislature May 1st. But finance minister Charles Sousa won’t confirm any details.“The document will be released and I will release the date in the coming weeks. I have not finalized anything at this point.”Premier Kathleen Wynne also shrugged off the leak, saying it’s normal to have a communication plan before a budget. “It’s unfortunate those confidential plans may have been released, but the substance is exactly what I have said we are going to do.”The Liberals need the NDP to support the budget to avoid a spring election, but leader Andrea Horwath was non-committal. “There could be all kinds of speculation, all kinds of leaks. what people expect us to do at this time is dig into the cover-up of the gas plant scandal, and make sure we get answers we deserve.”New Democrats want a public inquiry into the gas plant relocation cover-up and they’re also trying to get Peter Faist to testify at the committee hearings; they say they haven’t been able to get hold of him. Faist is the computer tech named in court documents and alleged to have wiped Liberal hard drives clean of any evidence.The Tories want to know whether Faist had security clearance before he was given access to those computers. Wynne distanced herself, saying her involvement was very limited, and that it all happened before she was premier.