After waiting months for the support pledged by the McNeil Liberal government for the struggling tourism sector, it’s now clear that the only ones who seem to be receiving support are those large companies who could afford to hire a Liberal insider to lobby for them.
“Small and medium-sized tourism operators across our province are fearful that their life’s work will slip away through no fault of their own, yet the only people the Liberals can find money for are those aligned with Liberal lobbyists,” says Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston.
“Nova Scotians should be able to trust that their elected officials act in the best interests of all Nova Scotians, and not simply respond to the requests of their friends and supporters.”
On October 16th, the McNeil Liberal government announced the $50 million Loan Support to Help Large Tourism Operators, catering exclusively to just a few of the larger companies, many of whom do not have headquarters in Nova Scotia.
This program was conceived after Premier Stephen McNeil’s former Chief of Staff, allegedly lobbied his current Chief of Staff on a similar proposal. The Premier’s former chief of staff apparently did not appear on the province's lobby registry.
“It’s inappropriate for the Liberals to allow unregistered Liberal lobbyists to influence the direction of public funds, especially while so many unaffiliated tourism operators are on the brink of closure,” says Houston.
Houston sent a letter to Patricia Arab, the Minister for Internal Affairs and Service Nova Scotia Department of Internal Services, asking the Minister to investigate this incident, requesting how many similar incidents have occurred and asking what steps will be taken to prevent further illegal lobbying from Liberal insiders.
Adding insult to injury, the Liberals have suggested they will be keeping the program’s recipients a secret.
“Nova Scotians are sickened to hear about Liberals helping Liberals while their businesses - and the businesses in their communities - close their doors,” says Houston. “Keeping secrets and creating programs to help their friends seems to be a pillar of the Liberal brand — Nova Scotians deserve better.”