Big or small, lies are lies.
And there are lot of lies being told in Halifax Atlantic this election period.
What a conundrum Brendan Maguire has created for himself, and the voters. And yes, he created it. He is the victim of his own undoing. But so many others are the real victims in this badly behaved saga. How do you justify toying with a vulnerable group of people for self promotion? What does this say about his integrity over all? How could anyone trust him, in an office of “public trust”, ever again? How do we believe or accept his word, ever again? How may times has he lied previously, that we do not know about yet?
We do know that he was telling his constituents that he was against Bill 75, while he was the Party Whip. It is pretty difficult to keep collecting that extra $5,253.00 if you aren’t being the consummate team player and brow beating your peers into toeing the party line. Did he think no one would ever find out?
He also lied via live feed previously about the budget telling his followers the budget would drastically increase welfare benefits and create work opportunities, which was exactly opposite of the actual budget.
Then an election was called. So far for the last five days, during an election period, Brendan Maguire has been called out on more lies, related to more things, than Donald Trump. Serious, and hurtful lies, using vulnerable communities as a tool, to spin tales of magic and miracles, without regard for how they would impact those he was misleading. Truth is, those announcements were for the rest of the world to hear, not those he was using as props. And they are big and obnoxious compared to his usual liberties with facts, but they are a real show stopper for so many who did not need or appreciate this flippant exercise in trying to get re-elected. He was not concerned about the people. He was concerned about how his own poor performance had suddenly crashed his party.
It all started on Sunday, May 7, 2017 in Harrietsfield, at a water rally held by the residents, led by the unconquerable Marlene Brown, to raise awareness that they are, after years of begging and pleading and fighting with the province and the municipality, still without safe potable water. No one has stepped up to do what these people need. And Brendan is the latest in a list of MLAs who has been ineffective. And being witness to his ineffectiveness as an outsider has been infuriating.
Since the events of the last week have transpired, I am now forced for my own sanity, to review what I know to be true and to share with you who are blessing me with your listening ears, some more study on his stories on this issue over the last year. I know it is a long read but the whole story needs to be told to be truly appreciated. It is the only way to truly capture the injustices this community is still facing and how depraved this individual’s behaviour really is. This is not the first time these people have been victims of political game playing. The fact is that Brendan Maguire is not the only elected representative who is lying to these people and about their situation.
How much has he actually done?
In June 2016, I attended a water rally in Harrietsfield, and in that meeting Brendan came across as arrogant and perhaps a little over confident. First he showed up an hour late, then talked like he has been in the middle of this fight and is on top of all the latest details, and no one could doubt his version of his efforts. Until he admitted to the room he had only been working on the issue for six weeks. As he talked about who he spoke to in government, no one had any evidence to refute his story, but I was hopping mad at the back of the room that he was basically making a big deal out of doing nothing, pretty much right up until the residents started advertising their rally. He told the room that his government is reviewing the Environment Act, and figuring out what isn’t working, so they can write new legislation to fix things. Please God, no. Don’t let them touch it.
The local councillor stood beside him and between the two of them it was pretty apparent they were giving these people every excuse and no answers. The run around. I had to refrain from speaking my real mind, and although I did tell them it is disgusting that this community is being treated with so little compassion and respect, I held back what I really thought of the two elected members who are supposed to represent these people. I also made it clear to everyone in the room, that the quoted price tag of $5 Million was not much at all for the municipality to pay considering other projects and their often boasted surplus. I planted the seed that there are solutions, viable solutions used in other communities. I wanted them to know they should not accept this balderdash.
In October 2016, still nothing had changed and Councillor Steve Adams told Rick Howe on News 95.7, there is nothing wrong with the water in Harrietsfield during an interview. He was speaking up after Marlene Brown had spoken about the lack of progress in their case. And in essence, he was there to undermine her. He did say he had ordered a staff report on the water issues. He expected it back in December. Such a request would be made through council, and after searching council online, no request appears to have ever been made. And no word of such a report has ever been seen or heard of since.
Fast forward to November 2016, still no real answers had been found, but then out of the blue, the Minister of Environment and Brendan Maguire made a big deal and held a press conference to announce that NSE was going to provide water treatment systems to eight homes; only eight out of the 83 originally identified as having issues. But they held a press conference and announced that they were going to provide relief to these people. On that same day, the local councillor made a motion in council, asking for staff to prepare a report on the option of HRM cost sharing the ongoing maintenance of individual water treatment systems at eight residential well properties in Harrietsfield. It was revealed to the residents, but not the media that the systems depended on the municipal government even agreeing to pay their share. So at the same time the Minister was prematurely touting this action to the press, and thereby the general public, the HRM councillor was only just for the first time, asking if this is something the municipality even wants to do. To date, no results of this report have been recorded at council. I am a little suspicious as to what it might say, or if it is being muffled. Subsequently, the province then promised the systems would be installed by February 2017.
So roll further ahead, to February 2017, when residents were invited to a meeting with the local councillor, NS Environment staff and Brendan Maguire. They were told they had to provide evidence that there is an issue with the water. Wait. What? There have been two series of Ministerial Orders given to the owners of the contaminated site, to clean it up, and the treatment systems were already promised months ago and now the residents are being told to prove they even have an issue? After 11 years of test results and court hearings that submitted such evidence, these residents were told “prove it”. This is simply too much. But the residents obliged. I think the government(s) were trying to back out of their promise, and did not expect the residents to have their stuff together or maybe they would be so intimidated by the request. They still have not figured out, that government being adversarial is a motivator for the public.
In April 2017, there were still no systems installed. What did happen though, is a widely known and not very well liked NSE staffer left a notice at Marlene’s home, advising that NSE has chosen a supplier for the treatment systems and they will need to test the homeowner’s water. The letter also requested that the resident please advise NSE of who the other impacted homes were…… HOLD ON!!! Yeah, wait, does that sound slightly screwed up? NSE needs one of the residents to advise whose homes are impacted? NSE parsed the number of homes down to eight. From over 80. And now they they don’t even know which homes they have decided are impacted? Sounds a lot like Brendan telling the room on Sunday, that “There is a process, and if anyone has water issues, they need to call NSE.” So Brendan and NSE have no clue which of the homes are effected. Yet he claims he has been working tirelessly on this issue. Hmm. I can name at least three, and I don’t live in the riding, let alone the neighbourhood. As well, the timing of a small sign of action was not lost on the residents. Everyone in the province knew the election was looming and a rally had long since been planned. Until the systems are actually installed, they remain skeptical.
Incompetence or a lack of integrity
Then we arrive in May 2017, at the water rally. When the floor opened for questions, no one directed any questions at Brendan initially, as there was an effort made to open the dialogue on what the community needed and how those in attendance could help. And then he raised his hand… Brendan Maguire had something to say. Throughout the presentation, I was near the back of the room and could see Brendan was rocking in his chair. In a nervous, kind of hyper sort of way. As he put his hand up, he was leaning over and his knee started bouncing while he waited for his turn.
Brendan first tried to refute the issues, saying they were naturally occurring, then saying he had been in touch with the lead resident repeatedly. He was corrected both times. He said the government couldn’t legislate a solution, which was laughed off. The first big revelation for me was his willingness to just make crap up to spit shine his own government’s image. He actually told the group, there was money on the table, that the Federal Government was going to pay 50%, the Provincial Government was going to pay 25% and the rest was on the Municipality. There has been no evidence that the Federal or Provincial governments were ever willing to pay a penny to bring water in to the community. I would be curious to know if the Federal Government knows they have committed to pay 50% of this cost. No matter how much was said about the cleaning up of the site, he seemed intent on blaming the municipality for not bring water out to the area. Then he proceeded to lay down the best lie of all, telling the room that his government had cleaned up Boat Harbour. Many other things came out of that meeting, but the lying was the most incredible part of the whole day.
Brendan was handed his butt, and his lies by many in the community over the next days, as well as others who followed the story on Facebook and Twitter, and this blog.
But then it didn’t stop there.
He stormed into a church in Spryfield on Tuesday, looking for one of his opponents, NDP candidate Trish Keeping, and inserted himself into her discussions to tell her, he didn’t lie, he misspoke. Then he went around telling the lunch staff, that she was trying to discredit him. He told people she had her Campaign Manager film him on purpose. And that she had put it out on the internet. Trish did not know Brendan was going to eat his boots, and had no way of anticipating this big of a flub, and the whole meeting was recorded, not just his idiotic floundering. She did not film him. Others did, and he knew they were recording the meeting. There was a camera on a tripod right behind him, and a phone pointed at him, in front of him. Trish did not post the video. Everyone else did, including me, because the lying and deceit have been too much for the community he was speaking too, and now he was dismissing the seriousness of both Harrietsfield and Boat Harbour by lying about them while trying to promote his government. He repeated that the province had already put money on the table to pay for the water to be brought to Harrietsfield, but the Municipal councillor was the one who was failing them. He threw the Municipality, and most especially Councillor Adams (who was not there to defend himself) under the bus, and then under the water delivery truck too. I think they used to be friends….
Area residents did reach out to Steve Adams on the issue, both before and after the rally, which he did not attend, and he maintained pretty much the same response for each inquiry, “… I am certain you are aware that water contamination issues in Harrietsfield date back to the 1970’s; well before RDM was in operation. The contaminants are prevalent throughout Nova Scotia. In fact, my Mom and Dad have arsenic, lead and magnesium in their wells, and they live outside Bridgewater.” You see, Mr. Adams believes, even after the court cases and NS Environment have proven otherwise, that the water in Harrietsfield is naturally undrinkable. Oh, no wait, he believes the water is drinkable.
A miracle worker or a plastic shaman
On Wednesday, May 10, Brendan, in a goofy and giddy live Facebook announcement, told the world that his government was committed and had somehow coerced the municipal government into agreeing to share in the multi million dollar clean up of the RDM site in Harrietsfield. And he was so happy and proud and glad the residents had the water treatment systems and this was a historic day – 20 years in the making. He had to admit, he had no idea what it all was going to look like, but it was going to happen. Shut the front door! Hallelujah! It’s a miracle!!!
Or is it?
Maguire even called Marlene Brown, personally, to tell her the good news. The community members could not believe it. And this incredibly skeptical observer had a knot, right in her gut. No one who was outside of the situation and knew the story, could believe this. Immediately the situation blew up on Facebook. His video circulated and became fodder for angry and really frustrated disgust online. How is it possible that he has managed to succeed in this miracle after all of this time telling residents there is nothing he can do? He just stood and spoke at the rally thee days prior, for several minutes about all the time he has spent trying to convince HRM and Halifax Water, to no avail. Now, when his own bullshit was creeping him all over social media, suddenly, it was all taken care of? A done deal?
Not only was it ridiculous that he was announcing such a huge accomplishment, after doing nothing for forever and a day, but it wasn’t really believable. You just have to live in this province for a little while to realize that the delay delay delay of each and every government of the day, makes inaction appear to be normal process. The spending of $10 Million to clean up RDM is no small task to run past any of the council members, who hadn’t even spoken about Harrietsfield when they met on Tuesday. I suspect there would need to be public consultation and meetings, and this is not normally how things get done. Then too, there is the proven behaviour of HRM council to date to consider. They would much rather paint streets to look like socks and build sports complexes and libraries. $10 Million to clean up a toxic junk pile in a poor neighborhood? Hmmm. And, remember, the councillor still doesn’t think there is anything wrong with their water.
The ticket to fact checking in this situation, was getting the Municipality to confirm they did in fact commit to participating in the clean up. With prompting from members of the public, including this irate viewer, the news media did look into the HRM’s commitment. And as was fully anticipated, they very promptly responded and clarified that they had not made any such agreement.
Further discussions revealed that after Maguire made his video announcement, and people started questioning the validity, considering all else, his dear leader promptly stated that his government was in talks with the municipality to partner in cleaning the site up. Then the Municipality revealed that a phone call had come Wednesday afternoon, the first such call, and in fact was nothing further than an inquiry.
“They made a quick call to the mayor’s office Wednesday looking to see if we were interested,” said Shaune MacKinlay. “There has been no formal discussion.” (CBC News)
How low will a desperate politician stoop?
This situation also illuminated the perplexing and perhaps unlawful act of a candidate claiming to negotiate deals while running for election, and having contact with the Premier’s office during an election. That needs to be visited further.
Brendan Maguire’s camp is now accusing his opposition of smearing him. He lied. He used an already unjustly and severely wounded community as a prop in this astonishing deceitful act. And now he thinks someone else is causing HIM harm? Brendan Maguire and Stephen McNeil should be issuing public apologies for attempting to sway public opinion using false and damaging information. Maguire should not be permitted to pretend to act on behalf of the public, ever.
If by some chance this government, and especially Brendan Maguire succeed in winning the election, they will need to follow through on these statements and promises. Shame on all the various parties for not doing something about this issue already. This is but one example of so many communities around this province, who are stuck between a rock and two levels of government using each other to mask their lack of performance. I am not sure how many more political games we can tolerate in this province.
We must not allow these behaviours to be swept under the rug. We need to make sure that governments, of all stripes, know we will no longer tolerate unethical and untrustworthy acts. This whole case has been wracked by dishonest and underhanded tactics, by governments, and individuals alike for years. The people of Harrietsfield and Williamswood, will not be pawns in politicking, and we need to help them, make sure a solution is finally in place. Sooner than later.