Paon and MacMaster looking forward to new responsibilities

CAPE BRETON: Two local MLAs are looking forward to a slightly revised set of opportunities following the announcement of new critic responsibilities for the official opposition to the McNeil Liberals.

“We did a big switch-up in caucus because it’s a great learning opportunity for all of us to sit on different committees,” said Cape Breton-Richmond MLA Alana Paon, who will be continuing on as the critic for Business/NSBI, Trade, Tourism Nova Scotia, and Innovacorp.

Paon’s critic roles remain unchanged, but she will now sit on the Human Resources committee.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn about appointments to boards,” she said. “It’s a very important committee, and it’s important to hold the government to account. It’s important to have a non-partisan approach when dealing with appointments onto boards.

“Having been a private business owner myself, and having a background in economic development, this is a fantastic portfolio to hold.”

Also affected by the switch-up is Allan MacMaster, MLA for Inverness County.

He will continue to chair the Public Accounts Committee, and he’ll remain the critic for Energy and Mines, Gaelic Affairs, and Service Nova Scotia. With that, he’ll also take on the role of Environment Critic.

When talking to The Reporter recently, he mentioned environment overlaps with energy in several ways.

“When we think about environment today, what we hear most often in the news is climate change, carbon tax, and those kinds of things,” he said. “Those things link back to the energy we consume in our homes through our power utility here in the province.

“The biggest thing for our province to be thinking about is this fall when the provincial government will find out if their plan to meet the carbon tax is approved,” he said. “If it’s not approved, there’s going to be some challenges in this province. It’s something for people to watch.

“Changes to the way we consume fuels at home and in cars may have to be modified.”

Paon said she is ready to face her responsibilities as a critic while remaining accessible to her constituents.

“You are never really off in this position,” she said. “There’s always going to be someone who needs your assistance, and that’s what being the MLA is about – it’s a 24/7 job.”

The new critic roles were announced by Progressive Conservative leader Karla MacFarlane on July 30.