Time for regional government on Cape Breton Island

“The Cape Breton Situation” Podcast recently recorded a podcast with Mr. Mark Macneill who has a vast amount of knowledge about the history of Cape Breton Island.

During the podcast, Mark mentioned what happened to Cape Breton Island in 1820 where the Island was forced to be included in the Province of Nova Scotia. Cape Breton fought what happened until 1849 with the British Empire but Nova Scotia and the British Empire refused to address the issue. There should have been a referendum held on Cape Breton Island as most then wanted to become like Prince Edward Island and govern our self. That did not happen and now 200 years later, we on Cape Breton, are still being held in a position of decline to benefit the mainland and the Capitol of Nova Scotia, Halifax.

Nova Scotians for Equalization Fairness (NSEF) has been lobbying government at three levels (federal, provincial and municipal) now for over 20 years regarding the federal equalization payment and the way the Province of Nova Scotia is misappropriating this funding to build up the City of Halifax while the rest of the province dies a slow painful death. We are seeing towns dissolve and a vast amount of people that are now leaving Cape Breton Island in search of a better life. To date, no federal government officials will sit down with the NSEF and discuss why this is allowed continue. The federal and provincial governments have a practice of ignoring the issue so they can allow the injustice to continue. Every taxpayer in the country contributes to equalization and the purpose of the program is to help lower taxation, re-build failing infrastructure, create employment opportunities, etc. in the “have not” regions of the province and country. This funding is not provided to build convention centers and infrastructure in Halifax as it is currently being used.

Mark Macneill, who is a well-educated individual, has a solution for our problems, here on the island. Cape Breton should form a regional government of our own and then the province would be forced to negotiate directly with this regional government and not the municipalities and counties across Cape Breton. This regional government could be centrally located in the centre of the island in a town like Baddeck to be fair to all other counties. Every municipality (Richmond, Inverness, Cape Breton, Victoria and the Town of Port Hawkesbury) would have a part in the regional government and the entire island would become one for the first time. Cape Breton Island has been divided for far too long and it is time to bring all regions of Cape Breton Island together and work together to bring the Island back to glory, as it once was. We need to make decisions for ourselves that benefit us directly and we need more say to do this.

Cape Breton Island constantly gets recognized as one of the best islands in the world and we all feel a sense of pride when we hear this statement, but when we look at the shape of our island, we can all see the decline. The conversation needs to start with all areas of the island and the voice needs to come back to the people and not the multiple, ineffective levels of government we trust with our future. This trust has been broken and it is time we, the people, take back control of our Island and future. We hope you can start to listen to our podcasts by going to “The Cape Breton Situation” Podcast on Facebook and have a listen to some viable solutions to our problems. We can and should work together and bring the voice of 134,000 people together and demand we are treated equally and fairly on Cape Breton Island as citizens of Canada.

Russ Green

Nova Scotians for Equalization Fairness

Howie Center