Brendan Maguire

” I just got off the phone with the Premier’s Office.”

Halifax Atlantic Liberal candidate Brendan Maguire was close to giddy as he made that statement on a Facebook video Wednesday evening.

Maguire went on to promise residents in the Harrietsfield neighbourhood who have spent 10 years fighting for clean water after their wells were contaminated by leachate from a construction salvage yard that help is on the way.

“We just got a commitment that the provincial government and this government will work with the City to clean up the RDM recycling site. I don’t know what the plan looks like but this is huge news 20 years in the making.”

Maguire is the Liberal incumbent. He took some heat from residents still hauling or buying water at a community meeting Sunday where both the PC and NDP candidates vowed to solve the long-standing water problem in the community. At this time, with so few specifics around the clean-up and past disappointments when it came to government holding the polluters to account, voters will have to judge whether the latest statement by the Liberal candidate is credible.

“I hope this comes to pass, and we need to hold Maguire to this promise if he and McNeil are re-elected, but as far as election promises go, I will believe it when I see it,” said Jamie Simpson, the lawyer for Harrietsfield resident Marlene Brown who has recently gone to court to lay charges under the Environment Act against the companies and individuals who operated the salvage yard.

“I was at work when I received the news and for the first time in years I felt joy and excitement, finally it was all coming to a head, the site would be clean, our battle was half over,” Marlene Brown told The Examiner in an email.

“Then I saw the Global News Interview last night and Irealized it was not a done deal. Party leaders were commenting on cleaning up the site during election time. It was a strong reminder, I have to remain cautiously optimistic.”

A judge has yet to determine if he will hear Brown’s case but at least the Liberals are now on the record. The Progressive Conservatives were quick to respond to Maguire’s announcement. Here’s part of what the PC news release said:

This video prompts serious questions.
* Was Brendan Maguire making a campaign announcement or a government announcement?
• Is the Premier’s office, in the middle of an election, in communication with Liberal candidates about funding for government projects? Maguire says, “I just got off the phone with the Premier’s office.”
• The candidate says “We now have a firm commitment from the provincial government to clean up the RDM Site.”  Who confirmed this funding with Brendan Maguire?
• Is the Halifax Regional Municipality currently in discussions with the Province of Nova Scotia regarding partnering on this project?

Stay tuned. It’s far from over.

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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  1. I have a dream. No matter who gets elected on May 30th, that they will immediately work with the municipality and the people will have clean water…no grandstanding just do it.

  2. Liberals will say or do anything to gain or maintain office. If they win, they either implement their promises or spin the result to a feckless public using their own money. If they lose, nobody recalls what they promised anyway. Other parties have imitated them, but in this the Liberals remain unsurpassed.

    The success of this strategy may be a major reason why Canada was ruled by Liberals for most of the last century, and why voter cynicism and disengagement has reached record highs.

    Personally, if I lived in Harrietsfield, I would be closely parsing the promises of the PCs and NDP rather than blindingly accepting assurances of a Liberal incumbent. They had 4 years to deal with this. What did they actually do to fix the problem? Maybe we need another study…..

  3. One should hope that Maguire is correct that the Liberal Party is onside with the stated promises from the Conservatives and NDP to ensure a safe source of domestic freshwater and a site clean up will occur at the RDM recycling site.

    On 16 December 2010, the Provincial government of the day committed to a “Water For Life: Nova Scotia’s Water Resource Management Strategy”. There is an ambitious set of goals that are hoped to be accomplished within the first 10 years of the strategy’s acceptance. To be true to the strategy, an acceptable solution must be implemented to the satisfaction of the Harrietsfield residents.

    The Water for Life strategy is a provincial government commitment that all NS political parties should vigorously support.

  4. He also stated that HRM agreed to this. I would love to hear from them. The local councillor still denies there is a problem with the site, and council has never, I repeat, never, discussed the site or cleaning it up. Cleaning it up, would not be in their jurisdiction. Maguire told the room on Sunday that Halifax Water has no plans to extend the water service boundary. He told the room, there is money on the table though, from the province, and I would hold him accountable for that as well.

    This issue started in 2003, 14 years ago, so 20 years in the making? He can’t count. And that was apparent on Sunday as well. Last year, the HRM councillor told the room it would cost $5 Million dollars to bring water to the community. To which I say BIG DEAL! They are going to spend $5 Million painting Argyle Street. This week Brendan told them, $9 – 12 or 15 Million. It is hateful and despicable that these people are being used as a pan in a political game.