” 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.