Scott urges premier to clarify gas tax plans

Darrell Cole
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SPRINGHILL - Cumberland South MLA Murray Scott is asking Premier Darrell Dexter to clarify his government's position on cutting the gas tax at the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border.
Scott has written a letter to the premier expressing concern that cutting the motive fuel tax in border communities such as Amherst will impact other communities in Cumberland County and the rest of the province.
"I would like to know where he intends to draw the line and what area would benefit from a reduced gas tax?," Scott said Thursday.
"If they cut the tax in one area it could negatively impact other communities adjacent to this area. Even within the county we could see two different tax rates and I'm strongly opposed to that."
Earlier this week, the premier confirmed his government will work toward fulfilling a campaign promise by Cumberland North MLA Brian Skabar that would see the tax on gasoline lowered in the Amherst area.
Skabar feels a lower fuel tax would level the playing field and stop the flow of motorists across the border to stations in Aulac and Sackville, N.B., where gas is an average five to seven cents a litre cheaper because of the different tax system.
The premier said the timing of the change would likely coincide with the switching of responsibility for setting gas prices to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board in the fall.
Scott said if the province changes the tax in Amherst, it would lead to an exodus of motorists and business from other communities in Cumberland County. He feels the tax should either be left alone or lowered provincewide. He also suggested the three Maritime provinces work together on a uniform fuel tax.
"Small towns are facing many challenges, particularly when it comes to people travelling to larger communities for services and goods," he said.
"These communities will be further disadvantaged if the government charges different taxes at different locations. Drawing imaginary borders will always leave someone on the other side of the fence. It will pit one Nova Scotian against another and give an advantage to some businesses over others."
Jack Martin, who operates Schaefer's Ultramar in Springhill, is concerned with how the NDP plan could impact his business.
Martin feels once the province starts setting differing gas tax rates based on geography, it's going to open a can of worms it might not be able to close.
"We have already seen a considerable drop in business since New Brunswick dropped their tax, this would be devastating," said Martin.
"All this is going to do is entice people to drive up the road to Amherst. You can't have a different price in Amherst, a different price in Springhill and a different price in Oxford. People will drive that far even if there's a difference of only one or two cents."
The Conservatives issued a statement saying several other communities have their share of cross-border traffic, including Pictou, Yarmouth, North Sydney and Digby.
These points are linked to other jurisdictions by ferry services.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Ultramar, NDP Conservatives

Geographic location: Amherst, SPRINGHILL, Cumberland County Nova Scotia-New Brunswick Aulac Sackville Maritime New Brunswick Oxford Yarmouth North Sydney Digby

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Recent comments

  • Moriarty
    January 18, 2010 - 11:16

    Yes but Bob, then out of everyone in the province WE'D be the ones getting screwed, we'd STILL have to pay the toll to go anywhere but our own backyard.

    So, what you're proposing, is that instead of helping Amherst businesses and stopping NS tax dollars going go to NB, we just give everyone a break and keep Cumberland isolated and paying more than everyone else.

    It really makes no sense at all, other than just being a whiner, to oppose this policy.

    And besides, look up to the right on this page, it's pretty cleaer the people want it.

  • Carole
    January 18, 2010 - 11:14

    Is there any reason why ALL of NS can't have the same prices as NB?

  • Moriarty
    January 18, 2010 - 11:13

    Murray you're a blowhard!

    Is it really wise to start a feud between Amherst and Springhill???

    To the local PCs:

    Think HARD before choosing this guy as your leader.

  • Steve
    January 18, 2010 - 11:08


    Your Conservatives were in power for six years you did nothing about this situation. Now you have a suggestion and written yet another letter. Nice to see you've woken up after a lengthly sleep. This may not be an ideal solution but it is a solution none the less.

    IMHO as always.

  • your average person
    January 18, 2010 - 11:06

    A politician, is a politician is a politician, no matter what party they are with! Murray Scott was never in charge of making decisions for his party then why blame him for someone else's shortfalls. We've seen what happens when you speak out against your own party. Sorry, but can't say I know anyone who doesn't do their job for money and if they don't do it for money, why would they do(unless they are extremely weatlhy). Give the NDP their kick at the can and if they fail well who else was making any great headway. Let's look at our community as Cumberland County rather than each town! They all need a boost and it benefits all of us. The jail issue, honestly why does it matter where it goes as long as the county benefits, the lawyers can travel, lots of people do and it will employ people for all towns as the prison does now and ropak, walmart, etc..... Why not just push for our county to get it. the land is in Springhill, why fight that, in the end we are all going to pay for it no matter what town we live in!!

  • crystal
    January 18, 2010 - 10:56

    Um HELLO I live in Parrsboro, does that mean my income is disposable? Why should a border-town have a cheaper gas hike than the rest of Nova Scotians. Call Amherst, etc... a border-town or whatever else you like Mr. Dexter just so your governemnet can apparently give them a break. Thanks, I guess the rest of us don't matter & can keep paying for evrything through the nose.

  • Bob
    January 18, 2010 - 10:49

    Whatever your political inclincations, Mr. Murry makes a valid point when he asks where the line will be drawn. I mean isn't drawing the line just another way of creating another defacto border problem elsewhere? A better approach would just to simply mirror New Brunswicks pricing in Sackville/Aulac.

  • Moriarty
    January 18, 2010 - 10:49

    *....A better approach would just to simply mirror New Brunswicks pricing in Sackville/Aulac...*


    Ahh...that's excactly what's happening

  • The Dude
    January 18, 2010 - 10:48

    There ya go - the Ndippers are going to take care of their own and put the screws to the good people of Oxford and Springhill.

    At some point people are gonna have to wake up to the fact that Darrel Dexter really only cares about Halifax, and keeping a few of his rural MLAs in office.

  • Fuzzy Bear
    January 18, 2010 - 10:46

    Mr. Bob......your right again... its so simple isn't it....explain then why didn't your glorious Liberals or PC's- not exactly sure who you favour cause your hard to read- do it when they were in power?
    Cause they didn't give a RAT'S A** about Cumberland County. They wanted the bigger tax $$ they were raking in from the provincial gas tax. Especially during peak tourist season. They figured if an unsuspecting tourist would dare to venture into NS they would sooner or later have to fill up their vehicles...viola dey got da money!! They didn't care if they exited shortly afterwards or not still licking their wounded pocket books. To make matters worse they had the rest of the locals in the NS mainland hunkered down behind the impenetratable Cobequid Wall paying the highest gas taxes they could imagine.
    Murray will soon be just another local who gets turned to the dark side of politics !! Here's one for all the PC supporters...wasn't he part of the government that got us in this obvious provincial civil war in the first place!!

  • Bob
    January 18, 2010 - 10:45

    glorious liberals? conservatives? Sorry don't cling to any ideology, bit more pragmatic than that. Anywhooo

    From an Amherstcentric point of view it makes total sense to have a different scheme for our area. Who wouldn't agree with getting some cheaper. But you know there are other areas in this province with similar and compelling reasons for different taxation schemes. Is this the road we want our province to go down? Each area fighting for differnet tax schemes for one reason or another? If you give it to one wouldn't others argue for the same? I would think its better and more fair to adopt the NB system.

  • Amherst Resident
    January 18, 2010 - 10:44

    I bet the people from Oxford and Springhill are not driving to Aulac for gas.

    Most People from Amherst certainly are.

    The rest of the province complains and yet here we are pretty much blacklisted from the rest of the province, made to be visitors and Pay $4.00 each way to see the rest of NS.

    Maybe Dexter should cut off the gas regulation at the TOLL....

    Isn't that where NS begins anyways?


  • Bob
    January 18, 2010 - 10:43

    for the entire province of ns, not just the town of amherst.

  • Gas-tric Indigestion
    January 18, 2010 - 10:43

    I don't know what you people are reading - or perhaps you have difficulty with reading comprehension. Murray said nothing about Springhill, he was speaking of all towns in Cumberland aside from Amherst. Oxford, Parrsboro, Pugwash, and wherever else are there gas stations aside from Amherst in this county. It was the story writer who brought in the other voice which happened to be from Springhill. If this peanut gallery is any evidence, no wonder we have so few people as good as Murray in politics - who would want to subject themselves to this Peanut Mob every day?

  • JS
    January 18, 2010 - 10:40

    The Conservatives argument that there are other communities with cross-border traffic is a complete joke and an insult to our intelligence. It's quite different to drive 3 minutes to Aulac from Amherst than to take a ferry. Nobody takes a $100 or more ferry ride to get gas.

    However, I agree with Carole above, there's no reason the whole province shouldn't be paying the same as NB. That goes for other things like cigarettes and liquor too. New Brunswick as way ahead of Nova Scotia in so many aspects, we're considering making it our next home - unless our saviour Darrell Obama can straighten this place out (which I have my doubts about).

  • Alfie
    January 18, 2010 - 10:38

    Won't it be nice to be holding the end of the stick that ain't - well - you know what...
    Dexter & Skabar keep on TCB!!!

  • perry
    January 18, 2010 - 10:36

    murray your not your man for the word

  • know it all
    January 18, 2010 - 10:36

    I agree moriarty -he is just grandstanding like he always does - talks a lot but nothing of any value come out and doesn't know any of the facts as always , so he thinks it's ok for hundred of thousands a dollars A WEEK cross the border to N.B. but it not ok for the NDP to keep to their election promise - who care about springhill - tough on them

  • Jim
    January 18, 2010 - 10:36

    Murray is 100% correct on this issue, you can't have a different gas tax in one town than another town 15 minutes down the road, you're just moving the problem from one area to another, wake up guys and fix this problem the proper way!!!

  • GM
    January 18, 2010 - 10:33

    The line was drawn -the division was carved in stone when the Cobequid Pass
    was built!
    We, in Cumberland County, are cut off from the rest of this Province--
    Nova Scotia starts within Halifax Municipality and ends in Truro - it is visible every time I go to the city -that is where all the road work construction
    In this little old County, we get nothing.
    Why not give us a break in gas prices?

  • perry
    January 18, 2010 - 10:31

    your just there for the money just like the rest and do nothning. just for your family