Parker withdraws Crown land purchase due to ’optics’

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MLA Charlie Parker still maintains he did nothing wrong by applying for a small parcel of crown land, but is withdrawing his request nonetheless.

“This has been a challenging situation for my wife and I,” Parker said referring to the publicity his application has received recently. “We feel we’ve done everything right according to the rules and the DNR policy. In spite of that there’s the perception or optics that appears differently.”

The bid by Parker, who is also Nova Scotia Natural Resources Minister, has been the attention of articles, editorials and opposition attacks, since it was made public last week. The parcel of land was valued at $1,300, but it appears it wasn’t worth the trouble at the moment for the NDP MLA.

Parker did he might consider applying for it again down the road.

He said he was truly amazed at the negative response his bid received for the parcel he describes as including a 20 foot drop at the end of a hayfield..

“I ‘m sure there’s got to be other more important issues for the opposition to focus on.”

He said there are 10 other families that are awaiting response on land that they also bid on. He hopes that they’re requests will be able to through quicker now by his withdrawal.

Rules posted on the Natural Resources Department website say the government doesn’t put Crown land up for sale as general policy because of the limited amount of Crown land available and existing commitments on such land, such as parks and forestry licences. There are exceptions that allow for sales to municipalities or community groups for public benefit, sales to support economic activity and sales to alleviate undue hardship where it is in the province’s best interest.

Crown land is not sold for speculative purposes or for residential or cottage lots, the rules say, and anyone looking to buy Crown land must be able to show that all other reasonable alternatives have been explored.

The Natural Resources Department said officials concluded Parker’s application was valid as the land was previously expropriated and it would have alleviated an undue hardship that was created when the riverfront property was taken over by the province.

Both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives said the sale, which had not been approved by cabinet, should never have made it through the Natural Resources Department because it broke rules governing Crown land transactions and had the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Earlier in the week, Premier Darrell Dexter defended the sale, saying the transaction was not unusual and Parker was not being treated any differently from private citizens who have previously bought Crown land. Dexter said Thursday he would leave it to Parker to explain why he pulled his application.

Parker said neither Dexter nor the premier’s office directed him to withdraw the bid.

Alfie MacLeod, the Tory natural resources critic, said Parker’s decision doesn’t prevent him from applying for that Crown land in the future, something he believes the cabinet minister shouldn’t be allowed to do.

Parker wouldn’t say whether he would make try to buy the land in the future, saying that would have to be a family decision.

With files from the Canadian Press

 

amacinnis@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: NgNewsAdam

Organizations: Natural Resources Department

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Pictou County

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Recent comments

  • MIke
    August 30, 2013 - 11:38

    A piece of land is not worth the price of a man's integrity. Charlie kept his honorable name and has none of you to answer to. Please stop the armchair athleticism.

  • Graham Johnston
    August 30, 2013 - 08:10

    Indeed, as Parker admits, in politics everything is about perception and optics. His intention may have been honourable and legal but in this matter his actions, and Dexter's support, harmed the NDP brand. In my opinion, disposal of Crown assets should only be done by public tender to ensure transparency. Crown assets belong to the people and the people have an interest in their fair disposal. And if only one person is eligible to purchase the advertised asset, as in Parker's case, the ad should say so and invite comments from citizens who might oppose the sale. That would leave no room for public controversy and in Parker's case, given his strong arguments, he would now own the property. He did the right thing withdrawing because of the slap on the wrist from a segment of the community. They didn't like the smell of this deal, and in Pictou, smell is the primary political issue at the moment. -Graham Johnston, East Earltown.

  • John R Collins
    August 30, 2013 - 07:30

    The article should have explained the reason the land adjacent to the 'impounded western section' of the Pictou Harbour was expropriated years ago, was as part of a 12 foot contour that the man-made fresh water lake that essentially had been created, and never used. The spill gates in the causeway had to later be opened and almost 20 years ago fully removed due to the environmental issues the lack of tide and infilling of said western section created. I live adjacent to the same 12 foot contour and this makes for an irregular property line, which to say the least, is not convenient. As a property owner in an identical situation, I can understand and relate to Mr. Parkers application to purchase the land adjacent to his. These sections of land are usually quite small and of no use or accessible to anyone but the adjacent property owners. A point to mention: this land will never be used to raise the water level, (the 12 foot contour), as the next step towards correcting the environmental issue that was created by the installation of the Pictou causeway, is its removal and the insertion of a bridge. I intend to apply again to purchase the land adjacent to my property, (applied 9 years ago, but after environmental approval locally, Halifax lands rights office declined). John Collins Loch Broom

  • annoyed
    August 30, 2013 - 04:42

    so should we consider that the other 9 who applied will be cancelled as well because it is an election year? That as well could be called political. Looks like my neighbor was lucky getting his when he did. I won't apply because there is no access to the gov. land in front of my house. They would have to used my land to get to it and I also think that was the same with Mr Parkers. God I hate politics and elections. Guess I won't vote this time.

  • Not Fooled
    August 29, 2013 - 15:00

    Can't have any scandal's with an election coming, do it quietly afterwards, even tho you would be screaming about it in oppsition just like everything else. Keep paving them roads Charlie! Remember when the ndp screamed murder in opposition about everything, and to pave pave pave, give give give more and everything to everybody and then scream about the money being spent? Not so easy is it? The true colours and hidden agenda's of the ndp are finally showing themselves the last 4 years.

  • nothing wrong
    August 29, 2013 - 14:27

    Other than him having too much money and living on a lake I see nothing wrong with this request (just jealous). It is a shame that he dropped it simply because it is an election year. The end result is basically he can't put a dock in front of his house because a property that is never going to be used by anyone but him and his family does not belong to him. Politics is great if your mind is weak..... What a waste of time we could have made some money back off of him. Guess will have to wait till he is not in office.

  • charles facey
    August 29, 2013 - 12:46

    isnt this like belling the cat after the canary died ?

    • Trenton Resident
      August 29, 2013 - 16:42

      If it was the right decision in the first place, Parker should have stuck to his guns.... But by changing the direction it shows exactly what type of deal this was! A Stinker