First of all, I want to extend huge congratulations to Dave March and the staff at CKDH for raising $20,000 for the Canadian Red Cross Haiti Relief during their 48-hour radio-thon on Jan. 21-23. I was on the radio to speak with Dave at the 24-hour mark and was overwhelmed by the generosity of the citizens of Cumberland County. Thanks to CKDH for including me in your efforts.
I also want to express my condolences to the family and friends of Norman Carter, who passed away on Jan. 4. Norman was a good man and a recent friend and supporter. He will be missed by many.
Recently I took part in the Utility and Review Board (URB) hearing on gas tax and the border. I submitted the basics of a model that has achieved success in Saskatchewan, which assigns government rebates on gas sold. The amount of this rebate will depend upon a retailer's distance from the border. For example, Zone A gas retailers will receive a 100 per cent rebate from the provincial government, Zone B a 50 per cent rebate and so on. The zones themselves will be decided upon by the board. I felt it necessary to provide the URB with this info as they consider all the options.
The URB will look at all evidence submitted and will make a decision they feel best suits the needs of both Cumberland North and the province in general. I'm hoping that their decision will help curb cross-border fuel-ups.
February is upon us and, with it, African Heritage Month. The Town of Amherst, in partnership with CANSA, held a special ceremony to launch this event on Jan. 29, which I was fortunate to attend. I hope to attend more commemorative activities this month.
In February, our government will also address the serious financial challenge we are facing. Our province's costs have exceeded revenues, which ultimately led to a $525 million deficit last year. If nothing is done, this figure could eventually reach $1.4 billion by 2013.
Our government is committed to eliminating this deficit and restoring balance to the province's books and we want to know what you have to say. In the coming weeks we will be consulting with Nova Scotians to find out what should be done. A consultation meeting will be held in Amherst. Please watch for this date to be announced and come share your opinions and ideas with our finance minister and his department. We all have a stake in this issue and we should all have a say in the solution.
I've been beating the winter blahs with one of my favorite activities - curling. The kidney foundation hosted its 20th curling bonspiel at the Amherst Curling Club the weekend of Jan. 22 with great success. I've recruited my daughter Margaret, son Thomas and my constituency assistant Melanie to the game, who have come to enjoy the sport as well. Curling funspiels are always fun and support great causes.
There will be another weekend funspiel at the Amherst club beginning Feb. 5, with proceeds going towards the provincial burn unit. Also coming up is the Curling Fun Night in Memory of Tim LeFurgey, beginning at 6 p.m., Feb. 12. Call the Amherst Curling Club for more information (667-2667.)
I had constituency time in Pugwash on Jan. 28, though my time in Wallace on Jan. 29 was cancelled due to the poor weather conditions. I will be planning dates for both venues again in February so stay tuned to my ads in The Citizen, The Journal and The Light. And of course, you can call my office anytime at 667-9812 and Melanie will ensure I get all messages and can arrange a meeting if needed.
If you have any questions or concerns about federal issues, our new MP, Scott Armstrong, now has an office at 16 Church St., Suite C. You can call his office at 667-8679.
And lastly, happy birthday to my friend Paolo Brenciaglia from Pugwash, who is celebrating his 70th birthday on Feb. 7!