Back when the provincial election campaign was raging and Amherst and Springhill were fighting over where the planned new jail for the region should be constructed, Cumberland South MLA and former cabinet minister Murray Scott warned the two towns to work together for the best interests of Cumberland County, lest the facility be built outside the area.
This week, Scott's fears were realized when NDP Justice Minister Ross Landry announced that the new 100-cell correctional centre, which will replace aging facilities in Amherst and Antigonish, will not be built in Cumberland County. While its location has yet to be announced, the fuming Cumberland South MLA predicts that Landry's homebase of Pictou County will be the choice.
The government argument here is that it will be more economically viable for the province to have one new jail rather than two, as it will save taxpayers an estimated $5.5 million in construction costs and $1.7 million per year in operation costs. But the NDP also promised in its campaign to honour all commitments of the previous government, and this decision will be added to the list of promises already broken. Premier Darrell Dexter's credibility can only suffer from this.
Locally, it was the jail that helped torpedo the chances of both Progressive Conservative candidate Keith Hunter and Independent candidate Ernest Fage in the last election, and it will not help new MLA Brian Skabar's chances the next time the writ is dropped.
The political winners from this will be the Tories, even though the Springhill facility might have been saved if they had not waited to push it through so close to an election they were certain to lose. Instead, they left it as a landmine that Dexter's government chose not to avoid.