One bit of policy that’s popular

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That’s pretty reasonable progress for 11 days. It was a brief fall sitting of the Nova Scotia legislature, but considering we had a provincial election in early October and establishment of a new government, it would be within the realm of expectations.

The opposition has indicated it feels Stephen McNeil and the Liberals didn’t accomplish much, but with passage of 11 bills in that time, it’s plain they meant business. Criticism included complaints that the government is off to a slow start in revving up a weak economy. But it should be plain by now that such a mammoth task requires work and policy over the long term.

Also subject to time to see how things pan out will be a number of newly legislated items. Count among those the aim to open the electricity market to producers of renewable energy. Whether that benefits consumers in regard to choice and cost won’t be apparent for years, but it’s worth a stab.

As well, some of the bills will not please everyone.

The legislation establishing a new winter holiday, to kick in by February 2015, immediately got feedback from spokespersons in the business community. That’s not surprising since the prospect of an extra paid day off in mid-winter has been kicked around for years – and is already enjoyed in many other provinces.

For the average joe or jane, the idea is fantastic. New Year’s Day to Good Friday is a long haul without such a break.

For business owners, however, particularly those with smaller operations, paying an extra day’s wages for no production will be a burden. Many of them made that plain upon hearing of the bill’s passage.

Some might argue that such a day off will serve as a refresher for a lot of people, maybe help reduce the number of sick days called in.

It’s one of those popular window dressing promises. But the Liberals would have done better to discuss the idea with the business community to decide whether it’s realistic now or should be put off until the economy improves. 

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