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It was a devastating blow for this area when the NDP government tabled the construction of a new correctional facility in its budget last week. The jail has not been without its controversies since being announced in April and now Darrell Dexter's NDP government seems content to put the matter to rest by simply making it go away.
Long considered a political ploy by the Conservatives, Cumberland County's municipalities began squabbling about where the new jail should go, often declaring anywhere's but Springhill, home to the only true-blue Conservative MLA in the area and former Minister of Justice, Murray Scott. Naturally, there was quite the stir when Scott announced the jail would, indeed, be built in his riding. Some felt it was a case of politicking but, really, Scott needed no help on the campaign trail and the announcement did little to help Cumberland North Conservative candidate Keith Hunter, who as Cumberland County's Warden spearheaded the "Anywhere by Springhill" charge.
In-fighting aside, the municipalities stood shoulder-to-shoulder when Scott announced on behalf of the province the new jail would be built in Springhill, with Amherst Mayor Robert Small extending his own personal congratulations to the community. But the camaraderie came to an end with the election of the NDP. Soon thereafter Minister of Justice Ross Landry started waffling, saying they would have to review the decision and then when the budget was announced the jail was officially tabled from consideration, becoming one of the few, if not the only commitment made by the Conservative, that the NDP chose not to uphold, going back on Darrell Dexter's promise to honour Tory commitments.
Unlike previous governments, the NDP holds a majority and for the next four years, while the government can be questioned, it faces few challenges. If we were to be blindly optimistic, we could deduct the NDP rue not having their rubber stamp on such a significant announcement as an $18 million correctional facility.
This doesn't mean Springhill won't get the jail.
It just means time will have to pass before the NDP can make the announcement their own.

Organizations: NDP, Conservatives, Cumberland North Conservative

Geographic location: Cumberland County, Amherst

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