Jennifer Henderson
Halifax Examiner
August 6, 2021

Originally Published Here

Owls Head

The only time the debate really caught fire was when Murphy asked Rankin “what is the future of Owls Head under a Liberal government?” The Owls Head provincial park along the Eastern Shore had been on a proposed list of protected places until the Treasury Board de-listed it after an American developer expressed interest in buying the land to develop a golf course. Rankin was minister of the Environment at the time; before he entered government, Rankin obtained a diploma in golf club management. The decision by Treasury Board to de-list it was upheld by a Supreme Court of Nova Scotia judge just last week. 

But it’s not a legal opinion but the court of public opinion that counts when you are the leader of a political party that has staked much of its reputation on tackling climate change and being “a champion of the environment.”

“The process is important,” said Rankin “and it is important we listen to communities, in this case Little Harbour. It (Owls Head) was on a list for consideration to be protected and now it’s being reviewed to see if we should protect it or entertain a potential project.”

“You can’t on one hand call yourself an environmentalist and then on the other hand do what you did at Owls Head,” shot back Houston. “I’m a process person too,” he continued, “but in this case the only process was Iain went through a back door and did a backroom deal to take this off the list. That should be a public process and he needs to explain.”

… “There is no room for posturing or hypocrisy when it comes to the emergency of climate change and the related issue of land protection,” said Burrill. “Owls Head was secretly de-listed in a way that was hidden from public process. I think it is not credible for Mr. Rankin to attempt to present himself as a person of environmental concern when he was the author of this great mistake.”

“I care for the environment, Gary knows that,” said Rankin. “Public engagement is happening now as well as consultation with the Mi’kmaw. Cabinet has not made a decision.” 

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