Gary Burrill questions Premier Iain Rankin about a pattern of judicial reviews brought forward by citizens
GARY BURRILL: Mr. Speaker, the Premier’s decisions as minister are now in court a third time. This time, it’s the judicial review from last week of his decision to secretly delist Owls Head Provincial Park with a view to selling it to a developer who would turn it into a golf course.
Does the Premier regret forcing communities to take his decisions to court for a third time now?
GARY BURRILL: Mr. Speaker, today’s judicial review of the Premier’s action when he was the Minister of Lands and Forestry to move Owls Head from the list of parks and protected areas in preparation for a potential sale, is a judicial review that is drawing a lot of public attention. Why wouldn’t it?
Owls Head is one of 153 areas under the 2013 Our Parks and Protected Areas plan which have never officially been designated as protected, so it’s normal and natural for people to have questions and to be concerned now about the other 152.
“Our Owls Head Act says that whenever there is a piece of Crown Land in Nova Scotia that is pending protection as a wilderness area, or as a park, or as a nature reserve, that that pending protected status cannot be rescinded by the government without there being a process of public engagement, public consultation, and the sharing of public information. […] Because after all, that land was put on the protected list, in the first place, as a result of extensive public consultation.”
Gary Burrill: I would like to ask the Premier about the Crown lands in Owls Head and Little Harbour. In March of last year, the government passed a confidential minute letter by means of which Owls Head Provincial Park was removed from the list of pending protected areas. Then in December, a couple of months ago, thanks only to the investigative work of a diligent journalist this fact came to public light. Last month, in January, the government quietly removed the park from the online map of protected areas. I want to ask the Premier if he would share his reasoning as to why his government did not consult, did not engage, did not even inform the public at any point along this process?