Casey offers a drop of water in Nova Scotia's political desert.

Yesterday Bill Casey, Nova Scotia’s most senior Tory MP, demonstrated a remarkable amount of guts by voting against his government’s own budget. As a result he is likely to be ejected from the government caucus today.

The government has been spinning madly the last few days leading up to the vote, arguing that they are implementing “new phase” of the accord, or that the budget would result in an “improved” Atlantic Accord.

Crossing the line between putting a spin on actual events and producing outright lies to cover your actions is always dangerous, and the government has paid the price.

“The new modified formula” has been put forward by the government with no negotiation or discussion with the affected provinces, and can only be seen by anyone with even a basic grasp of politics as a decision imposed from above.

The government has walked away from a signed agreement that, during the last election, it had sworn repeatedly to uphold. This was too much for Mr. Casey, who, after almost twenty years in Parliament, decided to vote is conscience and vote against his own government’s budget.

In an interview on CBC Radio in Halifax this morning, Mr. Casey said “the signature of the government of Canada should be solid gold,” and that he could not accept the government going against a contract that it had signed less than two and a half years ago. While I suspect that Canadian aboriginals and more recently, our municipal governments would question this assertion, though it is a nice sentiment.

Mr. Casey went on to mention that while he is personally against the Kyoto Accord he felt that the government should have gone to the treaty members and negotiated change, which will put him at further odds to the government and Mr. Harper.

By taking a stand, Mr. Casey has shown that he is a man of his word, and acknowledges that his constituents have had enough.

By providing leadership and integrity and vision, Mr. Casey has brought water to the desert that is Nova Scotia’s current federal, provincial and municipal political scene. It cannot be surprising that the actions of Mr. Casey are resonating very strongly with Nova Scotians, and it seems likely that his actions will make him a folk hero in the Province.

On the other hand, one thing is now crystal clear. By walking away from the Atlantic Accord, Stephen Harpers “new government of Canada” has demonstrated, more clearly than ever, that it will sacrifice Nova Scotia, completely and utterly, on the altar of gaining votes in central and western Canada.

Waye Mason is music and festival promoter, business consultant and education activist in Halifax, Nova Scotia

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