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N.S. Premier criticized over response to Cape Breton snow emergency

By Evan Taylor Feb 6, 2024 | 3:13 PM

Premier Tim Houston. Photo: screengrab of Maritime Premiers

Nova Scotia’s Premier Tim Houston has come under fire from opposition leaders for his remarks on Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s declaration of a state of emergency amid heavy snowfall.

During a news conference, Houston questioned the necessity of the declaration, asserting that it wasn’t required for accessing resources and assistance. He pointed out that while a state of emergency provides additional powers, it does not expedite the process of snow clearing.

Nova Scotia Liberal leader Zach Churchill criticized Houston’s comments, stating, “While Cape Bretoners are trapped in their homes and unable to make it to crucial medical appointments, the Premier brushed off their calls for a state of emergency, calling it a ‘PR issue.'” Similarly, NDP leader Claudia Churchill accused Houston of “playing politics” and characterized his remarks as “rude” and “dismissive.”

Churchill stressed the importance of leaders responding promptly to calls for assistance, asserting, “We want a leader who will respond to pleas for assistance, who will do whatever it takes. Not get miffed when an elected body does the best they can to help the communities they serve.”

The criticism comes in the wake of over 100 centimeters of snowfall in some areas of Cape Breton, prompting the municipality to declare a state of emergency. While central areas of the province received between 40 to 50 centimeters, parts of northern mainland Nova Scotia saw between 70 and 80 centimeters of snow.