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Monday, September 29, 2008

Atlantic Accord Made Bill Casey a Star

The following appeared today in the Nova Scotia Business Journal and speaks to the position held by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and a large segment of the Province's population when it comes to both the Harper government's actions and those of Nova Scotia MP Bill Casey.


Bill Casey is taking nothing for granted. “I would be very honoured to again represent my constituency,” says the 63 year-old incumbent MLA for Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. “However, in this job, that is a trust that must be earned each and every day, one individual at a time.”

Casey has done well to gain the confidence of his community in recent years, and – aside from a small blip in the mid 1990’s when the riding was held by Liberal Dianne Brushett – has represented his riding for the past two decades.

“I had no idea when I first got involved that I would have been so fortunate to have enjoyed the career that I have,” he says.

And while he admits that political life hasn’t been an easy ride at times – with both professional and personal challenges having taken their toll – Casey is ready for another round in Ottawa should members of his riding choose to re-elect him when they go to the polls in the October 14 Federal Election.

“I guess I’m just a sucker for punishment,” he laughs.

Casey has found widespread support as an independent MLA in recent months - both here in the Atlantic region and across the country - for his outspoken stance on issues surrounding the environment and the economy, and for his criticism of his former party.

Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams has gone public with his backing of Casey, and Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald recently announced that he would not be campaigning against Casey out of sheer respect for the man.

As well, a recent endorsement from Green Party leader Elizabeth May also came as a pleasant surprise when she also announced that her party would not field a candidate in Casey’s riding for the upcoming election.

"I think Bill is as Green as they come," she told the local media last month. "He’s an honorary Green anyway, because he’s the kind of representative the people of Nova Scotia need to fight against Stephen Harper."

“Well, I appreciate her support,” chuckles Casey, “but I am still going to run as an independent. Really, the most important thing for me is that I have the trust and respect of the constituents of my community. They have been wonderful to me.”

The sentiment, it would appear, is mutual.

“Bill has been a real blessing for this community,” says long-time Truro resident Margaret Hull. “He knows his roots, and has done a marvelous job representing the people of this area for a long time. I wouldn’t want anybody else.”

Amherst native Michael MacInnis agrees. “He has become a bit of a local legend in these parts, especially the way he stood up for us here against his own party. It is a mighty rare thing these days to find an honest politician who is willing to stand up for his own beliefs.”

Casey says he wouldn’t change a thing about the experience.

“I have absolutely no regrets,” he says of his decision to vote against the 2007 Tory budget which effectively axed the Atlantic Accord.

“I hired two lawyers to get to the bottom of the whole complicated issue and what I discovered was that it wasn’t right then, and it still isn’t right today. Our people were deceived and dishonoured, and as an Atlantic Canadian, I won’t stand for it.”

He says that he is grateful for all the support that he has received.

“I have worked very hard to represent the people of my community,” says Casey, “and want to express my gratitude by continuing to represent their best interests in Ottawa.”

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