A technical session with Finance Department officials that had been arranged for yesterday morning was cancelled shortly before it was to begin - and after 10 MPs and Senators had gathered in a meeting room to get details of a federal-provincial agreement regarding equalization and Nova Scotia's offshore resources.
"The translators came out of their booth and said that the meeting is cancelled and they were going home and that was the first that we knew that the meeting was cancelled," said Nova Scotia MP Bill Casey who was booted from the Conservative caucus this year for his refusal to support the federal budget because of changes it made to the transfers.
Liberal MP Scott Brison, who also arrived for the briefing, said the government has no respect for Nova Scotians. "It's appalling that the Minister of Finance would set up four briefings, would cancel all four briefings, and would offer no reasonable excuse."The politicians called the Department of Finance to find out what happened. "They said they were having trouble with the legislation and it wasn't ready and they couldn't have the briefing until they tabled the legislation," Mr. Casey said.
Ted Menzies, the parliamentary secretary to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, and other Finance officials arrived a short time later but were unable to answer any of the questions posed by the MPs and Senators. Nor could they suggest when the next briefing would be scheduled.
Chisholm Pothier, a spokesman for Mr. Flaherty, told The Globe in an e-mail that there are no problems with the legislation but some of the technical issues require a lot of work.
"The briefing was cancelled today because the budget implementation bill wasn't introduced today," Mr. Pothier said. "We were giving a briefing upon introduction which we expected to be today. That didn't happen. It will happen soon and there will be a briefing when it's done."