Kentville’s mayor has been named to a new coalition announced June 2 that will move forward on the work of the Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy.
Mayor Dave Corkum, who is also president of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, is part of the 15-member oneNS Coalition will engage Nova Scotians in a broad-based action plan that will shift attitudes, tackle demographic challenges, and support business and economic growth.
The coalition is adopting the vision and goals of Now or Never: An Urgent Call to Action for Nova Scotians, a report that clearly stated the challenges and opportunities faced by Nova Scotians, created a sense of urgency for change, and spurred public dialogue and action.
The coalition is chaired by Premier Stephen McNeil, with Jamie Baillie, Progressive Conservative Party Leader, and Maureen MacDonald, New Democratic Party Leader, serving as vice chairs. In addition to Corkum, the other members are:
-- Rick Clarke, president, Nova Scotia Federation of Labour
-- Martha Crago, vice-president of research, Dalhousie University
-- Henry Demone, CEO, High Liner Foods Incorporated
-- J.P. Deveau, president, Acadian Seaplants Ltd.
-- Saeed El-Darahali, president and CEO, SimplyCast.com
-- Joella Foulds, executive director, Celtic Colours International Festival
-- Danny Graham, head, Engage Nova Scotia
-- Jevon MacDonald, GoInstant.com
-- Rankin MacSween, president, New Dawn Enterprises Ltd.
-- Chief Sidney Peters, co-chair, Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs
-- Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, medical officer of health, Capital District Health Authority
Members bring leadership experience, diverse perspectives and a strong passion for Nova Scotia, as well as their own sectors and communities, to the work of the oneNS Coalition.
Saeed El-Darahali, an immigrant from Kuwait, veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, father of four young children and founder of SimplyCast.com, a Dartmouth-based startup company, believes that Nova Scotia is the best place in Canada.
El-Darahali said Nova Scotia is strategically located on the world map, and that people need to act now to take advantage of their assets if the province is to grow and prosper.
"I am honoured to be part of this coalition," said El-Darahali. "We're creating an action plan that will help us bring Nova Scotians back to our province, attract immigrants from around the world and create a diverse, sustainable economy so our youth can raise their families here.
"We must act now to expand our job market to keep local and international students working in our cities and rural communities, grow the startup community from Digby to Cape Breton, and allow our seniors to be supported by our growing economy."
Chief Sidney Peters, co-chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs, said diversity of perspectives is key to success.
"As there are genuine concerns about Nova Scotia's aging and shrinking population, our Mi'kmaq communities are young and have seen much growth," said Peters. "It is important that our perspective is brought forward, as we work with the province to build a stronger, brighter future for Nova Scotia."
Now or Never called for strong leadership, and a united one Nova Scotia effort to renew and transform the economy, that sets aside partisan, sectoral and competitive interests in a new spirit of co-operation.
"This is something new for Nova Scotia. We all share in the problems and the solutions, and through this coalition, we will give everyone an avenue for input and a way to make a difference," said McNeil. "For all the challenges we face, I'm extremely hopeful for our future and I'm fortunate to be working with such an esteemed group of leaders."
Baillie added that Nova Scotia is at an urgent crossroads.
“We face either a long and slow decline or a renewed and more prosperous future. As a political leader and as a dad, I choose the bright future we all desire for our province," said Baillie. "I am happy to serve on the oneNS Coalition. The Now or Never report is an urgent call to action and it is by our actions that the coalition will ultimately be judged."
MacDonald said she agrees that greater collaboration is needed.
"Our province is facing some significant challenges. Failure to act will result in less prosperity and lower living standards," said MacDonald. "The way forward requires new approaches including a greater degree of collaboration across partisan lines. I look forward to working with the coalition in moving our province toward a better, more prosperous future."
Ray Ivany, chair of the oneNS Commission, which has concluded its mandate, said that since the release of its report in February, commission members were greatly impressed by the positive responses from the many Nova Scotians in the business community and local government sectors, and by the apparent willingness of all to take up the challenges they offered.
"On behalf of my fellow oneNS commissioners, I want to offer the coalition my sincere best wishes as they begin their work on the implementation of our report," said Ivany. "The public response has given us even greater confidence that we, as a province, can successfully confront our demographic and economic challenges if we collectively commit to an urgent agenda of change and renewal."
He added that the all-party participation in the oneNS Coalition and its commitment to action bodes well for building an aggressive and timely action plan.
The oneNS Coalition is now developing work plans in the three key areas of attitude, people, and economic growth based on the 19 goals and 12 game changers outlined in the report. The coalition will develop and deliver a 10-year, provincewide plan to meet population and economic renewal goals by December 2015, as called for by the Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy.
As coalition members work through actions that public and private sector leaders can take to achieve these goals, all Nova Scotians will be asked to do the same. In the coming months, the coalition will launch a public engagement program that will celebrate success stories, pursue and profile early wins, and keep the public dialogue and momentum going to help create an environment in Nova Scotia that embraces and supports innovation and change.
"This is an ambitious project," said McNeil. "The scale of change required will take time, patience and collective effort to get us moving in the right direction, and Nova Scotians are already beginning to take action.”