It’s ridiculous for Darrell Dexter to claim the Springhill jail wasn’t a true commitment when it was “99 per cent ready to go,” Tory MLA Murray Scott insisted Thursday.

On Wednesday, the premier had said Scott’s jail announcement in the spring was just a political announcement and money hadn’t been put aside.

Thursday, Scott said $1 million had already been spent on detailed designs and the jail was just a few public consultations away from a scheduled groundbreaking this September or October.

“Now he’s saying there’s no commitment,” said Scott. “If he believed that, he’d be the only guy in Nova Scotia who believed it.”

Dexter’s comments became the latest point of contention in the bitter debate since the NDP announcement to build a single, central jail to save money. That cancels a Tory plan to build two jails in Springhill and Antigonish.

The Tories had budgeted $18 million for the jail before being defeated. The fall NDP budget removed that money.

Yesterday Justice Minister Ross Landry clarified the NDP position.

He said the planned Springhill jail wouldn’t have met correctional needs but there was no money set aside for another jail. A review followed, which showed a single larger jail would save $5 million in building costs and $1.7 million annually.

“To go ahead and have built that facility and then burden the taxpayer with having to build another facility would be a bad decision on my part,” said Landry.

He said the Tory government had 10 years to build the jail but only announced it days before their government fell. Scott said that’s because they were working on getting federal infrastructure funding but went ahead even after that fell through.

He said the original plan for two jails would have fit 100 more prisoners so the NDP plan is only cheaper because “it’s a lot smaller.”

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