HALIFAX, N.S. - The Nova Scotia Liberals are promising to create a
new statutory holiday if they win the election on June 9, reviving a
proposal the party has been pushing for the past four years.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil, campaigning Friday in downtown Halifax,
said he would make the third Monday in February a statutory holiday for
most Nova Scotians.
"This will be a day for Nova Scotians to celebrate time spent
with friends and family and to enjoy living in Nova Scotia," he told a
news conference at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
"This day off is recognition that we all need help building that healthy balance between work and family."
With only five mandatory holidays a year - New Year's Day, Good
Friday, Canada Day, Labour Day and Christmas - Nova Scotia has the
least number of statutory, provincial holidays in Canada.
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The Liberal caucus has introduced legislation three times to
make the long weekend in February a reality, but Conservative Premier
Rodney MacDonald has rejected the idea, saying the Liberals have not
considered the impact on business.
McNeil said he doesn't buy that argument.
"The small business people I have talked to across this province say this holiday has not been a major issue for them," he said.
McNeil said the lost business revenue would be offset by other
Liberal measures that would stimulate business activity, including a
proposed cut to the small business tax and a new program offering
The Liberal member of the legislature behind the bill, Diana
Whalen, has said the new holiday could be named after Joseph Howe, the
18th century journalist and former premier credited with securing
freedom of the press in the former colony.
McNeil said he favours "Family Day," but he said the party
would ask students from across the province for suggestions on a new
name if the Liberals are elected to govern.
The holiday is currently offered by five provinces: Alberta,
Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Prince Edward Island. The date
also coincides with Presidents Day in the United States.
Most provinces offer between seven and nine holidays under
provincial legislation. Workers in industries governed by federal
jurisdiction, including Crown corporations, transportation and
telecommunications firms, have their own list of nine holidays.