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Halifax demonstration against Nova Scotia Power

HALIFAX (15 June 2007) - ON THURSDAY, June 14, a noontime demonstration, organized by the Halifax Coalition Against Poverty (HCAP) drew attention to the crimes of Nova Scotia's privatized energy system in the context of the Atlantica project. The protest had initially started at the World Trade Centre where the Atlantica Conference of financial oligarchs from Canada and the US is being held before shifting to the Scotia Square area. In the middle of downtown Halifax, well over 100 protesters chanted, beat drums and condemned Nova Scotia Power (NSP) and their exploitation of Nova Scotia's poor.

A representative of HCAP stated: "We are fighting here today because NSP holds a monopoly over power generation in the province. They supply 95 per cent of the electricity consumed in Nova Scotia thus controlling an essential services used by all people in the province.

"In 1992, Nova Scotia Power was privatized by conservative Premier Donald Cameron in what was then the largest private equity transaction in Canadian history.

"Since that time Nova Scotia Power has raised their residential power rates by over 30 per cent. (...)

"We are fighting today because we understand the daily realities of struggling to pay our exorbitant heating costs. We know that it is often a choice between buying food and paying our power bills.

"We are fighting today because we know that we must stand up to this corporate greed because our government will not. We recognize that the government in this province serves only the interests of the rich. This is proven again and again as the utility review board allows Nova Scotia Power to hike rates with the full knowledge that people in Nova Scotia struggle and fail to heat their homes in the winter.

"We are also fighting today against Atlantica. [Nova Scotia Power parent company] Emera's interest in Atlantica is in creating an unrestricted trade zone. The corporation wants government deregulation over issues such as power rates and environmental regulations and trade. To export natural gas and power to a larger market and to drive up the cost to maximize their profits. We know that further deregulation will have only negative effects on low-income Nova Scotians.

"Our demands are basic for this government and to this corporation.

"We demand that Nova Scotia Power be returned to public ownership and that there be no more power rate increases!

"Friends, we all know that a 30 per cent raise in our power rates is not an empty figure -- it means not having heat, lights or being able to cook our food properly.

"Fighting here is personal; we are all fighting for a basic right. We fight against the erosion of public resources and the rise of corporate control.

"If our government is willing to sell our well being for the short-sighted fantasy of status on the world market than we will match their appalling actions. As long as they remain oblivious to our realities blinded by profit, we will match them with the power of our voices, with our collective energy.

"We bring our anger to the doorstep of the Cogswell Towers, to the head office of Nova Scotia Power, because we know poor people cannot afford to remain passive at the mercy of corporate greed. HCAP believes there is dignity in resistance to poverty and that when we fight back, we can win."

Said one protestor, "Nova Scotia Power has increased rates three times in the last five years. How many Nova Scotians have received corresponding pay raises in that same period?"

(Source: TML Daily, Maritimes Indymedia, Canadian Press)

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