Emera party at Salty’s Halifax a day after making rate-increase bid draws political fire

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

It was an intimate little affair, just a few company executives and members of the board of directors at a popular Halifax waterfront eatery.

Plus a pop band, a comedian and, oh yes, an orchestra.

Last week's dinner at Salty's involving more than two dozen people from Emera Inc. last week has made political waves.

Emera, the Halifax-based parent company of Nova Scotia Power, threw the party just one day after the utility applied to raise electricity rates six per cent over the next two years, CBC News reported.

The event featured entertainment from Cape Breton comedian Maynard Morrison, the Halifax Titanic Orchestra (insert ironic comment here, dear reader), and the Mellotones, a popular local band.

An Emera spokesman told CBC News the company's board of directors was in town for meetings and the party was an opportunity to build stronger relationships with its executives.

Emera wouldn't reveal the cost of the party but said it was paid by Emera shareholders and not Nova Scotia Power customers.

But it didn't take long for the province's politicians to criticize the optics and timing of the party.

"It's insensitive, it's insulting to Nova Scotians, and it just shows exactly what's wrong at Nova Scotia Power," Andrew Younger, the Liberal energy critic, told CBC News.

"They're asking people to sacrifice, yet they're out there partying at a level that most rate payers in Nova Scotia could never possibly afford."

Nova Scotia Conservative leader Jamie Baillie said the event shows Nova Scotia power executives are out of touch.

Energy Minister Charlie Parker called it unacceptable and "not setting a good example."

Premier Darrell Dexter later weighed in, saying Emera showed "poor judgment" by throwing the party at a time when Nova Scotians are struggling to make ends meet, The Canadian Press reported.

Liberal leader Stephen McNeil said Dexter should go before the provincial Utility and Review Board to oppose the rate increases.