Who is Tim Houston?

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This man is gunning to be the next Premier of Nova Scotia, but serious questions remain about his past.

Image Source: Wikimedia Foundation (Creative Commons Licence)
Image Source: Wikimedia Foundation (Creative Commons Licence) 

Houston, 49, was elected as leader of Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative party last October. Houston is an accountant by trade, who spent much of his adult life living and working in Bermuda. Born in Fairview, Houston serves as the MLA for Pictou East, a riding that covers areas of rural Pictou County and the town of Westville.

Controversy erupted in 2017 when Houston’s name was tied to the Paradise Papers, a leak of millions of documents relating to the use of tax havens. Houston was shown to be an executive for “Inter-Ocean Holdings”, a company that offers “reinsurance” services in Bermuda and Ireland. Houston spent a decade in Bermuda offering business services.

The reinsurance business in Bermuda is not booming because of normal economic forces. Instead, it is booming because American companies can avoid paying taxes by setting up complex schemes that take advantage of the low tax rates in the tax haven. Bermuda is well known internationally for it’s 0% corporate tax rate.

When asked about these connections, Houston stated that he did not do work involving Canadian firms or individuals.

This graph, provided by the ICIJ, shows the business ties Houston had while in Bermuda
This graph, provided by the ICIJ, shows the business ties Houston had while in Bermuda

Tim Houston is a well-established fixture in Canadian right-of-centre politics. Ontario PC cabinet minister Caroline Mulroney headlined the Tory AGM earlier this year, and Houston is expected to push the Conservative ticket in Nova Scotia during this upcoming election season. 

Houston has taken a hard stance against the carbon tax, and would consider lifting the moratorium on fracking as Premier. The moratorium on fracking appears to be one of the most popular decisions made by the current government, as fracking remains widely unpopular throughout the province.

Fracking may help boost the economy of rural Nova Scotia, but it comes with significant risks, one of which is contamination of the water table, shown in the diagram below:

As Premier, Houston would oversee all municipalities in Nova Scotia. This would make him the person most responsible for the future of Halifax. The next provincial election is likely to be in 2021, with the Premier serving a 4-year term given they win a majority of seats in the legislature.

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