Change in the air

Three can­di­dates try for the Syd­ney-Whit­ney Pier seat in July 14 by­elec­tion.

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NANCY KING

Editor’s note: See Wed­nes­day's Cape Bre­ton Post for a story on the up­com­ing Cape Bre­ton Cen­tre by­elec­tion.

Re­gard­less of who wins the seat on July 14, po­lit­i­cal change is com­ing to the rid­ing of Syd­ney-Whit­ney Pier.

The rid­ing was cre­ated in ad­vance of the 2013 gen­eral elec­tion, by com­bin­ing 79 per cent of the for­mer dis­trict of Cape Bre­ton Nova — held for sev­eral terms by the NDP’s Gordie Gosse — and 59 per cent of the for­mer Lib­eral strong­hold of Cape Bre­ton South, long held by Man­ning Mac­Don­ald. The ur­ban rid­ing takes in much of the city of Syd­ney, in­clud­ing the neigh­bour­hood of Whit­ney Pier and Mem­ber­tou, First Na­tion.

The by­elec­tion was called fol­low­ing the de­ci­sion ear­lier this year by Gosse, who has been bat­tling can­cer, to step down.

In the Whit­ney Pier area, there has been a par­tic­u­lar tra­di­tion of suc­cess­ful can­di­dates be­ing seen as strong in con­stituency work.

Madonna Doucette is mak­ing her first foray into pol­i­tics run­ning for the NDP, hop­ing to fol­low in Gosse’s foot­steps.

An em­ployee of the AIDS Coali­tion of Cape Bre­ton, Doucette said her in­creased ad­vo­cacy work on be­half of that or­ga­ni­za­tion in­flu­enced her de­ci­sion to take on a wider chal­lenge.

“I’ve started just be­ing a per­son who’s not afraid to speak about dif­fi­cult is­sues,” she said.

Doucette added she be­lieves it’s im­por­tant that gov­ern­ment be in­formed by the per­spec­tives of all sec­tors of the com­mu­nity, and she re­al­ized she brings the voice of a sin­gle mom and mem­ber of the work­ing poor with deep com­mu­nity in­volve­ments.

“I kind of had to look at my own self-es­teem is­sues and re­al­ize that means that I qual­ify to do this too, my voice and my per­spec­tive mat­ters,” Doucette said.

On the cam­paign trail, se­niors’ is­sues are a main con­cern, she said, with wor­ries about the ris­ing cost of liv­ing. She noted an in­creas­ing num­ber of se­niors are still car­ing for their own par­ents. The con­tin­ued flow of young peo­ple to other re­gions of the coun­try is a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge, Doucette added.

“We’re hem­or­rhag­ing young peo­ple out of Cape Bre­ton,” she said. “If we don’t keep our young peo­ple here work­ing and hav­ing fam­i­lies and liv­ing here in Cape Bre­ton, our se­niors aren’t go­ing to have the re­sources they need.”

She also wants to see a bet­ter fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing small busi­nesses and the cre­ative econ­omy, es­pe­cially around loos­en­ing up red tape around get­ting small busi­nesses started.

Brian MacArthur’s in­ter­est in pol­i­tics was spurred by his grand­fa­ther, the late Judge Neil R. MacArthur, who ran for the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives in 1920 and 1933.

“It’s al­ways been a fam­ily trait, I’ve al­ways been in­ter­ested, my fa­ther’s al­ways been in­ter­ested in pol­i­tics too, in­ter­ested in giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity,” he said.

In his own first cam­paign as a PC can­di­date, MacArthur said peo­ple he meets on the doorstep are pleased with his back­ground in busi­ness, as op­er­a­tor of the Cape Bre­ton Busi­ness Col­lege.

“I’ve al­ways been been guided by the val­ues of hard work, in­tegrity and com­mu­nity ser­vice,” he said.

MacArthur added he has al­ways had a strong com­mit­ment to ed­u­ca­tion.

If elected, he said he would fight for the new Depart­ment of Busi­ness to set up an of­fice in Syd­ney, say­ing it would be an im­por­tant sup­port for cre­at­ing jobs in Cape Bre­ton.

“On the doorsteps, peo­ple are con­cerned about jobs and the econ­omy, that’s what it’s all about, re­build­ing our econ­omy and cre­at­ing jobs, try­ing make it more af­ford­able for fam­i­lies in Cape Bre­ton,” he said.

He added he would also like to work with the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity on in­fra­struc­ture projects, and he be­lieves the gov­ern­ment should re­verse course in ban­ning on­shore nat­u­ral re­source ex­plo­ration, say­ing it has had im­por­tant eco­nomic im­pacts in other prov­inces.

Derek Mom­bour­quette may be the youngest can­di­date in the rid­ing, but with some mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil ex­pe­ri­ence and a pre­vi­ous un­suc­cess­ful bid provin­cially, he has the most po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence un­der his belt.

The econ­omy is the is­sue on most vot­ers’ minds, he said, adding they want a party with a plan for fu­ture eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

Through his work with the Is­land Sand­box, the Lib­eral hope­ful noted he’s come into con­tact with many young as­pir­ing en­trepreneurs in the tech­nol­ogy sec­tor.

“We need a strong pri­vate sec­tor to sup­port the many pro­grams that we of­fer through gov­ern­ment,” Mom­bour­quette said.

“They’re not look­ing for big amounts of money, they’re look­ing for sup­port, they’re look­ing for men­tor­ship and that will be a big part of my vi­sion if suc­cess­ful for the rid­ing.

“I be­lieve that we can re­build our down­town core, I be­lieve that we can at­tract stu­dents that are grad­u­at­ing from these pro­grams to stay here and open their busi­nesses.”

While he un­der­stands that there may be some dis­con­tent around de­ci­sions that the McNeil gov­ern­ment has made early in its man­date, he be­lieves that for the most part peo­ple un­der­stand that there’s some chal­leng­ing fis­cal re­al­i­ties to gov­ern­ing to­day and they are op­ti­mistic that the province has a plan.

Mom­bour­quette is also con­cerned that ad­e­quate sup­port be avail­able for se­niors and young fam­i­lies, and he noted that there’s a lot of dis­cus­sion in the com­mu­nity about what the fu­ture holds for cer­tain schools within the rid­ing, with the fam­ily of schools process cur­rently un­der­way un­der the Cape Bre­ton-Vic­to­ria Re­gional School Board.

The by­elec­tion takes place July 14.

“I kind of had to look at my own self- es­teem is­sues and re­al­ize that means that I qual­ify to do this too, my voice and my per­spec­tive mat­ters.’’

Madonna Doucette “On the doorsteps, peo­ple are con­cerned about jobs and the econ­omy, that’s what it’s all about, re­build­ing our econ­omy and cre­at­ing jobs, try­ing make it more af­ford­able for fam­i­lies in Cape Bre­ton.’’

Brian MacArthur “I be­lieve that we can re­build our down­town core, I be­lieve that we can at­tract stu­dents that are grad­u­at­ing from these pro­grams to stay here and open their busi­nesses.”

Derek Mom­bour­quette

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