The race is on

Three can­di­dates vy­ing for Cape Bre­ton Cen­tre seat in July 14 by­elec­tion

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NANCY KING nk­ing@cb­post.com

Three can­di­dates will at­tempt to win the Cape Bre­ton Cen­tre seat in the July 14 pro­vin­cial by­elec­tion.

Health care, the econ­omy and se­niors’ is­sues are among the main con­cerns be­ing raised at the doorstep as the three can­di­dates vy­ing to rep­re­sent Cape Bre­ton Cen­tre make their way across the dis­trict in ad­vance of the com­ing by­elec­tion.

In 2012, when pro­vin­cial elec­toral bound­aries were re­drawn, Cape Bre­ton Cen­tre ex­panded south­west to­ward Syd­ney to in­clude South Bar, Lin­gan Road and part of Grand Lake Road ar­eas from the for­mer Cape Bre­ton Nova.

The dis­trict in­cludes the town of New Water­ford, as well as Re­serve Mines and a part of the town of Do­min­ion, and has a rich min­ing history, which ended with the clo­sure of the Phalen Mine in 1999.

For­mer deputy premier Frank Cor­bett had held the rid­ing for the NDP since 1998.

The PC’s Edna Lee said her work as a com­mu­nity ad­vo­cate led her to try her hand at pol­i­tics, first in 2013 when she placed third in Cape Bre­ton Cen­tre, and again in the com­ing by­elec­tion. She added she is mo­ti­vated by her love of peo­ple and her com­mu­nity.

“I have years of ex­pe­ri­ence as an ad­vo­cate that led me through all lev­els of gov­ern­ment on pol­icy,” she said. “From that, I de­vel­oped a keen in­ter­est in pol­icy and how it af­fects peo­ple.”

Be­ing an elected of­fi­cial puts you at the ta­ble where those pol­icy de­ci­sions are be­ing made and your voice can be heard, Lee added.

The lack of jobs and as­so­ci­ated out­mi­gra­tion is likely the big­gest sin­gle is­sue fac­ing the rid­ing, she said, with other sig­nif­i­cant con­cerns be­ing health care and high lev­els of child poverty.

Hav­ing mean­ing­ful em­ploy­ment is a de­ter­mi­nant for many of those other as­pects of life, Lee noted.

“Our econ­omy needs to be re­newed,” she said. “It’s very im­por­tant for gov­ern­ment part­ners on all lev­els to pro­vide that en­vi­ron­ment that will en­cour­age new busi­ness to set up shop in Cape Bre­ton, if we’re go­ing to move for­ward.”

There is great hope for pos­si­ble port and marine ter­mi­nal de­vel­op­ment, Lee said, adding she sup­ports nat­u­ral re­source de­vel­op­ment while also pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment. Fre­quent emer­gency room clo­sures, doc­tor short­ages and the poor state of se­niors’ hous­ing must also be ad­dressed, she said.

Tammy Martin is a first-time can­di­date, with ex­pe­ri­ence as a union leader.

“I have lots of ex­pe­ri­ence try- ing to help peo­ple and stand­ing up for what’s right for work­ers, so I fig­ure this was the next step for me,” she said.

She added that she dis­agrees with many of the ac­tions she sees be­ing taken by the Stephen McNeil Lib­eral gov­ern­ment and wants to do some­thing about it.

“The job loss that we see in health care, the dras­tic cuts to se­niors with their home care and the so­cial pro­grams and the lack of jobs he’s promised for Cape Bre­ton,” Martin added, when asked specif­i­cally what she takes is­sue with.

“We need to stand up and de­fend Nova Sco­tia, par­tic­u­larly Cape Bre­ton Cen­tre.”

Health care is raised as a con­cern at nearly ev­ery doorstep, she said, adding she wants to be a voice to stand up and de­fend the mid­dle class and the vul­ner­a­ble.

Martin said she wants to en­sure mea­sures taken by the NDP when they were in power — such as in­creas­ing min­i­mum wage and in­come as­sis­tance, open­ing new long-term care beds while the McNeil gov­ern­ment has placed a mora­to­rium on them — are built upon.

“It’s quite emo­tional some days be­cause when I walk in this of­fice to see the marks that we’re get­ting from the phone call­ers the night be­fore and the can­vassers and the signs that are out and the peo­ple phon­ing in of­fer­ing to do what­ever,” she said. “It’s over­whelm­ing.”

Martin noted that soon many health-care work­ers will be go­ing in to bar­gain­ing, and she is con­cerned about po­ten­tial con­tract­ing out of food ser­vices in health fa­cil­i­ties.

“When you don’t pay ben­e­fits, you don’t pay a good wage, then the lack of train­ing and qual­ity that you re­ceive from these underpaid, un­der-val­ued work­ers goes down,” she said.

While he didn’t win in his first foray into pol­i­tics in 2013, Lib­eral David Wil­ton came within 158 votes of de­thron­ing Cor­bett. The busi­ness­man hopes to grow on that sup­port in this cam­paign.

“I feel I have a lot to of­fer Cape Bre­ton Cen­tre, I want to see New Water­ford and area strive again for more em­ploy­ment,” he said.

The Bre­ton Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre will be re­placed, Wil­ton noted, adding he wants to en­sure the com­mu­nity gets all of the fea­tures it needs in a new school.

Wil­ton said he would like to see bet­ter de­vel­op­ment of the Do­min­ion sand­bar and wants to see the Lib­er­als add to what was done there pre­vi­ously by the for­mer NDP gov­ern­ment.

The fate of the New Water­ford Con­sol­i­dated Hos­pi­tal is on many minds, Wil­ton said.

“We’re run­ning into a po­si­tion now with a short­age of doc­tors, in the next few years we have some leav­ing and we cer­tainly have to look at those is­sues,” he said.

The fu­ture of home care is also a sig­nif­i­cant con­cern for vot­ers, and Wil­ton said he’s been as­sur­ing peo­ple that it will not be pri­va­tized and the Lib­er­als have in­vested more in home care.

“More peo­ple are us­ing the sys­tem be­cause there’s more peo­ple re­tir­ing and they need the help,” he said. “The gov­ern­ment cer­tainly agrees that the best place for se­niors is in their homes, not in hos­pi­tals.”

Wil­ton ac­knowl­edged that the McNeil gov­ern­ment has had to make some dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions that may not be pop­u­lar with ev­ery­one.

“I think Stephen McNeil has done a tremen­dous job in do­ing what’s needed for the com­mu­ni­ties and for the el­derly,” he said. “He did the best he could do with the mon­eys that are there.”

In­creas­ing lo­cal em­ploy­ment and stem­ming the tide of out­mi­gra­tion are also key to the rid­ing’s fu­ture, Wil­ton said.

The by­elec­tion will be held July 14.

“It’s quite emo­tional some days be­cause when I walk in this of­fice to see the marks that we’re get­ting from the phone call­ers the night be­fore and the can­vassers and the signs that are out and the peo­ple phon­ing in of­fer­ing to do what­ever.It’s over­whelm­ing.” Tammy Martin “Our econ­omy needs to be re­newed.It’s very im­por­tant for gov­ern­ment part­ners on all lev­els to pro­vide that en­vi­ron­ment that will en­cour­age new busi­ness to set up shop in Cape Bre­ton, if we’re go­ing to move for­ward.”

Edna Lee “More peo­ple are us­ing the sys­tem be­cause there’s more peo­ple re­tir­ing and they need the help.The gov­ern­ment cer­tainly agrees that the best place for se­niors is in their homes, not in hos­pi­tals.” David Wil­ton

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