‘You knew it was coming’
Cape Bretoners react to provincial election call
For Susan Burke, the news of a provincial election is not something she wasn’t expecting.
“It’s not surprising — you knew it was coming,” said Burke. “I just hope they take care of Cape Breton because we seem to have been forgotten people here.”
The election call was made at 1 p.m. on Sunday after Premier Stephen McNeil visited Lt.-Gov. J.J. Grant, requesting the current government be dissolved.
The 2017 election will take place May 30 across the province. The 30-day campaign is the minimum allowed under election laws in Nova Scotia.
The news doesn’t come as a surprise to many after a leaked campaign image appeared briefly on the Liberal Party’s website on Friday, which featured McNeil with a May 30 election date.
John MacInnis believes the main priority heading into an election for Cape Bretoners should be jobs.
“We need jobs, employment and a busy economic situation here on Cape Breton,” said the Sydney resident. “Our greatest export in Cape Breton are our children. We educate them and send them away because there
is nothing for them here.”
Burke, also a Sydney resident, agreed the creation of more jobs on the island is important and something the next government should really strive to make a reality.
“If you want people to stay here and raise their families, you need to have more jobs for them,” she said. “People like traditions here in Cape Breton and if we want the traditions on the island to continue, we need them to stay here, but there is no reason to stay if there are no jobs.”
Not everyone was eager to talk about the election on
Sunday. Many Cape Bretoners, who declined an interview, noted either they didn’t have an opinion on the election yet or didn’t have an interest in it.
Cape Breton University political scientist Tom Urbaniak said more people will be engaged with the election once it fully gets going.
Urbaniak said the Liberals are going to hope Nova Scotians are still not recovered from the previous NDP government and have still not warmed up to Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie.
“I think the Liberals will be touting the balanced budget and will stress even though some of the measures were unpopular and alienated with certain constituencies within the province, they will say these were necessary measures to bring the province into a balanced budget situation.” he said.
“I think they (the Liberals) are feeling some level of confidence going into the campaign; had they been less confident, I think we would have seen more sweeping measures in the budget or sort of more banner headlines coming out of the budget.” said Urbaniak.
Meanwhile, for the Progressive Conservatives, Urbaniak believes they will run a fairly progressive platform.
“I think they will try to take advantage of the fact that Stephen McNeil has not come across as a warm and fuzzy leader and will try to portray Jamie Baillie in a more sort of casual, relaxed persona, citing some of his experience as parliamentarian and previous to that with Credit Union Atlantic. I think they will focus a lot on rural Nova Scotia where there was a lot of concern after the first couple of McNeil budgets.” said Urbaniak.
As for the New Democratic Party, Urbaniak thinks the party is going to give leader Gary Burrill a higher profile and try to position Burrill as definitely not Darrell Dexter.
“They will sort of show him as very articulate, very comfortable and also very progressive. I think there has been signs that Burrill has been having a lot of conversations with a lot of longtime NDP supporters who felt that the Darrell Dexter government had let them down, that it wasn’t really a social democratic government and that it didn’t take advantage of the opportunities to kind of position itself on the progressive populist spectrum.”
Both Burke and MacInnis said they will be following along with the election and plan to exercise their right to vote.
Carolyn MacDonald, left, and Susan Burke are pictured chatting about the upcoming provincial election. Premier Stephen McNeil visited with Lt.-Gov. J.J. Grant on Sunday, and requested he dissolve the current government.