Election day looms
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has sharpened his political attacks on Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie with only a few days of campaigning left before Tuesday’s provincial election.
With the polls showing a tightening race between the two parties, the Liberal leader told a news conference Friday that Baillie is trying to paper over a “$500 million hole’’ in the Tory platform.
The premier, who is seeking a second consecutive mandate, used the phrase no fewer than five times when responding to reporters’ questions, saying Baillie must explain what budget cuts he would make to cover the perceived shortfall.
“He’s not telling Nova Scotians where that money is coming from,’’ he said.
The Conservatives have dismissed the premier’s accusation as a “complete fabrication,’’ saying their fully costed platform adds up.
However, the premier pressed on, saying the Conservatives’ lack of clarity stands in contrast to the NDP’s commitment, if elected, to amass about $1 billion in budget deficits over the next four years.
“At least (NDP Leader Gary) Burrill is telling Nova Scotians he’s going to have a $250-million deficit next year,’’ the premier said. “At least he’s being forthright about that. Mr. Baillie has a $500-million hole next year alone.’’
Meanwhile, Baillie ramped up his appeal for support from traditional NDP voters, saying those seeking real change should “give us a try.’’
“I believe there is a great desire for change out there,’’ said Baillie, who is leading his party in an election campaign for a second time since 2010.
Burrill, who has been party leader for just over a year, scoffed at Baillie’s bid, saying NDP voters should recall that Baillie was once “cheerleaderin-chief’’ for former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, whose party lost every one of its seats in Nova Scotia in the 2015 federal election.
“I think it’s a piece of desperate opportunism,’’ Burrill said in an interview. “I think he is in a desperate effort to rebrand himself in the post-Harper era. I’m sorry to say, but I think he’s a three dollar bill.’’
Burrill said Baillie stands for the same things that Harper did, including “limiting the public sector and balancing the budget at all costs.’’