Elec­tion day looms

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton/province -

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.’’

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