Local candidates are ready to go
Kings County candidates hit the campaign trail as May 30 election is called
When Stephen Mcneil dropped the writ on April 30, candidates from all parties in the three Kings County ridings were ready to go – albeit a day later than expected.
Many Nova Scotians expected the premier to dissolve the government and call the election the day before, especially after a Liberal advertisement, featuring Mcneil’s photo and the election date of May 30, appeared briefly on the party’s website.
“Let’s face it, it’s the worst kept secret in Nova Scotia,” Kings South Tory candidate Peter Harrison said April
28, anticipating an April 29 election call.
The Progressive Conservatives felt so confident the writ would be dropped leader
Jamie Baillie kicked off his campaign and unveiled his platform in Dartmouth. The move built on the actions of the NDP, which began making platform announcements earlier in April, including a stop in Kentville, where leader Gary Burrill promised to reverse nursing home cuts.
Instead, after a day political pundits spent on tenterhooks, waiting for the election to be called, Mcneil managed to surprise Nova Scotians after all with the April 30 call – the last possible day for him to drop the writ for a May 30 election date.
Despite the official delay, Harrison was off to the races April 29.
“With a competitive nomination session, I’ve been on the doorsteps for the past four weeks,” said Harrison, who was nominated to carry the party’s banner just three days before the election was called.
“Health, education and roads – those are probably the main issues people are talking about, like other rural ridings. Look at Commercial Street in New Minas…three years of neglecting maintenance of the roads has certainly cost this government plenty.”
While Harrison hesitates to say the people he’s met on the doorstep are ready for an election call, he believes area residents were expecting it. And, he says, voters are looking for a government that will do better.
“Kings South is a bellwether riding, yes, but it also has strong Tory roots,” he said. “I want to bring the traditional Tories back to their roots…i’m from Kings South, I’ve lived here all my life except for four years, and I’m committed to listening to the hopes and dreams of residents of Kings South.”
Incumbent Keith Irving, who was elected under the Liberal banner in 2013, began canvassing in January. So far, he says, reaction on the doorstep has been “pretty good. I’m encouraged,” adding,
“I’m excited to get back on people’s doorsteps and hear their concerns.”
The Liberal budget, tabled just three days before the election call, offers a tax cut that Irving believes should be a “significant help to folks earning less than $25,000. I think that’s a policy step that reflects what Stephen Macneil stands for.”
Stephen Scheider, who is carrying the banner for the Kings South NDP, was out canvassing before the election call as well. The Saint Mary’s University criminology professor wants to implement tutoring and mentoring projects - much like Acadia University’s SMILE program - in Kings South if he’s elected.
“I’d like to leverage university students in this riding for change,” Schneider said. “That could be an amazing thing.”
On doorsteps, he says, he’s heard about the frustration voters have with the current government and its leader, education worries and employment concerns.
In health care, particularly cutbacks to nursing homes, he said are a focus in a riding with many seniors.
Not running in this election wasn’t an option for NDP candidate Ted Champion. As an educational assistant, he has a bird’s eye view of the problems with Nova Scotia’s education system.
“I have seen first-hand the how broken our public education system is,” says the
Port Williams resident. “My children have all had good, even amazing, teachers, but the pressures in the classroom due to large class sizes, added initiatives, data and classroom management, and disrespect has drained and exhausted many of them to the point of breaking.”
Fixing that, he says, must be a priority for the next government.
“I have watched as many issues in our communities are addressed through Band-aid approaches and not real solutions,” he said. “I am ready to speak out on the issues facing our communities.”
For incumbent John Lohr, seeking a second term as the Tory representative for Kings North means one thing: doing the right thing for Nova
“The public, in my opinion, is a little upset at the
Mcneil government,” Lohr said.
“They’re upset at how the teachers were handled. From many perspectives, it was bullying.”
Cuts to the film tax credit and the unfulfilled campaign promise of ensuring there was a doctor for every Nova Scotian also sours the public opinion to the sitting Liberals, he adds, but says there are many other issues that must be addressed as well – roads, overcrowding at Valley Regional and agricultural needs of the area, to name a few.
“It’s been a privilege knowing that for the last three-and-a-half years I’ve been able to serve Kings North and I’d love to have the confidence of the voters for another term,” he said. “I believe my role is to connect people with help and there have been a number of people I’ve been able to help – it’s an opportunity to do good, and that’s what I love about it.”
Instead of delivering mail to residents in late April, letter carrier and Liberal candidate Geof Turner spent his time going doorto-door to meet Kings North residents.
“As a letter carrier, I have connected with people at home and on the job on a daily basis for many years. I know how hard we all work to succeed,” he says, adding people in the riding care deeply about one another and the best they can for their families and each other.
“I also know that from time to time we all face difficult challenges and sometimes tragic circumstances. I have learned how to listen and to help find solutions.”
Citing his work as the volunteer president of my local postal workers’ union,
“where we strive to resolve differences fairly and amicably,”
Turner says he knows how to negotiate and achieve positive outcomes.
“I believe it will serve Kings North residents well to have an MLA who cares and knows how to help.”
Cheryl Burbidge says her firsthand knowledge of frontline health-care needs makes her a perfect MLA in Kings West.
The emergency room nurse at Valley Regional, who carried the NDP banner in Kings West, say it’s that knowledge that prompted her to put her name forward.
“It’s a combination of the frustrations I’ve seen in the health-care system, but also seeing people in need in our area. They’re hungry, they’re under employed or they’re unemployed. There’s seems to be just an overall deterioration of where we’re going as far as helping our most vulnerable people,” she said, listing poverty and wait times for publically-funded mental health services among her chief concerns.
Burbidge strongly feels extra steps should be taken to ensure Nova
Scotians requiring support are matched with the resources they need, and feels the NDP platform will do just that.
Leo Glavine has held the Kings West seat for most of recent memory – he’s easily taken it for the Liberals in the last four provincial elections, since 2003. As the current health minister, he’s come under some criticism for his decisions, but believes he still has the faith of the riding and wants to take the knowledge he’s gained over the past four years in government and apply it in another term.
“I would like to be part of the government that goes further with really putting us in position to have an exceptionally strong health-care system as the demand grows from the Baby Boom cohort,” he said.
Balancing the health portfolio with the needs of the riding has been tricky at times, he admits, and resulted in 70-hour work weeks over the last four years – but he wouldn’t change a thing.
“It’s been an unbelievable opportunity.”
As far as Chris Palmer is concerned, the Tory platform is the only one that provides a solution for the needs to Nova Scotians. Palmer, a wellknown musician and community volunteer, threw his hat in the ring for the second time as he seeks the Kings West seat.
“A lot of the issues and problems that we were facing in 2009 are still there to a large degree,” said Palmer, who believes that boosting the economy, providing support to small businesses and retaining young people as the biggest needs in the area.
Somewhat ironically, Palmer says the biggest concern he’s hearing on the doorstep from Kings West residents is a need for better health care.
“People are very concerned about the health care,” he said, pledging to make sure issues like senior care, doctor shortages and wait times for mental health services are addressed.
“I don’t get involved just to occupy a seat and rubber stamp what’s already happening. To me, if something’s not quite working… I like to have ideas and challenge the status quo.”
New Tesla charging stations in Annapolis Royal.