Liberal leader says election will come down to trust
© Lawrence Powell - TC Media
Liberal leader Stephen McNeil visited his 51st riding of the election campaign on the weekend.
CLEMENTSPORT – Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil made a stop on his own turf today, the 50th riding he’s been in since the Nova Scotia provincial election was called on Sept. 7.
He spoke to supporters at the Clementsport Legion at the western end of the newly expanded Annapolis riding and told them this election will come down to trust.
Later in the day he stopped in Kings West to campaign with Liberal incumbent Leo Glavine to make it 51 ridings – all constituencies in the province. And he squeezed in another meet-and-greet at the fire hall in Middleton.
It was the midpoint of the campaign leading up to the Oct. 8 vote and party faithful in Clementsport found it hard to keep from applauding as McNeil spoke about his 3,000-kilometre trip around the province in the last two weeks and the support he’s received from Yarmouth all the way to Cape Breton.
“When we go back to 1999 and we lost that election campaign I’m not sure that any of us thought we would be two weeks away from running a provincial campaign where I’m running to be the premier of the province,” McNeil said. “This has been an exciting couple of years. I don’t think any of us at the end of the last election campaign would have ever thought there would be an opportunity to turf out a one-term government and there would have been an opportunity for the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia to be in a position to form a government here.”
In fact, McNeil said he thought his role after the last election was to rebuild the party.
“We changed how we organized, we changed the fundraising model we used all across the province, and we opened up our party back to members and Nova Scotians who were not even card-carrying members of our party – and tried to encourage them to come inside our organization and tell us what it is they want to see from their government and their party,” McNeil said. “And I can tell you I am so proud of how they responded.”
McNeil said the result is the Liberal election platform.
“It is what I like to call the balance that Nova Scotians were telling us they were looking for,” he said. “Yes, a government has to live within its means, and a government has to get back to a balanced budget. But you can’t do that solely on the backs of our children and public education. You can’t do that on the most vulnerable citizens in our province.”
McNeil said there are infrastructures Nova Scotians believe in and referred to health care as one.
“When you think we are sitting here with some of the longest wait times in Canada here in Nova Scotia yet we spent some of the largest amounts of money on administration to a health care system of less than a million people absolutely makes no sense,” McNeil said. “Nova Scotians were saying lets invest in frontline care. Lets ensure that when I need a doctor or a nurse there will be one there. “If somebody’s missing in the boardroom it really won’t bother me.”
McNeil touched on some of the key planks in his platform.
“I really do want you to look at this platform and contrast it with the other two parties,” McNeil said. “We’ve made investments in young Nova Scotians; we’ve made investments in job opportunities for university graduates and community college graduates to get that opportunity right here by changing the trade ratio to allow more young Nova Scotia apprentices to work here at home – if they want to go to Alberta that’s their choice but they shouldn’t have to go because they can find an opportunity in their own province.”
A liberal government would also fund 300 research grant opportunities for university graduates who have good commercially viable ideas with the potential for that money to be leveraged federally or through the private sector to lead to job creation locally.
“I’m very proud of where I live,” McNeil said. “As I said in Yarmouth I’m a son of Southwestern Nova Scotia. I’m very proud of the fact that I live in Upper Granville stuck between Bridgetown and Annapolis Royal. And I think it’s time we had a premier from Southwestern Nova Scotia.”
McNeil said he thinks the election campaign is going to end up being about trust. He told local supporters he needs their help to go out and talk to their friends and neighbours to make sure the Liberals get their vote on election day – and that they hold this seat.
“But this election will be about trust,” he said. “Who can you trust to deliver on what they’ve said and promised they are going to do? We made one half of one per cent growth in expenditures to meet our commitments. It’s prudent, it’s balanced, it’s focused on what Nova Scotians want and it’s focused on looking towards the future. Nova Scotians are going to have to ask themselves can they trust the NDP and Darrell Dexter to deliver on the commitments they made this election since they didn’t meet the commitments they made the last election.”
McNeil described Progressive Conservative Leader JamieBaillie as scary.
“He has promised to cut almost a billion dollars in taxes without ever telling us where that money is coming from,” McNeil said. “We got a sneak preview of it a few days ago when he talked about cutting grants and programs to the festivals, culture, and heritage programs that we have across this province. One of the things that makes Nova Scotia such a wonderful place is its diversity, and we as a government should be celebrating that and supporting that in ever community across this province because it will actually build this province.”
“My message to Progressive Conservatives in this provinces – you no longer have a party,” McNeil said. “It is now gone and become the Conservative Party of Nova Scotia. He’s (Baillie) making Stephen Harper look left. My message to Progressives in this province – there is only one political party that you have a home in and that is the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia.”