Cumberland North candidates spar over issues

Darrell Cole
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First of two public forums held Tuesday

Health care, education, power rates among the top issues

A big crowd was on hand to hear the four Cumberland North candidates discuss the issues facing the electorate. A second forum is planned for Monday night in Pugwash.

AMHERST – The four people vying to be Cumberland North’s next MLA discussed everything from health care, to education, jobs and power rates during their first candidates forum here Tuesday.

NDP candidate Brian Skabar and Liberal candidate Terry Farrell traded jabs over Darrell Dexter’s record as premier since 2009, while Judi Giroux of the Progressive Conservatives urged those in attendance to consider her party’s platform that will create jobs and freeze power rates.

Green Party candidate Jason Blanch said it’s important for candidates and the next MLA to not be afraid to tell the truth, even if it’s unpopular with their party.

There were several pointed exchanges during forum with Farrell asking Skabar who he’d represent – the people of Cumberland North or the NDP?

“I was elected by the people of Cumberland North to represent them and I was also elected to represent the people of Nova Scotia and sometimes the best interests of the people of the province are not always the best interests of others,” Skabar said in response. “I have represented the people of Cumberland North to the best of my abilities and I will continue to do so.”

Skabar took the opportunity to ask voters if they wanted to return to the 1990s when the former Liberal government of John Savage closed the deaf school, built the toll highway and rolled back civil service wages by three per cent and then froze them.

Farrell said this election is not about what happened then, but who has the best vision for the future of Nova Scotia.

“It’s not about the toll highway, it’s about what is best now and who can do the best job of managing the economy and avoid making grandiose promises they can never expect to keep,” Farrell said. “It’s about not promising change overnight but having a plan that will work.”

Giroux said the election is about change that’s needed in Cumberland North as well as in the province. She said the election is about focusing on essential services and ending the waste in government.

The candidates differed on the future of health care locally with both Giroux and Farrell advocating for the reduction of the district health authorities in favour of more money for frontline care.

Farrell said the money saved would be used for local initiatives like continuing CECs and attracting more doctors to rural communities, while Skabar said reducing the number of health boards “would be absolute disaster” because the current system has been working well in Cumberland County.

The NDP candidate said the Liberals tried regional health boards in the 1990s and it didn’t work well for Cumberland County.

Giroux said cutting health administration to three boards would mean more money for doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and medical technicians. She said community health boards would be maintained.

On economic development, Farrell said the best thing the voters can do “is to take the chequebook away from the NDP.” Giroux said government needs to focus more on small business by cutting red tape, controlling bracket creep and reducing taxes.

Skabar said the NDP government has invested in Cumberland North through LED Roadway Lighting, Poly Cello and other businesses.

He also denied the tax difference between this province and New Brunswick has impacted business in the Amherst area. Skabar said Amherst has benefitted from cross-border shopping, more so than New Brunswick.

“Just check the parking lots at Walmart and the Superstore. Three in 10 cars are from New Brunswick,” Skabar said, adding the NDP have already promised to reduce the HST by one per cent next July and another per cent in 2015.

Power rates were also an area of disagreement with Skabar touting the Maritime Link project that will ship hydroelectric power from Labrador to Nova Scotia. Skabar said the megaproject will bring stable power rates. Farrell said his party is not against the Maritime Link project, but a bad deal that the premier really doesn’t understand.

“It’s time someone stood up for Nova Scotians and confronted Nova Scotia Power to get a better deal for renewable energy,” Farrell said.

Giroux said the present deal will see Nova Scotians paying twice for energy.

“It’s a great idea, but the Maritime Link and how we’re going to pay for it is not a good deal,” she said. “It’s my understanding that we’re going to have to pay for construction and then pay for the electricity it generates. It’s like we’ll be paying twice for our power. It’s not a good deal.”

Blanch said he’s not opposed to hydroelectricity because it’s much cleaner than the coal that’s being used now to generate power. He’s just concerned about the financial cost and how it will impact the Inuit community around Muskrat Falls.

Blanch asked the candidates their stance on hydraulic fracturing. Giroux said she has discussed fracking with party leader Jamie Baillie and his government would not allow it unless scientifically proven to be safe and acceptable to the community.

Farrell said his party is opposed to fracking and he can’t see how it could ever be efficiently and safely done. Skabar said he favours the continued moratorium until an independent review is completed. Even then, he said, he’s not a fan of the process.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: NDP, Progressive Conservatives, Green Party Walmart Nova Scotia Power

Geographic location: Cumberland North, AMHERST, Nova Scotia New Brunswick Cumberland County Labrador Muskrat Falls

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Recent comments

  • Macpass
    October 01, 2013 - 21:45

    I listened to the candidates debate tonight and was impressed that Mr. Skabar got someone to message in and thank him for his job at LED Roadway. Most if not all of the money that went to companies like LED Roadway and Poly Cello went into the owners pockets not the workers just like Dexter did with Irvings. If you consider a $10.50 cent an hour job at LED Roadway worthy of thanking Brian Skabar then my condolences go out to you. Wonder what the pay was for the jobs he and his party took to the Antigonish area like the Cumberland County Jail or the Maintenance Enforcement Jobs that his party took to New it was more than $10.50 an hour. All you have to remember about the NDP in this area are 3 main things....The Jail Gone.....HST tax raised up 2% and other government jobs gone as well. If all Skabar can say he did in 4 years was give money to LED Roadway and Poly Cello and help create the 5 call centre jobs that are now in the old co-op building he should hang his head in shame period.

  • macpass
    September 29, 2013 - 12:14

    Not much updating on this site I noticed by the local NDP newspaper we have here in Amherst. These same comments have been on here for a week with not one updated on. Too much negativity against Skabar eh??

  • macpass
    September 25, 2013 - 18:21

    Momofthree you are correct on both Mr. Skabar and the NDP when it comes to child care funding or should I say the lack of it. The only party that has mentioned giving money to fund excellent programs like Early Intervention is the Liberal Party and their leader Stephen MacNeil whom has publicly said so in his platform. Problem is people in this area will either vote in the NDP again or the Conservatives. The people in this area have voted the Conservatives in every election except one for the last 60 years. That is why nothing ever comes to our area. I have heard Conservatives say for years that both Cumberland South and Cumberland North are safe Conservative seats so why put any money, jobs or work in that area as we have the seats locked up anyway. Ever look at the West End School in Springhill a disgrace to put young children in. They can't even afford to paint the wooden roof trim on this delapiatated so called school and this was and still is conservative territory and for many years it was under a Cabinet Minister with the governing party at the time of his tenure. Springhill has an old hospital, old schools and no government jobs plus very little in anything else to do or find employment in . The only thing that they do have is a very hearty and resilient people. Good thing.

  • momofthree
    September 25, 2013 - 12:00

    Mr. Skabar.. You mention a few different times last night about how YOUR government increased not only the benfit for child tax credit but also the disabilty credit, however your answer regarding the education and support services for our children you FAILED!!! As a mother of three children, one at each level of delevopment ( teen,middle,and toddler) who ALL need services ( teen ADHD, middle, Speech Therapy and toddler Autsim) Since my middle son is in school and his therapy SHOULD be included in his learning because of YOUR government he sees someone TWICE a year where as before he entered the school system he was seeing someone twice a WEEK, This is effecting not only how he communicates to other people but also his reading and writing skills In order for him to get the help he needs we would have to go to a private clinc and the price tag on that Mr Skabar is quite hefty My youngest son who we discovered is effected by Autism after a 16 month wait uses many services in this town, Early Intervention,Speech,Maggies Place and the list goes on. For you to sit there and imply that the cuts YOUR government made didn't effect these children is down right disgusting. Your so called increases isn't going to give either of my children the help and support they need. As a mom I need to look out for children and do what's right by them, I need to decide who is going to give my children the best future, and you Mr.Skarbar not only proved in the last four years what you will take from my children but you proved again last night that you won't be there for them in the next four either.

  • Robert Bird
    September 25, 2013 - 09:42

    In 2009 when the NDP Government took over, NS had a debt of $12.3 Billion. Today NS has a debt of $14 Billion.

  • Robert Bird
    September 25, 2013 - 09:42

    In 2009 when the NDP Government took over, NS had a debt of $12.3 Billion. Today NS has a debt of $14 Billion.

  • Robert Bird
    September 25, 2013 - 09:41

    In 2009 when the NDP Government took over, NS had a debt of $12.3 Billion. Today NS has a debt of $14 Billion.

  • Robert Bird
    September 25, 2013 - 09:40

    In 2009 when the NDP Government took over, NS had a debt of $12.3 Billion. Today NS has a debt of $14 Billion.

  • macpass
    September 25, 2013 - 09:06

    If Mr. Skabar had of been representing the people of Cumberland North which by the way is elected to do instead of the provincial NDP then maybe the Maintenance Enforcement and Jail Jobs would have stayed in Cumberland County instead of going to other more "important" NDP ridings like Ross Landry's and Frank Corbett's. Matter of fact on the day Dexter and Corbett were having a celebration and cake cutting ceremony in New Waterford celebrating the steal of the Maintenance Enforcement jobs from Amherst to New Waterford guess who was in attendance at this gala guessed it Brian Skabar. Remember Bill Casey and how he fought for his area on the Atlantic Accord and what it cost him... getting expelled from his own party for speaking out against his conservative masters.... expulsion. Skabar did not want that to happen to him so he smiled and ate cake while his area was being raped of both the Jail and the Maintenance Enforcement jobs. What a guy to represent our area and he had the nerve to say last night that the Liberals took the Deaf School jobs away 30 years ago. If people in this area are upset with the way we have been treated by political parties then they should look at the conservatives as they have been in power here in our area every time except once for the last 60 years. And to set the record straight it was the conservatives that took the Deaf School away not the Liberals

    • noodle
      September 26, 2013 - 10:14

      I didn't know that he was actually at the ceremony in Waterford announcing their new Maintenance Enforcement Centre. Outrageous!

    • Ted
      September 27, 2013 - 07:20

      Gimme a break. At the risk of being flamed by rabid Lib & PC partisans who both, for their own reasons, thought they had Cumberland North locked in, Brian has a strong amount of support. It's obvious to anyone who watched the candidate's forum that at the very least he's going to hold his support from the last campaign, and at best, well let's face it, he could win again. No amount of made up stories about where or where he didn't go is going to change the fact that both Libs & PCs hitched their wagons to lame duck candidates. A bankrupt lawyer with an unfortunate tendency to sneer when his opponents talk, and an annoying joiner whose inflated opinion of herself is only topped by that of the editor of this paper's. I apologize for my tone, but it just had to be said.

    • Robert
      October 02, 2013 - 02:01

      Ted, if you're measuring your candidate up against the oppositions personalities and personal histories, instead of his standing track record as our MP... you're no better than those you rail against. Brian did nothing for this area except back his leader no matter the cost to us or our children. Most governments will either raise taxes to combat debt or raise debt to avoid raising taxes. The NDP raised taxes AND raised the debt... to the tune of almost 2 billion dollars. That's almost two extra billion dollars that they expect my children to pay. Guess what? They aren't going to pay it. As soon as they of age, they'll bail from this province and move somewhere better. Why? With the combination of record taxes, record debt and a dwindling tax base on top of it... it's just not worth the effort to stay in NS when it'll be so much easier somewhere else. The NDP simply downloaded an unreasonable amount of burden onto our children during their spending spree. That's unacceptable. It is no longer economically viable for our children to remain in NS. Greener pastures and better horizons lie elsewhere for them. I know come retirement I'm gone as I have zero interest in spending my pension of Darrel's record debt. ((and as an aside, someone really needs to fix this posting method as it never works properly and forces people to post multiple times trying to verify if their post actually went through!))

  • noodle
    September 24, 2013 - 22:48

    No, Mr. Skabar, you were NOT elected to represent all of the people of Nova Scotia. You had it right the first time: You were elected by the people of Cumberland North to represent their best interests. If you don't give priority to those who elected you, you're not really representing them.