Cumberland North candidates face-off in Pugwash

Christopher
Christopher Gooding
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The candidates for Cumberland North rolled up their sleeves and duked out their positions last night.

The candidates debated the issues during a forum for Cumberland North on Monday in Pugwash.

PUGWASH – The candidates for Cumberland North rolled up their sleeves and duked out their positions last night.

Sponsored by the Pugwash and Area Chamber of Commerce, incumbent NDP candidate Brian Skabar, Progressive Conservative Judi Giroux, Liberal Terry Farrell and Green Party candidate Jason Blanch recalled on the past while looking to the future, made their personal positions on hydro-fracking clear and weighed in how they would support the community.

The village community is small, but its interest are heavily vetted in the next provincial election. It’s mining and tourism industries have waned in recent years following the economic downturn but the last four-years has seen the community become a home to one of the provinces first Collaborative Emergency Care Centres and a promise from government for a new building to house it. Students from the Wentworth Valley area were looking at being bussed to the village and neighbouring Wallace if that school had closed before the government stalled the closure. Potential wind turbine projects have been vehemently rejected by some of the citizenry and now the issue is fracking.

Blanch was the only candidate whose party was committed to banning fracking, but all three said they personally oppose fracking.  The issue lead into the party’s positions on offering fuel-tax rebates to the mining industry, a practice not currently employed in the province but would benefit the local salt mine.

“Government killed a [PC] motion to give mining and quarry operations a fuel tax rebate,” Giroux said.

Skabar countered the PC’s would support giving up tax revenues but not industry-support like loans the NDP government has provided in the past.

“To forgo revenues and yet not support industry directly, it’s a contradiction to me,” Skabar said.

How tax revenues are spent, and how those taxes are collected, drew opposing views. The three major players have party platforms offering cuts or breaks, but the Green Party candidate was having none of that.

“The [HST], I wouldn’t strive to lower that. A cut wouldn’t help the poorest people,” Blanch said. “Until there’s a librarian back in my kids school again, I’m not worried about lowering that tax.”

Distribution of tax revenues also took the frontline, with Farrell zeroing-in on how the Liberals feel the present model doesn’t isn’t working.

“Too much money is being spent on individual locations instead of spreading it across the province,” Farrell said.

Perhaps the most pertinent question to Pugwash’s future was if the candidates would give their personal support a marina in the village.

All said yes in their own, personal way.

Nova Scotia goes to the polls Tuesday, Oct. 8.

 

Geographic location: Cumberland North, Pugwash

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