TRURO – Barry Mellish, Liberal candidate for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River, is a newcomer to provincial politics and is bringing his passion for community to the race for a seat in the legislature.
He connected with potential voters on Thursday afternoon during an online forum hosted by the Truro Daily News at www.trurodaily.com, Colchester Votes-2013.
During a live question and answer session Mellish discussed his views on infrastructure needed in the area, agriculture and small business challenges, energy costs and more.
Q. What's the most common concern you’ve heard from voters during your canvassing?
A. Health care wait times, seniors desire to stay in their own homes and power rates. We're going to reduce health authorities from 10 to two, reduce wait times for hip and knee replacements from 17 months to the national standard of six months, provide $120,000 in tuition relief for up to 25 doctors per year in exchange for service in under-serviced areas and increase staff in frontline health care.
For seniors, we are going to increase funding in the senior citizen's assistance program to allow an additional 450 seniors annually to live in their homes. Power rates, we are going to break NSP's monopoly and create a heavily regulated competitive market. This will stabilize and eventually drive down energy prices the same way breaking the phone monopoly brought down monthly phone rates.
Q. If the Liberal party forms the next government will they honour the commitment made to the Community Revitalization Program in the east end of Truro?
A. As our leader Stephen McNeil has said, we will honour all capital commitments already approved and will look at other programs on a case-by-case basis.
Q. What would your government do to reduce red tape and rules so that small farmers could make their farms competitive enterprises that could support their families? And how would you attract more young people to consider farming as a livelihood?
A. Our platform has stated that we will review all regulations to ensure those that are redundant are removed. A lot of small businesses, not only farms, are bogged down in the red tape, making continuing of those farms and businesses prohibitive. In order to attract the younger people to small businesses and farming we have to make entrance into these careers easier by providing assistance with start-up education and funding.
Q. You are a retired policeman. Do you support back-to-work legislation for essential government services such as firefighters, policemen and medical personnel?
A. I support these services being designated as essential and would support legislation to ensure that the essential services contracts are fairly dealt with through negotiation or binding arbitration.
Q. Nova Scotians pay the highest income taxes in Canada. How much are you going to reduce my income taxes and how are you going to achieve this?
A. Until we have a balanced budget our leader Stephen McNeil said we cannot reduce taxes so we can provide necessary services for all Nova Scotians. We will work hard to ensure that the main issues for Nova Scotians (i.e. health care, education and jobs) are addressed in an economically responsible manner.
Q. What new infrastructure do you think would benefit people in this region?
A. A couple of issues I believe would benefit the area would be: 1. Further development of Debert Air Industrial Park to attract more industry; 2. develop a commuter rail service between the local area and HRM; 3. to develop a "Dartmouth Crossing/Bayers Lake" type big-box shopping area to promote job and residential growth. I’m willing to work on these issues with local and outside investors and stakeholders.