Colchester North PC candidate will place priority on improving roads if elected

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TRURO - Colchester North Progressive Conservative candidate John K. MacDonald stopped by the Truro Daily News office on Thursday morning to connect with voters during an online forum hosted by the newspaper.

Colchester North PC candidate John. K. MacDonald.

During a half-hour session, the first-time provincial election candidate answered questions on www.trurodaily.com Colchester Votes-2013 posted by readers.

Some of the hot topics he addressed were roads, tourism, health boards and more.

Here are the questions and his responses:

Q. Tourism is very important to this area and many people's livelihoods depend on it. What will your party do to boost tourism numbers in this area and the province?

A. Tourism is a very important element in our rural and urban communities because of the jobs it creates. In this area we are going to provide to owners of small businesses like bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, etc., a tax-free zone that will enable these small business owners to earn business income up to $500,000 with no business service tax being paid. We also consider the ferry system in Yarmouth as an essential element to ensure we give every opportunity to visitors from the United States to come to our province. We will ensure and support the re-establishment of this system.

Q. You have canvassed extensively throughout Colchester North for several months. What single issue is the greatest concern within Colchester North?

A. During my visits I have had different concerns because of Colchester North having small rural communities, as well as busier centres. In the rural areas concerns are first with fracking and where we stand, and I am against fracking.

We also have had concerns about our agricultural sector and how are we going to help from that perspective. We are going to make a Buy Nova Scotia First Act. We will require agencies and boards of the government to give preference to produce grown, raised, caught, or produced and manufactured in Nova Scotia, as well develop the first-ever food strategy in consultation with our farmers and fishers.

As far as busier centres in the riding the concerns expressed to me are for the high rates of power and high rates of taxes. Some of the actions we will take in the case of taxes we are going to reduce the HST from 15 per cent to 13 per cent, eliminate tax on tax on gasoline and expand the senior's property tax rebate to include all seniors that earn less than $30,000 per year. From the power perspective, we are going to freeze the rates for five years, eliminate NSP's guaranteed profit of 9.2 per cent.

Q. Four years ago the NDP took indexing away from all NSGEU retirees with a stroke of a pen and have not done anything to MLA benefit packages. My question is would you fight to have indexing restored until at least MLA benefits are reviewed?

A. Yes, I would be in support of indexing until a full review is made. In the case of MLA benefits we are creating a citizen's panel on MLA salaries, expenses and pensions, replacing the current commission on MLA expenses.

Q. Personally, what are you most passionate about in politics?

A. Over my many years in a great number of communities I have been actively involved in many different volunteer organizations. My interest has always been to make where I live a better place to live. I have always considered the youth and the seniors of my communities and because of that have volunteered with organizations that work for their betterment like the Colchester-East Hants Health Authority board, North Shore Recreation Centre board and the North Colchester River Restoration project board. Community is my passion.

Q. Many roads in west and north Colchester are terrible. If elected what are you going to do to fix them?

A. This is an excellent question. I have had many of my constituents concerned about the deplorable state of their roads. We are going to create a five-year transportation strategy. This strategy will be concentrating on all modes of transportation and transport infrastructure. I have driven all of these roads, 10,000 km during my campaign, and absolutely will be placing priority within my government to improve the conditions.

One thing I will strongly support is that our government remains out of private enterprise business rather than follow the NDP failed example of the paving debacle.

We will leave private enterprise in the hands of the experts.

Q. Let's talk about the PC's proposed reduction in the number of Nova Scotia health boards. Reports suggest this hasn't saved money when introduced in Alberta and New Brunswick. In fact, due to severance packages, health care costs even increased. How do you figure it will work better here?

A. In reducing the health boards from nine to three it is our objective to do a couple of things. First, a complete review of the administrative team at hospitals to ensure we are efficiently spending the limited financial resources we have. The bottom line in us making this dramatic shift is to become more efficient in spending less dollars in the administration and putting the patients first. We will take any savings and maintain them in the health system to ensure that we provide the best possible patient service.

Organizations: NDP, Colchester-East Hants Health Authority, North Shore Recreation Centre board

Geographic location: Colchester North, Nova Scotia, Yarmouth United States Colchester Alberta New Brunswick

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