‘If he wants to debate federal issues, run for the federal NDP nomination’
Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong
AMHERST – Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong is urging NDP MLA Gary Burrill to run for the federal nomination if he wants to debate changes to Employment Insurance.
“If Mr. Burrill wants to debate federal issues, I challenge him to show true courage and seek the federal nomination in the 2015 federal election,” Armstrong said Thursday in a news release. “That way, he’ll be forced to defend the NDP federal plan to put a price on carbon, which will disproportionately punish rural Canada by raising the price of fuel causing forestry and agriculture producers to pay higher transportation costs and everyday citizens to pay higher costs for fuel, electricity and groceries.”
Armstrong’s comments come a day after the Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MLA challenged him to a debate in the legislature.
“I challenge Scott Armstrong to a public debate on the federal changes to employment insurance,” Burrill told the legislature on Wednesday. “Any time, any place and in any forum or format.”
Burrill said his comments were directed against the EI restrictions for the seasonally unemployed and against the abolition of the board of referees system for appeals of decisions denying benefits to EI claimants.
“The new EI restrictions for the seasonally unemployed will have a very negative impact on people in seasonal work,” said Burrill. “Mr. Armstrong and I both represent many people who will find these changes very hard.”
Burrill said the board of referees always included representatives of both local business and labour. The MLA said the new Ottawa-based tribunal will deny unemployed people the right to appeal an EI claim decisions before a board knowledgeable about the local situation.
“The people of Nova Scotia deserve a strong defence of their interests on this question,” said Burrill. “For this reason I look forward to debating Mr. Armstrong about these unfortunate recent EI changes.”
Armstrong said Burrill’s speech was an “obvious attempt to distract voters on the eve of a provincial election from his NDP government’s own record.”
The MP said changes to the EI system will better connect Canadians with available jobs. By removing disincentives to work and making the system more efficient the government is working toward that goal.
“As has been stated, however, no one will be forced to take a job, if due to pay rates, distance or personal circumstances, it would put those on a claim at a financial disadvantage. For those receiving benefits in areas where there are no available jobs there will be no changes and benefits will remain available as they’ve always been,” Armstrong said.