Nova Scotians will head to the polls Oct. 8
If Pictou County residents aren’t ready for the provincial election, their candidates certainly are.
On Saturday Premier Darrell Dexter made the election call in Port Hawkesbury, which will send Nova Scotians to the polls Oct. 8. Candidates in all three Pictou County ridings have been awaiting the election call and are glad they now have a firm date.
Glennie Langille, the Liberal candidate for Pictou West, said that people in her riding have been waiting for the election – they have been looking forward to it.
“What I can tell you is that people in Pictou West are absolutely ready for an election, ready to see some change and are very happy to have the election underway,” she said. “They are being very receptive at the door. They want to talk about the issues and they want to talk about their concerns. It’s been a really positive experience, in particular over the past number of days.”
Langille was nominated approximately a year and a half ago. She said campaigning for her began after she was nominated. Over her time going door-to-door the biggest issue she’s encountered is trust.
”I think people were pretty disappointed with the performance by the NDP government,” said Langille. “There were a lot of promises made and they really weren’t kept. That has made a lot of people really distrustful of everything that everyone says. I can tell you as someone that goes door-to-door that they want to believe what you have to say, but their trust has been shaken. That is something every single politician in the province is going to have to deal with.”
According to Langille the two other major issues are education and people leaving Pictou West. Progressive Conservative candidate for the riding, Karla MacFarlane, has heard the same things on the doorsteps, as well as frustrations over power rates.
“They (the issues) are constantly about the everyday cost of living,” said MacFarlane. “Everyone is talking about the increase in power rates and that it’s gone up almost 30 per cent under the NDP government. That is going to be the continuing topic of discussion at the doors. It has been over the past few months and it’s not going to change when we all know that in the coming year if the NDP are still there they’re putting it up another three per cent.”
MacFarlane said her team has been prepared for the election call since the spring because that was when they originally expected it. She said she’s looking forward to the next month and her reaction to the call was “it’s about time.”
In Pictou East, NDP candidate Clarrie MacKinnon is running for re-election. This election will be his ninth time seeking public office.
“I’m just as excited for this election as I was with my first election. I’m very pumped up and ready to rock and roll,” said MacKinnon. “I’m on the doorsteps and doing all kinds of other tasks in relation to getting a good turnout and drumming up as much support as I can throughout Pictou East.”
MacKinnon said the main issues for this election will be jobs, the economy, improvements to health care and improving rural roads.
“We have 931 kilometres of rural roads in Pictou East and most of them have not seen great expenditures for, in some cases, 30 or 40 years, so the upgrading – the five-year plan for upgrading roads is extremely important,” he said.
Pictou East PC candidate Tim Houston said after weeks of waiting, he, like many in Pictou County were relieved that an election was called. He said many are already upset about politics and the delay of the election call reinforced the negative image.
According to Houston the issues for this campaign are simple.
“The issues during this campaign are the economy and jobs. People who have jobs are worried about keeping them and wonder if they can find their best job here in Pictou County,” said Houston. “Those who don’t have jobs are worried they won’t find them here.”
He also noted that balancing economic growth with environmental concerns is an important issue to voters in Pictou East, after speaking with thousands of them over the past few months.
“We’re going to focus getting to doorsteps and talking to people because unless you talk to people you eye-to-eye, you don’t know their concerns.”
Also in Pictou East, Liberal candidate Francois Rochon said it was due time that the election was called.
“They (NDP government) made bad decision after bad decision,” said Rochon. “The past two months they’ve been trying to correct some of them to buy the vote back, but it’s time for the election so people can evaluate their performance. I don’t think they’re going to be shocked. They know what’s coming.
“They held back as much as they could so they could get their paycheque a little longer.”
Unlike Houston and MacKinnon, he said one of the biggest issues would be education. He said his party plans to put the $65-million that was cut, back into the education system. Rochon added that healthcare will also be a major topic amongst voters.
Pictou Centre’s current MLA and justice minister, Ross Landry, was the lone Pictou Centre candidate The News was able to reach on Sunday. He said he’s hoping to retain his seat when ballots are cast on Oct. 8.
“I’m excited for this election campaign and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “I’ve had the pleasure of knocking on every single door in Pictou Centre, a feat I accomplished in March.”
According to Landry, the issues facing Pictou Centre are the province’s energy future, creating jobs and getting a new P-8 school for Trenton.
“The PCs want to want to burn more coal, but the NDP is a firm believer in energy diversity and the Maritime link,” he said. “We’re also about creating jobs, such as with DSME in Trenton and the jail in Priestville. I’m also working to try to get a new P-8 school for Trenton, which demonstrates the government’s commitment to young people.”
With files from John Brannen