WHYCOCOMAGH — Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie discussed hydraulic fracturing on Tuesday during a stop in Inverness County.
Baillie was joined by fellow party member and Inverness incumbent Allan MacMaster during a visit with constituents at the Whycocomagh Co-op.
Asked by reporters about proposed oil-and-gas exploration in the Lake Ainslie watershed, Baillie said he agrees with the two-year moratorium that has been placed on fracking.
After launching a review of fracking in 2011, the Nova Scotia government announced in August it would begin an independent review led by David Wheeler, the president of Cape Breton University and an expert on water quality and groundwater pollution.
Baillie said the external review was something the Progressive Conservatives called for two years ago, adding that there is a great amount of concern over the issue.
"I believe that the current time out on fracking while we examine all the science and examine what economic benefit in real jobs may or may not be there, is appropriate," said Baillie. "In fact, I cannot imagine that we would ever force a project on a community where there's not that many jobs, and where there's not really any local support, until we know for sure that there's proven environmental safety and proven jobs, and we're not there yet."
MacMaster said there are concerns about possibile contamination if drilled wells leak.
"If it's something that's unsafe and people don't want (it), well we shouldn't have it," said MacMaster.
Baillie and MacMaster also visited Waycobah on Tuesday to discuss issues, including economic development and road improvements, with First Nation leaders.
Baillie said his party's platform helps rural Nova Scotia, including communities just like Waycobah, which has an unemployment rate of about 30 per cent.
"We have young people that move away in Waycobah, like rural Cape Breton, and the time has come to change the way this province is run so that we can start down a road where that doesn't have to happen," said Baillie. "For me, that means getting the cost of government down and returning money to taxpayers by lowering the HST, taking the tax off our small businesses who are true job creators, and making it a level and even playing field for everybody that works for Waycobah, that works for rural Cape Breton, and then to make sure we invest in important areas like training, so that young people are trained for the real jobs of tomorrow and not the jobs of yesterday."
Baillie will visit Layton's Lumber Ltd. in Sydney Mines today at 9:30 a.m. where he will discuss his party's plan to lower the HST, which he says will lead to further job creation.
He will then campaign in North Sydney with PC candidate and Cape Breton North incumbent Eddie Orrell, before moving on to Sydney River where he will join PC candidate and Cape Breton West incumbent Alfie MacLeod.