Baillie misses second Parrsboro debate on same day
© Andrew Wagstaff - cumberlandnewsnow.com
Cumberland South candidates (from left) Bruce McCulloch of the Green Party, Larry Duchesne of the NDP, and Kenny John Jackson of the Liberal Party took part in a candidates' debate held at Ship's Company Theatre on Oct. 2. Progressive Conservative candidate Jamie Baillie did not participate.
PARRSBORO – Three of the four Cumberland South candidates gathered for their second debate on the same date in Parrsboro Wednesday evening, once again without the presence of their incumbent.
Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie was once again a no-show, having already missed the debate held earlier in the afternoon at Parrsboro Regional High School. Those who were present at Ship’s Company Theatre for the event were NDP candidate Larry Duchesne, Liberal Kenny John Jackson, and Green Party candidate Bruce McCulloch.
The candidates agreed on more issues than they disagreed on, with all three supporting more promotion of arts, tourism and culture, more long-term care beds for Parrsboro, and a continued moratorium on fracking until proven it can be done safely.
The discussion of power rates drew a wider range of opinion, with Jackson touting the Liberal commitment to eliminating the monopoly of Nova Scotia Power and introducing competition to the market, while Duchesne said the Muskrat Falls deal with Newfoundland and Labrador will stabilize rates over the long term. McCulloch went in the opposite direction, arguing against lower rates.
“Let’s not distort our marketplace by dropping the HST on an area where we should conserve,” he said. “In Denmark, power rates are three times as high as ours, but their bills are lower because over time they have managed their homes and energy so they are not paying as much. We need to move in the same direction.”
On how to improve the economy in Cumberland South, McCulloch said Parrsboro needs to be promoted as a year-round arts community, while Duchesne said he would fight for spin-offs from the Halifax shipbuilding contract. Jackson said he would pursue a development plan to create more employment in the region.
Discussing the high poverty level in Cumberland South, Jackson said he would fight to provide more affordable housing, telling the story of a woman he met while campaigning who is left to live on $14 after all her monthly bills are paid. Duchesne said the NDP government has taken some initiative toward poverty reduction, such as the Poverty Reduction Tax Credit, but said there is still a long way to go. The Green Party supports a guaranteed income level, according to McCulloch.
The differing party positions on health care administration were presented, with Duchesne and McCulloch arguing to keep the current system of district health authorities in place, while Jackson said the Liberals would save $13 million by reducing administration to four regional boards, and hire more doctors and nurses in the process.
“Collaborative care centres are an example of how health care has been delivered better (by the NDP),” said Duchesne.
“The CECs are working just fine,” agreed Jackson. “The only problem is if we lose one or two doctors from that practice. That’s why we need to bring more doctors to the area.”
Duchesne admitted that the NDP government has not done everything he wanted it to do, but now that the budget is balanced, he said he is confident it can move forward in areas such as social programs.
“The government took a really bad deficit and turned it into a balanced budget,” he said. “Only the NDP was prepared to fight for the good-paying jobs like the shipyard contract. It’s an investment in the future of our young people that will be felt across Nova Scotia.”
McCulloch admitted that he will not be elected on Oct. 8, but urged as many voters as possible to show their support for the Green Party, which he described as “fiscally conservative, socially progressive, free market environmentalists.”
Jackson took the only apparent jabs at Baillie’s absence with his repeated assertion that “local matters.”
“I chose to run under the Liberal banner because of people like Stephen McNeil, who is also from a rural community and understands the challenges we face every day,” he said. “As your MLA, I will be visible, I will be vocal, and I will be accountable to every one of you.”
David Beattie, Parrsboro and District Board of Trade president and moderator of the event with local radio reporter Bruce Wark, read prepared opening and closing statement from Baillie, reviewing some of his accomplishments of the past three years, including road and bridge repairs, anti-bullying lobbying, and the efforts to have fees waived at Cape Chignecto Provincial Park.
Baillie was elected in Cumberland South in a byelection in 2010 following the resignation of former MLA and cabinet minister Murray Scott.