New issues joining old as federal campaign begins to pick up steam

Brad Works
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AMHERST - Health, the environment and economic woes still top the issues list for most voters as candidates hit doorsteps across Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, but other issues are also creeping into the campaign.

"This riding has a unique focus," said Independent candidate Bill Casey. "It's credibility from the federal government."

With their MP dumped from caucus 15 months ago, over his failure to support the Conservative party's budget bill because of changes made to the Atlantic Accord offshore revenue deal, Casey said voters in the riding are concerned about changes made by the governing Conservatives.

"It's not just the Atlantic Accord but also submarine contracts, and changes to ACOA (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency). He said the federal Conservative party's decision to appoint four candidates rather than have them chosen by local party members has also not gone unnoticed.

But, he added, traditional concerns haven't been pushed too far back in the minds of voters.

"When the dust settles the issues come back to jobs, health care and the environment."

Liberal candidate Tracy Parsons says those and others are already there.

"There's an awful lot of talk about seniors issues, such as how we are going to take care of them," Parsons said.

The economy too, has been at the tip of the tongue of many of the voters Parsons has spoken with.

"We haven't seen a large impact in this area yet but as the economy slows down people are expressing concerns," the Liberal hopeful said.

"Those are the two concerns I've heard most so far."

She said the environment is also on people's minds.

"The environment is one of the cornerstones of our campaign," she said. "It's nice to be part of a party that has put it on the national campaign agenda."

Casey too, says the 'green' theme is a prominent campaign issue.

"Around here the huge elephant in the room is climate change and its effects on the Bay of Fundy," he said. "We have to get a handle on it."

Organizations: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Conservatives

Geographic location: Atlantic Accord, AMHERST, Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley Bay of Fundy

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