SPRINGHILL – The road to victory for the NDP in the upcoming byelection in Cumberland South won’t be easy.
It will be every bit as bumpy, rough and rugged as the streets of Springhill, but that’s not stopping them from forging ahead.
“Springhill is where we would really love to gain ground, and this time we’re going to have a headquarters in Springhill, something we haven’t had in past elections,” said Larry Duchesne.
Duchesne’s nomination as the NDP candidate for Cumberland South went unopposed at the NDP nomination meeting Saturday afternoon at the All Saints Parrish Hall on Main Street in Springhill. About 20 people attended the meeting, including Nova Scotia NDP leader Gary Burrill, high-profile MLA Lenore Zann, and NDP royalty, Alexa McDonough, former leader of both the federal and Nova Scotia NDP.
Duchesne, is 69-years-old and lives in Oxford. Originally from Bedford, he is a retired school teacher and newspaper reporter. He ran on the NDP ticket in Cumberland South in 2013 and 2017, and was the leader of the NDP on Prince Edward Island from 1991 to 1995. He is the father of four children, all living and working in Nova Scotia.
Duchensne believes Cumberland South and the NDP are a good fit.
“In Cumberland South we have some of the oldest and some of the poorest people in the province,” said Duchesne. “If we had a progressive government we stand to benefit a lot from improvements in social policy and job creation but we’re just not seeing it.”
Duchesne says a new elementary school in Springhill and the fixing of the Rainbow Bridge between Amherst and Springhill is something all candidates from all parties can get behind. What sets him apart is that he would like to see Nova Scotia Department of Economic and Rural Development do much more to create jobs for Cumberland South.
“That’s where the potential becomes reality, when you have people working fulltime to identify opportunities and too see them through,” said Duchesne. “More government involvement in job creation is what we need and I think we’re only going to get that kind of involvement from our party.”
He also believes a vote for the NDP is a vote against the status quo.
“From the Liberal government, we’re getting disempowerment, depopulation and joblessness,” said Duchesne.
“It’s not just a Cumberland South election. It’s a Nova Scotia election run in Cumberland South,” he added. “It’s going to be really interesting to see what potential the riding has and what we can achieve.”
Burrill echoed that sentiment.
“It’s a moment of regret and remorse on behalf of the people of the province relative to the decision in giving McNeil his second majority last May,” said Burrill, when discussing the re-election of Stephen McNeil's Liberal governement.
He pointed to a lack of hospital beds and the removal of regional school boards as two areas where the current Liberal government failed the people of Nova Scotia.
Zann, MLA for Truro, Bible Hill, Millbrook, Salmon River, holds several portfolios, including environment critic.
She said 84 per cent of crown lands are being clear cut, quarries are being expanded throughout Nova Scotia, and proposed gold mining threatens watersheds in Wentworth.
“Just recently they (the government) put out tenders to different companies and they are going to allow a gold mine in the Tatamagouche watershed region,” said Zann. “That watershed has rivers that run to 38 different communities, and there are six other watersheds nearby.”
She said many harmful chemicals are used in the gold mining process that harm drinking water.
McDonough believes politics needs more people like Larry Duchesne.
“I know Larry Duchesne well and I know what a decent hardworking, modest guy he is,” said McDonough after Duchesne was nominated. “He’s not a guy who ever is looking to bring attention to himself, he’s seeking attention for policies.”
Tory Rushton is the Progressive Conservative candidate in the upcoming byelection, and the Liberals currently have two candidates, Scott Lockhart and Brian Sanderson, seeking the Liberal nomination.
The Liberal nomination meeting is Sunday, April 29, at 1 p.m. at the Dr. Carson & Marion Murray Community Centre in Springhill.