On Friday, Darrell Dexter and the NDP unveiled their 2013 election platform. Like their 2009 platform, this one has “7 key commitments”. Allow me for a moment to break each of them down with a “Lunenburg West lens”. I will state the NDP platform ‘plank’ in orange, a few comments about it, the Liberal position in red and then the PC position in blue.
Please note that as of the date of posting, a full PC Platform has not been released so more information will come soon.
1) Deliver better health care when and where you need it:
According to the NDP, ER closures are down. They may want to check again as our region saw Fisherman’s Memorial in Lunenburg closed more than any other hospital. Over 3995 hours this year so far! I would also like to mention again that our community asked the government and our local MLA Gary Ramey to help with a collaborative health care centre over three years ago. They would not help so the BDA and other volunteers forged ahead on their own, only to have the NDP swoop in this winter with a surprise plan. Had they stepped up to the plate when asked, our centre would have been celebrating its two-year anniversary by now instead of our community still waiting for doctors and this centre to open.
The Liberal plan is for two massive health authorities to cover everything. At least we believe it’s that as Stephen McNeil stated at a leaders’ forum he would “do away with all administration in health care“.
A PC Government would reduce the number of health authorities from ten to three, one for HRM, one for the IWK and one for Rural Nova Scotia. Currently there are 540 people making over $100,000 for a price tag of $53.4 million. We would save $60 million with this plan and all savings from this reduction would go directly into front line care. Community and volunteer health boards would also remain under our plan within the new management model.
2) Fight for good jobs and stronger communities
I thought at first this one might have been a typo. The August report from Statistics Canada show 6,500 full-time jobs have been lost on the South Shore since the 2009 election. We see everyday just how hard the NDP have fought for jobs in our area and it’s sad to say, it’s not very hard at all. The NDP talk about 10,000 jobs coming when the ships get built but a few weeks ago, Irving was laying people off! Gary Ramey supported First contract arbitration despite our community’s largest employer saying it would drastically affect their interest in expanding. What happened to representing your constituents?
The Liberals supported First Contract Arbitration, have a power plan that would see rates increase, putting more jobs at risk and have made almost $300 million in commitments that would only increase the debt that is passed to our children. Both the NDP and Liberals also do not believe the MLA Pension Plan needs to be changed. The Liberals have also made it clear that they will not balance the budget until at least 2017 or reduce taxes.
Having the highest taxes in the country has been a barrier for companies doing business or wanting to do business in Nova Scotia. We would reduce taxes AND stop corporate handouts. Reducing taxation has been proven to actually put more money into government coffers as people have more money to spend. We will also freeze power rates for five years which will also help homeowners and businesses better predict their costs. We will also repeal the NDP’s First Contract Arbitration Bill that Michelin, our largest private employer in Lunenburg West said puts their operations at risk. Only the PC Party supports changes to the MLA pension plan to put it in line with what it should be and that’s $1 for $1 not the $1 for $6 that it’s at now. Every dollar counts and we will balance the budget in year one!
3) Keep HST off home energy
This is coming from the party the vowed not to increase the HST, then did just that one year after winning the election.
All the parties have said they would keep the HST off home energy so this isn’t anything unique but demonstrates that there isn’t much to the NDP plan when it includes doing what is already done.
4) Give our kids a better start
This part of the NDP platform actually states that THEY capped class sizes and that they introduced anti-bullying laws. I supposed one could say the NDP capped class sizes if they also remember that it was the NDP that first removed the cap. In fact it was the previous PC government that imposed the class size cap. The NDP also failed to listen to school boards and parents as they pushed our community through the review process, only to ‘attempt’ to stop it AFTER it was complete. NDP MLAs were all in attendance to support their schools at community meetings but not one showed up to the final meeting to learn of the closures. Not one! Jamie Baillie and the PC Party called for anti-bullying legislation to be implemented over two years ago when the Nova Scotia task force on bullying made its report. The NDP refused to move forward on either the PC request or the task force’s recommendations until the tragedy we are all too familiar with shook our province.
The Liberal plan is to throw money at everything in the hope that it fixes the issue. Instead of looking to see what the real problem is, they will increase our debt, a huge problem in itself. Nobody would suggest education doesn’t need to be looked at but it is irresponsible to think that the problem is simply a money problem. That said, the Liberals stated they would immediately restore the $65 million cut by the NDP, no questions asked.
A PC government would look at the entire anti-bullying task force report and ensure it’s recommendations are acted upon and not shelved like the NDP did. Clearly class sizes are an issue and so we would restore the caps that the previous PC Government put in place. We would also stop wasteful government spending, ensuring that front line services receive the funding they require. It was the PC Party that first called for a halt to the school review process until the report on the rural economy (The Ivany Report) was complete. How can you truly know the impact a school closure has if you don’t know it’s connection to the rural economy. Our first plan is to look for inefficiencies in the education system. Money may temporarily ‘plug the leak’ but alone, doesn’t solve the real problem. The education system in Nova Scotia needed help when it had the extra $65 million available so simply putting it back isn’t the answer. We need to look at where we’re wasting money, how to stop wasting it and ensure that savings go into the classroom.
5) Stand up for seniors
This one really hits home. The NDP are taking credit for 1,000 long-term care beds opening but again, fail to mention that every single on of these was from the previous government’s plan that was already in motion. In fact, the NDP have not added a single NEW long-term care bed in Nova Scotia since forming the government. As my father began to suffer from Alzheimer’s, we were left, like over 2900 other families in our province, waiting for a bed to open up. In fact, the wait list for a long-term care bed is 50% longer now than it was when the NDP took power.
There currently is no Liberal plan for long-term care available.
Since the NDP decided to stop adding any long-term care beds and halt the process begun by the PC government at phase one, we would ensure that a recommended increase in long-term care beds be completed. Far too many seniors are waiting for long-term care in a hospital. Not only is this the most expensive way to care for seniors, it is not the best way to care for them. Our seniors deserve better. They deserve to be in a facility that caters to their needs while at the same time, freeing up beds to emergencies and other hospital needs. With wait lists up to three years for some locations, this must become a priority for the next government. It certainly is for our Party.
6) Build the Maritime Link for green, local, tax-free energy
First, the Maritime Link isn’t local, it’s a cable that runs under the ocean to Newfoundland that is sold to Nalcor in 35 years for $1. Second, the real cost of energy from this project is still unknown. The UARB itself ruled against this project as presented by the NDP as it was “not in the best interests of Nova Scotians”. The Link isn’t all the green either when you look at the millions of tons on concrete that has to be used to divert a river. There are better options available to us.
The Liberal plan would see our market deregulated. Ontario did that and immediately their rates skyrocketed. In fact, in May 2002, Ontario introduced deregulation and electricity was 2.6 cents per kWh. By mid-July that was 6.8, mid-Aug 8.2 and mid-Spet 8.7 cents per kWh. Ontario then had to issue a rebate to people for all power used above a cap of 4.3 cents per kWh. This meant that the tax roll was subsidising the power rate. We also simply don’t have a large enough market to see other players enter as competition either. The Liberal plan simply cannot work and will only add to our energy costs.
A PC Government would freeze power rates for five years. We would require Nova Scotia Power to buy the most green energy possible within those rates. We would also seek a true Maritime solution to our power issues. A Maritime grid that shares power through PEI, NB and NS. Three small provinces that together have much more purchasing power than divided. We also have an abundance of natural gas that travels through our province. It’s about time we use more of that to replace our coal plants instead of watching it make its way out of province for someone else to use.
7) Keep the budget balanced
That would be great…if the budget was actually balanced. This 2013-14 budget introduced as ‘balanced’ by the NDP uses an 11 month calendar for this year and had pre-paid in 2012 hundreds of millions of dollars in expenses to keep them off of this years books. This budget is no more balanced than I am Wayne Gretzky.
Stephen McNeil has made it very clear. He has “no intention of balancing the budget until 2017”. While the NDP have made massive spending commitments and promises, it is the Liberal Party that trumps them when it comes to spending. McNeil said we would keep every NDP promise PLUS his own. That total (as of today) is just a smidge under three hundred million dollars. Currently, every man, woman and child in this province is burdened with over $15,000 of provincial debt. What we don’t need is more.
It was the PC Government that introduced the ‘balanced budget act’ to Nova Scotia and the NDP Government of Darrell Dexter that repealed it. The act was designed to ensure that every budget was truly balanced. We will restore the act and ensure that Nova Scotia does not continue to pile more debt on our children. Jamie Baillie is a Chartered Accountant and knows a thing or two about how to balance, truly balance a budget. As the only candidate in this riding who is employed in the private sector (and not currently also retired), I can assure you that budgets, deadlines and ensuring that targets (promises) are kept is not lost on me. We will also ensure that before any election is called, the Auditor General presents a true financial picture of Nova Scotia’s finances.
I hope you’ve gained a little more insight into each of the three Parties in this post. We need change in Nova Scotia. In Lunenburg West we need someone who is ready to work for the people, has a track record of doing just that, and the knowledge to put words it into action. I believe I am the best person to represent you in the Nova Scotia Legislature. I am the only candidate currently employed & coming from the private sector. I am the only candidate supporting pension reform (MLA pension plan), debt reduction and doing all this without making hundreds of millions of dollars in promises.
If your vote comes down to the Party Leader I would like to share this with you. This week Jamie Baillie was in Bridgewater yet again to speak to local businesses. At our first stop of the day, someone asked Jamie if he introduced a bill that had a negative impact on Lunenburg West, would he allow me (David) to vote against it. Jamie’s response was the same as the first day I met him and asked that same question myself. “I would expect him to” was Jamie’s answer. “He serves his constituents first, THEN me”. This is true leadership and was a major factor in why I chose the Progressive Conservative Party. When it comes to the three leaders, I believe there is no doubt that Jamie Baillie is the only choice. I’m not going to bash the other two, they’ve demonstrated why they are not the right choice.
On Election Day I am asking for your support. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me by clicking the contact tab at the top of each page or calling my office at 527-2010.