Liberal candidate Kent Blades and Progressive Conservative Chris d’Entremont shake hands after the Sept. 26 candidates forum in Tusket.
ERIC BOURQUE PHOTO
By Eric Bourque
Electoral boundaries, the economy, tourism and the former regional development authority were among the topics discussed as two of the three Argyle-Barrington candidates for the provincial election took part in a forum organized by the Chambre de Commerce d’Argyle Chamber of Commerce.
While Liberal Kent Blades and Progressive Conservative Chris d’Entremont took part in the Sept. 26 event – held at École secondaire de Par-en-Bas – NDP candidate Kenn Baynton did not. Forum moderator Réal Boudreau said he received an email from Baynton at 5:30 p.m., an hour-and-a-half before the forum’s 7 p.m. start time, saying he was “on an emergency call for the Municipality of Barrington” and would be unable to attend the forum. (Baynton is bylaw enforcement officer for the Municipality of Barrington.)
So the event proceeded with one empty chair and an unused microphone at the forum table, Blades and d’Entremont addressing various questions put to them by Boudreau.
Each candidate, for example, expressed support for revisiting the electoral boundaries and working towards restoration of the boundaries as they used to be, although each said it’s important for everyone to work together, given the current reality.
On the economy and the fishery, the candidates said the area needs to consider new business ideas and seek economic diversification. They both expressed support for a proposal to establish a lobster cannery in Shelburne County.
With regard to tourism, the candidates again were basically on the same page, Blades speaking of the need to build back up tourism infrastructure and promote the area, d’Entremont saying the industry needs help in developing product in an effort to make sure visitors who come to southwestern Nova Scotia have things to do while here.
On the matter of the former South West Shore Development Authority and those still owed money in the wake of the SWSDA implosion – including Garian Construction, the Yarmouth County company that built the community centre in which Thursday’s forum was held – the candidates said everyone should be paid.
Among other things, the candidates said they would favour steps to improve or enhance French-language government services in Nova Scotia.
The forum itself was bilingual in nature, Boudreau posing his questions to the candidates in both French and English. Blades – who has been working on his French – spoke mostly in English.
In their concluding remarks – and despite the hope, expressed by each, that the electoral boundaries eventually can go back to the way the way before – the candidates said they have been well received throughout the new constituency.
Blades said he appreciates the challenges facing the Acadian population when it comes to language and culture.
Another event for the candidates is planned for Tuesday, Oct. 1, at the Barrington high school. Scheduled for 7 p.m., this event was being billed as a debate rather than a forum.