Queens County held a candidates debate on Sept. 23, with three of the four candidates taking part. NDP candidate Sterling Belliveau, Progressive Conservative candidate Bruce Inglis and Liberal candidate Benson Frail all took part. Green Party candidate Madeline Taylor declined as she had just finished the nomination forms.
© Brittany W. Verge Photo
The candidates debate took place on Sept. 23 at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool
The NDP will maintain the number of District Health Authorities
Belliveau said the NDP have no intention of reducing the number of health boards, now sitting at 10, because larger boards would be at the expense of the communities.
"The decisions on health care needs to be in these communities," he said, adding a large bureaucracy in Halifax can't make the decisions for all of Nova Scotia.
He also suggested talking to health care professionals to get their view on larger boards.
Frail said the Liberals are proposing four regional zones to cut down on the number of administrative staff such as CEO's and Vice-Presidents. To compensate, community health boards would remain and hospitals would be given greater local power.
"Site based management and site based decision making with be strengthened and implemented, providing health care workers with the ability to make a difference to the patients they care for," he said.
This would save about $13 million, which would go back into health care.
Inglis said health care is a top priority for the PC Party, and cited that 10 top executives make over $2 million.
"You can't tell me in that system there isn't some fat and some redundancies," he said.
The PC's proposal would create three health boards total, one in Halifax, one for IWK and one for rural Nova Scotia.
"There may not be magic answers for health care, but we know with our aging population it is going to be a huge issue going forward."
Liberal policy: In Nova Scotia petroleum regulation and the tax-on-tax are unnecessarily inflating the price we pay at the pumps
Benson said the Liberals want to get rid of tax on tax, which would reduce it by about 4 cents a litre, plus deregulation would reduce another cent.
Gas has two federal taxes, totaling 25 cents, applied before the HST is then added on, and Frail said it is an unnecessary expense for consumers.
Inglis said the gas tax is on the PC Party's radar and they would take of the provincial portion, which amounts to about 2.5 cents per litre.
Sterling said it is about balance, and the NDP took off HST from other items such as children's clothing, footware, diapers and home energy power bills.
The gas tax has remained however for a reason.
"It goes to one important thing. It goes to road improvement," he said.
The PC's will give consumers more choice and taxpayers better value by allowing the sale of wine and beer in more private sector retail across the province
Inglis said this policy would benefit more small businesses in the communities by allowing them to have greater services for their customers.
"In rural Nova Scotia, we will have growth driven by small businesses," he said.
Frail said the Liberals are looking at ways to promote fairness for smaller craft liquors, support them and create employment.
Belliveau said the NDP supports the status quo, with the outlet retailers that exist already.
"I think we have enough outlets in Nova Scotia," he said.
He also said too many retailers means one will get the business at the expense of others.
The PC's would transfer drawing up electoral boundaries from the Nova Scotia House of Assembly to the Utility and Review Board
Inglis said this has been a major issue in this riding, which has created a large amount of cynicism. By taking it out of the legislature, Inglis said it will take the politics out of the equation.
"No one will ever feel that politics has played a part in their disappointment. If an independent body creates a new riding, it won't be because of political will," said Inglis.
Belliveau said there needs to be a better process, and one that involves the people more than it has.
"It was an independent panel, it was not our government," he said of the decision.
He added it was an 11th hour decision to change the boundaries to the way they are now.
Frail said it was apparent this has discouraged people, and it was not a transparent and open process. That needs to change when the next review comes up in 10 years time.
"Premier Dexter and the NDP interfered with an independent process," he said.
The Liberals are proposing moratorium on hydraulic fracking until an independent review is completed
Frail said they need a ban on the fracking process in Nova Scotia, until an independent review of the process is completed.
"Until we can definitely determine fracking will not harm our resources, our environment or the public in any way, the procedure should be prohibited," he said.
Frail also called for a ban on importing and disposing of hydraulic fracking water into municipal waste water systems.
Inglis said the PC Party has a similar mandate, and agrees with plan. He added the government needs to protect all natural resources for the future.
Belliveau pointed out the NDP has not issued any permits for fracking since coming into power. At present a report is in the works on fracking, due sometime in 2014.
"We know this is a topic of concern in Nova Scotia," he said.
Many people have wells in rural Nova Scotia he said, and they need to keep the water safe.
Home for coloured children question
A former resident of the Home for Coloured Children in Halifax asked what each party will do about the abuse claims that have come forward about the facility.
Frail said they would try to right the wrong that happened at the home.
"(The Liberals) understand injustices were served, and would look to rectify that," he said
Inglis compared it to the Boys School abuse scandal in Shelburne, and said it was a mark on the reputation of Nova Scotia.
"We can't change what has happened, but we can hold accountability and do the best to recognize the atrocities that occurred, and to do the best thing we can to the people that went through that."
Belliveau was in municipal politics when the Shelburne Boys School scandal came forward, and recognized the sensitivity of the issue. The NDP have appointed asocial worker to create the terms of reference for a review
"The importance of this is that justice is served, and those that have been abused are compensated," he said.
Is Muskrat Falls is the best option for future power needs?
Belliveau said the province has to move to renewable energy in the future. He said as environment minister they signed an agreement two years ago committing to the reduction of use of fossil fuels
"We need to get off of fossil fuels," he said.
He said freezing rates, such as PC Party is proposing, would take them backwards in goal of getting on renewable energy.
Belliveau went to Copenhagen energy summit in 2009, and said it was embarrassing that Canada was awarded with international award for being a fossil.
The award he is referring to is the Colossal Fossil award, which is awarded to the country that the Climate Action Network says has done the most to hinder the progress on combating climate change.
"I do not want Canada to keep receiving this award," he said.
Frail said he wants to be sure the Maritime Link is the best option for the lowest price before moving forward with the deal.
He also said that Nova Scotia Power should pay for the link out of their own profits, not the pockets of taxpayers.
Inglis said power is a hot topic right now, and families are struggling to pay for the cost.
"We want power at the lowest price we can get. We want it to be environmentally sound, and we want our options to become renewable," he said.
However he said it needs to be done at a pace the province can afford, which the PC Party thinks they can do.
Inglis and the PC Party would go back to the table to negotiate the best deal possible. He also added the link should not be paid for by the taxpayers but by Nova Scotia Power.