The day after releasing his party’s platform for the 2013 Nova Scotia election, Progressive Conservative Party Leader Jamie Baillie was on the road. He already had been in Halifax that morning, where he had attended an event for anti-bullying day, and now he was on the move again.
Progressive Conservative Jamie Baillie (far right) and PC candidate John Cunningham visited the Yarmouth Farmers' Market Saturday mornin.
CARLA ALLEN PHOTO
Less than a week had passed since the election call and Baillie was asked about the PC campaign so far.
“I think it’s going great,” he said. “We’re off to a fast start.”
The Tories’ platform – Change That Works – is about “showing Nova Scotians that we want to change the way the province is run, starting at the top,” he said, “and I am delighted at the contrast that we have between our (platform) and the status-quo plan of the other two (parties).”
Highlights of the PC plan include:
• freezing power rates at 2014 levels for all Nova Scotians for the next five years;
• scrapping the small business tax, increasing the equity tax credit, cutting red tape;
• cutting administration in health care and education and improving the front-line delivery of services in both.
• reducing the size of government, bringing back the balanced budget law, reviewing programs and services to find ways to save money.
“The number-one issue is who can make the decisions necessary to turn our struggling economy around, starting at the top,” Baillie said, citing, for instance, his party’s intention of scrapping the MLA pension plan.
“There’s nothing special about being a politician that means you should have a pension beyond what anyone else could ever hope to have, so I’m going to get rid of it. That, to me, is a great example of change that works, starting at the top.”
With regard to cutting administration costs in health and education, the Tories are proposing reducing the number of district health authorities from 10 to three and the number of school boards from eight to four.
“We need to cut administration and invest in our teachers and our nurses (and doctors),” Baillie said.
The Tories want to stop “corporate handouts” and focus instead on the small business sector by making Nova Scotia the “most small business-friendly province in Canada,” he said.
Asked for the reaction he is getting from voters, he said people seem to like the party’s emphasis on lowering taxes, cutting administration costs and investing more in the delivery of things like health care.
“That’s why, I think, we’re getting such a great reception and that’s what the campaign is going to be all about,” he said.
He cited his party’s support for the Yarmouth ferry service, saying the ferry issue is a “great example of how badly the NDP have bungled our economy, not just in Yarmouth but for all of Nova Scotia.” He referred to the recent news that a ferry operator had been secured as a “pre-election announcement” on the part of the NDP but says the Tories hope the service will succeed.
“Either way, the Yarmouth ferry is written into our platform,” said the 47-year-old Baillie, who is in his first election campaign since becoming the Progressive Conservative leader three years ago.
If the pundits and the polls don’t see the Tories as favourites, he says it doesn’t bother him.
“I’m a Leafs fan and I ran a credit union competing against the biggest banks in the world and winning,” he said. “I am comfortable going in as an underdog, but the response that we’re getting to our Change That Works plan really has me excited about our chances when election day comes.”