SAMSONVILLE: Jamie Baillie, leader of Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative party, visited the area late last week to support local candidates, explain his party’s platform and, last Friday night at the Lakeside Community Centre, sample some Richmond County barbecue.
“I don’t think we can go wrong with the numbers that are here,” said Alana Paon, speaking to The Reporter at the barbecue dinner hosted by the community centre. “I hope we have enough pork chops.”
Paon is the PC candidate for Cape Breton-Richmond. She said she was pleased to have Baillie visit her neck of the woods. She was also pleased with the number of supporters attending the dinner. Attendance was so high that, as she was being interviewed, additional tables and chairs were being set up for attendees.
“The part of the process I enjoy the most is going door-to-door and meeting the different constituents and listening to the concerns people have at events like this,” she said. “I’m hearing a lot about health care and education.”
The PC leader told The Reporter he likes what he’s hearing on the campaign trail.
“We’re feeling good about where we are at this point,” he said. “It’s still early, but the race has become very tight and we’re excited about where we’re headed.
“I’m very proud of the team of candidates we have. They are bright, young, energetic people. The Strait area is a terrific example. Allan MacMaster is an experienced MLA, and Alana Paon in Richmond is an experienced business woman from the heart of Isle Madame and knows the county well. I think they’ll be great MLAs for the area.”
Baillie visited Samsonville just a day after the release his election platform. The bedrock of the platform includes measures to create jobs and boost infrastructure through the Rebuild Nova Scotia Fund.
Baillie also campaigned with Antigonish PC candidate Ray Mattie on May 12, before heading to Samsonville. After campaigning with Paon the next morning at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, Baillie was in Havre Boucher for a lunchtime visit to the seniors’ complex with Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie PC candidate Rob Wolf.
The PC leader is looking to make the province attractive to businesses through tax relief. On the subject of taxes, the PC plan entails increasing the small business tax threshold from $350,000 to $500,000, meaning businesses will pay less tax and have more money to grow.
“It’s a unique election platform,” he said. “It’s our vision of where we want to see Nova Scotia over the next 10 years. I don’t think people are looking just for an election year document or even a four-year document. We need to have a 10-year plan to get Nova Scotians back to work and get doctors in rural communities.
“The heart of our jobs plan is our Rebuild Nova Scotia Fund,” he said. “It’s a $2 billion investment to put Nova Scotians back to work. The plan sees the province twinning highways without tolls, doubling the road budget for rural roads, and making sure we get high speed Internet into all areas of the province. We designed the fund to put people to work on those important projects.”
Health care is another area both Baillie and Paon cited as critical. Baillie said health care in Nova Scotia is at a point of crisis, and the epicenter of that crisis is Cape Breton. He said the PCs are ready to invest $20 million in a doctor and specialist recruitment program. He also wants to double the province’s tuition relief program to get doctors into rural areas.
When asked how his government would foot the bill for such measures, he said his platform is fully costed-out.
“Basically, we made targeted investments in the areas that people need within a balanced budget, and I’m proud of the work we did to identify that funding,” he said.