Three candidates are in the running in Colchester North for the upcoming provincial election. From left, Karen Casey, Liberal; James Finnie, NDP; Rebecca Taylor, Progressive Conservatives.

Residents in Nova Scotia will hit the polls later this month in a provincial election.

Premier Stephen McNeil met with Lt.-Gov. J.J. Grant on April 30, asking him to dissolve the government and call a general election. The election is set for May 30.

In Colchester North, three candidates are hoping to catch the votes, including incumbent Karen Casey with the Liberal party. Casey was first elected in 2006 when she was a member of the Progressive Conservative Party. She was re-elected in 2009 while still with the PCs, however crossed the floor to the Liberal party in early 2011. Constituents re-elected her in 2013 and she is currently the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.

James Finnie, of East Mountain, was the successful candidate to represent the NDPs, with business owner Rebecca Taylor taking the PC nomination.

The Light presented the three candidates with five questions leading up to the election. Their responses are below. The candidates are presented in alphabetical order, by last name, with a small profile of each.

 

Karen Casey      

Liberal

Teacher by trade; elected Official since 2006.

Resides in: Valley

Family: Husband, Glen; 2 sons; 4 beautiful grandchildren

Why should constituents take you seriously?

My commitment to communities, and families in those communities has always been my top priority as the MLA. The most important responsibility of an MLA is to listen to the concerns of their constituents and then bring some of their great ideas forward. I have a proven ability to work with governments at all levels to assist in delivering a favourable response.

What are you going to do about the quality of health care?

I firmly believe that every Nova Scotian deserves access to quality health care.  This health care can be through family doctors, collaborative care centres and primary and acute care facilities. Working with the Lillian Fraser Memorial Hospital over the last 10 years has seen it transform into an excellent centre for care.  The new renovations and team of committed doctors provide an excellent site for the delivery of that health care in Tatamagouche and area.  The successful recruitment of a physician to compliment the current team of professionals is something of which I am very proud.

How do you plan to change the public education system?

I will continue to work with classroom teachers to help identify solutions to classroom conditions which have been identified as needing improvement. Increased support for a broad range of learners including those who need special help and those whom are gifted is a top priority.  Reducing class sizes from grade 7 to 12, effective in 2017, will give teachers more time to provide one on one support in their class. For the first time in the province of Nova Scotia, four-year-olds will have the opportunity to attend a full day play based program at no cost to parents that will better prepare them for grade primary. This is good news for four-year-olds, parents, and teachers – many who have indicated students are better prepared for grade primary if they have been part of a four-year-old program.

How are you going to address the problem of declining population in the rural areas?

Providing quality health care, education, employment opportunities, and recreational opportunities to help attract families to rural Nova Scotia is key to the revitalization of these areas. Tatamagouche is one of the fastest growing rural communities in Nova Scotia. The quality of life, the friendliness of people, the job opportunities, innovative entrepreneurs, and all of the services in health care and education that are available here make it a desirable place to live. Dedicated volunteers are the heart of the community. Tatamagouche can serve as a model for other rural communities in Nova Scotia.  

How are you going to address the problem of poor digital infrastructure? Without a world class digital infrastructure we will not be able to attract entrepreneurs to the rural areas. How do you plan to address the problem of extremely low uploading speeds, in particular?

I recognize the importance of high speed internet so that entrepreneurs are able to support and succeed in their business in rural Nova Scotia. I will continue to support our government in a $14.5 million investment of rural high speed internet, and will work to ensure a timely delivery on that service. I will continue to listen to the concerns of business owners and all residents.

 

James AH Finnie

NDP

Entrepreneur small business owner

Resides in: East Mountain

Family: wife, Linda, and five children and one grandchild

Why should constituents take you seriously?

I first got involved in politics back in the 1980s living under the Thatcher government in Scotland (UK). The injustice and inequality that were nurtured by this government drove me to take a stand for a fairer society that would embrace everyone not just the elite. During my working life, I have experienced many different forms of employment as well as also suffering the indignity and hardship brought on by redundancy. I have filled store shelves, held ladders, dug holes in the roads, worked as a lab tech, a games author, a sous chef, a sales manager, an operations manager, a general manager and before coming to Canada I was the head of an international data processing company. I understand how everyone and everything is connected and that decisions made by government have real life consequences for us all. I will always put the people of Colchester North before party.

What are you going to do about the quality of health care?

The NDP has a plan to invest properly in health care that has gained a substantial amount of support in all our communities.  I intend to make sure that we not only invest but that we LISTEN to those who work in and use our health care system. The days of politicians telling everyone how to do their jobs has to STOP. Only by listening and really understanding can we improve the quality of our health system. The greatest asset we have is always the combined knowledge, skill, and dedication of those healthcare staff (and I mean everyone not just doctors and nurses) who work so hard for us all. 

How do you plan to change the public education system?

The future of our province is literally the youth of today and the fact that we allow them to incur vast amounts of debt, forcing many of them to leave our communities to chase the higher paid positions required to just pay this burden off, is at best negligent of our government. The first thing we need to do is stop treating teachers as the enemy. We need to listen to them and to what they need to prepare our children for adult life. We also need to provide education that both works for all pupils and for future employment opportunities here in Nova Scotia. The NDP plan to provide free tuition at Nova Scotia Community College is an amazing start; I believe we should work to have this expanded to cover all further education of our youth. I will also fight against any move to allow corporations to gain access and influence over our education system. 

How are you going to address the problem of declining population in the rural areas?

My answers to the education and health care system go some way to answering this also. My answer to the digital infrastructure would have a positive effect as well. Of course, making sure that a clear understanding of what is happening and where support/intervention is required is essential. I have already spoken with the mayor of Colchester County and informed her that if elected I intend to be involved in the support and promotion of this amazing group of communities. I think we could also learn a thing or two from the people of Tatamagouche on how to energize a rural area.

How are you going to address the problem of poor digital infrastructure? Without a world class digital infrastructure, we will not be able to attract entrepreneurs to the rural areas. How do you plan to address the problem of extremely low uploading speeds, in particular?

The only way we can address this issue is with government intervention. The idea that private companies will ride to the rescue is just like so much from our Liberal/Conservative friends just more rainbows and unicorns. If there was a way to do this with a quick large profit then it would have already happened, it hasn’t so it’s time for a responsible government to step up with a plan and get the job done. As a small business owner who relies on web based sales I understand the importance of this issue. My background as the head of an international data processing company gives me a unique insight in helping find a solution to this urgent problem. Only by being able to provide 21st century digital infrastructure can we hope to attract and keep the much-needed businesses both large and small to our communities. I don’t do problems, I find solutions.

 

Rebecca Taylor

Progressive Conservative

Small business owner

Resides in: Lornevale

Family: Husband Dan, teenage daughters Grace and Sylvie

Why should constituents take you seriously?

I bring real world experience to the job. I’ve been a small business owner for almost eight years, so I know the challenges that come with operating a business in this economy. I’m actively involved in economic development and tourism organizations and I believe Colchester North is under appreciated and under promoted by our current government. I’ve also worked for provincial government in the areas of job creation and the environment, and as an administrator for a school board. I’ve seen things from all points of view so I have a broader understanding.

What are you going to do about the quality of health care?

I’ve listened to nurses and doctors who are very frustrated and I’ve listened to people who are worried about the future. It seems unfair to me that we have the longest wait times in Canada for joint replacement surgeries. One of the reasons for that is a lack of home care support. In many cases, family members have moved out west for work, leaving elderly parents with nobody to take care of them after surgery. There aren’t enough home care providers to meet the need, so these patients have to stay in hospital for weeks. Earlier discharge would enable more surgeries to be done.

How do you plan to change the public education system?

The main concern I’ve heard is that we need to change our approach to inclusive education so that children who need educational supports will receive them. Teachers really aren’t looking for wage increases. They simply can’t do their jobs properly with the lack of classroom supports like educational assistants. Imagine a classroom of 28 students, with five or six who have learning or behavioural challenges, and one teacher meant to teach the main lesson as well as five or six modified lessons. That sets everyone up for failure.

How are you going to address the problem of declining population in the rural areas?

I’ve chatted with many business owners who have a hard time finding skilled labourers and professionals simply because they can’t pay them as much as they could get out west and the cost of living is so high here. We pay some of the highest income tax and sales taxes in Canada, our electricity rates are the second highest in the country, and the tax on tax makes our gasoline price higher than it should really be. The Progressive Conservative party has a plan to create good jobs through infrastructure renewal projects, and we’re going to address excessive taxation.

I’d also like to attract more working families to Nova Scotia from other parts of Canada. I can’t think of a nicer place to raise a family, and real estate is much less expensive than it is in other provinces. A family could sell their home in Ontario, buy a beautiful property in Nova Scotia, and put a large amount of money in the bank.

How are you going to address the problem of poor digital infrastructure? Without a world class digital infrastructure we will not be able to attract entrepreneurs to the rural areas. How do you plan to address the problem of extremely low uploading speeds, in particular?

I live in the country with two teenage daughters, so this is an issue I know well. The CRTC has declared access to the internet a basic service, like electricity. There’s no reason why every Nova Scotian shouldn’t have access to affordable high speed internet. Small businesses and tourism attractions depend on it. If we’re going to grow our economy, we need to make it a priority. Maybe it takes a creative solution. For example, community development organizations could create their own sustainable internet infrastructure with initial support from the government.

 

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Raissa Tetanish
Raissa Tetanish is the editor of the Tatamagouche Light. She has more than 12 years experience as a reporter, with a background in both photography and photojournalism. She can be reached at 902-305-6177, or raissatetanish@tatamagouchelight.com.