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RCO





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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:15 am    Post subject: Nova Scotia headed for a spring provincial election ? Reply with quote

( its looking increasingly likely that Nova Scotia is headed to the polls sooner rather than later )



Springtime election fever

Voters, politicians and overseers are gearing up for a late-spring provincial election.
By Michael Lightstone



The winds of war, on the political front, are upon us.

Nova Scotia’s Liberal government has been bombing the province with pre-election funding announcements, political parties are assembling their roster of candidates (who are keeping campaign ammunition at the ready) and Elections Nova Scotia is gearing up for the multi-million-dollar job of overseeing the vote.

Since the province has no fixed election date, staff at the non-partisan agency have been ready to roll for some time now.

“We have a number of plans that are always in place” to help prepare for the next election, says Andy LeBlanc, spokesperson for Elections Nova Scotia. There’s a lot “that goes on behind the scenes, and between elections.”

LeBlanc says his office is monitoring news reports, which have included speculation about when Nova Scotians will head to the polls. “We listen to the same media that you might listen to, and so we listen to where things are.”

According to Elections Nova Scotia, there are about 750,000 registered electors in the province. History has shown many of those people choose not to mark their X when the opportunity arises, despite concerted efforts made to improve voter turnout.

In the 2013 provincial election, 58.2 percent of electors voted. Four years earlier, the turnout was 57.9 percent.

David Johnson, a political science professor at Cape Breton University, says the best way to improve voter turnout is for “an exciting campaign” to take place, one which involves a cranky electorate ready for a change at Province House.

“That seems unlikely this time, meaning that we will probably see turnout levels look similar to past elections, maybe even decline a bit,” he says.

To get this province election-ready, several crucial tasks must be completed by Elections Nova Scotia. Among them: hire 51 returning officers and other election workers, rent accessible polling places, prepare and purchase advertising, supervise the process involving registered candidates and administer voting on alternative days and election day.

LeBlanc says all returning officers have been hired. Elections Nova Scotia employs 18 people but will need about 6,000 temporary workers for the general election.

Planning and executing the 2013 election cost about $9.4 million. The next one will likely be more than that, LeBlanc tells The Coast.

“The reason for that—there’s inflation, of course—but the other reason is that we’re extending voting opportunities. In 2013, there were a couple of days of advanced polls. There will be seven days of advanced polls this time.”

On its website, Elections Nova Scotia regularly updates its grid of hopefuls running for office under the banners of Atlantica, Green, Liberal, NDP, Progressive Conservative and independent.

If you are a Canadian citizen and age 18 or older on voting day, and have lived in the province for at least six months prior to the election date, then you can vote. Elections Nova Scotia’s website also has information for voters with special needs, including homeless citizens.

Voters living temporarily outside the province can apply to vote by mail. Once an application is approved by Elections Nova Scotia, the voter is issued a kit with instructions.

Politicians at Nova Scotia’s legislature will reconvene for the spring sitting on April 25. The Liberals’ budget is to follow two days later.

“It’s looking highly likely that the election will be called shortly after the provincial budget is introduced into the House of Assembly,” says Johnson. Pre-budget announcements that have already been made, he says, are telegraphing a “good-news” budget and “will be the lead-off cue to a spring election.”

http://www.thecoast.ca/halifax.....id=6800897
RCO





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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

( one of the higher profile liberal mla's has also announced recently that she won't be running for re-election )


Justice Minister Diana Whalen will not run in next election

Whalen will stay in her role as minister and deputy premier until the next election

By Michael Gorman, CBC News Posted: Mar 24, 2017 12:56 PM AT| Last Updated: Mar 24, 2017 3:22 PM AT

Diana Whalen said Friday she won't run in the next election.



Nova Scotia Justice Minister Diana Whalen will not run again in the next provincial election, leaving the Liberals without one of their most dependable and popular candidates.

Whalen, who also serves as deputy premier and is MLA for Clayton Park West, made the announcement on Friday. She informed Premier Stephen McNeil of her decision following Thursday's cabinet meeting.

"It was a hard decision to make. I love the work I do, I love representing my community," she told reporters.

"But I think there's a time when you have to look at the balance in life and this is my moment."

Whalen and premier
Premier Stephen McNeil and Justice Minister Diana Whalen speak to reporters on Friday. (CBC)

Whalen had a heart attack in December and took a leave of absence. She said her health is fine now, but if she were re-elected it would mean four more years of hard work that is "all-consuming" and Whalen said she needs more balance.

"I feel great today and I haven't had any trouble being back for the last two months."

Sitting beside his colleague since 2003, McNeil called it huge personal loss. While he wasn't surprised by the news, McNeil said he was saddened, adding he had always hoped they would leave politics at the same time.

"My career and Diana's career have been linked from the very beginning."

The kind of MLA people want: McNeil

That link includes competing against each other for the party leadership in 2007, a race that came down to the two of them being separated by just a handful of ballots. McNeil played down any suggestion the race strained their connection, saying that — if anything — the experience brought the two closer together.

In 2003, Whalen was the only woman in a caucus that today has ten women. McNeil said their shared legacy is a caucus that better reflects how the province looks today.

He paid tribute to Whalen's work as an MLA, including efforts to bring the Canada Games Centre to her district, protect the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes area and get a February holiday for the province.

"She's exactly the kind of person that I believe Nova Scotians would want to represent them."

Rewards outweigh difficulties

When the Liberals first formed government, Whalen was appointed finance minister. It wasn't always an easy time. When the government changed the film tax credit, many in the industry held her responsible for the decision and condemned initial changes they feared would damage the industry.

While politics is a challenging career, Whalen said it is also "tremendously rewarding" work which she recommends to anyone who wants to get involved. She doesn't know what's next for her, but Whalen said she would continue to be involved in her community, just as she always has.

"The rewards far outweigh the difficulty," she said. "I look back on it with great pride."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/.....-1.2781464
cosmostein





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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would imagine it will be a fairly safe Liberal Majority (Again)
Maybe a few close seats shuffle around.

The most interesting thing to come of this election will be the PC leadership race that will likely follow it.
RCO





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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cosmostein wrote:
I would imagine it will be a fairly safe Liberal Majority (Again)
Maybe a few close seats shuffle around.

The most interesting thing to come of this election will be the PC leadership race that will likely follow it.



I really don't see the NS ndp doing as well as they did in past elections and there new leader doesn't even have a seat yet .


I'm not really sure Jamie Baillie is going anywhere , who else would there even be as possible alternatives ? they only have a small caucus of 10 or so mla's and no one that high profile
not sure if any former federal mp's would be an option at provincial level ? there doesn't seem to be an obvious alternative unless I'm forgetting someone ?
Progressive Tory





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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RCO wrote:
cosmostein wrote:
I would imagine it will be a fairly safe Liberal Majority (Again)
Maybe a few close seats shuffle around.

The most interesting thing to come of this election will be the PC leadership race that will likely follow it.



I really don't see the NS ndp doing as well as they did in past elections and there new leader doesn't even have a seat yet .


I'm not really sure Jamie Baillie is going anywhere , who else would there even be as possible alternatives ? they only have a small caucus of 10 or so mla's and no one that high profile
not sure if any former federal mp's would be an option at provincial level ? there doesn't seem to be an obvious alternative unless I'm forgetting someone ?


Peter MacKay could probably become PC leader right now and win the upcoming election. :)
RCO





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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Progressive Tory wrote:
RCO wrote:
cosmostein wrote:
I would imagine it will be a fairly safe Liberal Majority (Again)
Maybe a few close seats shuffle around.

The most interesting thing to come of this election will be the PC leadership race that will likely follow it.



I really don't see the NS ndp doing as well as they did in past elections and there new leader doesn't even have a seat yet .


I'm not really sure Jamie Baillie is going anywhere , who else would there even be as possible alternatives ? they only have a small caucus of 10 or so mla's and no one that high profile
not sure if any former federal mp's would be an option at provincial level ? there doesn't seem to be an obvious alternative unless I'm forgetting someone ?


Peter MacKay could probably become PC leader right now and win the upcoming election. :)


Mackay would make a high profile leader for the NS pc's if he wanted the job , don't believe he's ever really expressed serious interest .

there also could be some other options , some people I haven't necessary heard of before as I'm not from Nova Scotia
Progressive Tory





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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Deputy Mayor - or former maybe - of Halifax is running. He's running in a seat that the Liberals easily took last time but I imagine if he wins he could be a possibility for leader. I don't know much about Nova Scotia politics though or this guy.
RCO





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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

‘Election coming’ in Nova Scotia but premier won’t say when


A spate of government funding announcements against the backdrop of a longtime fiscal restraint stance leads to heightened speculation about a spring vote.
200 shares
Apr 6, 2017 2:34 PM by: Francis Campbell

mcneil
Premier Stephen McNeil: 'It’s no secret that I’ve been out telling candidates to be knocking on doors, to be active and I’ve reached out to volunteers in our party to be active, to get ready. We all know there is an election coming at some point. We don’t know the date.' (LOCAL XPRESS / FILE)


Premier Stephen McNeil was doing some verbal and financial juggling Thursday morning.

First, there was the effort to reconcile the government’s prodigious spending spree of late with recent warnings to teachers and other unions that there just wasn’t enough money in the pot to satisfy their demands.

Then, there’s the obvious parallels drawn between government spending and the increasing likelihood of a spring election.

“We continue to invest every year,” McNeil said at a news conference. “If you look at the investments that we are making in our province, it’s been about infrastructure that we’ve been investing in our communities. At the same time, we’ve provided wage increases over a four-year cycle of 3.5 per cent. I want to compare that to a sister province of Saskatchewan, which has reduced the public service wages by 3.5 per cent. They are cutting jobs to the public sector. We’ve done none of that.”

McNeil said his government is allowing growth at a slower pace, pointing to investments in the wine industry, seafood exports and graduate incentives.

“This province is in a good financial position to be able to make investments today and it is because we’ve been making investments in people over this time but at the same time investing in infrastructure that will allow communities to grow and provide economic opportunities for our citizens.”

Those investments include an additional $6.9 million announced Thursday to be added to the Nova Scotia Film and Television Production Incentive Fund. That funding comes two years after the Liberal government slashed the film industry tax credit in a move that severely compromised the province’s ability to compete with other jurisdictions for film sector money.

See also: Nova Scotia film and TV industry gets $6.9-million boost.

The film and television incentive announcement has pushed government spending pledges to nearly $50 million in recent days. Other announcements include $13.6 million over a three-year period for an action plan for an aging population, $7.1 million over two years for an online public health information system and $4.45 million for a Transportation Department maintenance garage near Bridgewater.



“We continue to promote our budgets before we actually introduce budgets,” McNeil said when asked if he is trying to buy votes with funding announcements. The budget is scheduled to be introduced on April 27.

“This is allowing us to make announcements because the province has been working very diligently to make sure that we make strategic investments in economic growth.”

The premier said the imposition of a contract on teachers in late February reflects the financial reality the province faces.

“There is no question that this province has financial challenges, we still do. The surplus that will be introduced will not be humongous but if you look at the investments we are making, they are investments in economic growth.

“It’s a measured approach, a balanced approach. We could have chosen like the former government to invest all of our money in salaries and increases and cut money out of classrooms. That wasn’t an approach that I think parents and students wanted, nor do I think it was an approach teachers wanted. What we’ve done is a balanced approach to how you govern.”

He said the film and television investment is broader and more transparent than the previous tax credit.

“That funding is transparent. That tax credit was not transparent,” the premier said. “What we have said and what we continue to do is to invest in an open and transparent set of rules so that all Nova Scotians will be able to assess the investment they have made into that sector and whether or not that sector is returning back to our province.”

In slashing the film tax credit in 2015, then finance minister Diana Whalen said it came down to whether the province wanted to spend money on education and health or on the film industry. In recent days, the government appears committed to spending money on just about everything, again raising speculation of a pending election call.

“The only thing I can tell you is that the House is opening on the 25th.”

The premier said he believes the annual general meeting for the Liberal party scheduled for next month has been postponed but he would not say that means an election call is in the offing.

“It’s no secret that I’ve been out telling candidates to be knocking on doors, to be active and I’ve reached out to volunteers in our party to be active, to get ready. We all know there is an election coming at some point. We don’t know the date.”

The premier and Acadian Affairs Minister Michel Samson were to meet representatives of FANE, the Acadian federation of Nova Scotia, on Thursday afternoon to talk about effective representation.

Nova Scotia’s Court of Appeal ruled in January that the previous NDP government was wrong to force an independent commission to change three predominantly French-speaking ridings to have them include an increased English-speaking population.

Since the early 1980s, the “protected ridings” ensured that Acadians had a strong influence in provincial elections. Acadian groups challenged the 2012 decision by the Dexter government to change boundaries in court.

“We’ve said all along that we’ll reconstitute a boundary commission but we need to be able to give that commission guidelines and instructions and we need to understand what they (FANE) mean by effective representation,” McNeil said, alluding to the reality that redrawing boundaries will take time and cannot be completed before a provincial election.

https://www.localxpress.ca/local-news/we-all-know-there-is-an-election-coming-at-some-point-582257
RCO





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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nova Scotia spending spree touted as indication of potential spring election

Nova Scotia election
Nova Scotia Liberal leader Stephen McNeil speaks to media following the official launch of the Nova Scotia Provincial Liberal campaign in Halifax on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (Devaan Ingraham / THE CANADIAN PRESS)


Keith Doucette, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Wednesday, April 5, 2017 4:29PM ADT



HALIFAX -- A Nova Scotia government spending spree -- more than $40 million has come in a flurry of recent daily announcements -- is heightening speculation Premier Stephen McNeil will call an election this spring.

Erin Crandall, a political scientist at Acadia University, said the spending stands in stark contrast to the Liberal government's tough line when it imposed a contract on more than 9,000 unionized public school teachers in February.

"This spring you are seeing a lot of spending from a government that for the last few years has been saying there is no money to spend," said Crandall. "This is probably a good indication that if it's not a spring election, then they are certainly thinking about an election that is coming soon."



Nova Scotia is the only province without a fixed election date; the government will reach the four-year mark in October.

Government spending in March included $7.1 million over two years to put the electronic public health information system online; $4.45 million for a Transportation Department maintenance garage near Bridgewater; $2.25 million for a community centre for Jordantown, Acaciaville and Conway; and $13.6 million over three years for an action plan for seniors.

Millions more were also announced as part of a federal-provincial program for affordable housing. Among spending so far this month is $3.2 million for a project to convert the Holy Angels Convent in Sydney into a centre for the arts.

Although she drew no conclusions, Crandall said it generally helps to pay attention to where the announcements are being made in order to decipher the government's intentions.

She said governments typically make announcements in ridings that are perceived to be competitive.

"It's not about popular vote, it's about winning enough ridings, so that means you can use spending announcements in a targeted way and in a strategic way."

The Liberals have in fact made announcements in ridings that were hotly contested in 2013, including $1 million to help upgrade Lunenburg Academy, and $12,500 for a study of the economic benefits of smart grid technology by the Town of Amherst.

The academy is in the Lunenburg riding that was captured by Liberal Suzanne Lohnes-Croft in 2013, after it was held by the NDP in 2009 and the Progressive Conservatives in 2006. Amherst sits in the Cumberland North riding won by Liberal Terry Farrell in a close three-way race in 2013.

McNeil has sent mixed signals about his plans. The premier recently dismissed opposition talk that the spending is simply about electioneering, but he also refused to rule out going to the polls before the April 27 budget is passed.

Election speculation has only increased since the release of recent poll numbers that continue to place the Liberals in majority territory despite a 12 point drop in support.

Crandall thinks the trend line can't be ignored.

"For this government there is not a lot of space to increase their numbers," she said. "If they have taken a hit, then part of their calculation is: Are we better off going sooner rather than later?"

David Johnson, a political scientist at Cape Breton University, also thinks the poll numbers are behind what appears to be the kickoff of a de facto campaign.

"Already they have announced they'll have a balanced budget ... and to be then able to say that you have resources you can put into different programs like the ones they are announcing -- it's all adding up to an election call likely coming sooner rather than later."

Spending aside, Johnson believes there is little to prevent the Liberals from going to the polls, including potential court action signalled this week by the Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia over the loss of three so-called protected ridings in an electoral boundary redrawing in 2012.

"I think the premier can mollify Acadian and minority opinions by saying we will have a redistribution after this election," said Johnson. "It may cause a few hiccups along the way early on, but I don't think the issue has great legs."

http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/nov.....-1.3356131
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The PCs are getting a fair bit of media attention after announcing that Rob Batherson will be their candidate in Halifax Citadel-Sable Island. He's a past party president, sits on the federal party's national council, owns a PR firm and has sat on numerous boards in Halifax.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/.....-1.4075854
RCO





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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

( sable island ? I didn't realise anyone lived there , isn't it a barren island )


Businessman seeking PC nomination in Halifax Citadel-Sable Island

AMANDA PANACCI STAFF REPORTER
Published April 19, 2017 - 1:20pm
Last Updated April 20, 2017 - 1:26pm



Rob Batherson worked for six years in Hamm government


Jamie Baillie, right, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, announces Rob Batherson is seeking the PC nomination for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island. (Staff)
Jamie Baillie, right, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, announces Rob Batherson is seeking the PC nomination for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island. (Staff)



Halifax businessman and community leader Rob Batherson has announced he’s seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination in Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

On Wednesday, the president and co-owner of downtown creative social agency Colour PR said he’s excited for the opportunity to bring his passion and dedication to the people of Halifax in a new role.

He says a lot of the “game changers” listed in the Ivany Report have not been addressed yet.

“We’ve got to change the government, and change the premier, to actually find a way to bring Nova Scotians together and get some changes happening here in the city,” Batherson said in a phone interview.

Two issues he wants to address are the high taxes plaguing small businesses and the protection of historic and heritage buildings.

“Only in the weeks leading up to a likely provincial election is the province now providing some modest tax relief for small businesses,” he said.

Conservative leader Jamie Baillie has worked closely with Batherson for more than 20 years.

Before entering the private sector, Batherson worked as press secretary and then communications director with Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm from 1999-2005. He also ran for the same office 19 years ago for his hometown of Sackville-Cobequid.

“Having exceptional and accomplished people like Rob Batherson running for the Progressive Conservative Party in Halifax proves our party is ready to form the next government,” Baillie said in a news release.

Batherson has a background in business, volunteer services and public policy.

He’s the past-president of the Neptune Theatre Foundation and a former chairman of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.

He also serves as one of the municipality’s representatives on the Halifax Stanfield airport board, is a member of the board of directors of the EduNova co-operative, a member of the board of governors of Sacred Heart School of Halifax, and a volunteer with the Junior Achievement Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame.

He says that he’s planning to take leave from his PR business when an election is called.

“This community is where I spend most of my time,” he said of Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, where his business, home and son’s school are located.

“I want to see it thrive and grow and make sure the area has strong, active and energetic representation at Province House.”

http://thechronicleherald.ca/n.....ble-island
RCO





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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

( a former liberal mla has also been named as a candidate in Halifax )


Former Liberal MLA named PC candidate for Halifax Atlantic

THE CHRONICLE HERALD
Published April 20, 2017 - 1:10pm
Last Updated April 20, 2017 - 1:24pm


Bruce Holland of the Spryfield Business Commission has been announced as the Progressive Conservative candidate for Halifax Atlantic in the next provincial election.

Holland, a former Liberal MLA for Timberlea-Prospect, a cabinet minister and Parkview News publisher and founder, is the latest to be added to the Conservative roll-call.

According to a news release, he brings a blend of public and private sector experience to the table.

“We need an MLA who stands up for what matters to the people of Halifax Atlantic and doesn’t just toe (Premier) Stephen McNeil’s party line,” Holland said in a news release.

Holland says people in Halifax Atlantic are frustrated about how the Liberal government has handled many issues, but one that comes up frequently is the recent mismanagement of the teachers’ contract.

He says government needs to grow the economy so that new investment can be made in areas like health, infrastructure and education.

PC leader Jamie Baillie says Holland has the energy, work ethic and the passion that Halifax Atlantic needs in an MLA.

“With Bruce’s experience in government, the private sector and in working with communities, the people of Halifax Atlantic will be well represented,” he said in the news release.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/n.....x-atlantic
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RCO wrote:
( sable island ? I didn't realise anyone lived there , isn't it a barren island )


For the most part, I think there might be some people who live there time to time doing research work or something.
RCO





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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nova Scotia opposition parties brace for election amid government spending spree

The Liberal government has recently rolled out more than $40 million for projects



The Canadian Press

Monday, April 24th, 2017



HALIFAX – An election date has not been set, but Nova Scotia’s opposition leaders say their campaigns are in full swing with candidates knocking on doors, holding a rally and raising eyebrows about the Liberal government’s recent spending spree.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the crowd was energized at a campaign rally held Sunday at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth, where he was joined by more than 30 party candidates.

While Premier Stephen McNeil has yet to call an election, Burrill said the Liberals have been in campaign mode for more than a month – on the constituents’ dime.

The Liberal government has spent more than $40 million in a flurry of daily announcements – including a project announced Sunday that’ll cost up to $1.5-million – in what Burrill called a “cynical” effort to curry last-minute favour with voters.

“For three and a half years, the Liberal government has said no to everything … Always, the argument has been the same: There’s no money,” Burrill said in an interview. “In the last 30 days, they’ve spent a half-million dollars every 10 minutes on everything that moves and breathes, and looks like they might be able to persuade it into voting Liberal.”

Burrill said the NDP hopes to counter the Liberals’ “tawdry” tactics by reaching out to voters who are new to the political process, many of them young.

The Progressive Conservative Party is printing signs and deploying candidates to take its message of “hope and opportunity” to the streets, said leader Jamie Baillie. He said the taxpayer-backed splurge signals that an election could be called within days, and the party plans to hit the ground running.

“Basically, we know the campaign will start when he’s finished spending all the taxpayers’ money, and so we’re not waiting for the official starting time to go off,” Baillie said in an interview. “It’s our job as the official Opposition to be ready with a more positive plan for when that election officially kicks off.”

Liberal spokesperson Michael Mercer said in a statement Sunday that campaign preparations have long been underway, and the party is ready to go to the polls “whenever that may be.”

The premier recently dismissed opposition talk that the spending is simply about electioneering, but he also refused to rule out going to the polls before the April 27 budget is passed.

Nova Scotia is the only province without a fixed election date and the government will reach the four-year mark in October.

http://ipolitics.ca/2017/04/24.....ing-spree/
RCO





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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

VIBERT: Tories lean left as Nova Scotia election nears

Jim Vibert
Published April 21, 2017 - 6:21pm



All politics is local.

The axiom turned adage as the title of U.S. Democratic warhorse Tip O’Neil’s book.

Now, in Nova Scotia, the Opposition Tories hope it’s their ace-in-the-hole when Premier Stephen McNeil calls a provincial election as early as next week, on the heels of a provincial budget that will forecast a slim surplus — thus achieving the hooey grail of provincial governance, the Balanced Budget.

PC Leader Jamie Baillie’s emphasis on “progressive” was, until recently, to differentiate his party from the national Conservatives. His current slate of candidates could turn “conservative” into the operative term in the oxymoronic appellation.

Baillie’s dyed-in-the-wool fiscal conservatism is tempered by socially progressive leanings that were in the PC DNA until western Reformers staged a hostile takeover of the Tory remnants left by Brian Mulroney.

Two factors combined to give Baillie the opportunity to draw candidates from the left and centre-left and balance his cadre of more typical centre-right Tories.

First, the McNeil government gave credence to the Canadian political cliché that Liberals run from the left and govern from the right. Fair or not, the perception is abroad in the land. Second, the damage done to the NDP brand by Darrell Dexter’s centrist government endures.

Like every majority premier in two decades, McNeil will have to defend the bad taste of his first term as medicine needed to restore provincial well-being. And, for 20 years, Nova Scotians have replied with “heard it, hate it,” and the reward is a minority second term, that is until they’d had it and let Dexter go after one.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill needs to convince his base and leaners that he’s a return to the heady days of Douglas, Broadbent and Alexa, without mentioning that those were also the days of moral rather than electoral victories. He’s the real deal, so he might get it done.

The Tories plan to run positive, which works so long as somebody else holds the Liberals feet to the fire. At a laying-on-of-hands for Halifax Citadel candidate-to-be Rob Batherson this week, nary a contrary word was spoken. Hope, economic growth, a province that has great potential, and a better place for the kids dominated Batherson’s polished delivery and Baillie’s brief but broader message.

There wasn’t a morsel of political red meat for the hungriest Grit-grinder in the room.

Batherson gets star candidate billing if being a nice guy makes you a star. His nomination also marks the reunion of two former young Turks who handled John Hamm’s office and politics while the former premier focused on governing. The maturation of Baillie and Batherson are, for some a disquieting reminder that the Hamm government is more than a decade distant.

The three parties have nominated all but a handful of their 51 candidates.

Under Baillie’s watchful eye, local candidate search committees have produced disaffected film-makers, a folk/country musician, Truro’s near-mayor, and the usual sprinkling of municipal councillors, business types and educators.

A shift in the small but mighty arts community toward the Tories — to throw their lot with the best bet to beat McNeil — must be disquieting for Burrill.

Film-makers John Wesley Chisholm and Paul Kimball are Halifax-area Tory candidates. Musician Ray Mattie in Antigonish will be in tough against Liberal Finance Minister Randy Delorey.

Truro is the once-impregnable Tory fortress, turned NDP in 2009 by Lenore Zann, who held it against the outrushing NDP tide four years ago. The Tories staged a startling coup, when Keltie Jones, perhaps the most left-leaning candidate on the Tory slate, signed on after meeting Baillie. She’d be Truro’s mayor except for a stalking-horse candidate that syphoned off some of her vote.

The governing Liberals go into the race the favourite, with a formidable lead in polls and in the House. They hold 35 of 51 seats, so incumbency is an advantage, but it’s also proven unreliable in recent elections.

Six months ago, it seemed a shoo-in that Nova Scotians were about to re-elect the first two-term majority since the 1980s. It’s still a very real possibility but significantly less certain. An NDP resurgence in Metro, combined with Tory strength of candidates and proven support in rural Nova Scotia could make this interesting

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Nova Scotia headed for a spring provincial election ?

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