HST, fracking among voter concerns, says Wyatt
TRURO - Jim Wyatt, NDP candidate for Colchester North, joined www.trurodaily.com on Tuesday morning to connect directly to voters. People visiting the Truro Daily News website were given an opportunity to submit a question to Wyatt during a half-hour session and receive an immediate answer, expressing his point of view.
© SHERRY MARTELL - TRURO DAILY NEWS
Jim Wyatt, the NDP candidate in Colchester North, connected with voters yesterday through the Truro Daily News website. Wyatt answered questions from constituents on various topics ahead of the Oct. 8 provincial election.
Q. What is the most pressing need that the provincial government can provide for the residents of Colchester North?
A. I think the most pressing need is the same, not just here but all over the province, to continue a balanced budget. This allows us to continue to provide the services.
Q. Nova Scotians pay the highest income taxes in Canada. How much are you going to reduce my income taxes and how are you going to achieve this?
A. Of course this relates as well to the balanced budget. With the budget under control then consideration can be given to reducing the provincial share of income tax. Although not income tax, the NDP is committed to reducing the HST by two per cent over the next two years.
Q. What would you do to help reduce Nova Scotia's record $14 billion debt?
A. There are only two ways to reduce the debt. One is through surpluses or the reduction of services. The other is through the sale of assets. In the first case, the NDP is committed to a balanced budget, which is the first step in achieving a surplus.
Colchester North is a large geographic area and the needs vary greatly from one location to the next. Certainly progress has been made in this area with the construction of the new hospital. While it's not in the riding it benefits the residents of Colchester North. Also the implementation of the CEC model.
Having been on the district health authority board I am extremely pleased that the NDP government found an innovative way of dealing with the closures of the emergency rooms with the development of the collaborative care emergency centres. This is being copied in Saskatchewan with the opening of their first CEC. These are the kind of innovations that are necessary to maintain the quality health-care system that we have.
Q. What ‘s the most common concern or comment you've heard from voters during your canvassing?
A. Obviously, energy costs, HST, keeping young people here. Those are the big ones.
Fracking is one of the other issues that I've run into quite frequently. People are very concerned about the safety issues surrounding the process. There is a moratorium in place in this province and a review being carried out. The NDP position is that fracking will not take place until Nova Scotians feel it is safe. I strongly agree.
Q. Should retired teachers be allowed to return to the classroom as substitutes while unemployed younger teachers remain on the sidelines?
A. Having a stepdaughter in her first year of teaching I am quite aware of this issue. However, it is difficult to forbid people with qualifications from applying for substitute positions. I'm aware of the issue, I'm not aware if there is a solution yet.
Q. What item on the NDP election platform are you most passionate about?
A. I'm most passionate about two or three of them. I'm obviously committed to the fiscal responsibility of a balanced budget. Similarly, although it's a costly item, I feel very positive about the 40 per cent renewable energy by 2020. While it may cost now it will cost a lot more if our grandchildren have to do it.
Q. How do you feel about defined-benefit government pension plans?
A. When they work they are great but financially are difficult to maintain in the current economic climate, however, there are positive examples of defined-benefit pension plans that are 100 per cent funded. An example is the pension plan for the majority of health-care workers for this province, operated by the Health Association of Nova Scotia.
Q. Should a candidate crossing the floor to join another party or to serve as an independent trigger for an automatic by-election. If not, why?
A. There is no intention by an NDP government to enact such legislation. If I was in a situation where conditions were such I felt it absolutely necessary to leave the party I was affiliated with when I was elected, I personally would resign. But given the cost of elections I would not expect an immediate by-election. However, that is a personal stance of my own and not one I would impose on another member given another set of circumstances.
Closing remark: "I'd like to reiterate the two issues I raised at the debate. Of course everyone should vote, but when voting remember their (the candidate's) history and when talking to candidates find out how promises are funded."
Connect with the candidates on www.trurodaily.com. Here are the days and times each will be available:
Colchester Votes-2013 guest panelists:
Oct. 2, 10 a.m. - Lenore Zann, NDP candidate, Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River
Oct. 2, 1 p.m. -Tom Martin, Liberal candidate, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley
Oct. 2, 2:30 p.m. - Larry Harrison, PC candidate, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley
Oct. 3, 10 a.m.- John K. MacDonald, PC candidate, Colchester North
Oct. 3, 1 p.m. -Barry Mellish, Liberal candidate, Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River
Oct. 3, 5 p.m. - Karen Casey, Liberal candidate, Colchester North