TRURO - Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley’s Liberal candidate Tom Martin connected with voters on www.trurodaily.com, Colchester Votes-2013.
Martin shared his point of view on farming, power rates, health boards, taxes and more during a 30-minute live session.
Q. What can the government do to support the N.S. farming industry that isn’t being done now?
A. The first issue is with a lot of farms it’s the middleman who makes the profit more so than the farmer. We can create and facilitate a market in which farmers can sell directly to the consumer. Another thing we can do with industry stakeholders is create a provincial agricultural land preservation plan. Re-establish the land drainage program that will reintroduce thousands of hectares of lowland back into production. Another is working with stakeholders to create a strategic plan that will increase the number of new farmers entering the industry. We have to enhance and expand the agriculture component in the classroom program, and finally ensure local products are present in academic and health care facilities.
Q. What’s the most common concern you’ve heard from voters during your canvassing?
A. There is a tie for first place. One being the condition of our roads throughout the riding and the second being trust levels of those we elect in government in general.
Q. The Liberals say they will stop the high prices of power rates, how can you do this?
A. Under the NDP government over the last four years consumers have seen power rates increase roughly 30 per cent, which I find unacceptable. The Liberals will create a regulated and competitive market, essentially breaking Nova Scotia Power's monopoly by creating a market by which the consumer can buy directly from other energy providers. The Liberals are going to remove the efficiency tax on your power bill and we are going to strongly urge the UARB to address Nova Scotia Power's return of nine per cent in a market place where we the consumer are lucky if we get 1.5 per cent.
Q. Do you support wind turbine development?
A. I support all renewable energy ventures, so long as it does not have an adverse effect on those living in the area, in the case of wind turbines, and the precautionary principal is applied in regards to the environment. Renewable sources of energy are the way of the future and we strongly believe in a diverse portfolio with regards to energy sources.
Q. The Liberals advocated a drastic reduction in the number of Nova Scotia health boards. How much will this save Nova Scotia taxpayers?
A. Liberals will reduce our health boards from 10 to two. Many people are concerned regarding this reduction. However, it is important to keep in mind the capital health board alone covers approximately half of the population of Nova Scotia and that is only one board. The issue of reducing 10 CEO's, 42 vice-presidents and 68 directors equates to approximately $18 million. This $18 million will be reinvested into front line workers within our health system, which will greatly reduce such things as wait times and home care providers.
Q. Should retired teachers be allowed to return to the classroom as substitutes while unemployed younger teachers remain on the sidelines?
A.I think that if there is a need for teachers and there is difficulty in securing unemployed young teachers then retired teachers should be considered. However, I am of the opinion that young teachers should be incorporated into the workforce as soon as practical.
Q. What's the first thing you would do to help reduce Nova Scotia’s record $14 billion debt?
A. Perform a full audit of provincial finances and implement a fiscally responsible plan to deliver a balanced budget. Conduct a broad review of our tax system to formulate a plan to address the debt and at the same time give as much money back to Nova Scotians and their businesses as possible.
Q. Nova Scotians pay the highest income taxes on Canada. How much are you going to reduce my income taxes and how are you going to achieve this?
A. We have to conduct a broad review of our tax system to formulate a plan to give as much money back to Nova Scotians and their businesses as possible. There will be numerous tax savings when you look at power and the removal of the efficiency tax and the removal of gasoline regulation, which alone will save roughly four cents per litre. In order to be specific in my response in regards to provincial taxation, we have to perform a full audit of provincial taxes.
Q. Do you feel there is adequate policing in this province or is there room to improve?
A. I believe our number of officers is adequate, I believe the areas of focus and deployment could be improved.
Q. Do you support back-to-work legislation for essential government services such as firefighters, policemen and medical personnel?
A. I believe strongly in the collective bargaining process and being a past union member for 30 years I also see the need for essential services. There are cases where legislative amendments could implement the collective bargaining process in regards to some essential services. However, there are certain services that must be deemed essential in nature.
Guest candidates on Oct. 3 on Colchester Votes-2013 are:
10 a.m.- John K. MacDonald, PC candidate, Colchester North
1 p.m. –Barry Mellish, Liberal candidate, Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River
5 p.m. - Karen Casey, Liberal candidate, Colchester North