Jamie Baillie, the leader of the provincial Progressive Conservatives, was in town Jan. 31, 2013 to support Hants West MLA Chuck Porter's bid for re-election as the Tories candidate for the area. (Submitted photo)
Hants West MLA Chuck Porter is hoping to hang on to his job for at least another four years.
Porter and PC Leader Jamie Baillie, the MLA for Cumberland South, visited the Hants Journal Jan. 31 to discuss the Progressive Conservative Party’s plan for Nova Scotia if the party regains power following the next election.
The PC Party officially nominated Porter as their candidate for the Hants West riding during a meeting hosted at the Hants County War Memorial Community Centre in Windsor Jan. 31.
Porter talks local issues
Porter, a former paramedic, was first elected seven years ago.
“I like what I do (and) enjoy working with, and mostly for, the people,” he says.
If re-elected, Porter says he will remain accessible to his constituents by attending as many community events as possible, making house calls when necessary and using his knowledge of government processes to assist in any way he can when a community group or individual reaches out for help.
He says his constituents need a government that focuses on job creation, spurring economic growth and finding efficiencies with the health and education budgets to free up more dollars for frontline services.
And, he promises to keep fighting for a dialysis unit in the Hants Community Hospital.
“That is high on my list of priorities,” Porter says. “It’s been a long battle; we’ll never give up.”
Porter, who is involved in the search for a new doctor in Hantsport, also wants the government to devise a plan that will make it easier to keep the Hantsport Collaborative Practice staffed with a family doctor.
As the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board weighs the pros and cons of replacing the elementary schools in Three Mile Plains and Windsor Forks with one new school that will also include students from Newport Station District School, which is scheduled for closure by no later than 2016, Porter says he will be fighting for a transparent review process that carefully considers the wishes of families that will be impacted by the school board’s decision.
“I support our families that I represent and their children and their needs.”
Baillie promises to cut taxes, freeze power rates
Baillie says many people know Porter as their friendly neighbourhood MLA, but he’s also the author of the PC’s proposed power policy.
“Chuck is a man of the people. He’s a terrific constituency MLA and he is the one that I turned to to lead our charge on power rates because he is all for the many families and small businesses that are struggling under the highest power rates in Canada.”
Baillie says the plans proposed by the Liberals and NDP would involve more power hikes — on top of the 30 per cent increases Nova Scotians have endured in the last three years. He says the PCs believe there is no need for further rate increases.
“Chuck is a man of the people. He’s a terrific constituency MLA and he is the one that I turned to to lead our charge on power rates because he is all for the many families and small businesses that are struggling under the highest power rates in Canada.” Jamie Baillie
“All three parties are now debating whose plan is best for power. We were the last of the three to come out with our power policy because Chuck and I wanted to know we could really do it before we made any promises in that area,” Baillie said.
“We can freeze rates where they are and buy as much renewable energy as possible within the current rates — and that includes Muskrat Falls — and no other party has a plan to do that.”
Baillie, the former president of Credit Union Atlantic, says he will lower the HST to 13 per cent, and strive to balance the budget while minimizing administration costs and focusing on frontline services.
“People are frustrated because they see a health system that has 10 CEOs, 72 vice presidents, 152 executive directors (and) thousands of managers in a province of our little size and yet they are told there’s not enough money for a dialysis unit here,” he said.
“That just shows how mixed up NDP priorities are. That’s why we intend to drastically cut back that wasteful health administration and redirect those savings into frontline health care like dialysis units.”
He says a PC government would find savings to allow for the enhancement of health care services, and ensuring every Nova Scotian has access to emergency care 24/7 will be a priority.
Moving on to the topic of fracking, Baillie said he is in support of the government’s ongoing review of the controversial gas extraction procedure.
“If we are going to look at fracking at some future date it has to start with a firm commitment to protecting the environment,” he said.
The Progressive Conservatives believe future projects should not be approved unless they are deemed environmentally responsible, create local jobs and locals are in favour of the idea, Baillie said.
When asked how he feels about neighbouring municipalities amalgamating within the province, he said his party does not have a clear-cut plan for amalgamation in Hants County, but he’s in favour of publicly funded entities finding efficiencies.
“The time has come to have an adult discussion about how our governments are organized and whether they are as efficient as they need to be today to meet people’s needs.”
The Liberals and NDP have yet to announce who will be running for election in Hants West on behalf of their parties.