In less than 24 hours, there will be a new MLA in the riding of Halifax Needham and it seems one specific issue is taking centre stage for voters in this byelection.
“The issue that’s really important to me is the film jobs, which I think the premier hopes has gone away, but it hasn’t. So that’s been a real issue with me,” Steve Malone said.
“It’s not something that affects me directly but affects a lot of people I know – that whole film tax credit issue,” Ghislian Hacey added. “It’s a big issue. All the candidates are talking about it, so it would be nice to see that stay in Nova Scotia.”
There was a lot of uproar when the changes were announced to the film tax credit. Despite that, experts don’t think it has had an impact on the overall popularity of Premier Stephen McNeil.
“I suspect that that issue is probably important for people in HRM, in Halifax and in particular in Halifax Needham, but I’m not sure that the fate of the election is going to pin on that issue,” Howard Ramos, political sociologist with Dalhousie University, said.
The film industry isn’t the only issue at stake. Some voters are hoping the government will also look at affordable housing – or lack thereof – in the Halifax Needham riding.
“We are fortunate because we have a place that is pretty affordable, very affordable actually, but not many of our friends are in the same situation,” Kelly MacMullin said.
Some residents say a surge in construction is positive but has left many people unable to attain housing.
“I feel like we need to empower developers by up zoning for more residential construction and larger residential construction,” Jeremy Smith said. “A lot of the growth now is tearing neighbourhoods apart because there isn’t sub-market rate housing, it’s all condominiums.”
The byelection for Halifax Needham was called after longtime MLA Maureen MacDonald stepped down in the spring. The riding has long been considered an NDP stronghold but that could change.
Ramos says with voters heading to the polls this week, there likely won’t be a provincial election this year.
“There was a lot of speculation of a fall election and a lot of people might wonder about whether or not there’s a point of having a byelection if there’s going to be a fall election so I think there’s probably signs the premier won’t call a general election,” he said.
Polls are open Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for voters to cast their ballot in the Halifax Needham riding. Learn more about the candidates here.
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