Leaders fan out across the province as final weekend of Nova Scotia campaign begins

Click to play video: 'Ridings to watch in the Nova Scotia election'
Ridings to watch in the Nova Scotia election
As the Nova Scotia election campaign enters its final days, we’re highlighting some of the ridings you should keep a close eye on. Graeme Benjamin takes a look a three ridings that could go either way on election day. – Aug 12, 2021

The last weekend of Nova Scotia’s election campaign began with the three main party leaders trying to shore up votes in competitive ridings across the province ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

Liberal Leader Iain Rankin travelled to three electoral districts along the South Shore on Saturday where he again highlighted his party’s plan to twin areas of the province’s major highways.

One of the stops was in the Chester-St. Margaret’s riding, which is expected to produce a tight three-way race between the Liberals, Tories and NDP.

Rankin said a re-elected Liberal government would apply to a federal program to twin Highway 103 from Hubbards to Bridgewater and Highway 104 from Antigonish to Port Hawkesbury, with the province’s share of the cost for the two projects pegged at $237 million.

“These commitments are about ensuring Nova Scotians, especially those living in the rural parts of the province, can travel efficiently and safely on well-maintained and accessible roads,” Rankin said in a news release.

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Read more: Keeping track of the N.S. election and promises from main party leaders

In addition, he said the Liberals would expand the gravel road improvement program first announced in 2017 by 50 per cent to $30 million, and would also double the amount allotted to repairing rural roads to $22 million.

Rankin was scheduled to campaign in two Halifax ridings later Saturday.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill was in Cape Breton where he again stressed his health plan for the island during stops in three Sydney, N.S.,-area ridings.

The New Democrats are expected to put up a stiff fight in the area and are looking to make inroads in other parts of Cape Breton and in their traditional stronghold of Halifax-Dartmouth.

Read more: N.S. election: Poll suggests tightening race as Liberal support drops

The NDP unveiled its health plan for Cape Breton earlier in the campaign, with promises to keep hospitals open in New Waterford, N.S., and North Sydney, N.S. that are currently slated for closure. He also pledged to create 400 more long-term care beds and to establish a mobile mental health crisis response team on the island.

“Time and again Iain Rankin and the Liberals have abandoned Cape Bretoners when it comes to health care,” Burrill said in a news release.

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Meanwhile, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston began the day in the western part of the province and the Annapolis Valley before moving on to campaign in several Halifax area ridings. Both areas include ridings where the Tories hope to make inroads.

Read more: From Preston to Cumberland North: 10 ridings to watch in N.S. election

Houston has almost singularly focused on the need to fix the province’s health system and is using the final days of the campaign to hammer away at what’s seen as a vulnerability for the incumbent Liberals.

He entered the weekend having won an endorsement for his party’s health stance on Friday from Denise Peterson-Rafuse, who was a member of former NDP premier Darrell Dexter’s cabinet.

Houston’s campaign issued a news release that talked about emergency room closures at the Roseway Hospital in Shelburne, N.S. Tory candidate Nolan Young noted the emergency room was closed for 30 per cent of 2020.

“We need a government with health care solutions so that our community can have the comfort of knowing that if they have a medical emergency, they can access care,” said Young.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 14, 2021.

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