HALIFAX – A look at some of the major issues in Nova Scotia’s election campaign:
Balanced Books: The opposition parties will try to portray the New Democrats as poor economic managers, pointing to budget deficits as a failure to keep their promise to balance the books. The NDP’s decision to raise the harmonized sales tax by two percentage points will also be a subject of opposition attacks, despite the fact the NDP majority government brought in a law that requires one percentage point cuts in the tax in 2014 and 2015.
Government Financial Aid: The NDP has helped a number of companies since it came to power in June 2009. The opposition parties have already been critical of money spent on the Port Hawkesbury paper mill, a deal the NDP reached to help the now-defunct Resolute Forest Products paper mill in Brooklyn, and financial aid for the Irving-owned Halifax shipyard to build Canada’s next generation of warships.
Muskrat Falls: The Liberals and Progressive Conservatives argue the NDP has yet to prove the hydroelectric project in Labrador offers the cheapest source of electricity for Nova Scotia. The NDP says Muskrat Falls gives the province a chance to control its destiny on energy policy.
Leadership: Before the election, the NDP ran a TV advertisement questioning Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil’s leadership. The ad says McNeil is the wrong man to lead Nova Scotia because of his position on Muskrat Falls and investment in companies to create jobs.
Health: The NDP has opened a series of collaborative emergency centres in an attempt to provide around the clock emergency care, particularly in rural areas of the province. The opposition parties say although the number of hours emergency rooms were closed in the last fiscal year was down by 2,600 hours, the more than 15,000 hours they were closed was too high. The NDP is expected to criticize Liberal and Tory proposals to cut the number of health districts in the province to trim costs.
Education: The NDP’s decision to stop school closures until the government can develop a new review process was slammed by the opposition parties. The Liberals have pushed the government to find more money to help keep schools open.