Meet the Candidates: Glace Bay-Dominion

Wikipedia informs me that in 1933, “the district of Cape Breton was divided into five electoral districts, one of which was named Cape Breton East. In 2001, the district name was changed to Glace Bay. In 2003, the district lost a small area at its southern tip to Cape Breton West. Following the 2019 redistribution, it gained the Dominion area from Cape Breton Centre and was re-named Glace Bay-Dominion.”

(I am still somewhat puzzled at how easily east can become west and vice versa but I’m chalking it up to my notoriously bad sense of direction.)

Since 1933, the seat has been held by Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democrats (including then-NDP leader Jeremy Akerman) and members of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF, the precursor to Nova Scotia’s NDP).

The riding has been Liberal since the 1999 general election and since 2013 has been held by Geoff MacLellan, who is not re-offering this time out. MacLellan won election in 2013 with 80.36% of the vote — his nearest competitor, the NDP’s Mary Beth MacDonald, won only 14.50%. But MacLellan’s margin of victory was trimmed considerably in the 2017 general election, which he won with 46.6% of the vote compared to 41.35% for the PC’s John White, who is running again this year.

Voter turnout in the district in 2017 was 57.4%.

The riding attracted some notoriety this election season for the plethora of Johns on its ballot — in addition to the aforementioned John White, the seat is being contested by John Morgan and John John McCarthy.

As of press time, the Spectator had heard from McCarthy and Morgan and will update the article as soon as it hears from White.

Electoral Map: Glace Bay-Dominion

 

 

John John McCarthyJohn John McCarthy (Liberal)

Why did you decide to run for the Liberal Party?

There are plenty of good things happening in Glace Bay-Dominion, and in Cape Breton as a whole thanks to Liberal government investments. But I also know there are challenges on an individual level. I certainly had my share growing up and I want to return my good fortune in life to continue to help others, this time in a different capacity. Big picture vision is important and something I will take forward with me as an MLA. However, at the heart of public service is one-on-one constituency work and that’s where I will be very effective.

What is something in your own background/experience you think will serve you well as an MLA and how will it do so?

My background as an athlete has instilled in me a set of core values that I think translate easily into public service. Teamwork, sportsmanship and respect are essential when representing and advocating for your community. As a teacher and mentor, I also provide non-judgmental support to students and the clients at my fitness business. I strive to make the lives of others better, which I think is absolutely essential when it comes to one on one constituency casework.

What is one Liberal Party election promise you believe will make a material difference in the lives of Cape Bretoners?

From what I am hearing on the doorsteps, I believe our platform piece around making life more affordable and equitable will go a long way in our riding. This includes things like $10/day child care, investments in affordable housing and addressing poverty through initiatives like enhanced school lunch programs and assistance with the cost of home energy. It also includes creating an anti-racism strategy, along with eventual anti-racism legislation.

What are you hearing on the doorsteps? Is there any one issue that seems to come up repeatedly?

The issue at the forefront is healthcare, followed by affordable housing and opportunities for youth.

I believe our substantial investments in healthcare on Cape Breton will be incredibly beneficial to residents, but it will take some time to get there.

 

John MorganJohn Morgan (NDP)

Why did you decide to run for the New Democratic Party?

The NDP platform aligns most with my views on politics and the economy. I believe government must be controlled by the people, not the powerful. The NDP has a suite of policies designed to improve the incomes of regular Nova Scotians and reduce expenses so they can enjoy a reasonable quality of life. For example, we will increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, implement permanent rent control and we will follow the constitutional obligation to ensure all Nova Scotians have comparable services at comparable tax rates. These measures will reduce property taxes for our homeowners, reduce rents, and improve services for all residents.

The NDP platform includes promises to reform the lobbyist registry, strengthen FOIPOP legislation and make the Privacy Officer an officer of the legislature — all steps intended to respect the public’s right to know. You have served in government and I’m curious to hear your thoughts on these promises and on the issue of openness in government generally.

Government documentation and information should be presumed to belong to all the people as part of the core functioning of a healthy democracy. This means there should be a rebuttable presumption of disclosure on access to information requests. It also means decisions of information officers should be binding, enforceable, free, and non-appealable except for errors of law on the face of the record. Importantly, the right to disclosure also should include the right of Cape Breton residents to know the percentage of provincial government dollars spent on our island so that we know whether there continues to be an enormous shortfall in spending compared to what would be expected based on our population.

Similarly, democracy is imperiled by having a small group of insiders with privileged access to and influence with government as has been allowed to occur in Nova Scotia. Legislation mandating disclosure of lobbyist identity, activity, gifting, and advocacy must be implemented to ensure provincial law is developed to reflect the best interests of Nova Scotians, not the best interests of Nova Scotia lobbyists and the large corporations that retain them.

What is one NDP election promise you believe will make a material difference in the lives of Cape Bretoners?

The NDP supports full equalization for our region. Cape Breton has been depopulating and losing infrastructure and capacity because a series of provincial governments have not abided by the need to ensure all regions have comparable services at comparable tax rates. Governments that ignore the core need of sub-national regions to have comparable services at comparable tax rates cause a region to inevitably decline. I joined the NDP because it agreed to correct this issue and thus give the region a chance to survive as a meaningful economic and political entity.

What are you hearing on the doorsteps? Is there any one issue that seems to come up repeatedly?

Healthcare is the issue most frequently raised at the doorsteps. Cape Breton hospitals have had the highest “unexpected” death rate in the country for the last three years in a row. The local healthcare system has deteriorated rapidly since the current government moved control of the system from Cape Breton to Halifax. Most people have had one or more traumatizing experiences as they have tried to get care for themselves or their loved ones. Many people have also expressed fear of putting their loved ones in the long-term care system due to the chronic understaffing and lack of assurance that residents will have their own room and bathroom while in long-term care.

 

Still to come…

John WhiteJohn White (PC)