PC leader Jamie Baillie lays out plans for N.S.
Baillie detailed his plans for Nova Scotia for if he were to win the election
February 5, 2017, 11:27 am ASTLast Updated: February 7, 2017, 1:37 am
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At the Progressive Conservative Annual General Meeting in Halifax, N.S., provincial Progressive Conservative Party leader Jamie Baillie detailed his plan for Nova Scotia if he wins a provincial election, which could happen later this year.
Most of the focus at the AGM was on the federal leadership candidate debate. All 14 candidates gathered in the city on Saturday evening to discuss their views on different conservative issues.
For Nova Scotians, however, a possible provincial election is looming — and the provincial party is using this event to get their message out.
In a packed room at the Westin Hotel, around 250 people waited patiently as microphones went around to party members for a Q-and-A meeting with Jamie Baillie, the leader of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives. Many at the meeting asked about the Liberal government’s ongoing contract dispute with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. Other topics like health care, agriculture, and road safety were also covered.
Here were some of the highlights of Baillie’s discussion; many of his talking points were met with loud applause from the crowd.
Nova Scotia Teachers
After the fallout between the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the province’s current Liberal government, Baillie has been openly critical towards Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil for how the premier dealt with the situation.
During the Q and A, Baillie said that McNeil irreversibly destroyed his relationship with teachers, and that Baillie’s own plan will be to work with teachers and simply “respect them.”
He said teachers have been expected to take on too much in their work environment, adding that students and parents should face disciplinary measures if students aren’t showing up and succeeding in school.
“I think there should be hard attendance policies and strong discipline policies in place that teachers can actually enforce, and I’ll have their back on that,” he said in an interview with The Signal.
During the Q and A, he went even further — and explained that he plans to get rid of the no-fail policy currently in place.
“(We should) hold kids back when they don’t hit the curriculum in the academic year,” he said.
Baillie told the audience that seniors and nursing homes in Nova Scotia are in crisis mode. He noted that his father passed away in a nursing home last year and said that the quality of the home’s condition was deplorable.
“The staff were doing their best but it was over crowded, the food was sub-quality, the cleanliness was not there,” he said. “I didn’t know then, but I know now, that the budgets for all those things were cut.”
Baillie promised more funding for nursing homes and said he wants to make sure the food in the homes is good quality.
“That’s the easiest decision we’ll ever make,” he said.
On hospitals, he said he would ask for federal money to help pay for the cost of funding a new hospital to replace the aging Victoria General hospital site in Halifax.
When pressed on how the provincial government would fulfill these promises, Baillie said he would take full advantage of the federal funds available for provinces.
“There is money in Ottawa, and there’s more to come,” said Baillie. “Trudeau, God love him, he wants to spend money and he’s announcing billions more for infrastructure.”
On how he expected to deal with the issue of balancing the budget while funding programs, he was vague.
“Am I committed to balanced budgets? Yes. Is that the most important thing to me? No,” said Baillie, adding that health care, schools, and care for seniors are more important.
Jordan Armstrong, a 22-year-old man from Australia who recently relocated to Halifax, told The Signal that he thought Baillie’s lack of clarity on the budget was “disgraceful.”
“Nova Scotia has 23 per cent of its workers in the public sector,” he said in an interview after the Q and A. “Surely when the national average is 16 per cent of workers in the public sector, we can find areas to trim and not forsake a balanced budget for better education or better hospitals.”
Most of the reaction to Baillie’s Q and A, however, was positive. Many people interviewed by The Signal at the AGM said that they liked his remarks.
Eula Barnes, a senior from the riding of Sackville-Cobequid, N.S., said she was impressed with Baillie’s performance.
“He has improved a great deal in the last year or six months,” she says. “He sounds sure of himself and he’s got better answers.”
Barnes thought Baillie’s focus on health care and the teachers’ union was wise, and that those issues would be “pivotal” in the next election.
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