Nova Scotia heads to the polls on May 30! We wrote these questions to help you learn about your candidates and their stances on key issues. Feel free to ask these questions at debates or at the door, and share with your friends and family!
photo: Elections Nova Scotia
Energy and Climate Justice
Despite being one of the most capital-intensive and environmentally destructive industries, oil and gas jobs pale in comparison to the number of jobs Nova Scotians hold in fishing and tourism. According to the Tourism Industry Association, 40,000 people in Nova Scotia are employed in tourism-related jobs, and according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans about 17,000 people are employed in Nova Scotia’s fisheries. Oil and gas projects rely heavily on workers from away with specialized skills and put our local, sustainable, ocean-reliant jobs at risk of industrial accidents like oil spills, and threaten ocean life through continued climate change. The question is not only about jobs, but about which jobs, and how to create jobs in more sustainable industries.
If elected, how will you safeguard the many thousands of employment opportunities in sustainable, ocean-reliant industries that oil and gas activity put at risk?
Around the world, fossil fuel development and dependence is on a downward trend due to its contributions to devastating climate change. Meanwhile various studies show that Canada’s clean energy sector is already providing outstanding numbers of direct jobs. In Nova Scotia we’ve seen ebbs and flows of jobs in the green energy sector through programs like Efficiency Nova Scotia, the former community feed-in tariff, and the growing renewable energy sector.
If elected, how will you support the growth of renewable energy jobs in Nova Scotia?
Environmental Bill of Rights
Nova Scotia has a long history of poorly managed environmental challenges, and a legacy of keeping the communities most impacted by these challenges – disproportionately African-Nova Scotia and Indigenous communities – out of the decision making.
The Nova Scotia Environmental Bill of Rights gives citizens clearer and more powerful ways to engage with their government in making decisions about the future of our environment. It provides legal tools to protect the environment and to safeguard the province’s natural resources, on land and at sea. It also gives legal weight to Nova Scotians left in the lurch when it comes to industrial pollution and other environmental degradation that negatively affects the health and beauty of our communities.
Rights to a healthy environment are already enshrined in law in Quebec, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Ontario, but we do not have a right to drink clean water or to breathe unpolluted air here in Nova Scotia.
If elected, would you vote to support the Environmental Bill of Rights?
How would you ensure that your party’s government would support this bill?
The Council of Canadians, including supporters of our three chapters in Nova Scotia, campaigns to maintain and protect publicly funded and managed water and wastewater systems for all. The responsibility of the provincial government to provide clean drinking water needs to be strengthened and enforced so that Harrietsfield, Lincolnville, Shelburne, Sipekne’katik (Indian Brook), Pictou Landing and Paqtnkek will no longer need to fight to have clean drinking water restored in their communities. Droughts and flooding also pose a risk to water security. At the same time, multiple water bottling plants in Nova Scotia make money off of the sale of water. Similarly, pollution reduction and restoration of the health of watersheds, lakes, rivers and coastal waters on which Nova Scotian communities, wildlife, marine life and other ecosystems depend must be a priority.
If elected, what would your government do to bring about the required changes to protect clean water?
How would you ensure that communities across the province have access to drinking water?
What would you do to stop the commodification of water in Nova Scotia?
The Alton Gas storage project (see our blog and video) is widely opposed, and has revealed multiple failures in Nova Scotia’s community consultation and environmental assessment processes. Detailed information on major projects is hard to get, companies tend to keep public communication to a minimum, residents are rarely given a real voice in decision making, and Indigenous rights are bowled over. This whole project has been discussed outside of the context of climate change, despite the fact that it would promote the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. One couple who live within a few hundred feet of the Alton Gas project didn’t even hear about the project until 2013 – a full six years after the government had already approved it. Sipekne’katik First Nation was not consulted properly, resulting in a Nova Scotia Supreme Court case against the government. At no point in the process were impacted communities given a real say in how the Alton Gas project went, or if it happened at all.
What would your government do specifically about the issue of the proposed Alton Gas project?
What would you do to better protect our rights, our water, and our climate from unnecessary projects like Alton Gas?
Our public health care system is a fundamental Canadian value, yet at every turn there are attempts to privatize parts of it. The current government has let private interests into the conversation with regards to the Victoria General Hospital rebuild, the possibility of private clinics to collect blood plasma for profit, and proposed changes to homecare delivery that would include some private service delivery.
If elected, what steps would you take to stop creeping privatization in health care in Nova Scotia?
How would you ensure your party protected and improved our robust health care system?
International trade agreements like NAFTA and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union affect provinces. Investor-state dispute settlement clauses diminish Nova Scotia’s ability to control its own resources, as seen in the case of the Bilcon quarry on the Digby Neck. The recent completion of the inter-provincial trade agreement will mean lots of changes for how Nova Scotia does business within Canada.
How would you balance the needs of citizens, communities and the environment in trade discussions?
How do you intend to position Nova Scotia as a fair trade rather than a free trade economy?
Nova Scotians are worried about the way in which our forests are managed. According to the Canadian Council of Resource Ministers, in recent years over 80 per cent of harvesting on Crown lands has involved clear cutting. We have 2 million hectares of forest lands available for harvesting, and are harvesting between 35,000 and 50,000 hectares every year. This is an unsustainable rate of clearing, and if we continue in this fashion we will not have timber of the size, quantity or quality needed to sustain our forest industries, let alone sustain healthy and robust forests that serve many other ecological and economic functions. Furthermore, we have a troublesome track record of using public dollars to bail out unsustainable pulp and paper mills instead of investing in the value-added forestry industry.
If elected, what is your plan to correct this situation and to maintain sustainable employment in forestry into the future?
How do you plan to help diversify the forest industry in Nova Scotia?
What is your plan to support the development of value-added products and business models?
What is your plan to diversify the forestry industry in Nova Scotia?