MacDonald compares Dexter to car thief in televised election debate
Last Updated: Friday, June 5, 2009 | 10:24 AM ET
The battle of the three main party leaders in Nova Scotia's election campaign took a nasty turn Thursday night when Conservative Leader Rodney MacDonald compared NDP Leader Darrell Dexter to a car thief.
During a televised debate, MacDonald attacked the NDP over a controversial campaign donation of $50,000 from 10 labour unions. The party returned $45,000 of that amount Monday when it learned the donations may have violated the contributions law.
"What this is like is someone going out and stealing a car and two weeks later, they take the car back and say, ‘Well, nothing’s been wrong since I took the car back.’ People don’t buy it, Darrell," MacDonald said.
That left Dexter fuming: "That is the most outrageous, that is an outrageous attack on my integrity."
The New Democrats, who appear poised to form the first NDP government in Nova Scotia after the June 9 election, called this a new low point in the campaign.
Dexter then challenged the Conservatives and Liberals to agree to accept donations only from individual Nova Scotians, rather than from corporations or unions.
MacDonald and Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said they'll think about it.
On Thursday, the Grits released figures showing the party has received $150,000 in donations. The Tories promised to disclose their list Friday. Dexter and the new Democrats say their list will be made public before Nova Scotians vote on Tuesday.
During the final face-to-face exchange, Dexter was the frequent target of barbs from MacDonald and McNeil, who challenged the NDP leader on the issue of health care.
"With a one per cent cut in health care, $34 million taken out of the health-care system that Mr. Dexter has promised to do, what do you think that’s going to do to health care in rural Nova Scotia?" he said.
Dexter protested that assertion, responding: "It’s not true," and also took a few shots at his opponents.
"And we cannot go down the road to debt and deficit. We just can’t do that," Dexter said. "That is something that the Liberals and the Conservatives have already done, and we’ve had enough of that."