Q&A

Halifax Needham byelection major party candidates speak out

Candidates from the three major parties discuss their qualifications, the province's film tax credit program and health care in a bid to win votes in this month's Halifax Needham byelection.

Candidates discuss their qualifications, the film tax credit and health care

These are the three major party candidates in the Halifax Needham byelection: Lisa Roberts (NDP), Andy Arsenault (Progressive Conservatives) and Rod Wilson (Liberals). (CBC)

Candidates in the provincial byelection to replace retiring MLA Maureen MacDonald have a little more than two weeks left to knock on doors in the constituency of Halifax Needham to convince voters to choose them for a seat in the Nova Scotia legislature.

The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 30.

Who are the candidates?

The candidates are:

  • Progressive Conservative Andy Arsenault, a former RCMP inspector and north-end Halifax business owner.
  • Liberal Rod Wilson, a family physician and executive director of the North End Community Health Centre.
  • NDP Lisa Roberts, executive director of Veith House and a former CBC journalist.
  • Green Thomas Trappenberg, a computer science professor at Dalhousie University.

Candidates from the three major parties discussed their qualifications, changes to the Nova Scotia film tax credit, and the state of health care in the province on CBC's Information Morning on Monday. Here's part of their conversation.

Green party candidate, Thomas Trappenberg, spoke on CBC's Information Morning on Tuesday.

Q: Why do you think you're the best person to represent the riding?

ARSENAULT: "Dealing with people is something I've always done and I think I've done it well," he said, pointing to his career in law enforcement.

Arsenault said he's always been passionate about politics and wanted to improve governance in the province.

ROBERTS: Roberts is raising her two children in the community and said she's been involved in helping it grow. Her work with non-profits in the area has allowed her to do a lot of networking.

"That collaborative approach — and really community-informed approach — is one that would serve the residents of Needham well," she said.

WILSON: "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be entering politics," Wilson said, but he was approached by all three major parties to run. 

Wilson said his work at a health clinic allowed him to form strong relationships with community residents, and he said he's had positive results working with government over the last 15 years.

Maureen MacDonald retired from politics in April after 18 years as an MLA. (CBC)

Q: What would you like to see happen with the film tax credit?

WILSON: The province needs to rebuild confidence within the industry itself and rebuild trust between industry players and government, Wilson said.

"One of the things I realize from speaking to people at the doors is that the economics of the film industry is very complicated," he said, adding industry has to "take the lead."

ARSENAULT: Arsenault said his party is committed to reinstating the tax credit and rebuilding the industry to what it once was. He said he hears about it at doorsteps every day.

"It's one of the unexpecteds that I have run into," said Arsenault. "Looking into the faces of people who are standing there saying, 'I don't have a job.'"

ROBERTS: Roberts said her party has taken the lead in criticizing the cancellation of the film tax credit and said government must consult with stakeholders before making decisions.

"I think it's both about the reinstatement of the film tax credit," she said, "but also very importantly, putting back the infrastructure that was in place to allow Nova Scotian filmmakers to actually get their films made."

Q: Your thoughts on the challenges facing health care?

WILSON: He said the health care system needs to change the way it uses physicians. Otherwise, the health-care system won't change. Wilson said a shift toward a collaborative care model will help attract and retain people.

"New grads and old grads, like myself, want to work outside the fee-for-service. We want to work in teams and we want to work with electronic medical records," he said.

ROBERTS: "There has been complete consensus that we do need to move to a collaborative care model," she said. "That consensus has been there since the beginning of this government and we haven't seen any progress."

ARSENAULT: Arsenault took this opportunity in the conversation to question one of his opponents.

"I'm not a specialist in health care by any means," he began, "but it's going to be interesting to see when a doctor, such as Rod, decides on his own he's going to leave the practice of medicine, how he can reconcile that with making the choice to go to politics."

WILSON: Wilson responded that because he works in a collaborative care model, it was easy to find somebody to replace him.

The long-time NDP stronghold held by former MLA Maureen MacDonald is up for grabs on August 30th. Lisa Roberts is the NDP candidate. Rod Wilson is vying for the Liberals. And Andy Arsenault is running for the Progressive Conservatives. 16:54

With files from Information Morning