Nova Scotia

Andrew Scheer kicks off Cape Breton campaign

Federal Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer is clearly hoping for a breakthrough this fall in Atlantic Canada, where the federal Liberals represent all 32 seats in the House of Commons.

Andrew Scheer shares stage with Eddie Orrell, Alfie MacLeod at town hall

Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer was at the fire hall in Glace Bay, N.S., on Thursday evening, where he addressed a crowd of about 200. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Federal Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer is clearly hoping for a breakthrough in Atlantic Canada this fall.

The federal Liberals currently represent all 32 seats in the region.

"The Liberals might have gone 32 for 32 in 2015, but the people of Atlantic Canada have gone 0 for 32 under Justin Trudeau," Scheer told a crowd of about 200 at the Glace Bay fire hall on Thursday evening.

"That changes this October."

Scheer is in Cape Breton to kick off the local campaign for the next election, scheduled for October 21.

He promised to repeal the carbon tax, to make parental benefits tax-free and to balance the federal budget.

Scheer got a sustained round of applause with a pledge to lower home heating costs.

Home heating pledge

"I'm sure the situation here in Glace Bay, in Cape Breton and Nova Scotia is very similar to Saskatchewan, where it's not a luxury to heat your home in the winter, and just like the GST is not charged on other types of necessities, a Conservative government will take the GST off of home heating and home energy bills," he said.

Scheer also attacked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying he has broken several promises and continued to run deficits.

The town hall meeting was also intended to boost the campaigns for the party's two candidates in Cape Breton.

Andrew Scheer joins Eddie Orrell and Alfie MacLeod on stage at the Glace Bay fire hall to kick off the Cape Breton campaign ahead of this fall's federal election. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Alfie MacLeod is the Conservative candidate in Cape Breton-Canso. So far, the former Nova Scotia MLA is the lone candidate nominated for any of the parties in that riding.

Eddie Orrell, also a former MLA, is running for the Conservatives in Sydney-Victoria. The only other candidate nominated in that riding is Liberal Jaime Battiste.

About 75 people protested peacefully, carrying signs and chanting on both sides of the street outside the Glace Bay fire hall prior to Scheer's visit.

Chris Hughes, a member of the environmental group Extinction Rebellion, said an international study shows climate change could end civilization in 12 years.

"There's a climate crisis, a global climate crisis, and Andrew Scheer and the federal Conservatives don't have any plan that would ever work to avert a climate crisis," he said.

"We want to be heard and hope that he and other politicians take notice and start to take some action."

Protesters lined both sides of Reserve Street outside the Glace Bay fire hall where Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was scheduled to speak. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Sen White was holding up a Capers 4 Health Care sign and said he just wanted to join the protest because politicians don't seem to be helping Cape Breton.

"We're in dire straits here and nobody seems to care," he said.

White said while he was pleased with the crowd lining the streets, but he had hoped for a larger turnout.

"There should be 10 times as many people here. Everybody in Cape Breton should be worried about what's happening here."

Monica Hollohan said she, too, is concerned about the state of health care in Cape Breton, but she wasn't there to protest Scheer.

"I don't know enough about him yet," Hollohan said. "I'm just looking for help from anybody."

Equalization grant unequal

Russ Green, a member of Nova Scotians for Equalization Fairness, said his group wants the provincial government to share more of the federal equalization payments with municipalities outside Halifax.

Green said the group has contacted Scheer and asked him to look into the province's distribution of the grant, but has received no response.

Help for small business

Following an address to the Cape Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce Friday morning, Scheer told reporters the key to job growth in that community, and others, is through more support for small business.

That means having a low tax burden and reducing red tape and regulatory burden, he said.

He criticized the Liberal government's tax changes.

"I've met people who would love to do more with things like expeditions and shipping, but Canada's regulatory regime makes it easier to do business in Europe than it is right here at home," he said.

"Our message is that we will run a government that lives within its means so we can put more money in the pockets of Canadians to help Canadians get ahead."

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About the Author

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 15 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

With files from Michael Gorman and Gary Mansfield

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