Liberals detail green platform, promise climate change plan by year's end
Final Liberal platform plank to come Wednesday
Welcome to CBC's Election Notebook, your source for regular updates and essential news from the campaign trail.
It's Day 19 of Nova Scotia's 31-day provincial election campaign.
Rankin releases his green plan
The Nova Scotia Liberal Party released the fourth of its five platform documents Tuesday, this one titled "Our Plan for a Cleaner, Greener Nova Scotia by 2030."
The green platform plank includes previously announced targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades and reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.
The goals were enshrined in legislation in 2019 but a detailed plan for achieving them was left out of the law books. The new Liberal platform plank says the plan will come before the end of 2021 and will be guided by the results of public consultation that wrapped last month.
A report on the feedback received is expected to be released this fall.
The party is also promising to create a strategy for offshore wind development that would include a wind mapping project, developing the framework for regulations and research "to understand possible environmental impacts."
The party will also be relying on importing hydroelectricity from Quebec through New Brunswick.
Responding to questions by reporters following the launch, party leader Iain Rankin said he hoped to reach a deal this year to make the Atlantic Loop a reality.
The project involves the Atlantic provinces and the federal government working together to share the costs of transmission line upgrades that would be needed to share renewable power between the provinces.
A week before calling this election, the Rankin government announced its intention to issue a public call for renewable energy sources. That tender hasn't been issued yet but Rankin told reporters moving to greener energy would not mean higher rates.
"It won't move power rates up because we're expecting to get the kilowatt hour cost down to four cents or below, similarly to Alberta and Saskatchewan, who use the same process for tendering out competitively," he said.
"What we need to do is find a way forward to remove coal from the energy grid."
The federal government has committed to getting the country off coal by 2030, but Nova Scotia was granted a concession to continue using the fossil fuel until 2040. Rankin ran on hastening that process in his bid for Liberal leader.
Other measures in the party's green plan include a promise to invest $20 million over the next two years to provide rebates to businesses for energy efficiency upgrades, a promise to spend $15 million for major provincial park upgrades, $10 million to make electric charging stations more readily available and a previously announced $20 million a year for two years for home energy retrofits for low-income Nova Scotians.
The Liberals are scheduled to release their fifth and final platform plank on Wednesday, this one called "Creating an Economy where Businesses Can Grow and Hire."
Marni Tuttle, the Liberal candidate for Waverley-Fall River-Beaverbank, said she's walking the walk of her party's platform by using electric vehicles on the campaign trail.
In a news release, Tuttle said she's forgoing a bricks-and-mortar campaign office and instead using a Tesla Model X and a Nissan Leaf as a roving headquarters.
Tuttle said it's partly because she's passionate about electric vehicles, partly because vacancy for office and retail spaces is low and she couldn't find a space that was fully accessible.
"Having a moving headquarters means I can be in every corner of our 299-square-kilometre riding," Tuttle said in the release.
"Driving electric vehicles is more than showing my commitment to the environment. I want people to get more comfortable with the idea an [electric vehicle] can meet their day-to-day needs."
$40M price tag for NDP housing plan
NDP Leader Gary Burrill says the province's affordable housing situation has reached a desperate point that requires urgent action.
Burrill released details of his party's plan on Tuesday to spend about $40 million a year for four years to build 1,000 new affordable housing units, along with making rent control permanent.
As stories flooded in from around the province during the pandemic about people's rent being increased beyond what they can afford or a housing market so competitive that it's become difficult for people to break in, the provincial government introduced a cap on rent increases and ban on so-called renovictions last fall.
But those measures are set to expire when the provincial state of emergency is lifted, and Burrill said what awaits people is a problem stemming from a lack of investment in affordable housing by the Liberals through the years.
"They opened up less than 200 beds in eight years and that's a major component of why we're in the box that we're in," he told reporters.
Burrill was critical of the Liberal plan that would see the creation of 400 new units in three years, but no rent control. The plan would also require landlords whose tenants are expected to leave their units while buildings are renovated and rent is increased to pay those tenants a month's rent for each year they've been there, up to six months.
"It is a piddling idea. It is a miniscule idea," said Burrill.
"We face a situation where Halifax has the single worst rental vacancy [rate] of any major city in the country ... In that situation that has been allowed to develop over these years of neglect of bringing forward affordable housing, we now need to protect the people of our province from an extremely constricted rental market."
The Progressive Conservatives, who also oppose permanent rent control, have said they'd address housing needs by selling property owned by Nova Scotia Lands so it can be developed for new housing stock.
During his announcement, Burrill was joined by Fatuma Seid, who must leave her Fairview home of 18 years by October because the building has been sold and the owner intends to renovate and raise the rent to a point beyond her means.
Seid, who's planning to return to school in September, said she's discouraged by how difficult it's been to find a new place for her and her 13-year-old daughter that is within her budget.
"Fairview has grown, like, beautiful.... However, it doesn't accommodate me," she said. "Where is the belonging community that used to exist?"
Burrill noted the problem Seid is facing is playing out across the province, not just in the HRM and CBRM areas. The party's approach would include building new units and buying existing units and making them available throughout the province.
The party is also pledging to increase the fees charged for people who operate short-term rentals and to make it mandatory for anyone operating such a site to register it with the province.
Tories promise care for bears
The Progressive Conservatives say the Liberals erred in rejecting a proposal from wildlife sanctuary Hope for Wildlife to rehabilitate orphaned black bears. The PCs say they would correct that.
In a news release issued Monday, PC candidate John Wesley Chisholm said if his party forms government, it would allow regulated wildlife centres to care for injured or orphaned bears, saving them from being euthanized.
"Nova Scotia black bears are a barometer for the health of our forests and our concern for the environment," said Chisholm, who is running in Halifax Chebucto and is the executive producer of the Hope for Wildlife TV show.
"Published research proves that orphaned bears can be safely rehabilitated and released. It's just the right thing to do."
Hope Swinemar, the founder of Hope for Wildlife, endorsed the plan in the PC news release.
"Government and community working together to make positive change in our natural world is truly exciting. With the support of Tim Houston and the PCs, I am even more hopeful for black bear rehab and the natural environment in Nova Scotia," she said in the release.
How to vote
Once registered, you can vote in advance of election day by requesting a mail-in ballot or by visiting a returning office or advance polling station.
On election day, polling stations will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
More information on voting is available from electionsnovascotia.ca.
With files from Jean Laroche and Michael Gorman