Nova Scotia·NOVA SCOTIA VOTES

Nova Scotia fire halls may get to tap into federal gas tax money

In this installment of the Election Notebook: Liberal Leader Iain Rankin pledges to support the federal government's initiative to include fire stations in the Canada Community-Building Fund Program.

Nova Scotia is now into the second week of election campaigning

(CBC News)

Welcome to CBC's Election Notebook, your source for regular updates and essential news from the campaign trail.


It's Day 10 of Nova Scotia's 31-day election.

Federal MP front and centre at Liberal campaign event

It may have been Liberal Leader Iain Rankin's election bus parked outside the fire hall in Mount Uniacke, N.S., on Sunday, but it was the federal MP for Kings Hants, Kody Blois, who took centre stage at a Liberal campaign event.

He explained a recent change in policy in Ottawa that will allow provinces to add fire halls to the list of projects eligible for Ottawa's gas tax money.

The federal Liberal government has added $55 million to the $58 million municipalities were expecting to draw from the fund this year. It's widely seen as a pre-election goodie, ahead of a call that could come within weeks.

"My goal today is to explain a little bit of where this came from, but also my perspective as a rural MP about why this is important," the Liberal politician said after taking the podium following a brief speech by Rankin.

He said he and other members of the federal Liberal caucus, particularly those who represent rural ridings, lobbied the Trudeau government to expand the list of municipal projects eligible to draw money from the Canada Community-Building Fund Program.

Blois says it took 18 months, but the federal government has agreed to include fire halls.

Jennifer Daniels, a former councillor for West Hants and a volunteer firefighter in Hantsport, speaks at a Liberal campaign event on Sunday. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

"I think of communities like Noel, I think of Maitland, Walton, perhaps even here at Mount Uniacke as well, where this is going to be available to them to be able to take advantage of that," said Blois. 

Blois also paid tribute to Jennifer Daniels, a former municipal councillor for West Hants who is also a volunteer firefighter in Hantsport and an entrepreneur. 

When he walked into her flower shop during the 2019 federal election, she urged him to take up the cause to add fire departments to the list.

"Many rural municipalities do not have the tax base or ability to stretch every dollar to maintain nor improve the aging infrastructure of their fire departments," said Daniels.

"This new strategic investment will alleviate most of the fundraising burden shouldered by the volunteers and allow them to focus on what they do best."

Rankin pledges support

The only catch is that provincial government has to be on board with adding fire stations to the list. On Sunday, Rankin pledged he would.

"It's a great initiative and one that we are wholeheartedly behind," said Rankin.

The Progressive Conservative campaign said it would also support the change.

"The PC Party supports federal funding for rural infrastructure and is pleased to hear that the Canadian government has decided to include rural fire halls under the Canada Community-Building Fund Program," the party said in a written statement.

"We are interested in any project that helps Nova Scotians, especially if we can leverage federal funding."

NDP leader Gary Burrill struck a more cautious tone, supporting the change, but only in principle.

"I haven't yet had a chance to review the details of that proposal, so I couldn't comment on the proposal itself, where it might or might not fit with an NDP government," he said during a campaign stop in Truro, N.S.

Nova Scotia voters divided

This is the start of the second week of this month-long campaign, but given the sunny weather and the newfound freedoms being enjoyed by Nova Scotians, not everyone is paying close attention to what the party leaders are saying or doing.

In fact, voters are still divided over whether this mid-summer election should even be taking place.

Annapolis Valley resident Rick Kanne enjoys lunch at Uniacke Estates Museum Park in Mount Uniacke, N.S. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

Rick Kanne, who lives in the Annapolis Valley, said he is OK with it.

"It really doesn't bother me a great deal," he said during a Sunday picnic at the Uniacke Estate in Mount Uniacke, N.S. 

"They've decided that they need an election.... Happens to be summer. I've got no problem with that."

Robert McMenemy and Rascal, his 3-year-old beagle, sit on the Dartmouth waterfront on Sunday. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

Dartmouth resident Robert McMenemy took the opposite view. 

"I don't think it's a good thing," said McMenemy, who was enjoying time with his dog Rascal on the Dartmouth waterfront.

"I think that the political leaders should have let us enjoy our summer and maybe at the end of September or mid-October that might have been a better time.... The last thing on most Nova Scotians minds right now is an election."

How to vote

Check whether you are registered to vote with Elections Nova Scotia.

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. AT.

More information on voting is available from electionsnovascotia.ca.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jean Laroche

Reporter

Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.

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