Halifax Needham byelection to be held Aug. 30
Maureen MacDonald was MLA for the area but retired from politics in April
Premier Stephen McNeil announced Saturday a byelection will be held in the constituency of Halifax Needham on Tuesday, Aug. 30.
McNeil's decision makes a fall election less likely, but not impossible, since a general election call can supersede a by-election.
Maureen MacDonald was MLA for the area but retired from politics in April. MacDonald was first elected in 1998 as an MLA for Halifax Needham. She was re-elected in 1999, 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2013.
The Liberal Party is the only party that has officially registered its Halifax Needham candidate with Elections Nova Scotia.
Who is running?
Dr. Rod Wilson was nominated by the Liberals on Monday. He is a family physician and serves as executive director of the North End Community Health Centre. Wilson began canvassing around Halifax Needham on Saturday, shortly after the byelection date was announced.
"It's going excellent. I'm in home turf and getting great support. People are surprised, like 'wait a minute, why is my doctor at my door on a Saturday morning?'... I think this is a great opportunity for Needham," said Wilson.
Bridging government and community
Maureen MacDonald was a great leader while she served Halifax Needham, Wilson said, but the area would have a stronger voice with a representative who is a member of the governing party.
He said he is still working on the finer details of his platform, but it will include thinking outside the box about health care as well as investing in education and opportunities for youth.
"I've been working here in this community on and off for the last 19 years ... I really know a lot of the community and connect with it and I also know the issues in the community," said Wilson. "I think we need to engage with the government and make a bridge between government and the community to get things done."
'A very, very exciting month'
Andy Arsenault, a former RCMP inspector and a north-end Halifax business owner, will carry the Progressive Conservative banner.
"On Monday, I expect to be out there knocking on doors, visiting people and discussing the issues. It's going to be a very, very exciting month. I'm looking forward to it," said Arsenault.
Arsenault said his priorities are rebuilding Nova Scotia's film industry, finding and advancing solutions for affordable housing on the peninsula, making the streets safer and coming up with better solutions for assisted-living facilities.
"I happen to be a senior myself and I think it's critically important because a lot of them are living in situations that they shouldn't be living in," he said.
Arsenault said he would like to work with the municipality and law enforcement to tackle crime in the neighbourhood.
"We've had some shootings, we've had some muggings. We've had a litany of problems with drugs and so on ... I would like to delve into that and see if there are possible ways we could find some commonality and solutions."
'Roots in the north-end'
Lisa Roberts, executive director of Veith House and a former CBC journalist, will try to keep Halifax Needham an NDP stronghold.
"Lisa is a great candidate. She has all kinds of roots in the north end," said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. "She's a neighbourhood and community activist. We couldn't ask for a better person to carry forward the strong tradition that Maureen MacDonald has built there over a number of years."
Roberts couldn't be reached Saturday afternoon.
The NDP candidate will start canvassing on Sunday, Burrill said.
North-end Halifax has been "short changed very badly" by the McNeil government, he said, adding Roberts will focus her campaign on nursing homes and the province's withdrawal from the Bloomfield affordable housing project.
"There are over 1,500 people on the waiting list in the HRM for rent geared toward income housing," Burrill said. "Those people have been told for two and a half years ... that a major push is coming on affordable housing with the Bloomfield project and everybody was waiting until ... a few months ago. The government said 'no, we've changed our minds."
With files from Jean LaRoche