7 candidates vying for Liberal stronghold in Sydney-Victoria
Liberal Mark Eyking held the riding of Sydney-Victoria for the past 19 years
Seven candidates are looking to take up the mantle from a long-time Liberal MP in Sydney-Victoria.
Mark Eyking held the riding of Sydney-Victoria for 19 years before retiring earlier this year. The closest the Conservative Party got to ousting Eyking came in 2011 when Cape Breton Regional Municipal mayor Cecil Clarke ran, losing by about 750 votes.
Conservative candidate Eddie Orrell is hoping to change that. Orrell is one of three former Progressive Conservative MLAs who resigned to run for the Conservative Party of Canada.
"Some of the changes and announcements we have made in the last little while will go a long way to improving health care both here in Cape Breton and Nova Scotia. So I'm hearing that's the biggest issue," said Orrell.
Orrell was the long-time health critic for the PCs and has been touting the Conservative plan to fund MRI machines and other medical equipment.
Political newcomer Jaime Battiste is the Liberal candidate for the riding. At 39 years old, Battiste is considered a young face in the race for Sydney-Victoria.
Battiste is Mi'kmaq and a resident of Eskasoni First Nation. He's well known for his role as treaty education lead where he was a part of negotiating the treaty education memorandum of understanding between Mi'kmaq chiefs and the Nova Scotia government.
Throughout his campaign, Battiste has highlighted the need for collaboration between all levels of government and First Nations, in order to solve the problems affecting Cape Breton.
"I have experience, not only advocating, but negotiating with all levels of government and I think where this government is going, looking forward, you need someone who can bring collaboration and work with people."
But Battiste's campaign has had a couple of stumbles.
Earlier this month the Toronto Sun unearthed racist and sexist social media posts made by Battiste in 2012 and 2013.
And this week Battiste's campaign manager Susan Farrell resigned, citing health issues. Speaking with CBC Wednesday, Battiste praised Farrell.
"She was integral to where we have gotten to right now and we're still looking good out there to keep this area as a safe Liberal area," he said.
Farrell is also president of the Sydney-Victoria Liberal Riding Association and still holds that position.
The New Democratic Party is running entrepreneur Jodi McDavid in the riding. She's frustrated by the way Orrell and Battiste have characterized the race as being between the Conservatives and Liberals.
"I think that Conservatives and Liberals often present things as though it's a two-sided system and they hope voters don't educate themselves and find out more," she said.
Employment, particularly in the green energy sector, has been on McDavid's mind this campaign. McDavid wants to see jobs from the green energy sector brought to Cape Breton so those seeking work wouldn't have to keep traveling to Alberta.
Lois Foster is a continuing care co-ordinator for the Nova Scotia Health Authority and running for the Green Party.
Foster has heard a lot about climate change on doorsteps in Sydney-Victoria. Although many Cape Bretoners still rely on the energy sector for work, she said the Green Party's policies are going over well.
"I think they see that things are changing and the younger people aren't going into [the non-renewable energy] field," she said.
The leader of one of Canada's newest political parties is also running in Sydney-Victoria. Randy Joy is the leader of the newly formed Veterans Coalition Party, which is running 25 candidates country-wide.
According to Joy, the party isn't just for veterans, though he is one himself — one of their biggest concerns is seniors.
"Senior citizens [need] to be able to receive their Canada Pension Plan without being taxed as income," said Joy.
The platform also calls for a moratorium on foreign aid and a two-year moratorium on immigration to Canada, as well as reducing taxes on citizens.
Two independent candidates are also running, though both have previously run under the party system.
Archie MacKinnon ran for the provincial NDP in 1998 and 1999, finishing second both time behind the Liberals.
Kenzie MacNeil ran twice for the federal Conservatives in Cape Breton-Canso, finishing third in 2004 and second in 2006.
Both candidates feel the party system is not working and an independent voice would be more effective for Cape Breton.
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With files from Yvonne LeBlanc-Smith