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Ray Bates: What Nova Scotians do not need – A peekaboo election

On July 17 Premier Rankin called for an election to be held in 32 days. My curious mind asks why such timing? When something as important to Nova Scotians as electing its government is announced on a slow-news-coverage day such as a summertime Saturday, my suspicion antenna goes to an alert stage. Could the timing have been to dampen voter interest via a peekaboo election?

Nova Scotians must go to the polls to elect our province’s government within a required five-year period with our premier and his advisors deciding when, with their goal to win being their primary date-selection factor. Politics is a strategy-driven process. Almost all decisions are calculated towards election victories and the retaining of power.

This campaign will be a quickie at a 32-days duration. That is not a lot of time to get the voters involved nor debate the many issues facing Nova Scotians. Thus far it has been a lack-lustre campaign with my belief that we could be on the path to the election of a minority government on the 17th.

I believe that most of our representatives did not seek to be elected with the “what’s-in-it-for-me attitude” but some get seduced by the power and perks of office and pass over to the political dark side to become “just another of the politicians out to benefit themselves”. They become willing redistributors of our tax dollars in the forms of ploys to entice us to vote for them. They are giving us our money for projects that their strategists have calculated will generate support and votes. Sadly, once elected, if politicians are to “prosper” they must toe the party line or else.

Many politicians tend to cater to the loudest noises and not the greatest needs. Those “noises” can be in the forms of voters’ tribalism attitudes, regional biases, financial contributions, corporate lobbying, life-style judgements, historical and/or outdated attitudes and a myriad of other influencers. The world is a messy place and we exist with far-reaching issues requiring resolution. We need more politicians who seek out what their constituents require and then strive to provide those necessities.

Nova Scotia has a strong urban-rural divide thus such a reality must be openly acknowledged by our electoral outcomes. We do not need the standard election-time platitudes such as road construction, jobs, and “your” strong representative voice in government. Nova Scotians do not need political posturing; we need constructive and consequential actions.

Many question the decades-old push to industrialize Nova Scotia as the primary means to enhance our province and prepare for future generations. Such a philosophy has demonstrated the long-term consequences of wooing corporations to be the bearers of employment opportunities with their dire costs. Lives are affected via outcomes such as negative environmental impacts, air quality changes, human-health issues, environmental racism or wildlife-habitat destruction. Taxpayers are burdened with financial contributions in the forms of governmental incentives to establish said businesses or their absorption of ongoing costs for the corporations to remain (Think Northern Pulp).

The silence of politicians will not correct our problems but their sincere efforts will. We need action towards community-enhancement achievements such as sewer treatment facilities, sufficient water availability, adequate health care services for all and issues regarding localized environmental-change effects.

This election is being campaigned according to the strategy of the political parties. Voters need to take back control of their election processes and be prepared to live with the consequences of their actions or inactions. 

The parties vying to form our government are attempting to seduce us with promises. The onus is on us to recall political records, to examine promises, to decide possibilities and then to vote strategically. We need a government for all of Nova Scotians that will enhance our lives, communities and province — now and over the long term. 

Ray Bates, Guysborough (Sedabooktook: harbour running far back), a former school principal and Nova Scotia Community College Truro Campus faculty member (Ret’d), has been contributing his opinions to newspapers since 1998. (raybates@eastlink.ca)

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One Comment

  1. Almost unbelievable that our “giant white elephant” of The Cat saga (still receiving huge amounts of $$$) has not had so much as the blink of an eye in our provincial election campaigning. “Almost” because it is August in Nova Scotia; mere coincidence, I’m certain!

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