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Financial squeeze top of mind in Mount Pearl North

Politics can be daunting to the people who should be running.
Tuesday is election day in Mount Pearl North. - studiom1/123RF

Candidates say they’re hearing concerns about power bills, taxes, provincial outlook

Candidates in the Mount Pearl North byelection have all been hearing worry at the doors over personal finances and the provincial economy, as they power through to the finish of their campaigns.

In interviews Friday, each said door-to-door visits have proven there is genuine concern among people in the district over power rates, paired with an expressed desire for a generally stronger, more diversified provincial economy.

 

Hudson Stratton

Found knocking on doors on Luther Place, a cul-de-sac not far off Farrell Drive, the Independent candidate told The Telegram he entered the race because he felt his family and community weren’t necessarily reflected in the slate of party candidates.

“These people (in Mount Pearl North) are my neighbours. You know, I live in an older part of Mount Pearl and this is going to be next to me when I go home at night and it’s there when I go out in the morning,” he said.

Stratton has worked in the restaurant and bar industry as a manager and owner, going on to start a paint and drywall company.

As for how he would try to help address the concerns? He spoke a lot about tourism, suggesting potential for the province to capture more dollars per visitor, through the encouragement of rapid growth in local business partnerships and tour packages.

Closer to home, he said he is excited by the prospect of working with the new city council and is interested in promoting a generally progressive, collaborative approach.

He said he’s not anti-party and would consider, if elected, aligning with a party before the next general election.

 

Jim Burton

The Liberal candidate dropped by his campaign headquarters around noon for a coffee and questions, before heading back out for more door-to-door work.

Well known for his work in local real estate and as an airplane pilot and volunteer, not everyone knows he got a start in real estate with training in Mount Pearl, or sold 20 homes his first year in the area.

If elected, he said, his top priority would be working within government to address power rates and avoid overwhelming increases as a result of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

“This is about looking after our seniors, looking after our first-time homebuyers. … We cannot, as a province, be attracting and helping this community and attract businesses to Newfoundland and Labrador if we’re not competitive with the rest of Atlantic Canada,” he said.

Burton said he would also try to import businesses. He wants to target large corporations potentially interested in escaping the costs associated with current locations in centres like Toronto or Ottawa and bring them into the province.

“I’m thinking about manufacturing and I’m thinking about our power we’ve got coming on stream. Who says we can’t be global leaders? We can,” he said.

Burton also suggested benefit in a Liberal-to-Liberal relationship with MP Seamus O’Regan.

 

Jim Lester

The Progressive Conservative candidate was campaigning with PC Leader Paul Davis on Billard Avenue when The Telegram caught up to him.

“One of the most emerging and frightening topics I’m hearing now is how many young people are considering leaving this province and leaving this district,” Lester said.

He pointed to what he characterized as mistakes made in the past two years, suggesting over-taxation by the Liberals.

Asked what he might do, he said it’s key to change the perspective on the economy. That includes talking up success stories that might not have been noticed much to date, to encourage others and share lessons learned.

“We have to look at more ways to circulate that hard-earned dollar around within our community before it has to leave the province,” he added.

The businessman and farmer by trade said health care would be a personal interest, including health education, improving personal lifestyles and improving the food we eat.

“That will, not tomorrow, but within several years, maybe a decade, make a big difference when it comes to our health care system and people’s overall optimism,” he said.

 

Nicole Kieley

The New Democratic Party candidate was met at her campaign office, on a stopover during a similar day of door-to-door canvassing.

Asked why she decided to run, the executive director with the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre said it grew out of her work over the past 20 years in anti-violence efforts, in the community.

“That type of work, where you are supporting communities, supporting individuals, seeing the impact of what government decision-making and budgets has had on people … it gave me inspiration to have a voice at the House of Assembly that is community minded and is looking at longer-term and progressive solutions to dealing with our debt, but also increasing our revenue and generating economic growth,” she said.

Kieley said she was inspired by recent elections of younger people and women to leadership positions on city council and beyond.

Asked what she might do with the economy in mind, she said she wants to see the government start to again view certain program spending as investment rather than economic liability.

“That’s actually going to generate long-term goals — around alleviating pressure on our health care system, on our justice system,” she said, “and when we look at poverty reduction, there’s a business case to be said.”

She promoted standing for more from oil companies and other resource sector companies, taking a harder line when development deals are being struck.

 

Saturday will mark the second advanced poll for the byelection, running to 8 p.m. The first advance poll was held Nov. 15, with 566 votes cast.

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 21.

 

ashley.fitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

 

RELATED LINKS:
Jim Lester — Progressive Conservative Party

Nicole Kieley — New Democratic Party

Jim Burton — Liberal Party

Hudson Stratton — Independent

 

Mount Pearl North

• District was created in 2007.

• Voter turnout: 61.1 per cent in 2007, 51.9 per cent in 2011 and 62.6 per cent in 2015.

• This will be the district’s first byelection.

• Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 21. For more information: 1-877-729-7987 or www.elections.gov.nl.ca.

(Source: Elections Newfoundland and Labrador)

 

Election Reminders

• Voters are not required have a voter information card.

• A person shall not post a sign or display a flag, banner, placard or other object in support of a candidate or political party within 100 metres (328 feet) of the building within which a polling station is located during polling day.

• Media advertising by candidates ends Sunday, Nov. 19 at 11:59 p.m.

(Source: Elections Newfoundland and Labrador)

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