The leader of Nova Scotia’s official opposition party says the Progressive Conservatives are the government in waiting.
Tim Houston says the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives (PCs) have a strong team of sitting MLAs and qualified candidates who are ready to lead after the next election.
“From top to bottom we have a solid team of incredibly talented people. We have it in the caucus now and you’ll see that in MLA Kim Masland and MLA Colton LeBlanc. These are incredible community leaders,” said Houston. “And the slate of candidates that we are assembling, I’m just really humbled with the quality of people that are putting their name forward.”
Houston says Nova Scotia has great potential for success, due in no small part to the increasing population the province has enjoyed over the past few years.
“This government takes a lot of credit for the population growing. But if you’re planning for an increased population then you plan for the other things that go with it, increase the access to health care, understand the needs around housing,” said Houston.
He says that lack of planning for the needs of increased population demonstrates government is taking credit for something that was already happening and is concerned government hasn’t done more to address the housing crisis in Nova Scotia.
“The only solution to the housing crisis is more housing supply. That means looking for ways to get more tradespeople in the province, working with those not-for-profits that are building affordable housing and the development community to see how do we get projects moving quicker and how do we increase supply,” said Houston.
Turning to the pandemic response, Houston says Nova Scotia should be further ahead in its vaccine rollout.
“We were told to be patient. They were building a plan, building a system and that when they turned it on and flicked the switch we would ramp, ramp right up. But we haven’t," he said.
The PC leader is frustrated it’s taking so long to get needles into the arms of all Nova Scotians.
Houston says from the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, opposition parties have voiced their concerns to government outside of the public eye so Nova Scotians would see their leaders taking on the pandemic as a united front.
He was confident in the approach taken by then-premier Stephen McNeil to follow recommendations made by chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang.
Houston says the relationship developed by the two men inspired Nova Scotians to work together to keep the pandemic at bay.
He questions whether Premier Iain Rankin has the same willingness to follow the advice of public health.
“For the past year we got used to seeing Premier McNeil and Dr. Strang and they certainly seemed to be one unit. They seemed to be totally in sync with each other. I just don’t have that vibe from the new relationship,” said Houston. “In fact, the government has issued a couple of releases where they’ve said Premier Rankin directed Dr. Strang to do certain things.”
Houston says politicians giving directives to public health is not what Nova Scotians are accustomed to seeing from their government.
He is hopeful whenever the writ is dropped the people of this province will recognize the work his party has done to prepare plans to provide dignity to seniors, address addictions and mental health and provide better healthcare to all Nova Scotians.
“We want to be very, very open,” said Houston. “We know we need to be accountable, that’s the job of government, to be accountable to the people. So we’re being very transparent about what we think is possible and where the focus needs to be and right now, that focus needs to be on healthcare.”
Reported by Ed Halverson
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