This House Would Recognize That The NDP Should Lose the 2009 Nova Scotia Election
Debate Rounds (4)
I would define 'this house' as the Nova Scotia legislature, still led by Rodney MacDonald's Progressive Conservative party. I would loosely define 'recognize' as put forward a platform as to why the PC, Liberal or Green party should win stead of the New Democratic Party. I define 'lose' as any configuration that results in the NDP not forming government.
I hope that satisfies my honorable opponent and I invite him to change any bones of contention before he goes into his arguments.
I accept the terms he has defined, and will base my arguments around them. I present the House with these arguments in favour of the motion:
Argument #1: Darrell Dexter is not strong enough of a leader.
Darrell Dexter has lead the NDP through two elections (2003 and 2006), but has yet to successfully unseat the Tories, despite having two unpopular leaders at the helm of the government. The NDP has been lead by Dexter for 8 years, . As well, the latest polls have shown that Dexter is almost neck-in-neck with PC leader Rodney McDonald. (28% to 27%). http://www.cra.ca...
Liberal leader Stephen McNeil is also taking up over 20% of the leadership polls, and has done considerably well outside of Halifax, where the Tories formally reigned. Dexter's support is mostly in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) and other urban areas, but as I will explain in my next argument, this is not enough to win him the election.
Argument #2: NDP support is concentrated in Halifax and other urban areas, which due to other mitigating factors, is not enough to win the election.
Before I make my argument, I present to the House these facts:
The population of Nova Scotia is 913,462 total, and in total 52 seats.
Out of the total, 474,929 (52.0%) live in the largest urban areas (Halifax and Cape Breton), together they have 27 seats.
Halifax has a population of 372,679, and 18 seats.
Cape Breton has a population of 102,250, and 9 seats.
Rural Nova Scotia has 438,533 or 48%, and 25 seats.
I would like to point out to my colleague that the NDP does indeed have a majority of the seats in Halifax currently, and is doing well in Halifax. But as I submitted, Halifax only has 18 seats, so even if the NDP did win every single seat in Halifax, they would not have enough to win the government. I would also like to point out that the NDP will most likely not win every seat in Halifax, as there is several PC and Liberal strongholds within the city, and that there is a few seats that are too close to call. It is therefore unlikely the NDP will win every seat in Halifax.
The NDP also hold few seats outside of Halifax/Cape Breton. There are 5 seats in total outside of urban areas, and out of those five, only two seats are not too-close-to-call. It is therefore unlikely that the NDP can claim those seats outright. As well, the Tories take the majority of votes in the rural areas, though they are also in contention with the Liberals in several areas, including the Annapolis Valley. The NDP receives its lowest votes in these areas.
This now brings me to Cape Breton. As polls have indicated, the Liberals receive the greatest support in Cape Breton (36%). Therefore, it is safe to assume that the Liberals are the preferred party in Cape Breton, and will take more seats than the NDP.
Here are my sources for these statistics:
http://en.wikipedia.org... - Seat totals, distribution of votes
http://www.cra.ca... - Current poll numbers.
My conclusion is that renewed support for the Liberals in Cape Breton, continued support for the Tories in Rural Nova Scotia and seat constraints will help deny the NDP a government. This of course, can all be thrown up in the air as party preference will switch back and forth. While leadership is a major part of this theme, I will explain why the NDP will not gain enough votes due to party politics.
Argument #3: The NDP are at a significant disadvantage in Nova Scotia and in party politics.
Nova Scotians have elected for years two parties; the Liberals and the Tories. Both parties promote center-to-center-right fiscal responsibility. Even with this past election, they have chosen this path. They have also shown it with their choice during federal elections, as the federal Liberals hold the most seats in the province, followed closely by the Conservatives and one former Tory independent, and only two NDP members. It is clear that even during the time when the Liberals were at their lowest, with the NDP gaining at their expense everywhere else in the country, Nova Scotia remained Liberal, and majority center-to-center-right.
Why I mention this is because I wish to make a point about the party politics. Unlike the Western prairie provinces, Nova Scotia is not a mostly agrarian, social-democratically-inclined province. Neither does Nova Scotia have the same situations with their parties as either British Columbia or Ontario, two other provinces that elected NDP premiers. From party inclinations throughout its history and at the federal level, the NDP is at a significant disadvantage in Nova Scotia to the Liberals and Tories. As well, the popularity of federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and the rise of the Liberals in Nova Scotia at the expense of the Tories will present a major challenge to the NDP. It is also a fact that when the Liberals rise, the NDP are the ones to feel the pinch, due to the status of the Liberals as a centrist party. I will present my first example of this:
Manitoba General Election, 1988: http://en.wikipedia.org...
This was the fall of the NDP in the 80's in Manitoba after the succeeding governments of NDP Premiers. As you can see, many, many NDP voters fled to the Liberals due to party dissatisfaction. My point in this example is due to the fact that before the 1988 election, the Liberals held one, and only one, seat. The Liberals are the clear party of choice for people who do not wish to vote NDP out of dissatisfaction or fear of their platform.
This is my second example:
Alberta General Election, 1993: http://en.wikipedia.org...
From this example, it is clear that with moderate-to-strong support for a party leader in certain ridings and districts, the Liberals are able to overtake the NDP. The NDP before were the official opposition in Alberta. I would also like to note that Alberta is about as possibly conservative as you can get in this country. But, because the Liberals are a party of the center, they will take votes from both the NDP and Tories. The NDP are therefore at a disadvantage.
With these arguments and further elaborations upon them or my opponent's arguments, I present to the House the conclusion that the NDP shall not win the 2009 Nova Scotia General Election.
What my opponent fails to recognize is that despite not forming government in the previous two elections, NDP have made a steady gain the polls and in the legislature. Polls of the province put him in first place with a comfortable lead in terms of the strongest leader. But previous standings are largely irrelevant as this election campaign is a time for the NDP to prove that they are unequivocally better than the competition, which I will expand upon later.
My opponent again thinks he can win this debate by concentrating how the NDP -won't- win, despite being predicted by every poll to form a minority government and possibly even a majority one. My opponent has made some unfounded claims as to which seats the NDP will and will not win. His argument hinges on our inability to pick up seats outside of metro centers and in response to this I the quote of the infamous lackluster prime minister, Pierre Trudeau; "Just watch me."
My opponent argues that because Michael Ignatieff is popular, the NDP cannot win. This is, of course, a ludicrous accusation as the provincial Liberal leader Steven McNeil does not resemble Ignatieff in any way, nor would I acknowledge that doing so would be an asset. I would rebut this claim by suggesting that the country is fed-up with Conservative rule and that, as such, the country will make a shift to the left. I realize that such an argument is unfounded, and I wonder why opponent makes a similar one.
The fact of the matter is that my opponent is at a loss. He has no platform to stand on and thus relies on previous election results and relies on the Liberal party's only crutch; Steven McNeil. He has said nothing of the only real competitor to the NDP; the Progressive Conservative party. Nova Scotians have sat idly by for the past several months as Province House has been locked, as the legislature has not been in session. This begs to the question; why would I pay the salary of a government who does not meet to do the job I paid them to do? Decisions to adjourn the legislature rests in the government, so I would suggest that, just as in any employment, the employee who does not show up for work should be fired.
Furthermore, I would point to the various examples of poor job performance on the part of Rodney MacDonald's government. When Ernie Fage, a minister, hit another man's car while likely under the influence of alcohol, what did Rodney's government do? It kept it to themselves, even though the crime had not yet been reported to police. A scandal as such is disingenuous at best, criminal at worst. What of Rodney's endless fight for the Nova Scotian family? Stolen right from the NDP handbook. Getting rid of the tax on home heating was a demand of the NDP to which Rodney said 'no.' But when it was clear that this is what the people wanted, Rodney waited...and waited...and waited...until...Election time! Then again, he did cut the program after he had won another minority government. Of course, Rodney's bribes to the people have become an important tenet of his leadership. As during the last election and this one, Rodney's new plans to spend billions on healthcare and education rip apart any assertions he has made about being fiscally responsible. What's more, this dolling out of money has been masked by a sudden infusion of money into the province, but where did it come from? It of course is our offshore revenue that John Hamm, his predecessor, allocated to pay down debt. I hardly think cooking the books to cover up a politically-unviable deficit is the way any public employee should be acting. Speaking of criminals, justice minister Cecil Clark has now released not one, not two but THREE convicted violent offenders from prison. Convicted of crimes such as assault, aggravated assault, rape and unauthorized possession of a firearm, three prisoners were simply allowed to leave as corrections officials deemed the paperwork too much, um, work. Cecil Clark, knowing such a massive slip up was under his jurisdiction, offered to resign. Rodney simply wouldn't have it, because allowing the one who made the mistake to fess up isn't the Conservative way.
Now I realize I have made this debate increasingly negative and for that I apologize, but it needs to be done. Darrell Dexter has distances himself from this, from the 'Risky NDP' smear campaign and from Rodney Macdonald's reign of incompetence. Rather, Dexter has shown a tremendous ability to stay on message and history has vindicated him. Dexter's calls to cut the tax for home heating were finally heeded by the government, although once the program was poorly implemented, the political tides changed and criticized the PCs once more so the government merely cut the program. The NDP represents a party who will work to do things right the first time and not give up because things don't go their way. Furthermore, a government under Dexter would mean a government that cares about climate change, a government that would take the rest of Canada's lead and introduce a cap and trade system that would cut carbon emissions while spurring investment. The other option would be to follow the Liberal path and shove a carbon tax onto the front porches of every man, woman and child in Nova Scotia during already tough economic times. On the topic of economic growth, Dexter wants to give money back to manufacturers because he recognizes that the small companies that populate Nova Scotia create jobs and make us competitive once more. Dexter also recognizes the importance in investing in the care for seniors and reversing the shocking decline in care. He will also ensure that post-secondary education becomes affordable once more so that families do not need to make large sacrifices so that their child can make a life for themselves like everyone deserves to be able to do.
I invite my opponent to tell me why the NDP do not deserve to enact the legislation that should have been passed 6 years ago and fix the legislation that was enacted poorly by Rodney and his criminal cronies.
I would like first to begin by pointing out that the opposition has completely ignored, or possibly not seen, the point of my last argument. I made out possible situations as to why the NDP may not win an election, but that is all of course dependent on their performance during the elect. My opponent should know that given the status of Nova Scotia's ridings situations, its political history and tendencies, and the mechanics of party politics in this country, the NDP have a significant disadvantage during this election. His argument of, "just watch me", is therefore only an assumption, and a boisterous one at that.
As well, I never compared Mr. McNeil to Michael Ignatieff, but wished to point out that federal politics has an unmistakable effect on provincial politics. The popularity of Mr. Ignatieff in Atlantic Canada, where the Liberals now sit comfortably at 40%, is an asset to Mr. McNeil, not only because unlike other provinces, the NS Liberals are affiliated with the federal party, but because of the inevitable support that will drift towards the Liberals out of it.
As to his ascertain that I have not mentioned the Tories. It is true, but only because I do not believe I could win an argument by butting heads between the two parties. My opponent misses the entire point of my argument The fact of the matter is, the Liberals represent a credible threat to the NDP. I do not wish my opponent to fool himself as Premier MacDonald has; this is not a two-way race between the Tories and the NDP. It is a mangling of political parties that will draw off one another, and the fact of it is, the Liberals are best suited to take away from both. Competition between them shall rage on, and the NDP will most likely lose some seats to the Liberals. That is not an assumption; it is a fact of political battles.
I do not wish to address my opponent's criticisms of Premier MacDonald, because as I stated earlier, I do not believe that by butting heads between the two leaders, will I win this debate. But I wish to address his comments about Justice Minister Cecil Clark, in which he is absolutely correct. But I wish to direct him to the NDP's plan to correct this problem, and finally fix the Nova Scotian justice system.
I forgot, there isn't one. No where is there a single reference to the ongoing problems with the justice system in Nova Scotia, especially with the mistakenly freed inmates. It appears that when the NDP criticize, they don't like to make a solution. I guess it just isn't the NDP way.
The opposition mentioned about the NDP environmental plan, with cap-and-trade systems. They plan on working with the majority of Canadian provinces to build a cap-and-trade system, yet that is all it is - going with the majority.
The cap-and-trade system has many faults to it that the NDP refuse to admit. They want to stick with the plan that the federal government - the Conservative federal government - tries to implement while other provinces like British Columbia institute carbon taxes *and* cap-and-trade systems, working both ideas best they can. BC knows that being just another premier in Stephen Harper's hand is not right.
Where is Dexter's leadership on the environment? It is with Gordon Campbell, Liberal Premier of British Columbia
The NDP plan for health care is admirable. But I have only one question; where do they expect to pay for all of this?
Darrell Dexter says that he will work to keep emergency departments open, shorten wait times for surgery and all sorts of other neat tidbits that would truly help Nova Scotians. But he has no plan on how he would help pay for the expenses of increasing doctors and nurses at hospitals, the wages they need to work 24/7/365 to keep those emergency departments open; the expenses of "travelling surgical teams"; the expenses of almost all of his health care reforms. The very document where they lay out these plans does not mention one single number in relation to how much this will cost, and how much Nova Scotians will pay. (http://ndpcaucus.ns.ca...)
The government on the other hand has handed out a specific, costed health care strategy that has and will continue working to give Nova Scotians the care they deserve. As of November 2008, the PC strategies have helped drop residential care facility's wait times by 13%, by adding 100-million dollars in new equipment and services. (http://gov.ns.ca...)
This is only one part of the PC plan, a plan that the NDP itself endorse. The Continuing Care Strategy. (http://www.gov.ns.ca...)
Where is Darrell Dexter's fiscal responsibility with health? With Tory Premier Rodney MacDonald.
I was going to talk about the NDP economic plan here, but I find nothing wrong with what it says. The problem is though, as I stated above with their health care plans, the NDP have not costed any single bit of their platform. There is no mention of any numbers, except for bringing up the Manufacturing and Processing Tax Credit to 10%. There is no numbers to support anything else.
Let me point something out to my opponent.
This the NDP page on 'Investing in Jobs': http://www.ns.ndp.ca...
This is the government's plan: http://gov.ns.ca...
Notice the difference yet? It isn't just because the Tories are in power either.
This is just some Liberal media releases on finances, also appearing with numbers:
Now, I would like the exemplify the federal NDP page on 'Corporate Taxes':
They mention something about the tax rate, and the rest turns into rhetoric, with nothing showing how they will implement those reforms, or how much it will cost everyone.
I would like now to point out the governing Conservative economic platform:
Now, I would like to show a federal Liberal website that watches over that Conservative economic platform:
The key difference here between the NDP and the Conservatives and Liberals, both provincial and federal, is that the latter two *include* numbers. If there must be no further proof of Dexter's inability to lead, I believe this would be it.
Just as Jack Layton failed in his attempt to become the next Prime Minister with a groundless economic platform, Darrel Dexter will fall on the same premise. I give Dexter credit for including statistics on his tax credit plan, but that is clearly not all he intends to do. If he were a real leader, he would show Nova Scotians the cost of all his programs, and exactly how much it will cost them. But clearly, the leadership isn't there.
Where is Darrell Dexter's leadership on supporting the economy, and actually showing that he can support the plan to support the economy?
With Premier Rodney MacDonald, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Liberal leader Stephen McNeil and federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. Everywhere but the NDP.
My opponent would like you to believe that it is the Liberals would who stop the Orange Machine but that is, of course, utterly ludicrous. History has shown that it is difficult enough to gain any more than 10 seats, and the being in a previously two-horse race. As there are now three closely matched parties, I believe that large surges in seats will be nearly impossible. What's more is that Steven McNeil is not strong on any issues, he is not charismatic and he has no proven himself in any way, shape or form. His platform resides on his proposed cutting of the business tax from 5% to 1%, something Darrell Dexter is very open to (on top of his manufacturers tax credit which I will talk about later.) If the only reason McNeil is running is to cut the tax rate for small businesses, he may as well stay at home on election day.
And I resent my opponent's assertion that the NDP will lose seats to the Liberals or to anyone else. The surge in popularity for Darrell Dexter, coupled with the real momentum behind him will result in large gains. I sincerely doubt that the future premier will lose seats to a man that has so thoroughly messed up his terms in office and a man with virtually no name recognition among voters.
As for the NDP's strong record on justice issues, I would refer my opponent to the proper link;
And his response the releasing of the inmates can be summed up in Dexter's own words;
"For the minister to try and offload the responsibility on employees by saying it's simply a human error is not adequately addressing the issue."
He must have not wanted to waste his time doing a thorough search for these issues. I would further ask him to produce a Liberal plan for justice, as I will be anticipating it.
My opponent then went on to attack the NDP's cap-and-trade program while ignoring the inherent hypocrisy of his own party's platform. They wish to slash the business tax, yet they want to levy a tax not only on small businesses but on homeowners? The cap and trade system is what the Liberals -should- be supporting; it contains the benefits of both the business tax cut and of their microlending program, yet they would prefer to levy an indiscriminate carbon tax on every Nova Scotian? No thank you, Mr. McNeil. And of course my opponent would turn to the poorly-implemented cap and trade system in BC started by a wishy-washy Liberal premier. My opponent has suggested that the cap and trade system is fraught with problems, but I fundamentally disagree. The cap and trade system is a huge industry ($64 billion as of 2005) and can help promote green business in Nova Scotia rather than scaring businesses away. The EU, an example of a poorly implemented system, still managed to cut the carbon output of regulated industries by 1.12% using the cap and trade system. That may not seem like a lot, but if every country were to cut that much off their output in one year, the results would be absolutely incredible. I, for one, would like to preserve the environment while spurring growth and investment, I hope my opponent feels the same.
The NDP position on healthcare is firm. My opponent asks me how it will be payed for, and I can safely say that I do not know. What I do know is that cutting the business tax by 4% will not help pay for it nor will merely lavishing money on hospitals as the Liberals and Conservatives propose. There is a fundamental problem here that may take more than dollars and cents to fix. A plan is required that addresses doctors and nurses and not merely the government bureaucracy of the healthcare system. One of Darrell Dexter's first orders of business will be to establish a board of doctors to decide exactly what to do with the problem, and then action will be taken. This is the most coherent approach by any of the parties. What would the other parties do? Simply spill money, which ignores the fundamental problems of human labour. My opponent has tried to pass off the government's plan as a comprehensive strategy that will solve the problem of doctor outmigration and ER closures, what he doesn't say is that this is the same plan Rodney has always had, just with a bigger price tag. If it has not worked for the past 4 years, why would it work now? Furthermore, I will ask a question that my opponent has already asked of me; how do you intend to pay for it?
My opponent has taken fault with numbers, but I counter that his straw man is structurally unstable. It is not common practice for parties to cost their election platforms before winning the election as it is usually foolhardy. Once a party wins government, then they have the resources at their disposal to properly crunch the numbers. I assume they have rough estimates run up, likely what the Liberals are posting, but it would be irresponsible to publish these numbers as they are subject to change often. The fact remains that the only leader truely committed to a balanced budget is Darrell Dexter. It is ironic that my opponent attacks the NDP for not costing their budget when, in fact, the government he is essentially protecting has just released a budget that out-right lies to the people. By cooking the books, they have slanted the numbers in their favour which I would argue is fundamentally more dishonest than simply not showing the numbers. My opponent further ignores the historical precedent set by previous provincial NDP governments. We have had the best track record of any party for balancing budgets. And what of the Liberal party? Their platform looks so similar to the current governments that I, again, wonder why he is even running. For microcredit and a lowered business tax?
So there you have it. My opponent has been thoroughly unable to deconstruct my points, instead relying on attacking Darrell Dexter's lack of numbers, despite it being a common political practice. The fact remains that the Liberal platform is not unique, it is not innovative and it will not fix any of the problems that face us today. It is too little, too late for the Liberal party.
I would like to point out to my opponent his own hypocrisy by stating that the Liberals slowing down the so-called 'Orange Machine' is a 'ludicrous' idea. He is forgetting about his own party's status before 1998, where they couldn't get above five seats. It took a spectacular collapse of the Liberals in order for the NDP to make any mark in Nova Scotian politics. Now, the Liberals are once again high in the polls and are more evenly spread across the province - something my opponent would be foolish to dismiss as a threat. As I have stated over and over again in my arguments - my opponent does not seem to understand party politics of Nova Scotia and this country.
My opponent also attempts to assert that the Liberals are only about the small business tax cut. This is simply not true, as there is many other points to the Liberal platform during this election, the least of which concerns reforming the tyrannical Nova Scotia Power administration of the province's electricity. (http://www.cbc.ca...) My simple assertion here is that the Liberals are not a one-issue party, and that if he took a good, long look at Liberal policy, he would see the Liberals are the party of fiscal responsibility that don't attempt to cover up deficits, or give out unwarranted, uncosted, rhetoric-based platforms.
My opponent should realize that nowhere in the Nova Scotia Liberal platform is there the mention of the implementation of a carbon tax. I invite him to find out where it says in Mr. McNeil's platform it says 'carbon tax', and where in his or Stephane Dion's old platform that they would implement it *during* a recession.
But the simple fact of the matter is that it has to be something we look at, instead of cast aside automatically. Cap-and-trade systems are only part of the solution, and it takes real leadership for someone to ask the tough question, "what else can we do to help curb our pollution?" Carbon taxes are effective ways of helping cut emissions without setting up a cap-and-trade system that could go one way or another, due to the severe instability of the system. Carbon taxes are to be offset by lower income and corporate taxes, which helps keep it revenue neutral. Not only is it environmentally beneficial, it is also fiscally responsible. Cap-and-trade systems may help offset our emissions, but it also leads to pricing instability and can easily gloss over many industries, rendering the entire point of it negligible. It will only cost people more than the carbon tax would, because at the very least, carbon taxes are offset by other tax reductions! With cap-and-trade, the government has no reason to cut taxes, and will only continue to reap the benefits while Nova Scotians suffer. That is not leadership.
It would take *real* leadership to learn and look at every program, its benefits and its downsides, and decide on your own what to do, rather than wait for Stephen Harper and other provinces to take the initiative for you.
As to my opponent's response to my Justice question, I concede that I did not look under the bills introduced by the NDP, but I did look for a related platform specifically on justice, as well as through media releases. I would also like to direct my opponent to the many, many Liberal media releases related to justice: http://www.nsliberalcaucus.com...
My opponent has admitted that he does not know how the NDP will pay for their healthcare platform, and instead tries to attack the government plans for healthcare, saying that because it has not worked for the past 4 years, it must not work at all. My opponent forgets that healthcare cannot be fixed overnight; it takes time, money and the steady hand of a fiscally responsible government. There is clear results that have been shown by the Department of Health with the Continuing Care Strategy, results that are also shown to be costed. The money has been allocated and the plan is solid and thought out. The NDP plan says they will do this, that and the other, but they do not say how much Nova Scotians will pay to do it. It doesn't matter if one platform addresses one problem, and the next says another. What matters is that the platforms explain how they will be able to do it.
Building up medical education capacities, fixing hospitals and trying to get doctors back into the province costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time, and cannot be summed up into a few simple rhetorical sentences. For the NDP to show real leadership, they should have at least ballpark figures for something as important to Nova Scotians as healthcare. I do not see anything, and no 'Board of Doctors' can help change that fact.
The fact is that the PC government has created a costed, well-rounded system that even the NDP support in their platform. If that is not leadership, then I don't know what is.
My opponent states that it is foolhardy to cost programs before winning that election. That right there is a fallacy of the biggest kind. How will Nova Scotians know that your sensible plan is actually capable of being implemented? People aren't asking for specific numbers, but at least something to tell them that party can actually afford the promises it makes in its platform. You may base a platform on rhetoric, and you may even be able to win. But when you find out that you can't pay for those programs without raising taxes, because you were foolish enough not to bother costing out anything and making these promises seem realistic, you're going to end up like this party: http://ontariondp.com...
The opposition cites the historical precedent set by other NDP governments, and asks where the same Liberal achievements are. I would like to point out the administration of Liberal Premier John Savage, the first Premier to balance the budget of Nova Scotia since 1978. I would also like to cite Paul Martin, Brian Tobin, Frank McKenna, Gordon Campbell (who cleaned up the NDP mess) and countless other Liberal politicians. While I may not agree with every measure they took to achieve balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility, the fact of the matter is that they knew it had to be done, they did it, and we all benefit because of it in the end. Even the Tories understand that what needs to be done, it needs to be done. The NDP don't even give costs to their platforms.
That isn't leadership, that is Darrell Dexter.
My opponent keeps willfully ignoring the fact that the Liberals are the threat to the NDP. He keeps ignoring the political realities that threaten the NDP. He keeps ignoring Dexter's lack of leadership and instead pawns his party's inability to show Nova Scotians the numbers as a 'common political practice.'
Well, he is right - it is a common political practice, common among the parties that have no leaders and common among the parties that will never attain government, just like the NDP.
First of all, my honorable opponent does not seem to understand that correlation does not equal causation. The NDP did well as the Liberals did worse not because the two parties are interchangeable but rather because the NDP had the strongest ideas, the strongest platforms and the strongest opposition to Rodney MacDonald and John Hamm. Perhaps I do not understand party politics, but I am so inclined to be blissfully unaware, with the rest of my NDP colleges, if 'party politics' is simply a euphemism for 'only the old boys club can stay in power.' I believe all Nova Scotians have become fed up with this self-serving system and desire real, honest change.
Perhaps it is not part of his intended platform, but Stephen McNeil has come out in support of the federal carbon tax. He is quoted as saying;
"All parties are coming in with a form of carbon tax, I would encourage all Nova Scotians to look very carefully at all the federal plans."
Meanwhile, perhaps in his only genuine move as premier, Rodney MacDonald came out firmly against the federal plan because it would take money out of homeowner's pockets. I will concede that it is not an intended part of his platform and therefore will leave this point.
However, my opponent holds no real argument against cap and trade systems. He says that they are only 'part of the solution', when in fact they can be the solution if they are implemented by a strong, decisive leader instead of one who must check with heads of industry before they pass any bill. He has further suggested, incorrectly, that the cap and trade system will cost us just as much as a carbon tax and that there are no offsets. This is blatantly false, as the cap and trade system -will- marginally increase the price of some things that are being produced inefficiently, yet they will soon be replaced by green products that will be cheaper than the original product. This is a perfect way of ensuring market efficiency without having the government step in and collect money.
As for the Liberal's platform on justice; it's a lot of talk. The NDP have shown real leadership on introducing bills that would seriously tackle crime in Nova Scotia and would do more once election. However the Liberals, by my count, have introduced ONE bill justice-related bill since 2006. ONE. How can we deal with the issues of crime in Nova Scotia if our government isn't even paying attention to it?
I would like to suggest to my opponent to perhaps take a visit to the hospital, as his hearing (er...eyesight) seems to have failed him. That is, if the emergency room is open. The fact of the matter is that we DON'T have time to around and wait for the Conservative plan to fix the healthcare system. When will it come into effect? Next year? The year after that? A decade from now? How long must we be blackmailed into the PC's promise of 'just a little while longer...'
Furthermore my opponent has continued to question me on the NDP's books. What he hasn't realized is that the NDP plan should cost us LESS than Liberal and Conservative ones. Dexter's plan to hire a healtcare 'czar' and look to where the bureaucracy can be cut to ensure cost effectiveness and ensure an optimization of care. What would the Conservatives and Liberals do? Add to this bureaucracy, add to the top-heavy regulation, make it harder for doctors to do their jobs and continue to allow ERs to close. Is this real leadership? Is this what the people of Nova Scotia want from their government? If a senior suffers a heart attack in his home in New Waterford, should he have to drive an hour to the nearest hospital while one sits, closed two minutes away?
My opponent may not like reality, but he sure has to live in it. The NDP have promised to introduce their programs in a cost-effective way that will not create a deficit. If you do not believe them, fine, but I would assert that their word is as good as, and in most cases better than, that of the Liberals and the PC. While we're playing the guessing game; what if Liberal numbers are off? What if their drastic business tax cut means they can pay to for their healthcare plan? What if their (non-existent) justice platform comes to be a bit more pricey than their imagined? I would rather vote for an innovative leader who can balance the budget than one who relies too heavily on squeezing as many programs as possible in, only to find that he cannot afford them later.
My opponent's 'historical precedent' falls on its face. He has mentioned one instance of a Nova Scotian Liberal balancing the budget. Forgive me if I'm not impressed, as they have had many instances to do so.
My opponent keeps willfully ignoring the facts while trying to use the number-less NDP plan as his crutch. What he doesn't seem to understand is that it is a balanced, fiscally responsible plan that has likely already been costed. Perhaps they will release it before the election and perhaps they won't, but I would prefer Darrell Dexter's rough outline to the Liberal's or Conservative's faulty promises and tired tricks any day.
So what has this debate come down to? It comes down to a decision between the same and the new, between the failed and innovative, between the fringe party and the next government of Nova Scotia. The people of this province have been saying for a long time that they are fed up with Rodney's countless mistakes and slip-ups, with his ineffective plans and his political meandering and they will demonstrate their anger on June 9th. The people of this province have furthermore shown that they do not wish to have the Liberal party in government or even in opposition. In the last election, the leader of the Liberal party failed to win his own seat. What's more, when the Liberal party tried to make a grab at power by suggesting that a coalition be formed by the NDP and Liberals, Darrell Dexter said no, thereby respecting the wishes of the people of Nova Scotia. This was also demonstrated in 1998 when the NDP tied the Liberals for seats, yet the Liberal party formed government with the Conservatives. Is this not a blatant slap in the face to voters?
Come election day, the NDP should, will and must win the 2009 Nova Scotia election for the good of our hospitals, our schools, our roads and our families. Thank you.
My opponent quotes Stephen McNeil with this. But he only proved my point; he is at least willing to look at a carbon tax as an alternative idea. Any leader, any *proper* leader, would not dismiss all ideas right away.
With that, my opponent openly admits that the cap and trade system WILL increase the price of things. He then says that will be negated because there will be a flood of green products on the market. Yet, my opponent doesn't realize again, that these take time to implement. Cap-and-trade systems take much longer and are much more complicated to implement than carbon taxes, and in the mean time, Nova Scotians will be forced to pay more for their goods and services. This is just an example of the NDP willingness to make Nova Scotians pay. The carbon tax proposed by Stephane Dion in the last federal election, despite the attack ads by the Conservatives and the pure hypocrisy of the NDP, was to be completely revenue neutral. Meaning there would be no cause for Nova Scotians to cost more.
The fact that Dexter refuses to even look at it shows his irresponsible plans to fight climate change.
That is not leadership, that is Darrell Dexter.
My opponent cites the Liberals one bill for crime as reasons for their lack of vision for justice. Maybe my opponent doesn't realize that the Liberals are in fact the third-party and cannot introduce as many bills as the NDP can, or the fact that the PC government has increased police officers by 150 since 2006, is proof that the government of Nova Scotia is paying attention to crime. (http://pcparty.ns.ca...)
My opponent then decides to say that the people don't have time to wait around for the PC government plan. Well, simply put, does my opponent believe that the NDP plan will open up the emergency rooms with the snap of their fingers? The NDP need money and time to implement their plans. Nurses and doctors cannot simply keep the emergency rooms open because the NDP say so, unless the NDP want to go against the unions, their main financial backer.
The fact of the matter is, the NDP have a very, very admirable plan for health care. The problem is that it is not feasible without showing how they will do it - they expect it to just happen. That isn't the sign of a leader, it is just the sign of a wannabe magician. The government already has a plan in place - a plan that the NDP has shown its full support for - that is costed, is feasible and the results are already showing. The NDP plan will only add more costs unto the healthcare system, overload it with uncosted promises and cost Nova Scotians more.
That is not leadership, that is Darrell Dexter.
My opponent has just decided to change the terms of reality. He said the NDP have promised to introduce their programs in a cost-effected way that won't create a deficit. He just now decided to repeat the line used by every single party. He just proved that the NDP are hypocrites. He is right - their word isn't as good as the Liberals and the Tories. But the difference is that they at least have outlines of their promises.
My opponent asks, "what if the Liberal numbers are off?" I say to my opponent, at least the Liberals have shown their plans are feasible, unlike the NDP, who expect everything to happen at the snap of their fingers.
My opponent says that he can rely on Darrell Dexter as a 'innovative leader.' Let me provide the definition of 'innovative':
"being or producing something like nothing done or experienced or created before" (http://www.thefreedictionary.com...)
Darrell Dexter is not an innovate leader. He is not innovative in healthcare, he is only wishful. He is not innovative in balancing the budget, he only claims to be because Gary Doer is a great premier. He is not innovative in promising too much, because the Ontario NDP did the same. He is even not innovative in his lack of a costed platform, because he is clearly the disciple of Jack Layton and the former federal and provincial NDP leader, Alexa McDonough.
That is not leadership, that is Darrell Dexter.
My opponent cites the 1998 election as a 'slap in the fact to voters', because the Liberals gained the support of the Conservatives in order to govern. That is a ludicrous notion; the NDP and the Liberals both got 19 seats, and the Tories 14 seats. What should the Liberals have done. Let the NDP deny every single bill presented by the government? He has said that the NDP should have held up government. Since I have no proof otherwise to this fact, I'll just go along with it. The NDP wish to hold up government and deny Nova Scotians a right to have their legislature work properly.
That is not leadership, that is Darrell Dexter.
It is clear that Darrell Dexter's leadership is not enough to win this election. My opponent had demonstrated, even *admitted*, that the NDP plan is uncosted and that the NDP will make Nova Scotians pay more for their products. He only shunts these aside by claiming that it is a 'common political practise', or that it is a good think that they don't look at all options, including the option that won't cause Nova Scotians to pay more. That is not what Nova Scotians want.
He rides upon the notion that because the NDP governments in Saskatchewan and Manitoba can balance a budget, it means Darrell Dexter can as well. That is a fallacy, and is negated by the fact that despite the platforms of Gary Doer and Lorne Calvert, Darrell Dexter has opted for a Jack Layton approach to budgets; don't cost anything, and rely on rhetoric to prove our points. Just like Jack Layton was rejected as Prime Minister, Darrell Dexter will be rejected as Premier.
What is more, I have demonstrated that the politics of this province and this country put the NDP at a significant disadvantage in the election. My opponent doesn't have an argument for these contentions, and rather cites that these factors are not probable, despite them being noted in almost every single election. Nova Scotians may want something better for themselves, but the NDP have been in opposition since 1998 - clearly, Nova Scotians don't want them and their tiresome leader, Darrell Dexter.
It is clear that my opponent has not made his argument, and instead decides to avoid the issues and avoid the math. I have proven to you, the voters, that the NDP are at the disadvantage in this election, and that disadvantage is only furthered due to Darrell Dexter's lack of leadership. My contention is clear; the NDP will not win the 2009 election.
I encourage all of you to get out and vote regardless of your political beliefs. Vote for a stronger, better Nova Scotia.
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