Are Nova Scotia's funding announcements the sign of an election coming? Premier Rankin says no
SYDNEY -- For the second straight day, Nova Scotia’s Premier was in Cape Breton making a government-funded announcement. While some might think this means an election is imminent, Premier Iain Rankin says it’s not.
“So we're in the reopening plan right now. We're only in phase one and my main priority to be clear is the safety of Nova Scotians,” says Rankin. “But, at the same time we need to invest in communities and I’m investing in Cape Breton as I said I would be.”
Rankin began his trip to the island in Port Hawkesbury Friday and announced spending for active transportation routes in the area. He also provided funding for school capital projects in Mabou.
Saturday morning in Englishtown, N.S., the province announced it is removing fees from all intra-provincial ferries permanently.
“We waived fees during COVID for health reasons and we looked at the marginal revenue that was brought in was only 10 percent of the cost of $11 million,” says Rankin. “We thought we could even the playing field and make transportation more accessible to rural Nova Scotians.”
Saturday afternoon, the spending announcements continued, with Rankin committing money to Sydney’s downtown revitalization project. The redesign will upgrade Charlotte Street in hopes of creating a welcoming, accessible and environmentally-friendly destination.
“We know that a strong dynamic downtown core is imperative to offering social and economic growth that reaches all of CBRM,” says Amanda McDougall, mayor of the CBRM.
Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative party Leader Tim Houston feels the election campaign certainly seems to be underway, but he says now is not the right time, and the focus should be on the pandemic and vaccines.
“I think Nova Scotians want to get through COVID, they want the focus to be on vaccines and getting their second dose,” says Houston. “We saw last time, the premier lost focus and he started talking about dogs on patios and electric cars, when he should’ve been focused on vaccines.”
Tom Urbaniak, a political science professor at Cape Breton University says now is not the right time to call an election.
“I would say it's in the public interest to wait a while longer,” Says Urbaniak. “Let's actually get past the COVID-19 crisis, let's actually say we can open a new chapter and start talking about other public policy issues.”
Urbaniak says if Rankin calls an election soon, it would be an opportunistic move.