By Joy Blenman and Justin Ling
With a federal election underway, the race for the Halifax riding is heating up with two candidates running a platform of healthcare and post-secondary education.
New Democrat incumbent and health critic Megan Leslie is up against first-time Liberal candidate Dr. Stan Kutcher. They are competing for the federal riding of Halifax. It has been an NDP riding since then-leader Alexa McDonough wrestled it from the Liberals in 1997. Leslie has held the riding since 2008, when McDonough decided to retire.
George Nikolaou is the Conservative Party nominee while Dalhousie law student Michael Dewar is the candidate for the Green Party. Nikolaou could not be reached before deadline while Dewar was just nominated.
Leslie is confident that her history in office will win the trust of voters while
|Megan Leslie (NDP)|
|Stan Kutcher (Liberal)|
|George Nikolaou (Conservative)|
|Michael Dewar (Green)|
Kutcher is hoping his history outside of public office will propel him into the House of Commons.
Kutcher argues that his views best represent the voters of Halifax. Holding up his credentials as a healthcare specialist, he says he has spent his career trying to improve the lives of children and families. “They [the voters] can look at my track record, they can Google me. I bring years and years of experience,” he says.
Leslie’s labour of love is drafting a national pharmacare program for the country. “This is just not for Halifax but for all Canadians,” she says, citing a report by Marc-Andre Gagnon for the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives. That report says Canada could save $10 billion by creating a national plan for drugs. She says, if she is re-elected, she will introduce the bill into the House of Commons.
Halifax residents give their views on the upcoming election
Both Leslie and Kutcher are working for the support of Halifax’s large student population.
Kutcher is Associate Dean of International Health at Dalhousie whereas Leslie herself isn’t long out of law school.
Leslie says she was naive about how expensive law school would be.
“It’s not productive for students to have anxiety while they are in school. How are they supposed to contribute to the economy if they have
$100,000 debt loads?” she says.
Her opponent agrees. Kutcher says his party believes that any student with the grades should be able to take advantage of post-secondary education. Both candidates agree that Ottawa needs a plan for university funding, much like healthcare.
Leslie and Kutcher have different opinions on the status of Parliament.
“We need electoral reform. I believe with all my heart and soul that we need electoral reform,“ says Leslie. “It is critical that we will see more accountability, and we’ll also see more engagement which also will bring about more accountability.”
The NDP have centered much of their national messaging around the idea that the democratic process in Ottawa is broken. The Harper government was charged with a motion of contempt put forward by the Liberals and that triggered the election. That made the Harper government the first in Commonwealth history to be charged by Parliament with contempt.
Kutcher says, “I have become increasingly concerned that the fundamental role of Parliament has had a gradual, subtle erosion of power. Holding public office is a sacred trust.”
Correction: Green party candidate Michael Dewar was nominated last August. The story incorrectly states that he was just nominated. Peninsula News regrets the error.