AGM 2015 – Baillie pledges to fight for the family budget

February 06, 2015 at 8:30 pm

Tories say spring budget to be a test of McNeil Liberals’ competence

February 6, 2015
For immediate release

HALIFAX, NS – In front of a lively crowd, Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie pledged to fight for the family budget when the McNeil Liberals introduce their spring budget.

Stephen McNeil and the Liberals are currently considering introducing a new carbon tax that will make it more expensive for Nova Scotians to heat their home and go to work. They’ve also not ruled out increasing the small business tax.

At the Party’s Annual General Meeting tonight, Baillie told the crowd the Progressive Conservatives won’t tolerate one red cent being added to the bills Nova Scotians already pay.

“Whether they call it a carbon tax or a pollution tax we should be honest about what it really is. It is a tax on heating your home. It is a tax on driving your car. It is a tax on the way Nova Scotian’s live and work,” said Baillie. “So let me be clear. The Progressive Conservative Caucus will vigorously oppose any government measures that increase costs for families,including the carbon tax.”

Baillie says the budget will be a true test of the McNeil Liberals’ competence.

“If turning to Nova Scotians and telling them to pay more is the best the Liberals can do, they will have proven their incompetence,” said Baillie “We do need to change the way families are taxed. But that means finding ways to give them a break, not charging them more. That’s the only way we are going to be able to rebuild our economy and create
jobs.”

Baillie highlighted the hard work of his PC MLAs and the dedicated members of the Progressive Conservative Party.

“I am so grateful for all you do for our party. We have been through a lot. But let me tell you something, the best is yet to come,” Baillie said.

The convention continues Saturday with the Leader’s Question and Answer and the delegates luncheon hosted by Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong. The luncheon guest speaker is the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and the Minister for Multiculturalism. It will also feature remarks from the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

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Background:

Progressive Conservative Annual General Meeting Keynote Address – February 6, 2015

Remarks by PC Leader Jamie Baillie

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Thank you Alfie. Your personal journey this past year has been an inspiration to all of us. I am proud to be your colleague and friend.

Good evening everyone and welcome to the best political convention in Canada!

Let’s begin by thanking our convention co-chairs. Together with their talented committee they have put together a terrific AGM. Thank you Alice McCarron and Brian Wong!

And, of course, a special thanks goes out to our amazing Party President, Janet Fryday-Dorey!

This is my favourite time of year. It’s great to see all of you – the people who make our party strong and vibrant.

Sandra and I thank you every day for all you do.

And there are so many individual examples that keep us going.

Like Doug Marshall of Cumberland South. Doug has been our constituency President for 30 years. As far back as our records go!

And Melba Sarty of Lunenburg West. You have to visit Melba and stay in “The Tory Room.” It’s beautiful.

And George and Rita Heron, of Pictou West. George is still going door-to-door for PC candidates, after more than 60 years and counting.

Like Donnie Mannette in Eastern Shore, and Graham Hicks here in Halifax.

And Jean Wadden, who worked extra hard for the people of Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg while Alfie was recovering.

That’s true commitment. And I know there are many more stories to tell, in every constituency.

I want you all to know how much I appreciate everything you do. Thank you – from the bottom of my heart.

You remind me that, at its core, politics is about people.

We can talk about policy. We can talk about issues. We can talk about bills in the legislature and special resolutions…but really politics is about people.

Helping people. Caring about people. Connecting with people.

I am often asked why I ran. Why politics?

Well, it wasn’t for the accounting fun of balancing the budget (although that is fun!). It wasn’t just so I could lower taxes, stop wasteful spending, and create more jobs.

In fact, there are really 2 big reasons. And they are here with us tonight. Their names are Alex and Hannah.

Politics is about people, starting with family. My family, your family, and the greater Nova Scotia family we all belong to.

During the last election, Keith Bain and I were campaigning in Christmas Island, Cape Breton. Keith says to me “there is a lifelong Tory who lives up the road. Let’s stop for a minute and say hello.”

As we pull up her driveway, in our big campaign van with the large blue PC logo on the side, out runs an elderly woman with her daughter, who she has lived with since her husband died. Her name is Delina MacKinnon.

I said to her “I have never been to Christmas Island, but I remember when I was in the PC Youth, I used to go to the conventions in Halifax. John Buchanan was our Leader and Premier.

He would say “this is the biggest convention in the history of the country. We have delegates here from Yarmouth to Sydney, from Amherst to Halifax.

We even have a delegate here from Christmas Island. Christmas Island Joe! Are you out there Christmas Island Joe? And an elderly man would wave from the back of the hall.

And so I ask her, “Do you know who that man was?” And she looked at me, with tears in her eyes, and said “My God! That was my late husband, Joe.” It was quite a moment.

What a great connection we made. As I know you all do every day.
You are out there every day in your own community: at the Tim Horton’s, the Legion, the Fire Hall, or the Metro Centre. You connect with people, promote our Party, and defend our ideals.

Let me tell you why this matters so much. There is no special metro strategy. No particular policy that locks in Cape Breton. No formula that wins over the mainland. Politics is about people.

When we make their concerns our concerns
When we make their worries our worries
When we make their hopes and dreams and aspirations
Our hopes and dreams and aspirations…we are at our best.

When the people of Nova Scotia: on the mainland, in metro and Cape Breton see themselves reflected in the PC Party, we can do amazing things…and we will win.

After all, as the Liberals in Ottawa are about to find out…you can’t just rely on your Leader’s good looks! (as tempting as it is!)

This is the Party of Stanfield and Smith, MacDonald, Buchanan and Hamm.
I am proud to see that it is also becoming the Party of Carvery and Nahas, Gionnakas and Eisenberg, Nguyen and Habib! But we must do more.

You have all done so much. But I am asking you to do something more. Welcome some new members onto your own executives this year. Ask a new Nova Scotian, or a young person just starting out. Get your most senior members to help train the newer ones.

If you don’t think it can be done, just ask Elizabeth Smith-McCrossen and her growing team in Amherst. They are doing great things.

If we do these things, we will be well on our way to forming a competent, caring, compassionate, majority Progressive Conservative government!

And the Liberals will take care of themselves. They’ve done lots of studies, and reviews, and consultations. But it’s far past time for that. It is time for action.

So far, they haven’t done much. But when they do, their actions have been very revealing.

The Liberals want to consult with lobster fisherman about a lobster levy. But they forgot about Pictou County, Cape Breton, and Guysborough. Apparently they didn’t know there was a lobster fishery in those places!

But it gets better. The places they do plan to visit…will be out fishing at the time! Imagine! As the old song goes, the Liberals are “Looking For Levies In All The Wrong Places.”

But it isn’t really funny. It is incompetent. Lobster fishermen deserve better.

Remember when they promised to “take away the NDP chequebook?” Turns out they didn’t tell us they were going to give it to Michel Samson!
And he wrote a $2.5M cheque to the operators of the Yarmouth ferry, without telling us!

Putting Michel Samson in charge of the Yarmouth ferry is like putting the Cookie Monster in charge of the bakery.

That’s not funny. It is incompetent. Taxpayers deserve better.

Have you looked at your power bill lately? Did it go down? No, it actually went up. The monopoly is still there, and costing us all more than ever.

That’s not just a broken promise. It is incompetent. Families deserve better.

Right now, too many families are split up, with loved ones out west, working in oil and gas development. Many of those jobs are at risk because of oil prices. When they come back home, they will need jobs to support their families here.

And yet, the Liberals passed a ban on onshore gas development and the jobs that go with it.

In a province that needs jobs so badly, that is incompetent.

And remember the NDP? They support it! (If I were the Liberals, I’d think twice about what they did, for that reason alone.)

A PC government would never do that. We fought against that ban on jobs. We are the only Party that stood up for all those families, separated by economics, but yearning to be reunited.

Why? Because Nova Scotians want to work here, where they can go home to their family for supper every night.

That’s why I can’t wait to rip up that ban on jobs someday, as your Premier.
And then there’s the Ivany Report. Just about everyone got behind this new blueprint for rebuilding our economy. Everyone but the Liberals.

It is one year old this month. And the Liberals have done little with it. Meanwhile, another 2,600 jobs were lost.

That is not right. It is incompetent. All Nova Scotia deserves better.

For the Liberals, last year may have been the honeymoon, but this year will be the test. A test to see if they have what it takes.

Only in politics, eh? It’s the only job where we find out if you are up to the job, AFTER the honeymoon is over.

Soon we will see the next Liberal budget. In a province with the highest taxes, and fees, in Canada, it is inconceivable that the budget is not balanced.

They may talk about balancing the budget. But so did the NDP. And we all know what happened there!

Speaking of recent history, let me remind you of something. In the last 25 years, Nova Scotia has had 8 balanced budgets.

Guess what the score is: PCs 8. Liberals 0.

We know they aren’t going to balance the budget anytime soon. In fact, they admit it. They’ve already failed that part of the test.

So let’s move on to the real test. The most important test of all. And that is how the decisions they make will affect you and your family.

Will they try to fix their budget problems by controlling their own spending…or will they look for new ways to tax you?

We have some hints. They already spent $150,000 for a Tax Review.

One of the good things in that report is that it calls for spending restraint. In fact, it is such a good idea we proposed it 3 years ago. For free!

But the Liberals won’t commit to it. It seems that they are a little embarrassed. Last year, they said they were going to find 1% in savings, but ended up spending 4% more!

But the Liberals must like something in their Tax Report. They paid a fellow Liberal to write it. And then they hired her as President of NSBI at another $210,000 a year!

(I hear Liberal patronage-star Glennie Langille is so mad, she is demanding that she get 2 jobs too.)

We know they are considering new ways of taxing you. They even considered taking away the Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit. But we stood up against that.

This is a big problem. If we are going to truly rebuild our economy, then we do need to change the way Nova Scotians are taxed. But that means finding ways to give families a break, not finding new ways to tax them even more.

The Liberals are considering raising the tax on small business, ending tax breaks for people who need them, and a carbon tax.

Call it what you like…carbon tax…pollution tax…whatever…let’s be honest about what it is:

It is a tax on heating your home. It is a tax on driving your car.
It is a tax on the way Nova Scotian’s live and work.

It is even a tax on your power bill!

A government that considers new ways of taxing these essential needs of life is a government that is out of touch with how people live and work in this province.

And don’t get sucked in by the argument that it isn’t a tax grab. Of course it is! The best way to get serious about clean air is through strong, effective regulation. Not by finding another way to tax Nova Scotia families.

So I can assure you: The Progressive Conservative Caucus will vigorously oppose any government measures that increase costs for families, including the carbon tax.

So while the Liberals sort that out, your PC MLAs will be working hard taking care of business. The people’s business:

Like Allan MacMaster does, with such conviction, when he stands up for survivors of past sexual assault.
After many years of putting their lives back together, they deserve the right to go after their predator. Allan will make sure they keep that right.

Like John Lohr does, when he takes up the case of Joellan Huntley, a young woman severely disabled in a car accident. The Liberals sued her to get her insurance money. John brought this story to the Legislature, seeking justice, and plain human decency, for Joellan and her family.

It is Karla MacFarlane who defends small business owners like Gordon Fraser, a local turkey processor. The Liberals shut him down. Karla is fighting to let this small businesses like his live on, serving hundreds of local customers with the same care he has for over 30 years.

Pat Dunn is leading the charge for good, manufacturing jobs in Pictou County, pushing the government to give local operators like Maritime Steel a chance to stand on their own.

Larry Harrison is a voice of reason in Colchester County, encouraging good jobs and a safe environment together.

Tim Houston defends the right of Nova Scotia students to have decent classrooms, wherever they live. And pushes for a real plan to fight Lyme disease. And he’s the Finance critic!

Eddie Orrell is leading the charge to keep the Emergency Room open at Northside General. He and Alfie MacLeod advocate for proper care for our veterans, at home and in Ottawa.

And when Liberal MLA Pam Eyking cancelled a veteran’s meeting, in Halifax, on Remembrance Day, they demanded more respect for veterans from their government.

No one has fought harder for a sustainable ferry service in Yarmouth than Chris d’Entremont. It’s something we all want. And when the Liberal Minister failed to be truthful with Nova Scotians about how much he spent on the Yarmouth ferry, Chris called him on it. And he did it in both official languages. Merci beaucoup Chris!

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for sending such a great team of MLAs to Halifax. I am very proud of them.

They are already doing great things. And someday they will form a great government.

But we can only get there with your continued help.

Remember that baby I told you about last year? The one that is born $15,000 in debt. The one that cries so much when he is young, and then moves away when he grows up?

Well one year later that baby is already another $400 in debt, and the Liberals banned one of the new ways of creating jobs for him here when he grows up.

That baby and his family, is counting on us.

You need to keep building, because we are going to fight for them! And we are going to win.

Together, we are a family. A big family. A family that reflects the hopes and cares and dreams of the typical Nova Scotia household.

If we do our job, and stay true to our beliefs, we can make it all the way, with the whole family together!

I am so grateful for all you do for our party. We have been through a lot. But let me tell you something, the best is yet to come!