Jordan: This is Canada and we’re in the middle of a federal election. So of course Health Care is an issue. This is an issue that manifests in different ways across the country long wait times in some areas crowded hospitals and others not enough family doctors in just about everywhere. It varies from Province to Province, but at the heart of it is the same thing fear fear that you won’t be able to get an appointment quickly enough for a worrisome symptom fear that the wait for your child to see a specialist will make them worse fear of hallway medicine that leaves some patients with serious health issues lying on Gurney’s in the corridors waiting for a doctor with a spare minute. That happens everywhere. But if you want to understand what the heart of a healthcare crisis sounds like there is a video clip from earlier this year. That might help you.
News Clip: I’m a 33 year old mother. I went undiagnosed with anal cancer for two years because I did not have access to a family doctor.
Jordan: You can hear the fear and the anger in this woman’s voice. She says Nova Scotia is in the midst of a full on Health Care crisis, and there are currently hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotians without family doctors who agree and whichever party can speak to them. Can ease that fear just a little bit. There are eleven seats in Nova Scotia for the taking and more in the rest of Atlantic Canada where this is also an issue the Liberals took every single one of them in 2015 when you listen to that voice hard to see the same thing happening again. I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings, and this is the big story today our lay of the land series goes to you guessed it Nova Scotia to talk with someone who talks with a lot of people Rick Howe is the host of the Rick how show on news 95 7 and Halifax? Hi Rick.
Rick Howe: Hi. How you doing?
Jordan: I’m doing well. Thank you for helping us walk through what matters on the ground to Nova Scotia?
Rick Howe: No problem. It’s going to be an interesting next couple of weeks.
Jordan: I can imagine. So how in general how’s democracy going out there.
Rick Howe: Well, it’s hard to gauge right now what people are thinking what people are saying because of. Well the whole issue with the Justin Trudeau and the black face Brown face Scandal last weekend the impact that might have on on how people might vote a lot of people scratching their heads. Now who were prepared perhaps earlier to support the Liberals now wondering, okay. Based on that do we want to continue to vote for the liberals? Or if not, who do we turn our votes to so a lot there’s a lot of flux right now with it with the voters here in this province as they try to figure out because if we recall in 2015 the Liberals swept all 11 seats here in Nova Scotia. In fact they swept all 32 seats. In Atlantic, Canada and Newfoundland PEI New Brunswick and here in Nova Scotia. The expectation is that they won’t be able to do that again. So the question being asked here in Nova Scotia is of our 11 ridings. How many are basically susceptible how many are winnable for the conservatives? And if you look at the numbers there are at least three or four ridings he’s here in Nova Scotia where the conservatives could make and should make a real game.
Jordan: Well, I was going to get to it later and do the issues first. But since you mentioned it tell me about how the Brown face and black face Scandal is going out in Nova Scotia in particular because your province has a long and Rich history of. Canadians and conversations about racism
Rick Howe: surprisingly a number of people including people of color. I have come out in defensive of Justin Trudeau’s saying that this was an incident that happened what 18 19 years ago and it’s time to move on there have been other cases of similar infractions. I guess. We’ll call them where you know, the people have been forgiven and you know, we do every day we do. What do we call an open our on my radio show we’re just people can call in and talk about whatever the heck they want to talk about. And of course been a lot of discussion about this whole Brown face Black Faces Scandal, but again surprisingly the The Edge I’d have to give the edge in collar support to Justin Trudeau. Most people it seems right now anyway seem prepared to forgive him. But as he said there’s a growing number as well. A lot of people who. Once voted liberal now having second thoughts but aren’t sure where to park their votes whether they want to turn to the NDP of the greens or they want to ensure that maybe the conservatives don’t get elected. So maybe they’re going to stick to the liberal still has a lot of decision making between now and October 21st for many Nova Scotians.
Jordan: Well, why don’t you tell me how the Liberals came to sweep the province and Atlantic Canada in general in 2015. What were the promises they made that really seemed to resonate with people out east and did they deliver on.
Rick Howe: It wasn’t so much the promises made. This is to me. It was more of an anti Stephen Harper vote that that that that Harper’s had worn out his welcome for a lot of people here in Atlantic Canada. The veterans issues. For example closing down those Veterans Affairs offices that really struck a chord with many Nova Scotians in a– You don’t Nova Scotia has a proud record of being engaged with the Canadian military and that really that decision by the conservatives to close down those the Veterans Affairs office has really struck a chord with a lot of Nova Scotia. So I think this was more in 2015 not necessarily a vote for Justin Trudeau, but a vote against Stephen Harper and they Park their votes with Trudeau let me know, you know, Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada. Has always had a rich history with the Liberal Party of Canada, but in in 2015, it just seems to me anyway, that most voters have voted liberal just to get rid of of Harper.
Jordan: Over the last four years the last two weeks maybe notwithstanding because there’s obviously all sorts of factors at play. What have been the main issues that Atlantic Canada has looked to the federal government for help with
Rick Howe: well, obviously the economy, you know, Atlantic Canada struggles in with economic matters. So that is of course an important always important issue and I had a couple of guests on the show today both, you know, astute political minds and both agreed that when it comes time to vote. There could be a any number of issues out there but people will vote with their pocketbooks people will vote I think with their their mind on the economy, but obviously Health Care is a huge issue here. We’ve had a number of emergency rooms that have been closed down on a regular. Over the weekends, especially because of a lack of a doctor. We have a waiting list and of people who don’t have a family doctor waiting to get a family doctor that number varies from anywhere from fifty thousand to a hundred and twenty five hundred and fifty thousand people so that obviously is a is a huge issue as well. So I think those are the two big ones the economy and health care, but then again, you’ve got the question here based on some of the problems that the Liberals have experienced with their term in office here as in sea level. The brown faces Scandal so, you know those are issues today that again our will have a sway will have some kind of say in how people are going to vote
Jordan: explain the extent of the healthcare issue to me a little bit more because I’m not familiar with the practice of closing down some emergency rooms on the weekend. And what does that do to the rest of the system and give me try to give me a sense because you know, one of the reasons we do this series is because we’re talking to you from downtown Toronto where there. You know what dozen hospitals within driving distance and maybe we don’t kind of grasp the severity of
Rick Howe: their this is not a problem in urban Halifax. I mean we have 440,000 people run Ray. We have some first class of medical facilities and that hasn’t been an issue here. But some of the rural areas on the South Shore, for example, or the Eastern Shores references that we use here to describe their sections of this province more rural areas of this province where it is become harder and harder for various communities to find doctors and number of doctors have been retiring. There are a number of other doctors who are poised to retire and the Nova Scotia health authority has not been able to find the doctors to replace those who are retiring who are about to retire. So that’s resulted in a situation where many emergency rooms is some of these smaller rural hospitals can’t find doctors or even nurse practitioners. To amend the hours, especially in the overnight hours and on weekends at 2. So that is forcing people in these rural communities to travel hours down the road to get to a facility that does provide to health care and we were talking here, you know again some of the very small rural areas, but some of the towns in this province has well towns like a Shelburne population of about what five to six seven thousand Bridgewater and population very similar to that. Some of these towns are also experiencing these difficulties and it all boils down to a lack of lack of Physicians and an inability, but this is not just a problem in Nova Scotia. And the ability to find doctors is problem. That’s right around the globe right now, but it’s especially hitting home here in Nova Scotia.
Jordan: How present have the federal leaders or the parties being on the ground in Nova Scotia about this issue or any others have have you seen any face time yet in the campaign to people feel like they’re being courted.
Rick Howe: Well, Jagmeet Singh the NDP was here yesterday in fact and and how held a town hall on health care and got a good crowd over 200 people showed up and he you know made the NDP promises about he’s going to make sure that he’ll provide access for all Canadians to have a doctor which is reminiscent of a promise that our Premier made in the to election campaigns that go that continues to haunt Stephen McNeil Stephen McNeil promised that he would have a doctor for every Nova Scotian. And as I mentioned earlier, you know, we have upwards of perhaps as many as a hundred fifty Nova Scotia through don’t have a family doctor today. So that is come back to bite to Stephen McNeil and is liberal government here in Nova Scotia in the behind but Jagmeet Singh as I mentioned was here yesterday and and held that Healthcare Town Hall Elizabeth May is in town later today and in fact it tomorrow as well. She has eluded Day New Brunswick yesterday to mental health being a big issue and it is a huge issue here as well. We haven’t heard yet from not that I recall. The top my head right now Andrew Scheer or Justin Trudeau regards to this but they have a I guess a bigger issue on their hands and that is electability right now.
Jordan: Tell me a little bit about how angry people are about the healthcare issue in particular because we don’t see a ton of news from Nova Scotia, but there was a viral video of someone confronting the premier I believe.
Rick Howe: Yeah, I miss Ryder ham was her name and she was a cancer patient who just decided that she’d had enough. She couldn’t get. To the kind of care that she felt she needed. She was being you know, basically toss back and forth as as the bureaucracy tried to figure out what to do, and she just she just lost it one day and recorded a video that I think highlighted what many Nova Scotians were saying about Healthcare to the premier of Nova Scotia.
News Clip: I dare you to take a meeting with me. And explain to me and look into my eyes and tell me that there is no Health Care crisis in my province of Nova Scotia. I dare you.
Rick Howe: Our Premier has denied that Healthcare in Nova Scotia is in is in a crisis, but everyone I’ve talked to in our open hours and during discussions on our radio program about health care outside of government pretty much everybody thinks that we are in a health care crisis here in Nova Scotia and that the government has basically not been able to deal with this and this is going to be Stephen McNeil’s achilles heel come the next provincial election in about two years time because the opposition conservatives under a new leader Tim Houston and the NDP here provincially under Gary Burrell are both making Healthcare a huge issue. They are striking a chord with many Nova Scotians. And the thought right now is if we had an election today that the liberal government would be tossed their from office on the health care issue alone. So this is this is a huge issue in a lot of Nova Scotians are very angry. Even those who have family doctors, I talking to an individual yesterday who’s got a bit of a problem with with a foot. And called her doctor to see if she could get an appointment three weeks. She has to wait in order to get in to see her family doctor now. We do have walk-in clinics my new so that’s her next alternative. But there’s just a again an idea of how the number of Nova Scotians who are have family doctors are using those family doctors to the point where it’s going to take three to four weeks for someone to get an appointment just to have a foot checked. It’s that it’s outrageous. You mentioned earlier that there are I think you said three or four ridings. It could be in danger whereabouts are they in and what’s at play there? We got one. It’s called South Shore st. Margarets that Bernadette Jordan ministered and the Trudeau’s cabinet is the current MP that has been traditionally conservative, right? But it’s again in 2015 when they swept the whole region as she was the winner there in a couple of Cape Breton seats as well Factor 3 provincial Conservative politicians who resigned their seats at Province house to run federally for the conservatives interest to them in Cape Breton and one of them in West Nova West Nova again has traditionally been a conservative riding that the Liberals picked up last time. They’ve got a very popular MLA conservative MLA or he’s now resigned from from Province house, but he’s running now. His name is Christian trauma. He’s running for the conservatives in Weston open stance a very good shot at winning that seat the to MLA’s our former MLA seat in Cape Breton likely will win both their seats. So there’s at least three of them. There’s George Canyon in Central Nova, which is if you recall that said Peter MacKay Before Peter MacKay is Father Elmer MacKay’s riding. George Canyon the country and western singer was brought in and he’s a native Nova Scotian who’s been away as part of his performances. He’s been living in Alberta, but he’s back now in the province and running for the conservatives in Central Nova. And again, that’s been a traditional conservative seat as well. So there’s at least four seats that the conservatives have a good chance of picking up and depending again on the mood of the electorate come, October 21st. It could be one or two more but right now in Metro Halifax that had traditionally been before 20,000 her before 2015 been NDP ridings. We had three of the four seats here in Halifax that represented by the NDP. They’re all wiped out by the Liberals in 2015 and the liberal still strong here in the city. So you’re looking at those at least four, maybe five ridings in Nova Scotia out of 11 where the conservatives could make some gains here.
Jordan: So we talked about the economy and Healthcare. Wanted to know if there are any other issues to you that stand out as something that that Nova Scotians might care about as much or more than the rest of the country in particular. I guess I wanted to ask about the climate crisis just because we talked to your colleague Sheldon a couple of weeks ago when Dorian hit and just how how devastating it can be quickly.
Rick Howe: And it is a big issue. And of course this is so we can is the call to climate action culminating in the climate strike on Friday now at the rally on Friday this past Friday at the city hall to kick off the climate action week only about 200 people showed up. I had a one of the organizers on my radio show today and she’s hoping for a much bigger turnout on Friday as part of this Global National Climate astray. In the open hours is very much been a topic of concern a topic of discussion. By Nova Scotians, but they kind of feel I don’t know that there are other pressing issues, you know day-to-day life struggling people living paycheck-to-paycheck kind of thing that that’s those are bigger issues for a lot of people than climate change, but I think more and more people are starting to recognize that if we don’t do something about the climate that perhaps as some of the you know, some of the predictions that we made only have 10 12 years before we can’t turn back the clock and also I think there’s a growing recognization realization. Something has to be done about climate. But at the same time I think people are more concerned about making ends meet paycheck-to-paycheck
Jordan: what could happen in the next month or so before the vote? That could really make a difference in terms of how Nova Scotia votes?
Rick Howe: Well another Scandal, of course. You know the Liberals with SNC Lavalin and the most recent to the Brown face scandal and some of the other baggies that is attached to this party. Again. People are in a forgiving mood for the most part it seems but if there’s something else that comes up, you know, there’s a whole question of the ethics involved in being government and questions about the liberal government and ethical issues and their ethical failings, I guess and I think that people. Right now maybe in a bit of a forgiving move. But if more Revelations come to light, I think that would be the end of of the Liberals and the Liberals need to hang on to a majority of their ridings their seats here in Atlantic Canada if they want to form a majority government because you look at the situation in Quebec with the block now is making a bit of a comeback. They’re neck and neck in Ontario with the conservatives. So the Liberals have to hang on to the vast majority of seats here in Atlantic Canada if they. To be the majority government on October 21st, but if there’s another another Scandal even hint of a scandal that calls that into question–
Jordan: That was kind of going to be my last question is out of the of the 11 seats in your Province if we’re looking back on Election night or the day after and the conservatives are in power federally what’s happened to those eleven seats. You know, how many of them could the Liberals afford to lose and still. Hold on to a good chunk of territory.
Rick Howe: Again. If the Liberals can hang on to at least six or seven of of those eleven seats, then they’ll be in fine form because they going into Quebec they expected but kept some gains perhaps at the expense of the NDP and then we’ll see where the chips fall after that.
Jordan: That’s a pretty thin margin compared to sweeping every single seat.
Rick Howe: No question and that’s not going to happen this year in 2015. Again, if the Liberals can hang on to at least half of those seats. I think they’d be happy with that.
Jordan: Thanks Rick. Look forward to seeing what happens over the next month.
Rick Howe: Yes. We all are. Thanks very much.
Jordan: Rick Howe of the Rick Howe show appropriately enough on News 95.7 in Halifax. And that was The Big Story. If you want more including the rest of our Lay of the Land series go to thebigstorypodcast.ca and search for that. You can also find us on Twitter same place. We always are at @thebigstoryfpn. And if you happen to be in your podcast app and you happen to be looking for something to rate and review, please consider us we’d be grateful. Thanks for listening. I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings. We’ll talk tomorrow.
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