Note: We asked the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party's five leadership candidates a series of questions on topics from immigration to #MeToo. Their answers will appear daily over the next week. A new leader will be chosen Oct. 27. For Julie Chaisson's answers, click here, for Tim Houston's answers, click here, for John Lohr, click here, , for Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, click here.
Name: Julie Chaisson
Hometown: Chester Basin
Family: I met Mike when I was 15 and we have been married 32 years. My oldest son Matthew, my daughter-in-law Anne, my youngest son Andrew and daughter Emily and one very spoiled dog named Winnie.
Job/Profession: Executive director of the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market.
Little known fact: When I was 19, I worked at the CN Tower for one day and that’s when I found out that I really am afraid of heights. Elevator up — 1,776 stairs down.
Given the provincial Liberals’ shift to the right, where does that leave Progressive Conservatives?
The vision of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia is that we see a Nova Scotia that is an economic, social and environmental leader for others in the world to follow. We are fiscally responsible within the context of a plan. We believe in smaller government, lower taxes, accountability to Nova Scotians, entrepreneurship, self-reliance, compassion, stewardship, pride in our cultures, our communities and our province, and respecting all citizens.
Do we need more immigrants? If so, how would you attract and retain them?
An increase in population growth is very important to Nova Scotia. However, we must first retain those currently living within the province and stop the outmigration of our young people by growing our economy through the growth of our business community. We need to be strategic in our plan to grow our population by attracting immigrants, but also Nova Scotians who have left the province and other Canadians who view Nova Scotia as a desirable place to live, work and stay.
How would you address the shortage of family doctors and other health professionals?
Nova Scotia needs a recruitment plan as well as a succession and retention plan to ensure we are positioned for the future. It is imperative to have a competitive total compensation plan; a simplified structure that has clear lines of accountabilities; engagement and collaboration with the communities affected so that recruiting is a team effort; make physician engagement a priority and work towards regaining the respect and trust of health-care professionals and the communities they serve in.
What would you do about problems with long-term care such as long wait lists, in-care violence and bed sores?
We are facing challenges because we have an increase in the complexity of care needed for the elderly in our communities. Our current system is not equipped to handle this changing and complex situation. We need more long-term care beds, interim-care beds and improved supports. Government has a responsibility to ensure that homes adhere to the legislation and a commitment to patient care. Open, accurate and current statistics are essential.
Would you change the practice of integrating children with various learning and behavioural challenges into regular classes? If so, how?
I accept the recommendations of the Commission on Inclusive Education. All children have the right to reach their full potential because it is an investment in our future. We need to ensure these recommendations are implemented properly and that there are points along the way to check in with teachers, parents and students so that we can pivot if required. We need to ensure that we have the proper supports in the classroom so that both the students and the teachers are set up for success.
Would you restore regional school boards?
I would not reverse this decision. My commitment would be to work with communities, parents, students, education professionals and administration to discern what is the best model to support and maintain the distinct community representation for all those involved going forward. We have the opportunity to work with communities to create a structure that best supports the needs of the community and put local decision making back in the hands of the communities.
What leadership attribute do you have that sets you apart from the other four candidates?
I’m a team builder. A team builder nurtures growth and development, provides safety for trial and error, empowers people, celebrates their growth and helps people learn from their mistakes. They focus on the strengths of the people and aren’t afraid to surround themselves with great people who do great work and isn’t afraid to give them the credit for it. They are willing to accept the responsibility for failures and able to make room for laughter in a workplace.
Who is your political superhero and why?
Margaret Thatcher. I remember as a young girl, seeing a woman elected as the Prime Minister of a country and feeling a sense of pride. I followed her career and admired her intellect, courage, strength, and leadership. She was a big reason that I became a Conservative. She was one of the first women politically that left me with the thought that anything was possible for me. I don’t completely agree with how she governed at times, but I do appreciate her abilities and her fortitude.
What is the McNeil government’s greatest achievement? I believe the McNeil government’s greatest achievement was managing to win a second majority government.
What is your position on replacing the Boat Harbour effluent treatment facility for Northern Pulp?
Boat Harbour will be restored to its natural condition as a tidal estuary. However, it needs to be replaced in a responsible manner. I support the local fishermen who are requesting a minimum phase two environmental assessment. I also recognize the importance of this mill to the forestry industry in Nova Scotia and the over three hundred direct employees who work there. We must find a solution that all parties involved can agree to so that the operation of the mill can be maintained.
Do you support a national Pharmacare plan?
In June the Canadian Government created an Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare. I would want to see the recommendations put forward by that Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare once their work is completed. So that an opinion can be based on factual information.
How much do we have ourselves to blame for poor health outcomes?
I would rephrase this question to ask how are the social determinants of health impacting Nova Scotians. Poverty has a direct link to poor health. I have indicated that under my leadership the PC Party will create a Poverty Strategy for Nova Scotians to address the issues faced by our vulnerable citizens like access to affordable housing, food security, increasing the emphasis on preventative health and initiatives to promote healthy living.
How would you keep young people from leaving Nova Scotia?
In order for Nova Scotia to retain our young people and assist them in starting a future here we must ensure we create an environment where they are able to find employment. The solution to this situation will require a private-sector response because it is the private sector that creates the job opportunities. I have proposed tax reform for individuals, and businesses, reducing regulations that prevent business growth and revisiting the equity tax credit to attract more investment.
What would you do about the exodus from rural areas to Halifax?
We need a renewed focus on Local Prosperity that includes all of Nova Scotia. We need to revitalize and restore local economic growth through the private sector. I will support responsible natural resource development, local input and protect the uniqueness of our communities when rolling out new policies and plans. I will review the Municipal Equalization Program as well as create a separate Department of Agriculture focused on innovation and entrepreneurship in Agriculture.
Have you ever had a #metoo moment?
Yes, I have experienced sexual harassment and sexual assault as a young girl but not in the workplace. I have a daughter and two sons who I hope and pray can grow and flourish without having to be scarred by sexual violence or harassment. We all deserve better.
What would you change about the province's cannabis strategy?
I agree with selling cannabis through the NSLC. I don't however, agree with selling it alongside alcohol. Nova Scotia is the only jurisdiction that has opted tobring alcohol and cannabis sales under one roof against the recommendations of a group representing Canadian Chief Medical Officers of health. I believe we should sell it responsibly in stand-alone stores.
On marijuana: Have you ever tried it? Will you?
I won’t be purchasing it once it is legalized.
Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offence?
No I have not.
What would you change about the Nova Scotia Health Authority?
Many of the problems in our health-care system are a result of a dysfunctional organizational structure. It is overly complex. I would return local input and remove levels of bureaucracy. We must simplify the health-care structure. This requires a review of the organizational structure in collaboration with front line health-care professionals. Empowering local input and decision-making will ensure that solutions deployed can actually take hold. We have over-centralized.
More P.C. leadership Q&As: