The issues that matter for the candidates and voters alike in this byelection are numerous.
People clenched their hoods and braced against the frigid January winds as they made their way to advanced polls in the Conception Masonic Lodge on Saturday.
Diana Kearley, a voter in the district, said she ultimately doesn’t care which political party she votes for at the end of the day. It’s all about the individual and that person’s track record.
“What’s important to me in this election is to vote for a person who is committed and dedicated to their community,” said Kearley. “When you look and compare the choices, you see who is dedicated for a long time to communities – who has worked for parks, people, children, other social issues. That’s important to me, someone who has chosen and shown that they are dedicated.”
As for bigger issues that matter to her, Kearley side-stepped party politics and harkened back to problems that affect every community.
“The decisions are the same in every community: infrastructure, sewage, water, environmental protections,” said Kearley. “They are all issues, and they are all important.”
Issues for the candidates
Paul Dinn, deputy mayor of Paradise and Progressive Conservative candidate in the byelection, touched briefly on the problem of out-migration and job creation in the province.
Dinn ramped up a notch when talking about taxation.
“We are taxed beyond compare to any other province in the country,” said Dinn. “As well, we need to look at what can be done to help seniors on fixed incomes.”
Dinn also wants more transparency and accountability in government.
“One issue that is near and dear to my – and (PC Leader) Ches Crosbie’s – heart is trying to bring back and create an open and honest atmosphere in government, where people get to see and understand how discussions happen and how deals and decisions are made.”
Patricia Hynes-Coates, the Liberal candidate, says her background and experience makes her the best-suited candidate.
“With my team with MADD Canada, I’ve changed legislation federally and provincially,” said Coates. “I’m going to bring that, and my listening skills. I am a victim’s services representative, so one thing that I have done over the last few years is fine-tune my ability to listen, to be empathetic, and find solutions. I will take their concerns to the table, and I will take those concerns to the Government and find solutions.”
NDP candidate Kathleen Burt is, among other things, calling for an increase in the minimum wage.
“I know people think Topsail-Paradise is full of rich people, but it’s not true,” said Burt. “There is a lot of people who are suffering now, and we need to be sure that people have a living wage. Let’s pay people so that they aren’t scrambling all day long to get their necessities met.”
“The NDP has always been a party working for the ordinary person,” said Burt. “We are the ones asking the hard questions in the house, working to keep the government accountable. We can’t do any worse than what has already been done.”