HALIFAX –An election date has not been set, but Nova Scotia’s opposition leaders say their campaigns are in full swing with candidates knocking on doors, holding a rally and raising eyebrows about the Liberal government’s recent spending spree.
NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the crowd was energized at a campaign rally held Sunday at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth, where he was joined by more than 30 party candidates.
While Premier Stephen McNeil has yet to call an election, Burrill said the Liberals have been in campaign mode for more than a month –on the constituents’ dime.
The Liberal government has spent more than $40 million in a flurry of daily announcements –Including a project announced Sunday that’ll cost up to $1.5-million –In what Burrill called a “cynical” effort to curry last-minute favour with voters.
“For three and a half years, the Liberal government has said no to everything … Always, the argument has been the same: There’s no money,” Burrill said in an interview. “In the last 30 days, they’ve spent a half-million dollars every 10 minutes on everything that moves and breathes, and looks like they might be able to persuade it into voting Liberal.”
Burrill said the NDP hopes to counter the Liberals’ “tawdry” tactics by reaching out to voters who are new to the political process, many of them young.
The Progressive Conservative Party is printing signs and deploying candidates to take its message of “hope and opportunity” to the streets, said leader Jamie Baillie. He said the taxpayer-backed splurge signals that an election could be called within days, and the party plans to hit the ground running.
“Basically, we know the campaign will start when he’s finished spending all the taxpayers’ money, and so we’re not waiting for the official starting time to go off,” Baillie said in an interview. “It’s our job as the official Opposition to be ready with a more positive plan for when that election officially kicks off.”
Liberal spokesperson Michael Mercer said in a statement Sunday that campaign preparations have long been underway, and the party is ready to go to the polls “whenever that may be.”
The premier recently dismissed opposition talk that the spending is simply about electioneering, but he also refused to rule out going to the polls before the April 27 budget is passed.
Nova Scotia is the only province without a fixed election date and the government will reach the four-year mark in October.