Election Day is Here!

It’s finally election day in Nova Scotia. I’m sure for many of you hearing about the election on the news, through social media and over the family supper table has made this a long month!

Running a campaign is a huge undertaking, one that relies on the support from dedicated volunteers who pull long hours without much glitz or glamour.

I also want to recognize my family today, and the families of all candidates, who give up a great deal so that their loved one can go after their goals.

Lastly, I want to commend each candidate from every party who chose to put their name forward for public office. It’s a courageous decision and one that I know doesn’t come easy.

I’ll be out in Halifax Citadel – Sable Island today in the hopes of meeting more residents. Our office is open and full of energy today, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of our volunteers if you’re undecided on who you’d like to vote for and want to learn more about me, if you need information on how to vote, or if you need a drive to get to your poll.

1482 Queen St,
Halifax, NS
B3J 2H7

Contact Us:
e: info@robbatherson.ca
p: (902) 809-4ROB (4762)

We’re here for you.

Thanks for the honour of letting me meet so many of you the last 30 days. I ask for your support so that we can continue to work together for a better Halifax Citadel – Sable Island and a more prosperous Nova Scotia.

Tomorrow is Election Day

One more day to go before Election Day in Nova Scotia.

It’s been quite a month, listening to and learning from the people of Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

It’s been a month of people sharing their fears, concerns, hopes and dreams with me.

It’s been a month of countless volunteers giving of their time, talent and resources to help me (help that will be kicking into overdrive today and tomorrow!)

Every conversation has brought me closer to the people of this constituency.

What an honour and a privilege it would be to have a mandate from the people to go to work on their behalf at Province House.

Regardless of tomorrow’s outcome, I will forever cherish the amazing experiences brought about through this campaign.

I will forever be thankful for the people from all our different political persuasions – PC, Liberal, NDP, Green and none of the above – who honour me with their confidence to be the voice for positive change and strong, respectful, visible representation.

If you haven’t voted yet, there is still time today at the Returning Office on the 3rd Floor, 5475 Spring Garden Road until 6 pm.

And on Tuesday, May 30, you can vote from 8 am to 8 pm. Check electionsnovascotia.ca for specific info.

Regardless of who you support in this election, please take the time to vote.

In the meantime, thank you Halifax Citadel-Sable Island!

The final stretch

Because being elected to represent a community is having the humility and strength of character to respect the voters.

There are two days left for me to share my vision with the people of Halifax Citadel–Sable Island. To show you why I am the person that you should choose to represent this wonderful constituency beginning on May 31. To give you the confidence that a vote for me is a vote for the change we need.

It’s no secret that I’ve been involved in politics for many years – I was Press Secretary and ultimately Director of Communications for Premier John Hamm, I’ve served as President of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party, and in recent years in addition to owning and leading a successful communications firm in downtown Halifax, I’ve worked on many campaigns at municipal, provincial and federal levels.

Political activity has only been one part of who I am. It’s one part of how I try to make a difference in our community. For the last decade, I have served on the board of Neptune Theatre, including three years as president. I spent eight years on the board of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, including a year as chair. I have supported community efforts to welcome refugees to Halifax.

None of this has been about holding an office or having a title, it’s been about working together with others to get things done.

With Neptune, I will remember the work we did behind the scenes to convince then Culture Minister Leonard Preyra to reinvest in Neptune after funding cuts earlier in the former NDP government’s mandate. I will remember working with our team to secure major legacy financial gifts from charitable Nova Scotians. I will remember working with Mayor Mike Savage and Councilor Waye Mason to put in place an arts and culture strategy for our city.

With the Halifax Chamber, I will remember reaching out to a Deputy Minister in the Stephen McNeil government to help a small business cut through some red tape so they could literally stay in business and not put people out of work.

Working with people to help others and do good for our community is what I enjoy the most.

For many, seeing my name on a ballot was a given. Trust me, it was never a given in my home.

While I’ve been an active participant in the democratic process, I knew that before I decided to run for office, I had to ask myself: would I hold true to the values and attributes I always felt necessary to hold public office?

Because being elected to represent a community is having the humility and strength of character to respect the voters.

I’ve said repeatedly throughout this campaign that I will be your voice, I will be visible and I will be responsive at all times – not just at an election time.

This means that if elected, I’ll be there to listen, to answer phone calls and emails, to speak up and to show up.

Not just in good times, but when there are inevitable roadblocks.

That’s showing leadership.

Voters need to decide whether during the last three and a half years, we have seen this from Stephen McNeil and his candidate in Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

When doctors, nurses, other health care professionals, the Mayor of Halifax and senior municipal staff express opposition or concern about moving outpatient services off peninsula Halifax, shouldn’t we have an MLA who listens to them?

When our arts and culture professionals want a provincial government that will work them on issues like the film tax credit, shouldn’t we have an MLA who will hear their concerns and take action?

When our university students and their families are struggling with sky-high tuitions, shouldn’t we have an MLA who will stand with them to find solutions?

When local residents, Mayor Mike Savage and Regional Council ask for sensible amendments to the province’s Heritage Property Act, shouldn’t we have an MLA who will take up their cause?

When a constituent raises concerns, even if they are critical, isn’t the job of the MLA to listen, respond and be respectful?

Leadership is building trust, leading by example and requires humility.

Have we seen this from our current government and our MLA for the last three and a half years?

Representing your fellow citizens is an honour that should never be taken for granted.

It’s an exceptional privilege that comes with great responsibility. I know this. I accept this. And if chosen to be the MLA for Halifax Citadel – Sable Island, I will honour this.

On May 30, I ask for your support.

Let’s Vote for Change

This morning, I will be welcoming PC Leader Jamie Baillie to Halifax Citadel-Sable Island for the third time this week.

We will be at the Halifax Seaport Market from 8:45 am to 9:30 am. If you’re in the area, drop on by to say hello!

Jamie continues to show through the course of this campaign – most recently at the CTV roundtable on Thursday – that he is the only person capable of replacing Stephen McNeil as Premier.

I respect those who feel Stephen McNeil should continue as Premier (although I obviously don’t agree! :)), but I believe the majority of Nova Scotians and the majority of Halifax Citadel-Sable Island voters want a positive change in the Premier’s Office.

It was interesting to note overnight that The MacDonald Notebook online news publication is quoting former NDP President David Wallbridge – a resident of Halifax Chebucto where NDP Leader Gary Burrill is running for the legislature – as saying that the NDP will not form the government in Tuesday’s general election.

I respect the principles and values of longtime New Democrats. Many of my extended family members have supported the NDP (I’m sure my late Granny to her dying day wondered how her grandson became a Tory!).

The current political landscape suggests, however, that voting NDP in this election will not deliver the kind of progressive change in leadership that most Nova Scotians want.

I therefore respectfully invite Halifax Citadel-Sable Island voters to consider the advice of longtime New Democrat, labour leader and former candidate Linda Power who announced several weeks ago: “For the first time in my life, I am voting Progressive Conservative. We can’t risk having Stephen McNeil in the Premier’s Office any longer.”

Jamie made a similar invitation in the CTV leader’s debate. He was criticized for it by Stephen McNeil and Gary Burrill.

But in a democracy, shouldn’t candidates invite people to vote for them? Even people who have never previously voted for that option in the past?

Standing up for our Creative Economy

Yesterday afternoon, as I knocked on doors in a downtown Halifax apartment building, a young person opened the door to be faced with a question I often pose voters: “what is the most important issue for you in this election?”

His answer: “what are you going to do about the film industry because I lost my job when Stephen McNeil got rid of the film tax credit?”

Earlier in the week, I received a note from another Halifax Citadel-Sable Island voter, a well-established, experienced entrepreneur.

Among his comments to me: “many longtime friends have had their lives ruined by the pointless destruction of our film industry.”

Why don’t we make a change in government and a change in representation, so we can be focused on creating jobs for Nova Scotians here at home, instead of watching them leave the province?

I am running to be the MLA for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island to be a partner with our film and creative industries. I will be a champion for arts and culture – in all its wonderful forms, commercial and non-commercial – not just at election time, but all the time. With a decade of experience on Neptune Theatre’s board – including three years as volunteer President – I have experience working with a wide range of individuals, artists and others from different backgrounds to make good things happen.

I am running to be the MLA for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island so we can work with the film and creative industries to bring back a film tax credit that works and puts Nova Scotians to work.

Nova Scotia Seniors Deserve Better

Seniors are perhaps the toughest audience I face on the campaign trail.

Part of it is due to the fact that when it comes to politicians, our seniors have heard it all and seen it all. If anyone deserves to be cynical about politics and politicians, it’s our seniors. As someone who is seeking their support to become MLA, what I can possibly say that will give them hope and confidence?

Despite this reality, seniors generally vote in higher numbers than the rest of the population. Seniors also understand the dynamics at play in terms of their growing numbers and the consequences of fewer people working in Nova Scotia and the resulting challenges in not having a sufficiently robust economy and tax base.

Suffice to say, it’s important to not generalize the concerns of seniors – they care about many of the same things as their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren (plus they have the benefit of considerable life experience).

There are nonetheless a number of important steps we can take to specifically help our older citizens.

As MLA for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, I will fight for our seniors with the PC plan to treat seniors with dignity and respect, by:

– passing a Seniors’ Bill of Rights that keeps couples in care together and makes quality meals the law;
– freezing the Seniors’ Pharmacare cost-share ratio so governments can’t make seniors pay more than their fair share;
– helping low-income seniors with the cost of home repair projects; and
– enacting a Safer Homes Act to make sure housing authorities make repairs to homes in a timely manner.

A number of Halifax Citadel-Sable Island seniors have also asked me about the loss of longstanding polling stations in their seniors’ residences. While I respect the independence of Elections Nova Scotia to make these decisions free of political interference, once this election is completed, we need to direct the all-party Elections Commission to determine how we keep voting accessible, particularly those voters who have accessibility issues. Perhaps the Seniors Bill of Rights’ could provide a legislative remedy in this regard?

Working together, respectfully, with our educators

Last night, I met an elementary school teacher when I knocked on her door. Although health care continues to be the most frequent issue raised with me by Halifax Citadel-Sable Island voters, I do keep hearing from people concerned about how we – as PC Leader Jamie Baillie often says – heal the wounds that exist in our schools, thanks primarily to the past year. It’s not just teachers who are concerned. It’s their colleagues who are teaching assistants (one of whom I met at her home on Sunday). It’s parents and grandparents of children in the public education system. Frankly, it’s anyone who believes in the importance of education as the foundation for our progress as a society.

There’s a lot of negativity about Stephen McNeil’s record in education. That’s not spin from the opposition parties or the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. That’s just the real world view of many Nova Scotians.

Rather than spend more time talking about Stephen McNeil (or frankly the record of deep cuts by the NDP government that came before Stephen McNeil), I prefer spending my time talking about the kind of positive changes I would champion as MLA.

History shows the deep connection between the PC Party and public education in this province.

It was a Progressive Conservative – Sir Charles Tupper – who introduced public education to Nova Scotia. Many longtime education observers still refer to the late Terry Donahoe – a former longtime Progressive Conservative MLA for this constituency – as the province’s best Minister of Education since the Second World War. My friend the late Jane Purves certainly had her share of challenges as Minister of Education, but she championed smart policies like multi-year funding agreements for school boards and universities and a school construction program that led to our own Citadel High School.

Consistent with that tradition, I invite you to read the PC Party’s platform on education at www.pcparty.ns.ca/platform

As MLA for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, I want to be part of a team that will bring Nova Scotians together for better solutions for our children.

Listening and Collaborating with Municipal Government

Later today, PC Leader Jamie Baillie and I will be visiting Halifax Mayor Mike Savage and Regional Council at City Hall to discuss issues of importance to the citizens of Halifax Regional Municipality.

Residents of Halifax Citadel-Sable Island tell me they want their three levels of government to work together in the community’s interest. We should never allow important policy matters to devolve into statements along the lines of “I’m the Premier, he’s the Mayor” when questions arise about why decisions are made by either level of government.

As a business person and a volunteer, I have worked across party lines to secure investments in arts and culture and post-secondary education. I have championed greater immigration and extending municipal voting rights for permanent residents. My record is one of listening and collaboration with our municipal government.

As MLA for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, I will be a strong, tireless voice for urban priorities, including:

– ensuring the allocation of provincial services is subject to a sustainability and planning lens, with open community consultation, so we don’t see more decisions like the loss of Access Nova Scotia to Bayers Lake under the NDP and now the proposed move of outpatient health services to Bayers Lake under the McNeil Liberals;
– working with the Mayor and Council to update the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter, first passed under a previous PC government, for the benefit of citizens and taxpayers;
– investing in quality public transit – something that is personally important as a Halifax Transit user myself; and
– keeping the lines of communication open, so that we don’t blindside our municipal partners, as we have seen with the proposed outpatient health centre move.

As MLA, I will stand up at Province House for our constituency and the municipality, so that the concerns of our residents aren’t taken for granted.

Positive Change for NS Health Care

Today I had the pleasure of introducing my friend, and the next Premier of Nova Scotia, Jamie Baillie, at a rally held at our Halifax Citadel – Sable Island HQ. This is an incredibly important issue for the constituents of Halifax Citadel – Sable Island, so I wanted to share my remarks and the video for residents to view.

Good morning everybody.

Happy Victoria Day!

Is everyone having a great weekend?

People here in Halifax Citadel-Sable Island and across the province are facing a clear choice in eight days.

A choice between Stephen McNeil’s status quo health care system in crisis…

Or Jamie Baillie’s long term vision for a healthier Nova Scotia and a fiscally responsible plan of action to get us there.

Knocking on doors in this constituency, here’s what I have been hearing.

I’ve heard from one of our leading surgeons who told me our doctors have been shut out from decision-making – something Stephen McNeil finally acknowledged in the middle of an election campaign after three and a half years as Premier.

I’ve heard from a physiotherapist – someone who presents on pain management around the world – who isn’t consulted on the same topic here at home.

I’ve heard from a nurse – just this weekend – who said it sure would be nice to work at a hospital where there isn’t a code census almost every day.

I’ve heard from a psychiatrist who is worried that the one size fits all approach by senior health care administrators is challenging the ability to deliver good mental health care.

I’ve heard from medical students, nursing students, pharmacy students who wonder whether there’s a future for them here in Nova Scotia.

I’ve heard from seniors and persons with disabilities who are worried about losing outpatient services to a remote location in an industrial park.

I’ve heard from someone who wrote our government seeking help to bring his son and daughter-in-law – both doctors – home to Nova Scotia.

You know what answer this person got from Stephen McNeil’s government?

Nothing. No answer.

That is not acceptable. As MLA for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, I will give voice to the people in this constituency who have been ignored by their government.
I could literally write a book on what the people of Halifax Citadel-Sable have told me about health care in this province.

Yet Stephen McNeil fails to accept the serious crisis in health care that is raging while he’s sitting in the Premier’s Office.

I was never so proud of our leader Jamie Baillie when he held Stephen McNeil accountable for his promise from the last election of a doctor for every Nova Scotian.

I know that Jamie Baillie is a leader who is positive, inclusive, respectful and open – not angry, dismissive and arrogant.

For those who want positive change in health care, let’s elect MLAs who will stand up for better health care – working with our health care professionals.

For those who want positive change in health care, let’s make sure we have a Premier who will listen, who has vision, who has a plan of action…

My friend and our next Premier – Jamie Baillie!

Championing Change in Health Care

I don’t know which party is going to win the provincial election. I don’t know if the people of Halifax Citadel-Sable Island will honour me wth a mandate to work for them as their MLA.

I do know that health care needs attention now. Day after day, voters continue to raise it with me.

On Saturday alone:

– I met a nurse who told me: “it sure would be nice to not have a Code Census almost every day.”

– I met with medical students and nursing students who are wondering whether they should stay in Nova Scotia after graduation.

– I met with a 10 year health authority employee who, when I asked them whether Stephen McNeil was correct in saying that health care was not in crisis, replied simply: “he’s wrong.”

– I met with another senior who, literally, expressed her concern with the McNeil plan to move outpatient services to Bayers Lake.

As MLA for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, I will champion change in health care, based on evidence and expertise from front line health care professionals.

I will listen. I will respond. I will take action. I will bring people together to achieve solutions.

I hope voters will give me that opportunity. Health care is too important to continue with the status quo.