Re-elected Independent MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin says she has no immediate plans to try to re-join Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative party which won 31 of the 55 seats in yesterday’s provincial election, enough for a comfortable majority.
“Right now, my focus is representing the people of Cumberland North,” Smith-McCrossin said today in a telephone interview from her campaign office in Amherst.
“I was elected as an Independent and that’s where I plan on staying for now,” she adds.
“There’s absolutely no reason for me to make any changes that way. As an opposition MLA, I worked effectively with all the other parties and I will continue to do that as an Independent MLA.”
Smith-McCrossin was expelled from the PC Party after leading a blockade of the TransCanada highway near Exit 7 on June 22nd and for refusing to condemn a second highway blockade at the New Brunswick border the next day.
“I’ve said all along, I have no regrets,” she says referring to the highway protests against Liberal Premier Iain Rankin’s sudden decision not to re-open the provincial border as planned on June 23rd.
“I was elected to represent the people and be their voice and that’s exactly what I did,” she says.
“Unfortunately, not everyone agreed or understood the challenges that the people here in our border community have faced since the beginning of this pandemic,” she adds.
“But the people here know, the people here know exactly the truth and that’s why I believe you saw them come out and support me to continue to be their MLA for Cumberland North.”
Smith-McCrossin won more than half the ballots cast to defeat her nearest rival, Liberal Bill Casey by 1,747 votes.
Health care a key issue
Smith-McCrossin says she’s not surprised that the PCs won a majority in yesterday’s election campaigning on a health-care platform that she, herself, helped write.
“Health care is a huge issue here and across Nova Scotia, so the win for the PC party was not a surprise to me because I’ve seen what’s been happening in health care — the lack of available ambulance services and the lack of family physicians.”
Smith-McCrossin says the Nova Scotia health system deteriorated badly during the eight years the Liberals were in power.
“As recent as last week, we saw our surgical unit being shut down because of a lack of registered nurses and I know first-hand that it’s due to bureaucratic red tape,” she says referring to the Liberals’ decision to replace nine regional health authorities with a centralized one in Halifax.
“Our local hospital cannot hire nurses directly, nurses have to apply through Halifax and I’ve had situations where nurses have applied for jobs here and they haven’t even had anyone respond for over three months.”
Smith-McCrossin says she helped draft the PC plan promising to restore more local decision-making in health care and she’s looking forward to working with the new government on reforming the system.
She’s says she’s also looking forward to removal of all tolls on the TransCanada highway, another key PC promise.
“That will be a day that I will be celebrating along with the people here,” she says.
“Removing that physical, psychological barrier as well as financial barrier that the people here have had for over two decades.”