Candidate Profile: Get to know Betsy MacDonald, running in Central Nova

Online First Opinions

Betsy MacDonald is running for the NDP in Central Nova

Name: Betsy MacDonald

Community: Antigonish

Family:Mother of 7-year-old daughter (Alison)

Profession:Community organizer, political activist and musician

Why are you running?

I decided to run out of concern for the future of my seven-year-old daughter. She and her peers are facing an insecure future due to the global climate emergency, a precarious economy, and governments that are failing to take care of people’s needs. Central Nova residents of all ages should be able to enjoy a clean environment, a good quality of life, and economic opportunities that help our communities as well as help us shift away from fossil fuels.

People have been let down by Justin Trudeau and his broken promises to make life better for ordinary people. The Scheer Conservatives want to give more handouts to the wealthy and corporations, leaving people to fend for ourselves. I’m running for the NDP because it’s a party that will stand up for health care, the environment, and making life more affordable.

What do you see as the top issue in your riding?

Health care is a major concern on the doorsteps. People are worried about the lack of doctors and the cost of medications. Rural communities are seeing their health care services eroded and people are having to travel longer distances to access care. We have an aging population and seniors who require more support, yet the federal government will not invest in a universal pharmacare program or give our province adequate funding to expand health care to meet the need. Mental health wait times are unacceptably long and we need more community-based mental health services. The NDP’s plan would continue Tommy Douglas’ vision of universal health care to include making prescription medications, mental health care, and hearing, vision and dental care accessible to all.

Climate change and the environment are also on the mind of many voters, along with the future of our economy. People want to know that there are going to be good, secure, green jobs for the next generation. They are looking to the federal government for leadership to meet – and strengthen – emission reduction targets, yet the federal Liberals have been dragging their feet and the Conservatives do not take climate change seriously.

Finally, affordability is a major issue for Central Nova residents. People are struggling with the cost of child care, housing, education and training, and phone and internet bills. Incomes are not keeping up with the cost of living and people are having to work harder than ever to get by. Young people are having to leave the province, in part because they cannot find well paying enough jobs to start to put a dent in their student loans. People want to contribute to their communities but are held back by the daily struggle to make ends meet.

Do you have a hidden talent?

My not-so-hidden talent is that I’m a musician. I play guitar and sing in a bluegrass/country/folk group. Not everyone knows that I also sometimes play the banjo.

What is your hope for your riding?

I want to see thriving communities and people being able to contribute without economic and social barriers. I want to see us lead the way in shifting to renewable energy and creating a prosperous green economy. I want to see young people being supported to develop skills, access opportunities, and build a good life here at home.

We need leadership that recognizes what the people of Central Nova have to offer, and what they need in order to realize their potential. Respecting the environment, Indigenous communities and workers need to be core values on which all decisions are made. We should be supporting diversity and inclusion of all people – not just symbolically but by addressing systemic injustices.

Central Nova is an amazing place full of people who are doing good work every day to build their communities. We should be investing in the grassroots economy to grow, and putting more power in people’s hands to shape their future through social enterprise, cooperatives, a robust public sector, and better support for non-profit organizations.

How to contact you?

You can email the campaign at Betsy.MacDonald@ndp.ca, follow us on social media (we respond to messages on Facebook), or call 902-870-2950.