As you are probably aware, I am running against Cyril MacDonald in CBRM District 3. I have been very open in commending Cyril on his volunteerism, community activism, and generosity with his time.
I engaged Cyril MacDonald in a public Facebook exchange on September 22. I asked him a number of questions that residents of CBRM District 3 have been asking me. Cyril MacDonald’s responses are below – completely unedited – followed by my rebuttals in blue.
Q: Are you a member of a political party?
Cyril: “No I am not”
Glen Murrant: “Nor am I.”
Q: Do you live in District 3?
Cyril MacDonald: “I do not, and it’s something I’m not afraid to say. I’ve shared that publicly both campaigns I’ve run. I’m from the District but do not presently reside there, however, my heart and my family are, and some day I hope to return.”
Glen Murrant: “I appreciate your honesty. I’ve been contacted by many residents who believe a candidate should be a resident of the district in which they’re running. It was suggested that I run in another district – but this is where I live.”
Q: Will you be claiming the $0.46/km mileage allowance? Why/why-not?
Cyril MacDonald: “I think it’s fair to be remunerated for your expenses, but must be equitable and fair for the tax payer. I would hope whatever is claimed is scrutinized by some authority.”
Glen Murrant: “Fair answer – but to say you hope expense claims are scrutinized would suggest that you don’t know if they are. I will be claiming mileage expenses but I won’t be wastefully driving around. I will make more effort to conduct council business by phone/email/video, which will dramatically cut down on mileage.”
Q: What is your plan to fix the rural internet situation?
Cyril MacDonald: “I recognize and am aware of the issues the residents are having and am prepared to address it in my capacity as councillor.”
Glen Murrant: “Your plan is to address it? My plan is a little more detailed … I will continue to lobby Develop Nova Scotia, Eastlink, and Bell – a tactic which worked for Inverness. My plan also includes investing in new rural fibre optic infrastructure, which will be financed by leasing bandwidth to ISPs. Once the investment is paid down, this will be become a source of revenue for the municipality”
Q: How will you reconcile CBRM’s need for a railway with the issues facing the residents along HWY223?
Cyril MacDonald: “As I’ve said to residents, I recognize the need of the rail line for future development, however I believe that those who have crossings need to be dealt with in a fair manner. If elected, I will have more access to more pertinent information to better support residents of the district.”
Glen Murrant: “There are volumes of ample ‘pertinent information’ readily available for any interested candidate. But you are essentially saying you will wait to see if you get elected before looking further into the issue. I have a solution. CBRM will be the primary beneficiary of rail development through increased commercial tax revenue from rail and shipping activity. That being the case, I will recommend that CBRM issue a residential property tax credit to all residents who are required to pay a railway crossing fee.”
Q: Do you agree with the NSEF assertions about equalization, or do you side with Mayor Clarke?
Cyril MacDonald: “My belief is the present situation is unfair, and if we expect Cape Breton to continue to grow and prosper, we need a more fair equalization dispersement [sic].”
Glen Murrant: “A fair answer – but I should have been more specific. What I really wanted to know was if you agree or disagree with (or are you even aware of) Mayor Clarke’s argument against PC Leader Tim Houston’s offer to provide CBRM with an additional $15-million equalization top-op? For the record – I would vote to accept the $15-million equalization top-up on the condition that it in no way jeopardizes any other future provincial funding.“
Q: There is a cultural and political divide between Eskasoni and the rest of District 3 – How will you address that?
Cyril MacDonald: “I fully support the indigenous communities, and if there is a municipal need to have representation in council by the indigenous community, that be done such that all parties are fairly represented, thus creating an indigenous seat if necessary.”
Glen Murrant: “You say, ‘if necessary‘, as though you are waiting to be told whether it is or isn’t. Rather than acting out of sheer necessity, maybe we should act out of a genuine desire to make things right. I believe councillors should to step up and take the lead when they believe things need to change – not just follow the crowd and wait to be told what is necessary.”