As Antigonish MLA Randy Delorey looked back on 2017, the first topic comes from the almost half-point point of the year, the May 30 provincial election, where he and his Liberal party were voted back into power, with a narrow majority.
“It was a different experience from 2013,” he said, also recalling his first go-around with a campaign and election.
“Being an incumbent, the whole process was a little different. In some ways, it was more comfortable because I had been through it before. But, in others, you’re out there, people know you, they know what you’ve done, and what concerns they may have with decisions you and the government have made … so it was a very different experience.
“But it allowed for more detailed conversations at the doorsteps. I was engaged in more conversation because more people knew who I was. So we could focus on policy and platforms; whereas, in 2013, I was really introducing myself to the people of Antigonish. That, often times, left less time to talk policy and platforms.”
And, of course, Delorey appreciated the results.
“The people of Antigonish sent me back with a higher proportion of the vote than I had in 2013, which was a very nice vote of confidence,” he said. “It’s nice to know people are behind me and the work I’m doing.”
Delorey began 2017 as the province’s Minister of Finance; he ends it in the role of Minister of Health and Wellness.
“First and foremost, any time the Premier taps you on the shoulder and asks you to serve on executive council, in any role, it is a privilege and one I, and my colleagues, take to heart,” he said.
“And not just a privilege, but a responsibility that is bestowed upon us. In my time, I’ve had the privilege, and responsibility, to serve on environment, finance and now with the Department of Health and Wellness.”
Delorey noted the “size and scope” of the department puts it at the top, as far as the largest department.
“If you measure it based on financial contributions and assessments, it’s more than 40 per cent of the provincial budget that goes towards the delivery of healthcare services across the province … that is similar for provinces across the country,” he said.
“So it is very important, and understandably so, for Antigonishers, Nova Scotians, indeed Canadians from coast-to-coast. We place great value on the importance of our healthcare system; it’s something we take pride in, not only at home but also on the international stage as well.”
Delorey noted how everyone is touched by the healthcare system and described the minister role as both challenging and rewarding.
“I’m honoured to be asked to serve in this role and I’ll continue to do my best,” he said. “Obviously, there is work to be done. I’m not shying away from doing it, but it’s work that will take time and that’s what I’m committed to doing; putting in the time and effort to move the healthcare system forward in a positive way, for the people of Antigonish and all Nova Scotians.”
He noted, in particular, work on mental health and addictions.
“That’s one, certainly, near-and-dear to my heart but also it’s a priority of our government, a priority of the health system, and, I think, it’s consistent as a priority for all Nova Scotians.”
Touching on a couple of capital projects announced for the area in 2017, Delorey talked about the province supporting construction on St. F.X.’s campus as well as promised twinning work on Nova Scotia’s 100 series highways, including Hwy. 104 between Sutherland’s River and Antigonish.
“Those two major projects, ongoing in the northeastern part of the province, will provide some stability in our economy in this part of the province, over the next number of years,” he said.
“That’s a really good cornerstone to build confidence for people, to have that employment and opportunities here at home.
“And when those jobs are finished, St. F.X. will have state-of-the-art academic facilities, to attract students, and a completely refreshed campus – particularly academic spaces. And we will have a safer and more efficient highway in place for those traveling between New Glasgow and Antigonish … a pretty exciting prospect.”
Another provincial investment he noted, ties into his answer as to what to look forward to in 2018.
“The commitment and support we’ve been able to provide to the Special Olympics; that is the national Special Olympics which is going to be hosted here in Antigonish; with the town, county and St. F.X. really getting behind the bid,” he said.
“It’s coming up in less than a year, next summer, so it’s great to be able to support that initiative. And, for anyone who has never had the opportunity to attend a Special Olympics event, either a local or a provincial one, I encourage you to get out and experience it because, if you want to talk sportsmanship, the true meaning of sportsmanship – competing to the best of one’s ability while supporting and encouraging all others – it’s there, competitive and supportive.”
The second project he noted, and is looking forward to seeing come to fruition in early 2018, is the partnership of the Antigonish Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and Royal Canadian Legion Arras Branch 59 with their combined move to the former philatelic centre on St. Ninian Street.
“These two organizations have done so much and continue to do so much for the community,” Delorey said.
“They need a new space; they do great things with the space they have available to them but they have a vision to do so much more.
“So I’m very proud, in my role as MLA, to advocate and work with them; to bring their business plan forward and secure some provincial funding and support to help make sure this project got off the ground. And here we are, not a year later, getting ready to open up … fingers crossed, a January opening of the new facility.
“It’s going to serve the CACL and the Legion in Antigonish for a long, long time … I’m really proud of that.”