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If we look beyond the labels of the political parties running in the Nova Scotia election and consider their platforms, we might be confused by what is revealed.

Even in wine tasting it is getting harder to name the grape, region and vintage, because there is such a diversity of wines available, from different regions of the world, using new grape varieties and even fusions. However, a cabernet is a cabernet right?

What is a liberal, a conservative and a social democrat in our province -- and even our country?
In Nova Scotia, the NDP, Liberals and Progressive Conservatives are fighting for centre, if not the slightly right of centre. Each espouses a vague vision about making Nova Scotia a great place to work, live and raise a family.

See if you can tell which is which:

One of these parties is highlighting four things in their platform: a manufacturing tax credit, removing the GST on home electricity, keeping all emergency rooms in the province open, and a commitment to a balanced budget.

The second party has received media attention for its promises to deregulate gas prices and decreasing the fuel tax, cut the small business tax, freeze user fees and introduce a new statutory holiday in February.

The third party would introduce a new tax credit for families contributing to RESPs, review Halifax Regional Municipality amalgamation, and introduce public safety laws such as a curfew for children aged 15 and under, and parental liability legislation.

You might have guessed that the third party is the Conservatives, standing out slightly to the right only because of its more conservative law and order agenda.

However, the first party is the NDP, which has fully adopted the neoliberal stance that Nova Scotians need to live within our means and we must continue to pay down the debt.

It is ironic that those who oppose the NDP like to refer to them as socialist. As it stands, the Nova Scotia NDP label is becoming more fiscally conservative than the PCs, who actually recognize that we should consider not the absolute size of the debt, but the province's ability to manage the debt given the growth in the economy.

In its bid to be elected, the Nova Scotia NDP is trying to prove that it is wise (ie. not risky) and can be ‘fiscally disciplined'. But, in a blind taste test it would be difficult to pick them out either for their grape, region or vintage.

As it stands, only one party -- the Green Party of Nova Scotia -- is articulating a strong vision and a specific goal that you would expect from their label. It is promising to build a green economy and green jobs, sustainable transportation, renewable energy and conservation.

As for the other parties, label confusion is making it increasingly hard to figure out what the raison d'être of the next government in Nova Scotia will be.



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