I am not your typical political candidate. I haven’t been groomed for this role, nor have I spent my career preparing to one day run for political office. Had that been the case, I would likely be a dedicated member of a political party, be comfortable wearing pantsuits and high heels at 37 years old, and never would have gotten tattoos in visible places on my body. However, that’s the way life goes sometimes, our paths take many different twists and turns, and we have to be ready to answer a call to public service when it comes regardless of the perceived barriers and challenges that face us in order to do so.
I heard that call loud and clear this past spring with the passing of Nova Scotia’s first, and now infamous “austerity budget”. I heard it from the creative community when they rallied and protested cuts to the Film Tax Credit, I heard it from the community groups who take care of this province’s most vulnerable citizens when they lost funding critical to their operations, I heard it from the students and youth who desperately want to stay in Nova Scotia to study, make a living and raise their future families, and I heard it from the nurses and doctors who are overworked and under-resourced, and leaving this province in alarming numbers.
When I started my career in research and policy development about 10 years ago now, we had a Progressive Conservative government who had, by all rights and analysis, damaged the economic and social well-being of Nova Scotia by investing in unsustainable, low-wage industries and weakening the social safety net. That is why, in 2009, we sweepingly voted for change and elected our first NDP government with a majority. I worked in the nonprofit sector at that time and the mood on election night was celebratory and hopeful. Finally, we thought, we had a government who would put the interests of Nova Scotians first, before big business and their own self-interest.
Then the MLA spending scandal occurred right on the heels of a budget which tried to scare us with the prospects of a crippling future debt, and blamed the economic state of things on the party that was in power before. We saw millions, if not billions of dollars given to outside corporate interests with the hope that big business would be our knight in shining armour, coming in from the outside and giving us a happily ever after economic future. The NDP abandoned, not only the people of Nova Scotia, but their base as well, and chose to govern like those who had come before.
It was no surprise then, when in 2013, we overwhelmingly voted them out and decided to take a chance on a Liberal majority government. With the hopes that there would be more balance and representation of us, the citizens of Nova Scotia, in government.
Well, we all know how that is going, don’t we?
I believe each of the three major parties, as well as the Green Party, have ideas and political philosophies which are valuable and necessary to the well being of Nova Scotia. However, in general, I am not a fan of party politics. It seems absurd to me that people must fit their political beliefs into a cookie cutter ideology that falls on a left or right spectrum. The only thing that partisan politics creates is polarization, opposition, and stalls our progress as a province. I believe party politics wrecks an otherwise beautiful system of representative democracy because at the fundamental level, it is the interests of the party which comes first; before the citizens, before economic and social stability, and before long-term strategic planning. Our MLAs no longer have the freedom to speak for constituents and are often forced to vote along party lines. Party politics maintain the status quo, even if the status quo is not working.
And I think most of us outside the structures of power and politics can agree that the status quo is not working.
If it was working, we would see fewer people marginalized and disenfranchaised from the electoral process and government. We would be less cynical about politics and politicians, and we would be well on our way to a sustainable and secure future. That is why Government and Electoral reform is one of the pillars of my campaign. Eliminating first-past-the-post elections can make room for a diversity of political beliefs and opinions in our Legislature, and bring us back to the roots of representation and democracy.
The other pillars of my campaign include issues which are not typically talked about during elections because they are seen to primarily benefit those who don’t typically vote. Things like access to safe and affordable housing, addressing the root causes of crime and violence in our communities, and investing in the arts and creative industries. I believe these things are crucial to the public safety, economic stability and progressive future of Nova Scotia.
When people fall through the cracks, it costs us a lot more to pull them out than to seal those cracks up before they have a chance to fall. As more people fall, the more money we have to spend in healthcare, justice, and community services; and the more likely we are to hear from government that we just can’t afford the investments that are needed. But in doing nothing except slashing funding and services, government is creating a black hole which we all run the risk of falling into.
Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. We must stop this insanity. I am offering the citizens of Dartmouth South a sane alternative to the status quo, partisan politics which have dominated this province for decades and which do not put the needs and desires of the people first. I am doing it because I believe that the majority of people out there are also frustrated and understand the need for sweeping political change to secure our futures. I am also doing it with the hopes to inspire others out there, in jurisdictions across the province, and to help them hear the call to service as Independent candidates, and to stand up and fight to keep Nova Scotia as their own safe and affordable home.
If elected as your MLA, you can expect me to be as dedicated, hard-working, creative and thrifty, as I have been in this campaign, my career, and to my own family and friends. I want to be your advocate and ally in government, to represent your interests and do it as honestly and authentically as is possible. I may only be one voice, but as I have already proven, it is strong and powerful. This voice will never be owned by any political party or corporate interest, I am offering it to you for as long as you allow me to use it. Let me be your megaphone and I promise your voices will be heard loud and clear.