First of all I would like to say THANK YOU to Mike Conrad, who was my official agent and right-hand man through all of this. He was the one who encouraged me to offer up, and promised to stand by me through it all. I would also like to say thank you to the members of my team who helped me canvass, make signs, posters and flyers, or who informed my campaign with their advice and input: David, Thomas, Shannon, Barb, Jessica, Grant, Dylan, Warren, Jamie, Anne, Bernadine, Rob, Sobaz, Mike & Beth, Sherri, Dosia, Patti, and Johnny… I cannot say thank you enough. I would also like to thank the candidates for being so kind, and inclusive with my campaign.
With the exception of voter turnout, I am extremely pleased with results from Dartmouth South last night. I want to say thank you to each and every one of the 490 people who heard my voice and agreed enough to cast their vote my way. I have probably heard from about half of them already, and they came from all three parties (yes even some old school Tories told me they voted for me). But they were also people who, like me, have never been partisan voters. They are people who have always cast their ballots for the candidate, rather than the party.
But the votes I cherish most from that 490 were cast by the people who have never voted before in their life. And there were many of them. Even the people at the polls were commenting that they were seeing people who they “wouldn’t typically see” at the polls. One fella who came to the celebration last night, a tattooed 30-something who has previously been in trouble with the law, said that one person said to him at the polls, “I can guess who you are voting for”. Some of these traditional non-voters were youth, and some were in their 50’s, but all of them have lived their entire lives thinking politics was a big ole scam, and have never encountered a “politician” who could inspire them to get to the voting booth on election day. Indeed, I didn’t have the resources to reach more of the non-voters, nor did I have the time needed to spend with them so that they could get to know me, and believe that I am not a run-of-the-mill, tell-them-what-they-want-to-hear, corrupt and elitist politician. The non-voters were who I got in this race for, and I feel truly honoured that I was able to inspire some, and spark their imagination for a government of, for and by the people.
I am also very happy that I was able to insert a very important critique of status quo governance and partisan politics into the narrative of this byelection. The low voter turnout is evidence that the status quo way of doing politics is not working in Nova Scotia. All people in Government must work harder and do more to restore people’s faith in the system, and the best place to start is always from within. In my conversations with the other candidates and teams, I encouraged them all to find a way to work together on at least one issue between now and 2017. Surely there must be one thing that all three parties can agree on. Collaboration and cooperation is what Nova Scotia needs right now to address some of the most important and complex issues facing us. Although I can’t do it from within the House, I will be looking for ways to bring them all together as I continue my work in the Affordable Housing and Public Safety/Justice sectors.
In fact, as I look at those things that I wanted to do “If I won,” I am realizing, I can actually proceed with most of those things even not having been elected. I already have the commitment of a few folks who are interested in helping the next time around, and I believe we can forge new systems of representation from the outside. I still want to form a sort of Citizens Caucus for Dartmouth South, and I already have my first High School visit scheduled for September. I will be developing that Independent Candidate handbook, and I will be searching for those reluctant Independent leaders across Nova Scotia to offer up, and make even bigger waves in 2017. Some people have been speculating that I may start up an “Independent Party”, but that is not my intention. A coalition of Independent candidates is far more appealing to me, perhaps the creation of the very first Un-Party.
So while this campaign is over, it is really only just the beginning of, what I hope will become, the next wave of the protest movement in Nova Scotia. Standing outside the House with placards and megaphones is no longer effective for true and sweeping political change to happen. My anarchist friends say the only way that such change can come about is through violence and decimation of the system… I don’t want that to be true. There are many great things about the system we have, and destruction only causes more suffering and hardship for the people. We definitely do need to address problems with hierarchical power structures, entitlement and privilege, corporatism and inequality, and within government is where that must happen if it is to come without disruption and chaos.