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Labi Kousoulis on student affairs: Jobs and Debt

Labi Kousoulis is the incumbent for Halifax – Citadel. He’s the first incumbent to be interviewed for this series.

“There’s two major things university students always talk about, in order of importance I would say the number one thing they’re most worried about is getting a good job.” Says Labi Kousoulis. “They also want affordable university and access to university”

Kousoulis has taken steps to try and make the lives of students – post-university – better. For example, provincial government jobs used to require two years of experience to apply for a job. Kousoulis was the one who got the two-year experience requirement scrapped.

“When I came into government every single job posting had at the bottom of it ‘two years experience required, two years experience required,’” says Kousoulis.

He investigated and no one had a good answer to why it was there.

“So we immediately got rid of that requirement.”

The Liberals also launched the Make it Here website, which provides guidance on finding a job and advertises positions that are good entry level jobs.

“Look at the payroll rebates that we’ve done with IBM and with Royal bank,” said Kousoulis.

The Liberals brought RBC to Nova Scotia. The payroll rebate with IBM has been expanded under the Liberals but, IBM was originally brought here by the NDP.

Kousoulis’s party, the Liberal party, has rebate programs in place to entice small companies to hire university graduates from Nova Scotia such as the Graduate to Opportunity program. In the program a small business that pays a graduate more than $30,000 (~$14.50/hr) gets the salary rebated for two years.

The Liberals are also promising to expand debt forgiveness for Nova Scotia student loans (page 14).

I feel like, Kousoulis answers questions too well. It’s a weird thing to have as a complaint; like when working at a part time fast food job and the head office suits come in with the franchisee. When they talk to the staff it’s hard to tell how much of their enthusiasm is part of the corporate culture, and how much is legitimate passion for cheese burgers.

It’s awkward. It feels inauthentic.

It’s understandable why Kousoulis answers the way he does. If he were to open up and answer a hypothetical it could create a sound bite, and a sound bite taken out of context can be damaging for a politician.

The Gazette is a small paper, the stakes are a lot lower. Kousoulis is an educated man and he understands student issues. It’s easy to envision a scenario where a student journalist digs for a soundbite and gets a story to go viral. That would push the summer readership up out of the double digits for sure. It makes sense.

The Nova Scotia Provincial Election is on Tuesday, May 30th from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Early voting locations are open this week:

Wednesday, May 24th: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday, May 25th: 9 a.m. to  8 p.m.
Friday, May 26th: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, May 27th: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

To find out your electoral district and if Labi Kousoulis is a candidate you can vote for, look up your civic address on Elections Nova Scotia’s website here.


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