Staring contest vs. provincial election

Figuring out accountability is harder than ever after interviewing 7 district candidates and one party leader

There are two things to take away from this candidate series:


The word jobs is a meaningless word.

Why do our parents get careers but we get jobs?

Although the latest report on unemployment has an increase in full time work, youth rates have remained stagnant. In December 2016, unemployment had been down because people stopped looking for work; part time work was on the rise. University students, graduates and human beings usually desire more in employment than meeting basic financial obligations. In fact the Graduate to Opportunities program gives employers a rebate for salaries that aren’t good enough to keep people out of poverty.

But hey, jobs right?


The Disconnect

There is a serious disconnect in politics somewhere between elections and governing. It’s the most disconcerting part of this series.

Every single one of the candidates interviewed clearly care a lot about the province. Not one of them was malicious or just in this for the paycheck. Most were completely open about policies, ideas and what they thought was needed to fix the problems of the province. What happens to them?

It’s understandable that ideas need to be tempered by economic realities. In the second leader’s debate, Premier Stephen McNeil was pressed on the Liberal promise for every Nova Scotian to have a family doctor. His answer was that healthcare remains a priority.

Was that not a feasible promise? What’s in the way of making it happen? How do we fix those problems? What does “healthcare is a priority” even mean?

Political non-answers need to go.

Imagine using them in day to day life:

On a day off my wife leaves for work and asks me to do the dishes. As the day progresses, I forget. I get sucked into the internet, a Netflix binge or video games. When she comes home not only is dinner not made, but the dishes are not done. My wife will ask why didn’t I do anything today. Answering with “house cleanliness remains a priority,” is unacceptable. There’s no relationship where a vague answer to a specific question which shirks responsibility is acceptable.

It isn’t okay when a partner, child or friend gives you a non-answer. It’s not okay when politicians do it. During the interviews for this series, the candidates (mostly) didn’t do it. What changes once people get elected?

It’s easy to understand why we get this from politicians. Their careers depend on the constituents being happy with the work they are doing. Humans remember bad news better than good news. Single bad events, better than incremental good events. Politicians, by and large, get into politics to make their community better. In order to do that they need to stay in power. The way we receive the message and the way it’s delivered becomes important: show the good, hide the bad, keep people happy, get elected, keep making the world a better place.

That cycle seems to have become bastardized somewhere if the premier deliberately tries to keep the public in the dark. The horror – the unwashed masses get un-doctored information and have to think for themselves. Although if McNeil’s fear is that the people of Nova Scotia can’t tell what an internal policy debate looks like perhaps the answer is better education instead of secrecy. If only there was a level of government that could help with that.


What comes next?

Despite my frustration, I don’t see an easy solution. Someone needs to blink first. (Realistically politicians do.) Politicians need to be open about the problems they are facing. They need to be open about what they think the best options are, and what all of the options on the table are.

They probably won’t blink first.

It’s on us.

Go out and vote for a candidate who answers your questions openly and honestly. Whoever gets elected, call them up and ask them questions about policies or issues that you are concerned about. If they don’t answer – or answer poorly – let them know that they will not have your vote come the next election.

Or, if your representative isn’t answering your questions? Reach out to The Gazette, and help us hold our representatives accountable. It’s a team effort to make this province as good as we know it can be.


Polls are open until 8 p.m. tonight, to find your polling station today, look up your civic address on Elections Nova Scotia.

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Matt Stickland

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