First, congratulations to Rafah. I wish her all the best as she moves forward as the new MLA for CPW. Congrats as well to Rana, Thomas and Jonathan for offering to serve the public. They all ran honourable campaigns.
Second, we ran a strong “silver medal” campaign in a seat where the party finished third in the last two elections, with 15% of the vote in 2013, and 10% in 2009. It’s not a win in the literal sense, but I consider it a win in the moral sense, as we work to rebuild the party across HRM. Thanks to everyone who helped out along the way. It was a small team on a bit of a non-traditional campaign, but a more loyal and dedicated crew I couldn’t have asked for.
Third, the overall race was tight, and while the Liberals squeaked in with a majority the Progressive Conservatives did better than the polls indicated we would. I have friends who will be new PC MLAs, and many others who ran positive campaigns. I’m proud to have served on the same team with each of them.
To the wonderful folks of Clayton Park West, thank you for your support, your wisdom, and your open hearts and minds as I spoke to each of you. Running – and meeting you – has been an honour, and one of the great experiences of my life.
Finally, a word or two about where we go next as citizens. Voter turnout was terrible across the province. That’s primarily on the candidates. We need to do more to engage in a meaningful way (a knock on the door every four years isn’t engagement) and to inspire. I tried to bring a 21st century method of campaigning forward – yes, I knocked on doors and placed some lawn signs, but I also made very active use of social media. I think we got a good indication that the new politics bears as much fruit as the old, and that’s only going to continue in the years to come.
I personally favour mandatory voting laws, like they have in Australia (where it works just fine), but I don’t think you’ll see that in NS for quite a while, if ever. I also think we need to move into the 21st century and provide people with the opportunity to vote online. And I am absolutely committed to the reform of our electoral system so that we move away from the antiquated first-past-the-post method that produces “stability” at the expense of democracy, which I believe just ends up sowing the seeds for greater instability among an increasingly disenfranchised and disillusioned populace.
But that’s just during election time. During the rest of the time it’s on the political parties and MLAs to stay in touch with constituents on policy matters.
One way to do that? Regular town hall style meetings. I pledged to hold one every month in CPW if elected, and while I didn’t get there I found people I talked to in the riding thought it was a good idea. I hope Rafah considers it. An MLA’s first job, above all others, is to listen.
I also think the government under-uses some of the communication resources it has at hand, particularly Legislative TV. They should look at ways to expand upon those tools and use them to offer citizens more access and information. I have some low-to-no cost ideas that I’ll be offering up down the road.
In the end, however, the ultimate onus is on us as citizens is to vote. In the immortal words of those great Canadian poets, Trooper:
“If you don’t like what you’ve got, why don’t you change it. If your world is all screwed up, re-arrange it.”
Or, as Lennon and McCartney wrote in the coda to their brilliant work as Beatles:
“The love you take is equal to the love you make.”