Politics has always played a role in my life, from reciting all of the names of the Premiers and leaders of the opposition parties across Canada in grade three to writing and sending fan mail to then Federal Liberal Leader, John Turner (sadly that doesn’t even come close to being my most cringe-worthy moments in childhood). For me, and many others, politics meant impacting change, having the great privilege of being a leader in your community, and having the courage to stand up for them at any cost.
As I got older, this façade seemed to crumble and become more tarnished. I watched decisions be made without the input of those most affected, elected officials fall in line with their Party position against the wishes of the majority of people who put them in power, and in very recent years I’ve watched a provincial government defend their decision-making process with a “because we can” mantra on repeat.
Like any other Nova Scotian, there are issues that our family holds close to our heart. For us, we have dedicated a great deal of time to advocating for our son who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at age four. There have been times since his diagnosis where it has felt like we are shouting into the abyss; Tim Houston, however, proved to us he was listening.
Earlier this fall, Tim reached out to our family to get our input on the roll-out of the pre-primary program government was going to be implementing. In our opinion, the program had merit but our province was not in the position to be expanding an education system that even they admitted was in crisis. Tim took the time to listen to us, jot down notes, ask who else he should be speaking with and learning from. A couple of days later, I watched Tim speak at Public Accounts Committee, and was frankly blown away that his words reflected the input we had provided him, along with so many other families in the Autism community.
A short time later I received a message from Tim suggesting I appear before the Law Amendments Committee to share our family’s concerns. The night I spoke, Tim was in the front row to show support.
To be clear, this shouldn’t be such a monumental moment; it’s how the system should work. Elected officials should consult with those who have direct experience or expertise on an issue; they should take what they have learned to the House of Assembly – after all, it is the people’s house.
I am supporting Tim Houston for leader of Nova Scotia’s PC Party because he represents what I’ve always valued in politics. It matters to me that he is not a career politician. It matters to me that he isn’t a member of the proverbial “old guard”. Most importantly, it matters to me that he has continually shown that he will always put people over politics. In an environment that seems to solely exist on carefully crafted key messages, Tim cuts through the clutter.
We have a choice. We can continue with the status quo, or we can shift gears. In the words of Tony Robbins, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” It’s time for change.