By Tim Houston:
There’s this great ad that airs on CNN called, “This is an apple”. The gist of it is that some people might try to tell you the apple is a banana, that they’ll scream from the rafters that it’s anything but an apple, but at the end of the day, facts matter – it’s an apple.
On May 10 a letter was issued by Cecil Clarke’s campaign manager Chad Bowie to an email distribution list of campaign supporters. The letter directly accused me and our team of engaging in “old-style politics”.
In the letter, Mr. Bowie asked these supporters to donate to Cecil Clarke’s campaign in order to “defend Cecil” from these “baseless attacks”.
So let’s take the time to break down those facts.
On May 9, an editorial entitled, “15 Signs Cecil Clarke’s Political Career May be in Big Trouble” was published online. The opinion piece followed through on the promise laid out in the title and detailed 15 ways the author disagreed with Mr. Clarke’s policies and decisions in his 18 year career as a public official. These included Mr. Clarke’s approach to equalization, the container terminal, investments in infrastructure, vote of no-confidence by CBRM firefighters and not following through on the CBRM Council’s request for an audit to be conducted by the Province’s Auditor General.
The author of this article is a constituent of Cecil Clarke. Agree or disagree, he is free; just as any Nova Scotian is free, to question the decision-making process and record of a public official who represents him.
On May 9, Brad Johns, MLA for Sackville-Beaver Bank and my colleague in the PC Caucus who has endorsed my campaign, shared this article on his Facebook page, with the following caption, “I support Tim Houston. He is intelligent, personable and having lived in Fairview for many years, understands that a vibrant and prosperous HRM is good for all Nova Scotia. Please take the time to check out his webpage ( www.timhouston.ca ) and see how he plans to turn this province around. Better than that, take out a one year membership with the NS PC party ($10) and help this October to elect the next Leader of the NS Progressive Conservative Party. It's about time Nova Scotia has someone who understands the needs of the entire province AND IS Progressive. Thank you.”
The above post from Brad Johns, a sitting member of the PC Caucus, was shared by Mr. Bowie in a statement he made on Twitter. The statement read, “Would have expected this from the Liberals, but not from PC members during our leadership race. Increasingly negative tone from Cecil Clarke’s opponents shows they’re running scared. Tories will reject old-style negative attacks.”
Instead of picking up the phone and calling Mr. Johns’, Mr. Bowie put out a political hit-job on a sitting PC MLA to raise money for Mr. Clarke's campaign. Chad Bowie has Brad Johns’ number. He was the campaign manager for the PC Party in the last provincial election. Mr. Bowie has been working with Mr. Johns as an employee of the PC Caucus.
Mr. Bowie went a step further, issuing the above mentioned letter to a list of supporters with the message, “One of our opponent’s most prominent supporters had attacked Cecil by posting from a NDP-friendly propaganda site on Facebook and re-announcing his support for one of the other candidates.” And, “It's disappointing, but I’ve been around politics long enough to know why they’re doing it. They’re scared.”
A constituent of Mr. Clarke’s, wrote an editorial listing concerns he had with Mr. Clarke’s record as a public official. The editorial listed 15 different issues he had with the approach Mr. Clarke had taken in his role as Mayor.
Instead of taking pen to paper and rebutting those 15 points, which was an option, Mr. Clarke’s team instead called the article, and Mr. Johns’ message on Facebook, “negative” and an “attack” on Cecil Clarke.
I agree with Mr. Bowie on one thing, people are tired of out-dated, juvenile political tactics. He should know that this is one of the reasons I am running for the leadership – in order to raise the standard that Nova Scotians can expect on how politics is done.
That standard is above scouring social media and taking screenshots of people to try and publicly humiliate them. Those are bullying tactics. And we are better than that.
When I put my name forward to run for Leader of the PC Party of Nova Scotia, I accepted that this was a direct invitation for Nova Scotians to look at my experience and record as an MLA.
I not only accepted it, I welcomed the opportunity.
When I speak with Nova Scotians, and when I stand up on a stage with other candidates for the scheduled debates, I expect to defend that record, to speak to my experience.
I have watched closely for five years as the Premier targeted those that question his record, his policies and his decisions as being "negative".
According to the Premier, doctors are negative, teachers are negative, our province’s filmmakers are negative.
That's not leadership.
As public officials, we - like any Nova Scotian - have the right to take offense when people question our character.
There are five strong leadership candidates in this race, and all are in it because they believe in a better PC Party and a better Nova Scotia. However, all five of us must be willing to answer to questions about our credibility and our experience while holding public office.
Leadership is about many things, but perhaps most importantly it’s about having the courage and professionalism to engage with Nova Scotians who raise issues about our record, not insulting their concerns by brushing them off as being "negative" or "inflammatory".
There will be Nova Scotians who disagree with the decisions I've made and the positions I've taken. That is their right. That is how a democracy is supposed to work.
Facts matter, folks.