It’s been one year since the last provincial election. I spent Election Day 2017 with my husband and dear friends, knocking on doors, reminding people to vote, visiting polling stations, and ultimately, biting my nails for the decision that would come early on the morning of May 31st.
It was the culmination of a month of learning every street and lane in Dartmouth South, nearly every building and basement apartment, small business and community group. It was an amazing month, and it’s been an even more amazing year.
Thanks to the trust that has been given to me by the people of Dartmouth South I’ve learned so much about what makes this community thrive. From the historians to the long-time residents to the new entrepreneurs, I’ve learned that what links this community is love. Love of place, love of nature and of sport, and genuine concern and compassion for friends and neighbours new and old.
Every week in my office my staff and I meet with constituents and do our best to help. People contact us when their power is being disconnected, or when they have a challenge accessing government services. They also contact us when they can’t find a family doctor, or are otherwise falling through the cracks of our healthcare system. Sometimes constituents reach out to have a conversation about government policy. We offer what we can: a sympathetic ear, a list of doctors we’ve heard may be taking patients, a call or letter to the right person, a further policy conversation with our caucus. We’re glad to help, and even more glad to connect with people, and to understand the daily realities people are facing in our district.
We also meet with community groups, advocates, social service organizations and others regularly, and are endlessly inspired by all of the hard work that goes on in Dartmouth South to ensure that it remains a caring, exciting, and compassionate place to live. From the Pleasant Street Neighbourhood Association to Margaret’s House to the Dartmouth Lawn Bowls, from the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission to B’y Local Dartmouth to Destination Dartmouth, there is no end of creative and important work going on in the community, for the community, by the community. It is an honour to be a part of these conversations and projects, and we do our best to support their work, through advertising, participating in boards, connecting, offering meeting space, volunteering, and publicizing all of the amazing work happening.
When I’m not in Dartmouth South, all of that work still goes on, helmed by my awesome staff of Bev Doman and Grace Szucs. My time is split, of course, between Dartmouth and Halifax, where the legislative and committee work happens. In this short year, we’ve already been through two budgets, two long sessions of debating those budgets, and several major pieces of government legislation. I’ve also introduced 9 Private Member’s Bills, made numerous resolutions and Member’s Statements, and have done my best to be a strong advocate in my critic areas of Education and Early Childhood Development, Justice and the Human Rights Commission, and Business. Some key moments were the Education Reform Act, The Cannabis Control Act, and the Adult Capacity Act; if you’d like to see some of the debates around those please check out the In the Legislature section of the website.
Among other bills, I was proud to introduce Bill 93, which would legislate mandatory data collection and use in program planning by the government. I believe that the decisions of Government should be based on good information. This is especially crucial in combating systemic racism: if we don’t know where and how racialized persons are over or underrepresented in our health, education, justice, and other systems, we won't be able to appropriately address the issues.
The data collected by various departments of the Nova Scotia government is woefully inadequate in this regard. We don’t know the racial, economic, age, or gender makeup of people held in solitary confinement. We don’t have the full picture of these statistics in this regard to important things like High School completion, and children on Individual Program Plans. We don’t have comprehensive stats on health and wellness in our African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaw communities. But we should.
If I’ve learned anything about politics in this past year, it’s that the #1 skill required for this job is empathy. I am privileged to serve in this position. The public is my boss and my constituency. It’s only with empathy as a core reference point that I can be sure that the positions and decisions we make are the right ones—do they make people’s lives better? Do they keep our future happiness and security in mind? Are they kind?
Thank you for your trust in me, and please don’t hesitate to be in touch!