On Sunday April 28, I attended the wreath-laying ceremony to remember and honour those workers killed or injured on the job and to re-commit ourselves to making workplaces safer. The event was organized by the Annapolis Valley Labour Council and held at Kentville's Memorial Park. According to the Nova Scotia Advocate, "the observance began in 1984 and it was officially declared an annual day of remembrance the following year by the Canadian Labour Congress. In 1991, the day became a national observance when the Workers Mourning Day Act was passed, making April 28 an official Workers’ Mourning Day. " We still have work to do given that "workplace fatalities in Nova Scotia increased in 2018 to 40" and "14 Nova Scotians died from acute traumatic injuries on the job. " The day of mourning is particularly pertinent for Nova Scotia, given the Westray Mine disaster in which 26 people lost their lives. In 2004, federal legislation was enacted to hold companies criminally accountable for deaths and injury. Among those attending the ceremony (and pictured below) were Wayne Kelley, President of the Annapolis Labour Council, Nova Scotia NDP leader Gary Burrill, Jon Lohr, MLA for Kings North, Kentville Mayor Sandra Snow, and my daughter, Evangeline (who helped me express sympathies to those in attendance who lost loved ones on the job).
On April 18, I participated in a rally organized by the Annapolis Valley branch of Extinction Rebellion in Wolfville. The goal of the rally was to protest the investments of Canada's banks in the fossil fuel industry. The target of this protest was the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), which has the single largest investment in the fossil fuel industry in Canada. According to the Rainforest Action Network, RBC invested $100.5 billion in fossil fuel-related enterprises between 2016 and 2018. As part of the protest I was asked to block traffic, while holding up a large sign, so handbills could be given to motorists (and while I may have gained the votes of some environmentalists, I may have lost a few votes from impatient motorists.) Either way I thought I was doing a pretty good job until at one point I realized my sign was upside down! For more information on the protest and our goals, you can read the story in the Advertiser (which includes a video of the group singing; I am the one with the bullhorn singing off-key). As the candidate for the upcoming federal election I am committed to making climate change the central issue and to put pressure on the federal government to stop promoting (and subsidizing) the industry and to implement fundamental changes to our economy and society to reach the target of zero emissions.
Thanks to members of the Kings North provincial NDP executive for meeting with me on Monday evening (April 15) at the UNIFOR office in Kentville. I appreciate all the input and support you continue to provide to me as the candidate for Kings-Hants. I know that voters in Kings North been very supportive of the NDP in the past - including electing Jim Morton as their NDP MLA in 2013!
I am also very aware of the issues facing the people of Kings North - a microcosm of the issues facing all Nova Scotians - as we head into the next election.
Poverty rates in the riding continue to be at unacceptable levels and are some of the highest in the province. Many residents still do not have a family doctor and the wait times for surgery and other medical procedures at Kentville's Valley Regional Hospital are way too long. There continues to be a lack of government support for young people in the area, especially those that suffer from homelessness, mental health issues, substance abuse, and unemployment.
The Liberal governments in Halifax and Ottawa have failed to provide the essential services needed. Despite the great work done by the local groups such as the food bank, PeopleWorx, Open Arms, and the Portal (among others), the people of Kentville should not have to rely so extensively on charitable organizations. The existence of these agencies and the increased number of families and individuals that have to rely on them speaks to the failure of the Liberal governments in Halifax and Ottawa to meet residents' most basic needs.
An NDP government in Halifax and Ottawa pledges to address the health care and a lack of social services through greater investments in our health care system (including a national pharmacare program), free dental care for school children, the creation of more affordable housing units for young people and seniors, increased job training opportunities and a sustainable economic plan that will create jobs, and help new and existing local industries (including farmers) adapt to the challenges of the 21st century, while reducing carbon emissions.
On the evening of Monday, April 8 (between dropping off and picking up my daughter at dance class) I had the pleasure of sitting in on a meeting of the local chapter of the Extinction Rebellion at the St. John Anglican Church in Wolfville. Extinction Rebellion is a global movement, founded in the UK, that uses nonviolent resistance to bring attention to and avert climate breakdown (we have two choices: rebellion or extinction!). The local group was planning its involvement in a march to take place on April 15 in Halifax (see poster). The march in Halifax is being coordinated with protests being held the same day throughout the world to demand that governments take necessary action on the global climate and ecological emergency. I was able to speak to the group for a minute or two and pledged my support for the march (I hope to he there) and for their dedication to fighting climate change! I also encouraged them to help make climate change a central issue in the federal election and to even sponsor an all-candidates debate in Kings-Hants on this critical issue.
On Sunday, April 7, I had the pleasure of meeting with Ann Knowles who is spearheading a cohousing project in Windsor. Cohousing mixes the tenets of both market and co-operative housing: residents own their own homes but the land upon which the complex sits (as well as commons buildings) are jointly owned by all the residents. Cohousing also encompasses other important principles, especially the nurturing of a vibrant, socially cohesive community (and which is promoted by the emphasis on shared common spaces). According to the Windsor Cohousing website, the organizers and supporters "are committed to facilitating an inclusive, connected, environmentally responsible, food and housing-secure community, so that we can live balancing personal and collective spaces and endeavors. We participate in a lifestyle harmonizing private and common space and activities to actualize these values."
Ann told me how her group has already begun looking at potential pieces of land in the Windsor area and have had talks with municipal planning departments and other levels of government for funding opportunities.
As both a resident of the Annapolis Valley and as the NDP candidate, I am fully supportive of this innovative approach to housing. I believe it strikes a great balance between traditional market housing and co-operative housing and holds great potential for helping to address the need for more (affordable) housing, especially among seniors.
The NDP has long been a strong advocate for alternatives to market housing. Indeed, the official policy document for the federal NDP states, "New Democrats believe in Supporting social and cooperative housing, in cooperation with all levels of government." As the MP for Kings Hants I would certainly support efforts to find funding to support cohousing in Windsor and other parts of the country.
On Saturday, April 6, the local Lion's Club hosted the Wolfville Apple Blossom Leadership Candidate tea. This year's winner is Chantal Peng the 19-year-old daughter of Jianan and Gwen Peng. An avid leader and public speaker, Chantal graduated from Horton High School in 2018 with Honors with Distinction and was the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor Education Award. Currently enrolled as a music student at Acadia University, she aspires to be a music educator or a human rights lawyer. My daughter Eve is Chantal's child attendant (and is so excited about being on a float in this year's Apple Blossom Parade!).
On Monday. April 1st I spoke on a panel sponsored by the Acadia University Student Association entitled "The State of Canadian Politics." The other speakers were the two Liberal candidate nomination contestants for Kings-Hants, a Conservative Party spokesperson, two Acadia students, and two Acadia political science professors. The panel touched on a wide spectrum of issues. This included: climate change (I critiqued the Liberal party's half measures and advocated for a more fundamental transition to a green economy), the most recent Liberal Government budget (again full of half measures that do little to address our most pressing issues, lack of affordable housing, living conditions for First Nations, & the high price of prescription drugs), the SNC Lavalin controversy (Trudeau has no one to blame but himself), student debt (I emphasized our policy advocates free tuition) and party leadership (Jagmeet will make a great PM due to his passion, progressive stances on issues, and empathy for the marginalized groups based on his own experiences). In my comments I also talked about how the NDP is the only party that is pledging to enact a national Pharmacare program in Canada.