The Grapevine on Government Special Provincial Election Questionnaire: STEPHEN SCHNEIDER
By Emily Leeson & Emily Kathan
We asked a series of questions to all the candidates from Hants West, Kings North, Kings South, Kings West, and Annapolis. We’ve printed a selection of these questions and answers in The Grapevine. Leading up to the election on May 30, we’ll be sharing online the entire questionnaire as completed by each candidate who took the time to do so.
The answers below were provided by: Stephen Schneider, the NDP Candidate for Kings South
GV (The Grapevine): What strategies are being used by your campaign to engage potential voters, particularly in demographics with typically low voter turnout? Do you have specific strategies for engaging with youth?
Stephen Schneider: I have made it a priority of mine to canvass areas of the riding where there are high levels of poverty and disadvantage. People there are particularly happy to hear about the NDP’s policy of a $15/hour minimum wage, which will benefit thousands of those who work but still live below the poverty line. For youth and other politically marginalized groups, you have to meet them where they’re at — whether that’s at home, at community events, or increasingly through social media.
GV: What do you think might present barriers to higher voter turnout? What is your campaign doing to overcome those barriers?
Stephen Schneider: Many voters are turned off by the partisan nature of our current political climate. I am a passionate member of the NDP; however, I am willing to work with any political party to alleviate one of the most pressing issues of our riding: childhood poverty. This message has really resonated with people and many have said they will vote for me because of my bipartisan approach to solving difficult social problems.
GV: What’s the most interesting question a constituent has asked you as you’ve been campaigning door to door?
Stephen Schneider: The most interesting and common question I hear is: what will an NDP government do about collective bargaining with teachers, given this basic right was taken away by the McNeil government? Our platform is quite clear on this: overturn Bill 75 and restore fair collective bargaining with teachers and other public sector unions.
GV: How does your daily life differ now that the election has been called?
Stephen Schneider: I don’t spend much time right now at my regular job as a professor and have had to put aside much of my community volunteer work. My duties as a candidate begin around 8 a.m. and go as late as midnight many nights. Fortunately, I still have time to make my daughter her breakfast and school lunch in the morning and read to her at night.
GV: Describe the way you see the relationship between MLAs and the municipal units within their electoral districts. How would you work with towns and counties to further mutual interests?
Stephen Schneider: We will never realize the NDP’s vision of a thriving, inclusive society without strong municipal governments. As the local MLA, I pledge to work with Kings County, Wolfville, and Berwick councils, and the nearby municipalities, to address the challenges and opportunities facing our communities.
GV: The Valley has a vibrant and growing creative economy. What policies and strategies do you propose to support and expand the arts community at the provincial level?
Stephen Schneider: We are so blessed to have an amazing creative economy in Kings South, which truly enhances our quality of life. Any policies and strategies to best support and grow it should begin by seeking input from those working in the arts community (the artists, actors, musicians, writers, poets, directors, etc.). With that said, an NDP government will reinstate the Film Tax credit and provide funding and other support for the creative arts community.
GV: What are you doing to support and attract young families living and working in rural Nova Scotia?
Stephen Schneider: Young people won’t stay here without good opportunities for work and education. The NDP will eliminate tuition fees at the Nova Scotia Community College. We will also introduce a $15/hour minimum wage, which will largely benefit the wage-earners of young families in rural Nova Scotia.
GV: Will you have time to attend Apple Blossom Festival events this year? What’s your favourite event?
Stephen Schneider: I will be attending the festival with my family and my NDP supporters. My favourite event is the children’s parade, especially when my daughter takes part.