The Grapevine on Government Special Provincial Election Questionnaire: KEITH IRVING
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: Keith Irving, Liberal 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?
Nothing replaces the candidate knocking on doors, and every day but Sunday I am out knocking on doors from 10-7:30 pm. However, there about 9,500 households in Kings South, so I have to walk fast and I won’t be able to get to every house. I post on my Facebook site and website daily to keep voters up-to-date on policy and what I have been doing on the campaign trail. We have always involved Young Liberals in elections. Our approach to student volunteers is to involve them in every aspect of the campaign so they understand all the pieces. We currently have a high school student working on the campaign and she was assigned to the Premier’s bus when he visited Kings South this past weekend.
GV: What do you think might present barriers to higher voter turnout? What is your campaign doing to overcome those barriers?
We have an active outreach strategy with voters, that involves volunteers contacting voters by phone and offering to provide policy information, or arrange a time to talk with me, or offer a ride to the polls, if that’s needed. You have to be careful in how much you contact voters, because they get phoned a lot in a campaign, and you want to be sensitive to this.
GV: What’s the most interesting question a constituent has asked you as you’ve been campaigning door to door?
There could be a few different answers to this question! One question that I have heard more than once, is “why on earth would anyone want your job?”
GV: How does your daily life differ now that the election has been called?
Well, it affects our household in a big way, because my wife Katherine manages my campaign. She gets up earlier than normal to stay on top of campaign details. I stay up late reviewing the canvassing, and figuring out what neighbourhoods to canvass the next day. Campaigns are great for losing weight, because there is little time to eat…so I’m counting on losing a few pounds in this election.
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?
Well, I think a good relationship between MLA and municipalities is critical to get results, because so many projects – roads, bridges, new facilities – involves accessing funding from the 3 levels of government. I was a Wolfville Town Councillor for 4 years prior to being MLA and I draw on this experience all the time to push issues at the Provincial level, and to ensure our municipalities access provincial funding. I think I have a positive relationship with all three of the municipal governments I work with on many different issues.
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?
Earlier this spring I convened a meeting of Valley mayors to discuss how we could thread our communities together with a cultural trail from one end of the Valley to another. The idea was first proposed by a citizen and I really liked it and there was positive interest by the mayors. I’m also happy that our Government created a fund for our local publishing industry, and that we released a 5- year Cultural Strategy for the Province. I was also really happy to see more money in the Film Tax Credit fund in our latest budget.
GV: What are you doing to support and attract young families living and working in rural Nova Scotia?
Well… families follow jobs. One of the interesting stories around the impressive growth of the wine industry in the Valley, and the other related businesses, such as distilleries, cideries, breweries and restaurants, is that these are businesses run by and large, by 20, 30 and 40 somethings. Kings County has become a destination for visitors to the province because of these attractions, and that creates spin-off opportunities for young entrepreneurs. When I hear stories about young people returning to the Province to work in the new businesses popping up here, I’m really excited about this momentum.
GV: Will you have time to attend Apple Blossom Festival events this year? What’s your favourite event?
Well I do love the parade, because my dog Fenway and I have walked in it for at least 5 years. Fenway knows exactly why she is there – to be petted by the kids. However, Fenway is now 11 and her legs are not what they used to be, so she may ride and walk this year.