While the Green Party of Nova Scotia prepares for its official campaign launch tomorrow, nominated candidates are already busy knocking on doors.
The party put forward 32 candidates in the 2017 election, picking up more than 11,000 votes. It is still trying to recruit more standard bearers before nominations close July 28 and will be selecting new leadership sometime after Nova Scotians go to the polls Aug. 17.
Current deputy leader Jenn Kang is representing the Greens in Hants West.
Kang, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, received nearly five per cent of the popular vote as the party’s candidate in neighbouring Hants East last provincial election.
In 2020, they campaigned for mayor of Municipality of the County of Kings, finishing third out of three candidates with 1,426 votes.
“The Green Party is based on the principles of justice, respect for diversity, and non-violence,” Kang said. “(It’s) a big-tent party that doesn’t whip its elected representatives, so it gives that freedom for people to have diverse opinions and diverse backgrounds.”
Kang said they identify with the party’s more progressive wing.
“I generally find myself to the left,” they said. “It varies on issues of course, but generally that’s where I find myself.”
Kang’s priorities this election include highlighting rural issues and encouraging more people to participate in the democratic process. “My main goal is (to increase) voter participation,” they said.
The GPNS is advocating reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, proportional representation, and the elimination of poverty.
“Clearly the work hasn’t been done to eliminate it,” Kang said of the latter issue. “One of the central planks for the Green Party is a guaranteed liveable income and developing opportunities for meaningful livelihoods.”
Greens are also promoting “sustainable and more localized economies,” environmentally friendly fishery and forestry practices, and eco-tourism.
“There are so many places in Nova Scotia that are absolutely beautiful and there are ways to promote them and invite tourism that isn’t at the expense of those natural resources,” they said.
Simon Greenough is representing the Greens in Hants East this election and hoping to build on Kang’s work there in 2017.
The 26-year-old hospitality worker and lab technician grew up on a dairy farm in the district.
“A lot of my upbringing was through the 4-H program and what I learned from my family farm,” he said. “It really instilled a sense of farming as environmental stewardship.”
Speaking to the Sidebar before canvassing in Enfield, he said the campaign is going well so far.
“For the most part, people have been pretty receptive,” he said. “It’s been pretty encouraging.”
A self-described “progressive,” Greenough got involved with Greens as a volunteer during the 2019 federal election.
His first experience as a political candidate came the following year when he ran for Wolfville town council.
“It was a really interesting experience,” he said about the municipal campaign, which led to him sitting as an at-large community member on the town’s environmental sustainability committee. “People were excited to see someone younger running for council.”
While opinion polls don’t give his party much chance of winning a seat, Greenough is hopeful the Greens will make a breakthrough in Nova Scotia the way they’ve done in New Brunswick and P.E.I.
“There’s not a lot of broad appeal for Green politics in rural areas of the province, I don’t find,” he said. “That’s something I’m trying to investigate with this campaign a little bit.”
But whether he’s in rural parts of Hants East or fast-growing communities such as Enfield and Elmsdale, Greenough said he’s hearing the same concern over and over again.
“More than anything else, when people are talking about the big issues for them, it’s health care,” he said. “We need more doctors here. We need more nurses here. We’re hemorrhaging in terms of the health care system.”
Greenough said his “selling point” is that the GPNS is still relatively new and allows its legislators more independence than traditional parties do.
“There are a lot of people who are tired of the same one, two, three parties that have been running things here,” he said.
(Header image: https://www.facebook.com/NSGreens)