All three major political parties in Nova Scotia say they’re running the most diverse slate of candidates in their party’s history.
When it comes to gender parity, however, the New Democrats lead the pack with 31 female candidates out of 55 or 56 per cent of the team. The incumbent Liberals are running 23 women — 41.8 per cent of their total candidates, while the Progressive Conservatives have 19 or 34 per cent.
The NDP further identify four candidates as gender diverse and a total of eight candidates who are part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. The PCs say one of their candidates is part of 2SLGBTQ+ community, and the Liberals did not provide that number.
All three parties have candidates who come from diverse backgrounds, including racialized communities.
The Liberals have highlighted five candidates of African Nova Scotian descent and one Mi’kmaw candidate, and did not provide additional numbers for candidates from other backgrounds.
The Tories have a total of six candidates from racialized communities, including three Black or African Nova Scotian candidates and one of Acadian-Métis descent.
The NDP also has six candidates from racialized communities, three of whom are African Nova Scotian and one of whom is Mi’kmaw.
That party is the only one to further identify candidates with disabilities — five of its 55.
Representation is important in politics, say three candidates from racialized communities in Halifax.
Suzy Hansen, NDP MLA hopeful for Halifax Needham says there are consequences when a political system is built and dominated by white men.
“It is not reflective of the people that it serves and the government is supposed to be for everyone,” she told Global News.
As a former elected school board trustee, Hansen said she realized that if she wanted to make decisions in her community’s best interests, she needed a seat at the table and that’s what drove her to politics.
“I’m an advocate for young people in my own community because I work with Phoenix Youth programs, and it just seemed like that was the best fit to move forward, sitting at the table where decisions are made to help those that need it the most.”
Hansen identified health-care and housing affordability — including permanent rent control — as the top priorities in her constituency.
Dentist Dr. Sura Hadad is the PC candidate for Bedford South, and said she was driven to politics because for years, she was one of the tens of thousands of Nova Scotians without a family doctor.
“I said, you know what? We’ve got to do something about it,” she said, naming health-care as her priority in this provincial election.
“We want to get people healthy. I hate to see people waiting for surgeries, I hate to see people not getting an ambulance and I hate to see the wait time in the emergency room.”
Hadad said representation and diversity matter in politics “because that’s what represents our growing community of Nova Scotia.”
“We’re all from different backgrounds, we’re all from different areas so this is a great way to represent us all.”
Ali Duale, Liberal candidate for Halifax Armdale, said he decided to run as an MLA to give back to a country that has given so much to him. He also said it was a natural extension of his current service as a firefighter, a youth advocate and community leader.
“I belong to this constituency, I’ve been serving that long,” he said. “This place not only offered me a place to refuge … it allowed me to succeed and be where I am in life.”
If elected, Duale said one of his top priorities will be securing much-needed repairs and rebuilds of local schools, in addition to more support for first responders.
Representatives from different backgrounds bring new and fresh perspectives to the Nova Scotia legislature, he added, strengthening the table at which decisions are made.
“I’m optimistic, I’m somebody who looks at the future, the horizon. We’re becoming a more diverse and inclusive province, and this is another why I make the intention to be part of that change,” he told Global News. “Whether we like it or not our environment is changing … I’m in favour of adaptation to see a better future for Nova Scotians.”
The Nova Scotia election will take place on Aug. 17. As of Fri. Aug. 13, more than 148,000 Nova Scotians had already casted their voters, as compared to 92,156 votes cast at the same point in the 2017 provincial general election.