Federal Election

Leslie focuses on debt, environment, community

NDP candidate and former MP shares her priorities for the riding of Halifax

This story contains a correction

Leslie outside her campaigning office on Robie St.
Leslie outside her campaigning office on Robie St.   Ashley Corbett

Megan Leslie says her priorities for Halifax this election are centered around issues of poverty, debt, job-creation and renewable energy investment.

She has spent the time needed within the community to know the intricacies of local poverty, she said.

“I think it’s important to bring the face of poverty to the House of Commons,” she said in a phone interview. “To know what it looks like in your community and to able be to articulate that is something that’s really important to me, and also I think important to our democratic discussion.”

Leslie also identifies Nova Scotia’s post-secondary tuition fees and high student debt as causes of out-migration from the province.

“I think that tuition is far too high and I’m hearing that as a reason for why people are leaving,” she said. “Their debt is far too high and maybe they have a job that they like here but it’s not enough for them to really get a leg up and pay off their debt or buy that house and get started in life.”

She says the NDP’s private member bill, C-265, and proposal to eliminate interest from national student loans would help to alleviate this struggle.

Leslie also said Nova Scotia needs to be investing in renewable energy sources at a more rapid pace. With some federal assistance, she says, the province could create jobs in this sector and become be a “national leader.”

“I think that Atlantic Canada has a particular advantage here. We’ve got wind and waves and tides. There’s an incredible potential for the green energy sector here,” said Leslie.

In for the long-haul

The incumbent MP, Leslie has been the Member of Parliament for Halifax since she was first elected in 2008. If elected again, she will assume her third term in this riding. She has served as the NDP environment critic the past four years.

Leslie won her last election in 2011 with 51.6 per cent of the vote, according to Elections Canada.

Throughout this election, Leslie has missed two candidate debates and NDP leader Tom Mulcair’s visit to Halifax due to an illness in her family, she explained.

Leslie says she spends her days making phone calls, and evenings "knocking on doors."
Leslie currently spends her days making phone calls, and her evenings “knocking on doors,” she said.   Ashley Corbett

Campaigning basics endure

The “nuts and bolts” of her campaigning strategy have not changed much throughout her three campaigns, she said. The grassroots of going door-to-door and meeting people remains crucial.

However, Leslie commented that social media plays a much larger role today than it did during her first campaign in 2008.

“[It is] helpful for getting your message out there, and it’s helpful for communicating with people, but it’s certainly not going to win you an election.”

Community yields democracy

The most important thing Leslie has learned throughout her time as Halifax MP is that politicians need a community behind them, she explained.

“You can have a politician with the best, or craziest idea but it’s not going to go anywhere unless they have a community behind him or her,” she said.

She said government needs citizens to “back up elected officials,” in order to guide them and also pressure them with their needs and wants.

“I think that people need to take that aspect of democracy more seriously,” she said.

“Everyone’s participation in democracy doesn’t end on Oct. 20.”

Correction: Oct. 10, 2015: Corrected an error in the percentage of the total vote that Megan Leslie received.