TV producer seeks Tory nomination in Halifax Chebucto

TV producer John Wesley Chisholm is throwing his hat into the ring of provincial politics and seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination in Halifax Chebucto.

John Wesley Chisholm is the first to declare his candidacy for the party nomination

John Wesley Chisholm is seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination for Halifax Chebucto. (CBC)

John Wesley Chisholm, the head of Halifax production company Arcadia Content, is seeking the Tory nomination for the provincial riding of Halifax Chebucto.

Chisholm made the announcement in a news release on Monday night. His entry into the political fray potentially gives the Progressive Conservatives a major candidate from the TV and film business in a district heavily populated with people connected to that industry.

In an interview on Tuesday, Chisholm said it's only been in the last few years he's thought about the idea of running for office. That thinking was kicked into high gear when the Liberal government did away with the film tax credit (a move that has impacted his business) and later made changes to the seniors pharmacare program before backtracking on them.

Getting behind Baillie, Houston

Throughout that time, he said he had regular conversations with Tory Leader Jamie Baillie and the party's finance critic, Tim Houston, and in them Chisholm said he saw people he could support.

"I thought, well these guys are in a pretty good position to beard power, to speak to government, and kind of at a place with the party where they're open to new ideas, open to kind of starting again."

The decision to seek the Tory nomination isn't about the party, but rather the people involved, he said.

"I'm not even the least bit interested in political parties. I don't care about that at all; I care about people and ideas."

An encouraging sign for the Tories

While Chisholm will have to go through an open nomination process, the fact he's choosing to do so with the Tories is encouraging, said Baillie.

"John Wesley is a top-quality person. He's a great bright, young entrepreneur, a big thinker; he cares about his province. Those are exactly the kinds of people we need to get into the political process."

While Chisholm might not care about parties, they are a major component in elections. And when it comes to elections in Nova Scotia, the Halifax area hasn't been very kind to the Tories in recent memory.

'Take a fresh look'

Baillie hopes someone such as Chisholm declaring his interest could change that. The party has, at times, been dogged by the federal Conservative Party with some voters.

"Through [Chisholm's] eyes I do believe this is a chance for other people to take a fresh look at the Progressive Conservative Party and the things it wants to do," said Baillie.

Chisholm's decision to seek the nomination for Halifax Chebucto makes it a potentially interesting riding to watch in the next election.

Halifax Chebucto Liberal MLA Joachim Stroink says people in the district seem happy with the service they're getting from the provincial government. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Liberal incumbent Joachim Stroink is already nominated to reoffer. In a district heavily populated with people involved in the film industry, having someone from that community on the ballot could make things challenging for Stroink, who saw heavy protests at the time the tax credit was cancelled.

But Stroink said he's comfortable with the work he's done behind the scenes to try to get the government and industry together to talk in the wake of the changes to the tax credit, and he thinks better times are ahead.

"That was one of the major components of why we got a bump of $1.5 million add to the fund," he said.

After axing the tax credit last year, the Liberals introduced a $10-million incentive program and recently announced $1.5 million would be added to the pot.

Stroink hasn't stopped going door to door since the last election and said people generally seem happy with the government's performance and what it's doing for the district.

What about the NDP?

An added wrinkle will come when the New Democrats nominate someone.

There is speculation that someone could be the party's leader, Gary Burrill. Although Burrill hasn't decided where he'll run, his policy advisor, Howard Epstein, was the district's MLA from 1998 until his retirement in 2013.

The deadline for people to seek the Tory nomination in Halifax Chebucto is July 5.