Nova Scotia

Megan Leslie and Andy Fillmore battle to represent Halifax riding

For NDP candidate Megan Leslie, the struggle to balance work and family has hit home during the marathon election campaign of 2015.

NDP have represented Halifax since 1997 and the incumbent is trying to hold onto seat

The candidates for Halifax include, from left, Irvine Carvery (Conservative), Andy Fillmore (Liberal), Megan Leslie (New Democrat) and Thomas Trappenberg (Green). (Conservative Party, Liberal Party, NDP, Green Party)

For NDP candidate Megan Leslie, the struggle to balance work and family has hit home during the marathon election campaign of 2015.

The deputy NDP leader is facing her toughest battle yet for re-election in Halifax while tending to an ailing parent.

"There's no other way to say it other than it's been really challenging, but you have to be there for family and they come first," said Leslie.

The two-term MP has missed two debates and even a Nova Scotia campaign visit by leader Thomas Mulcair to be at the bedside of her ailing mother in Ontario.

Megan Leslie explains why she's running in the federal election on Oct. 19. 0:33

Her mother's illness has largely flown under the radar although she has tweeted about it.

"I prefer to keep my personal life personal, but I felt that I couldn't because when Tom was in town, I didn't want people to say, 'Why isn't Megan here?' and create some kind of story," she said.

Liberal says 'we will win this' 

Leslie's competition is Liberal Andy Fillmore, an urban planner who is confident voters anxious for a change in Ottawa are also ready for a change of representation in Halifax as well.

"We think we can win this. We will win this," said Fillmore.

He says the Liberal platform promise to spend $60-billion on infrastructure is what the riding needs.

"The Liberal platform is all about investment, all about creating the opportunity to reach the potential we all know that we have," said Fillmore.

Halifax Liberal Andy Fillmore describes why he is running in the federal election 0:33

Liberals have a lot of votes to make up. Halifax has been represented by the NDP since 1997, first by then-leader Alexa McDonough and since 2008 by Leslie, who worked for Dalhousie Legal Aid.

In 2011 she gathered 51 per cent of the vote and beat her nearest competitor — a Liberal candidate — by 12,000 votes.

Since then, voters in the riding have shown a willingness to vote Liberal. In the 2013 provincial election, five of the six provincial ridings within Halifax sent Liberal MLAs to Province House.

Leslie pitches platform items like a national $15-a-day daycare program, a commitment to reduce greenhouse gases and her own record as an MP. She is her party's environment critic and is trusted to represent the NDP on television.

"People do give me feedback about how they are proud of that, so my read is that people are happy and my support is holding," she said.

Conservative 'conflicted' over party's niqab position

The Conservatives have been a distant third in Halifax since 1997. The party usually polls about 18 per cent of the vote.

Irvine Carvery explains why he's running in the federal election on Oct. 19. 0:42

In 2015, they have turned to former Halifax School Board Chair Irvine Carvery, an African-Nova Scotian who served as president of the Africville Genealogy Society for 28 years.

Carvery argues the Harper government has been good for the region's largest city, pointing to the federal shipbuilding contract awarded to the Irving Shipyard and federal spending on a new Halifax library and convention centre.

"Our government is committed to the economic well-being of Halifax," he said.

While Carvery happily defends the Conservative economic record, he is "conflicted" over the party's wedge issue: a pledge to ban the niqab Muslim head dress at citizenship ceremonies and then look at banning it in the public service.

"I've given that a lot of thought and what I've come down to is five minutes out of your whole life to let the Canadian public know who you are and I don't think that's asking too much of a person to become a Canadian citizen," he said.

Carvery's less supportive of the Conservative's discussion of banning the niqab in the federal public service, saying he doesn't care about it.

"I really don't. I've gone to a counter with the Muslim lady with her face covered, [and it] hasn't affected my service. That's the most important thing when you go into these places, the service. I'm not judging the person in front of me, I'm judging the service," he said.

Greens say Elizabeth May needs help

The Green Party is running Dalhousie computer science professor Thomas Trappenberg. The party polled four per cent of the vote in 2011. He says if voters like Green party policies, it's safe to vote for him because the Conservatives have no chance of winning in Halifax.

Halifax Green candidate Thomas Trappenberg describes why people should send him to Ottawa 0:35

"We should say what we want. In this riding there is no danger to elect Harper. We need to move forward and move forward now," said Trappenberg.

Allan Bezanson is running for the Marxist-Leninist Party. In 2011, the Marxist-Leninist candidate received 142 votes, far fewer than the 252 spoiled ballots.

The riding of Halifax includes the peninsula, parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality and Sable Island. (Elections Canada)

About the Author

Paul Withers

Reporter

Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.

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