If you lost your cool, would you be blamed, charged or protected?

By SANDRA HANNEBOHM

In May of 2013 — four years ago this month — then-NDP MLA Percy Paris was arrested for assaulting Keith Colwell, a Liberal opposition MLA. The question of whether Paris ‘hit’ or ‘touched’ Colwell is hardly the most important question here.

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Percy Paris and the pressures of being the only black MLA

By SANDRA HANNEBOHM

‘Here I was, the only African-Nova Scotian in the House and I’d be asking questions to the minister of African Nova Scotian affairs, who was white,’ recalls Percy Paris.

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Wayne Adams’ term in the white House took strange turns at times

By MARK COFFIN and SANDRA HANNEBOHM

“I remember being told by a former MLA, ‘When you get elected, Adams, you'll notice that all your enemies are with you.' They're not all across the House (in opposition parties).”

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If you’re not an Archibald, where’s your sense of belonging at Province House?

By SANDRA HANNEBOHM

I’m a young mixed-race woman, raised by a single, immigrant mother. Statistically, the chances of me (or her) walking into the legislature and seeing a plaque with our family name on it are pretty slim.

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The pitfalls of calling your MLA about the potholes

By LOUISE COCKRAM

In the same way that trivial calls to 911 might hinder help to people in dire emergencies, calls to MLAs that focus on micro-local constituency problems such as potholes prevent MLAs from performing their role as legislators.

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The reality of road fixing — and fixation — for MLAs

By LOUISE COCKRAM

"In the views of your constituents, that road is the most important thing in their lives. They don't care about what you're voting on — this big picture of whatever red tape about small business — that road is what they want done,” says Clarrie MacKinnon, former MLA for Pictou East.

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The MLA who paved the way for Christmas trees

By MARK COFFIN

Pam Birdsall’s story wasn’t the typical ‘vote for my party and I’ll pave your road’ kind of tale. It falls in the category of ‘best-case scenario’ for the group of businesspeople who were worried about the pothole-filled road that sat between the Christmas trees they were ready to harvest and the market that was ready to pay for them.

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In Nova Scotia, roads rule while other issues fail to get traction

By MARK COFFIN

If someone with no knowledge of Nova Scotia politics were to listen to the more than 75 hours of recorded interviews we have conducted with former MLAs, you might have to excuse them for assuming roads are the most important public policy issue facing Nova Scotia today.

 

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Political teamwork translates into speaking up privately

By MARK COFFIN with LOUISE COCKRAM

'Some of the issues you deal with are tough,' says former premier Rodney MacDonald. 'But you are part of the team and you ran as part of that team, and you have to be willing to make the tough decisions as part of the team. And, like I said, if you’re not willing to do it, then you need to step aside.'

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It’s tough to break political parties’ stranglehold on democracy

By MARK COFFIN

The reasons an MLA ends up as an independent are generally not the same as the reasons we romanticize independence. The career life expectancy of an independent MLA is low. The chances of someone getting elected without the support of a political party are even lower — virtually zero.

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