Why interview MLAs?

Exit interviews are a common practise in many workplaces when an employee leaves a job.

Employers use them to get their honest feedback about the job, and the workplace, including the things that might be uncomfortable to share if the employee had to show up to work the next day. However, in the legislature, which is arguably the most important workplace in the province, exit interviews have never taken place. That’s why in the summer of 2015 we conducted exit interviews with 35 former MLAs to get a better idea of how decisions are made at the provincial level in Nova Scotia and the highlights and challenges of serving as an MLA.

  • We asked former MLAs about what they liked, and...what they hated about their jobs
  • What they felt were good at, what they felt totally unprepared for,
  • Their proudest moments, and their biggest regrets, and
  • Suggestions for improving their workplace.

The impetus behind doing MLA exit interviews was also based on public disengagement with the legislature. The legislature is where bills are debated, scrutinized and passed, where billions of dollars of public money is approved for expenditure and where jurisdictionally appropriate community needs across Nova Scotia are represented and addressed. Yet Springtide’s 2013 Nova Scotia Youth survey showed that only 51% of youth surveyed have “a fair amount” or “a great deal” of confidence in the work of the legislature.[1] We also learned through Springtide’s Make Democracy Better project, our series of Nova Scotia-wide engagement sessions, that Nova Scotians want reform in the legislature. These proposed reforms include committee improvement, an increase in free votes (less party discipline) and seating changes in the legislature to make the debate less adversarial.[2]

 



[1] Mark Coffin & Megan McCorquodale,  “Nova Scotia Youth Poll: Report,”  Halifax: Springtide Collective, 2013

 

[2]  “Make Democracy Better: A Province-Wide Conversation on the Future of Democracy,” The Springtide Collective, http://www.makedemocracybetter.ca/results


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