Everyone gets involved in politics for their own reasons, and those reasons can be quite varied. For many though, when it comes to those reasons for getting involved they are quite passionate about them. It is those reasons or issues that drive them, and sometimes define what they do with their time in elected office.
When I’ve worked with candidates and elected people, I’ve always had a line that I’ve come back to when things are rough and the situation is tense; Is this the hill that you want to die on today? I’ve always said that to help them get some perspective back because depending on the situation, the situation they face may be worth blowing it all up over. It’s not a thing to say to try to get someone to back down per se, but it’s more of a check to see if this is the thing that they want to blow up their chances of advancing the issues they care about.
It was with that in mind on this quiet Monday that I saw a story from the Nova Scotia Legislature that screamed this to me. It left me shaking my head wondering why this happened and wondering what this MLA expected to accomplish here:
Folks, this story blows my mind for a few reasons. First off, why in God’s name would an MLA get into such a huff over the fact that she had to ensure that her constituency office was accessible to people with disabilities. All she had to do was get the bleeping driveway paved, yet for a year she fought this and even went so far as to threatened legal action and complained of being bullied. Seriously, look at this picture of the small piece of the parking lot in question:
Amazing folks, that’s all this was in the end; make sure that people needing accessibility to her constituency office could get it. While she may not like having to pay for the paving, this wasn’t an over the top request. And to me the committee that rule on this was right, because why should the Legislature of Nova Scotia be paying the rent for a constituency office that doesn’t meet the legal requirements of a constituency office? None of this should have been controversial for this MLA, yet here we are.
And this is what brings me back to the quote about choosing hills. MLA Alana Paon is just serving her first term, has barely been elected for two years now. I’m sure that she had her reasons for going into elected politics and representing her community, whatever they were. So I really have to wonder if fighting so bitterly about a bloody parking space was worth being the hill that she wanted to kneecap her political career over. Was that really worth getting yourself thrown out of your party caucus for? Better yet, what does this episode say about her judgement?
The irony here is that on Friday she was quoted by saying that she thought this situation was “absolutely ridiculous”, and you know what? She’s right about that. It is absolutely ridiculous that a grown adult, who just happens to be an MLA, would let such a matter get to point where she was removed from her caucus. There is a lot of ridiculousness going on here, and it’s coming from the MLA for Cape Breton-Richmond. The fact that she doesn’t seem to recognize that fact says a lot more about her than it does about any of us out here in the real world.
Over the years we’ve seen many people get removed from a party caucus for much more serious or better reasons than this case, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t warranted. If you go to this extent over such a reasonable request as to ensure that all of your constituents can access your office and be compliant with the law, how far will you go in a much more serious and important situation? Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston more than likely make the right call here by removing this member from his caucus, but I wouldn’t call it a win on the day when your party has to remove someone from your caucus and end up with a headline that includes the words “Driveway fight ‘final straw’”. This is a story that will leave many shaking their heads and wondering what this MLA was thinking. But when it comes to the question “Is this the hill that you want to die on today?”, that answer is obviously “no”. Or at least it’s obvious to just about everyone else except MLA Alana Paon.