Cole Harbour has new boundaries — and new faces running in provincial election

·5 min read
From left to right: the Progressive Conservative candidate Darryl Johnson, NDP candidate Jerome Lagmay, and Liberal candidate Tony Ince. All are running in the Cole Harbour riding. Christoher Kinnie (not pictured) is running for the Atlantica Party.  (Mark Crosby/CBC - image credit)
From left to right: the Progressive Conservative candidate Darryl Johnson, NDP candidate Jerome Lagmay, and Liberal candidate Tony Ince. All are running in the Cole Harbour riding. Christoher Kinnie (not pictured) is running for the Atlantica Party. (Mark Crosby/CBC - image credit)

In Nova Scotia's provincial election this year, a redrawn riding map has led to a bit of confusion for some voters in the Cole Harbour area.

"I've gotten a lot of calls from residents asking for a sign to be put on their lawn, and when I find out where they live they're actually sometimes in the East Preston riding or in the Dartmouth-Cole Harbour riding," said Progressive Conservative candidate Darryl Johnson.

Cole Harbour is one of the districts which had its boundaries moved in order to create four protected seats — in this case, the seat for the historic Black community of Preston. The move cut the population of the Cole Harbour riding significantly, reducing its elector count from 17,922 to 9,889.

The incumbent is a two-term cabinet minister, and of the three major parties all the candidates are people of colour.

Darryl Johnson, Progressive Conservative

All this makes for an exciting race for Johnson, who first entered politics as a municipal candidate for councillor in the area in the fall 2020 election. He wasn't successful, but afterward he was approached with the idea of getting into provincial politics.

"What put me over the edge was the fact that the PC Party had a lot of firsts for the African Nova Scotian community," he said.

He points to events like the establishment of the Black Educators Association in 1969 and the 1987 appointment of Justice Corrine Sparks, the first Black judge in Nova Scotia. Both happened under periods of Progressive Conservative governance, and Johnson believes the present-day PCs have kept working to reach out to diverse communities.

Mark Crosby/CBC
Mark Crosby/CBC

"That's huge. And I don't think I've ever seen that in my lifetime, that there's so many folks of colour that are running for political office," he said.

Johnson has previously instructed in the criminology program at a small college and works as a community specialist for Halifax Public Libraries. He hopes to raise issues related to youth and mental health, as well as street checks and police stops.

He is not daunted by the fact that he is taking on Tony Ince, the former minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs.

"I like a challenge," he said. "If I was coaching and I was in a championship game and this is the reigning champ, it's my opportunity to try and knock that person or that team off."

Jerome Lagmay, NDP

Prior to the 2013 election, the Cole Harbour seat was held by then NDP leader and premier, Darrell Dexter. NDP candidate Jerome Lagmay hopes to bring it back to his party with an appeal to help young families and people living in poverty and food insecurity.

Lagmay ran as a candidate in the 2020 municipal election, and later agreed to run for the NDP out of a concern that many in Cole Harbour are in need.

His priorities include free childcare before and after school, in-school food programs, paid sick days, the end of ambulance fees, and same-day mental health care.

Lagmay's family immigrated from the Philippines to British Columbia in 2011 and moved four years later to Nova Scotia.

Mark Crosby/CBC
Mark Crosby/CBC

"We started in B.C. and I worked two jobs, for almost 16 hours every day, for almost two years," he said. "It was hard. It was hard to start in a new country."

He moved his family to Nova Scotia on the advice of friends, seeking a better quality of life. He and his wife now have their own BBQ sauce business.

Lagmay volunteers and cooks food for multiple food banks in Dartmouth, after sometimes accessing food banks himself in the years after coming to Canada.

"My son asked me, 'Why are you helping so many people?' I told my son that if you have extra money you give it [to others]," he said.

Lagmay and his wife have a twelve-year-old, a two-year-old, and another child coming in January. He holds a bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management, and worked in the Philippines in tourism and hospitality.

Tony Ince, Liberal

Tony Ince first became the Cole Harbour MLA by winning the seat from Darrell Dexter in 2013.

He has since held several cabinet portfolios, including minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage and minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs.

Mark Crosby/CBC
Mark Crosby/CBC

He said he's been proud of investments in the Cole Harbour High skilled trades program, and he also wants to concentrate on improvements to parks and trails in the riding like the Salt Marsh Trail.

"We all see the value of these trails now, in a mental health perspective. And mental health, I think, is going to be one of the key focuses for us as a government, but also for me moving out of this stretch of what we're dealing with," Ince said.

Ince said he feels fortunate to have been in his position for the last two terms.

"I'm proud to see, regardless of the party, all those folks in my community who've stepped forward to put their name forward. Because that was a battle that I've had since 2013: trying to get people to step up, get involved in agencies, boards, and commissions, and put their names forward."

Christopher Kinnie, Atlantica

The candidate for the Atlantica Party in Cole Harbour is Christopher Kinnie. The party's platform includes reducing or eliminating business taxes, privatizing cannabis and alcohol sales, and a binding referendum on clearcutting.

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