This weekend saw the Nova Scotia PC party’s Annual General Meeting. With the rise of dangerous transphobic rhetoric and policies coming from other conservative provincial governments across the country, Wayves sent its newest, trans-est contributor to see firsthand if these policies are afoot here and if Tim Houston and company take a similar swing to the right.
Dear readers, the new girl failed at both. All official statements the Premier and his staff made stayed on their message for the weekend: Healthcare.
When it came to answering pointed questions about the state of trans/homophobia in Alberta, off the record, staff commented that “neither you nor I really have time for that” in a manner that was not dismissive but what seemed an honest focus. They were here for one thing and one thing only: to toot their own horn about all things concerning healthcare.
Apparently when conservative governments have real accomplishments to hang their hat on, they don't need to resort to divisive bigotry to score cheap political points. I saw no hint of hate on the stage or on the convention floor, or even the from ladies in the ladies' room. I got no more or less looks than any other day, nothing but polite and honest welcome.
A rousing all-English rendition of O Canada, a prayer, and, in the place where you would expect a land acknowledgement: an oath to the King of Canada, which brought out some side-eyed glances from those of us non-party faithfuls in the room.
This was followed by a grey lunch for grey people and a pep rally to celebrate the government's healthcare victories:
- smart credentialing to get newcomers in the positions that respect the knowledge they bring with them;
- modernization of both emergent care and record-keeping and systems;
- hundreds of long term care beds, some of which are going into the most traditionally underserved areas;
- a hit with the audience who were thankful for the helpful cards at each table of how to install: the new flagship health app, YourHealthNS. (Scroll down on this page.)
Health Minister Michelle Thompson jokingly refers to “working for the accountant” to describe the focus on outcomes and hard numbers that the Premier insists on - part of a glimpse inside their working dynamic that showed why they have some real wins to show off, and “don't have time” for transphobia. In our ageing province, red meat for the base is housing and healthcare, not hate.
Did I find transphobia? Superficially, no: they made it over the very low bar set by other Conservative governments by at least not saying that part out loud.