MacPolitics: Andy Fillmore On His Endorsement of Angela Simmonds For NS Liberal leader

Jun 12, 2022 | Free

By Andrew Macdonald

  • Topic: MacPolitics: Andy Fillmore On His Endorsement of Angela Simmonds For NS Liberal leader

Halifax third-term Liberal MP Andy Fillmore is endorsing first-term Preston MLA for leader of the NS Liberal party.

Angela Simmonds is running against career politician Zach Churchill in the race, to be decided in a month’s time.

Churchill is MLA for Yarmouth and a former McNeil-Rankin cabinet minister, while Simmonds is a trained lawyer and former small business operator.

MP Fillmore’s endorsement of contender Simmonds is a big political blockbuster move.

He took the time recently to explain his endorsement of Simmonds, saying it is part of advancing more women to get involved in elected politics.

He says his support “is extremely straight forward. In my career in government, and that also includes being a staff member at the municipal level (HRM urban planner), a staff member of a provincial Crown corporation (Development NS), and now as the Member of Parliament, and sitting on a lot of boards, a lot of committees and being involved in a lot of decision making groups, and one thing that I have learned as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, that decisions are better when there are women present.”

He adds “that is the foundation for me” on his Simmonds endorsement. “I am deeply committed to getting more women involved in decision making positions, whether that is in governments or boards or any employment situation”, adds Fillmore.

Andy Fillmore is MP for Halifax, on his third term. (Contributed).

Fillmore says society can’t just talk the talk of more women involvement in politics, folk in society must also walk the walk.

“We can’t just keep on saying, ‘Yes, we need more women’, we actually have to do something about it. You have to act, you have to take action. It’s not enough just to say we need more women”, he explains.

“So that is what I am doing” by supporting Simmonds’ campaign to replace Iain Rankin as Liberal leader

“In any meagre way that I have any levers to help increase the number of women in such positions, I am doing that with Angela. That is why I have made the decision (to support her),” Fillmore tells The Macdonald Notebook.

He adds he is attracted to her background, including studying law after she had her children – and her pioneer work as a African Nova Scotian.

“She also has a very unique Nova Scotian story. She is a mother with multiple children, she has run a business. She went back to school late in life to create a second career for herself (lawyer). She has worked incredibly hard,” says Fillmore.

Angela Simmonds is running for NS Liberal leader.

“Through all her experiences she has added it through the lens of being an African Nova Scotian, and she has experienced those things differently than as compared to people who are not African Nova Scotians – and as we all know we need to be paying more attention to that in our province to make sure people have access to services, employment, health care that, perhaps, accessible access has not always been present in Nova Scotia( to certain ethnic backgrounds) ,” adds Fillmore.

“We need people in politics who broad swathes of Nova Scotians have lived, so that can inform their decision making”, he notes.

“For me, all this lines up to make her the candidate that we need now.”

I asked Fillmore if Simmonds’ lack of political experience can be seen as a positive attribute – because she is simply not a career politician. Simmonds was elected last summer.

“I have to answer that question in the context of Angela in particular because as we know every politician is different. I had zero political experience when I came to my job as MP (first elected in 2015), but I have moved to Ottawa with Halifax being one of the most least (government) invested ridings to the most invested in ridings,” he tells me.

“I don’t think whether you have political experience is a critical prerequisite for this job. What is a prerequisite is your lived experience, the integrity you bring to it, the conviction you have to be the change in the world that you want to see – and she certainly has all those things”, adds Fillmore.

I asked Fillmore if Simmonds will win the leadership vote in July.

“Well there’s another thing I learned in this life of politics, none of us have a crystal ball, but what we all do know is that you don’t win unless you are the hardest working candidate. And right now she is focused on being the hardest working candidate and connecting with Nova Scotians”, he says.

“I think she has a great shot as anybody else.”

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