We’ve collected over 75 hours of recorded content, from interviews with more than forty former MLAs. This fall, we’ll begin releasing a weekly audio-documentary podcast. Each week we’ll unpack one small piece of politics.

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Episode Transcript

Starting Up

Eleanor Norrie: I remember going to visit the legislature when I was in High school. It was just a room full of white suited men. I remember looking down and being in awe of it and it just never crossed my mind ‘Gee I’d like to do that someday,’ because it was just not a possibility.

Ramona Jennex: You put yourself out there, it affects your finances, it affects your personal life, it affects your family; it’s a big commitment.

Danny Graham: And it started with the presumption that you pretend always to be right in what you have to say in politics, that you take on this bravado about always being right, and the other side always being wrong.

Mark Coffin: For well over a year now, the Off Script team has been tracking down, and sitting down with former Members of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly to hold exit interviews with them.

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.

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, about their proudest moments, and their biggest regrets…

The result is this podcast, On the record, off script. Or as we call it, just “Off script” for short.

We’ve collected over 75 hours of recorded content, from interviews with more than forty former MLAs. Now, we’d like to share what we’ve learned with you. This fall, we’ll begin releasing a weekly audio-documentary podcast. Each week we’ll unpack one small piece of politics. Over the course of the next year, we’ll stitch together the private stories about public life in Nova Scotia.

We want to help raise our collective awareness about how politics works in this place. So make sure you subscribe to the podcast. We’re going to release the first full episode of Off Script in late October.

In the meantime, we’re going to use this channel to share some of the stories we’ve collected along the way. These ones are our favourites – some of them are funny, some of them are suspenseful, others are just plain interesting.

For now, here’s more of what we heard.

Mark Parent: There was a lot of phony play acting in politics. Getting up and being shocked and appalled and all that sort of stuff… Really in politics the legislature was always theatre, just play acting, no decisions were made there really.

Jeremy Akerman: The fights that took place on the floor were never carried outside of the chamber, with one exception. That was Dr. Laffin, who punched my colleague in the House and tried to strangle me in the lobby once.

We just said, “Oh you know, that’s Mike.”

Ramona Jennex: That member, raging mad, comes running around the turn and pushed me against the wall and said, “You listen to me, girly girl!”

Charlie Parker: ‘We’re the good guys and the other caucuses over yonder, they’re not the good guys.

Percy Paris: It’s designed to be confrontational. Because it’s designed that way doesn’t mean it should be.

Graham Steele: It’s corrosive. It’s like acid eating away at your soul.

Part of it has to do with the fact that so little that goes on in there matters.

Rodney Macdonald: I would say they read that in a book somewhere.

Alexa MacDonough: A lot of time and effort got spent on policy development and a lot of people said ‘Are you crazy? I mean policy’s not that important.’

George Archibald: When I was there we used to have fun. There was some alcohol involved from time to time, we’d have a drink out back in the clerk’s office.

Louise Cockram: And then go into the legislature to speak?

George Archibald: Well, you probably wouldn’t do any speaking after that.

Michele Raymond: There’s a rank of staff in the gallery with cell phones and they’re getting data and sending it down. You can see the thumbs going up in the gallery. [laughter]

Jamie Muir: OK, I should confess this – it’s probably not good as a person who was in cabinet for 10 years. I never really did understood how the house worked.

Gordon Balser: But generally speaking it’s, to be blunt, mind numbing to sit in the legislature.


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