© SUEANN MUSICK – THE NEWS
Pictou East Progressive Conservative candidate Tim Houston gets ready to leave his Blue Acres constituency office with his team, from the left, Carol Houston, Clary MacDonald, Allan Keefe, Albert Marshall and Morris Campbell.
Editor’s note: Over the coming weeks, during Nova Scotia’ election, The News will be profile each of the local candidates. The first riding is Pictou East.
NEW GLASGOW – Tim Houston probably never thought that by taking his kids to hockey practice or horseback riding lessons that it would propel him into a life of provincial politics.
But it did.
In fact, looking back, one realizes they are perfect venues to bend the ear of a fellow parent with sympathetic tendencies who is waiting out an hour for the lessons to end.
The Sinclairs Island resident says he took it all in and decided to get his own questions answered.
“I never had a big interest in politics. It was only when I came back here and started getting around horse barns and rinks and stuff like that, that I realized that people were frustrated, people were disenfranchised and giving up hope. Not only on politics, but on their personal circumstances. So just by talking to people, I wanted to know why that was. I didn’t accept it had to be that way.”
Instead of just listening, he decided to take it one step further by throwing his hat into the ring as the Progressive Conservative candidate for Pictou East.
“That’s when I talked to my wife Carol and friends of ours and said that it doesn’t have to be like that,” he said. “I believe that it can be different. I am in a position where I can be different. I have some time and I am financially flexible. I can put myself forward and make a difference, so I should try.”
Born in Halifax, 42-year-old Houston lived in various parts of the globe during his adolescent and teen years since his father was in the military. His family eventually settled in Halifax again where he went to St. Mary’s University and later pursued his goal to be a chartered account.
But all roads led to Pictou County after he married his wife Carol in 1995. Although the couple lived and worked in Bermuda for a number of years, the county became one of their favourite places to visit.
Carol’s family’s cottage is here so their trips home were memorable enough for them to consider making it their permanent residence.
“Her grandparents were from the Scotsburn area so her father always came here for the summers and her parents eventually retired here,” he said. “We were coming here on vacation and developed an affection for the area so we decided to stay.”
They moved back to Nova Scotia in 2005 and came to the county two years later. Between 2007 and 2009, Houston said he took some time to be with his two children and make sure they were settling well before he started to think about his own needs.
In 2009, he met local businessman Jim Fitt who had just purchased back a company he previously owned, Velsoft, and the two men decided to work together.
Since Velsoft is now a prominent business, selling training material globally with a staff of about 20 people, Houston says he has time to concentrate on his new goal – being the voice for Pictou East in the provincial government.
He said it was the Progressive Conservative Party’s leader, Jamie Baillie and his positive outlook, that finally convinced him to give politics a try.
“When I started looking, Jamie Baillie was on his leadership tour and I had a couple of calls from CA friends and they said Jamie Baillie is coming to Pictou County and you should go see him,” he said. “It was a night at Crofters. He did a little talk and I liked what he said. I respected the fact that he had a successful career that he was willing to step away from it and do public service.”
Houston, who doesn’t seem to mince words when it comes to expressing his own opinions, told Baillie he thought he was crazy for leaving a good job for a life in politics.
“At that time, I told him, ‘I just don’t get it. I don’t get why you step away from business and go into politics.’ He said, ‘being a politician is a dirty word and I am going to change that.’ I thought to myself good luck and now two years later people are saying that to me.”
Now, as Houston prepares for another day of door knocking and handshaking from campaign headquarters in Blue Acres, his philosophy is simple. No doorstep is off limits.
“I try to get to every door. I don’t pass a door. I go into them all because they deserve to know who their candidate is and you can’t represent people if you don’t talk to them and understand what they are worried about,” he said.
He said the entire experience, from his November 2012 nomination to the start of the campaign, has opened his eyes to how people are living in Pictou East.
“I see despair. People are struggling. When you go through parts of this riding and see the economic situations and the living situations of people, its pretty humbling and they don’t believe they can have an opportunity to get out of that.”