Ross Landry says he is hoping to get “rehired” as MLA for Pictou Centre. Pictured from left are Ross and his wife Dianne Landry, with Karen Ackles and Heather Hughes who are both working on his campaign. JOHN BRANNEN – THE NEWS
NEW GLASGOW – When Ross Landry moved from Ottawa back to Pictou County in 2002, he said he wasn’t looking at MoneySense magazine’s rating of the areas.
“I left Ottawa to be here despite New Glasgow being ranked the worst place to live in Canada and Ottawa the best,” said Landry, NDP candidate for Pictou Centre. “Pictou County was first in my mind and to work and be a part of this community was so exciting.”
Since then, he’s served as MLA for Pictou Centre and Justice Minister of Nova Scotia. He’s hoping to return to Halifax on Oct. 8.
Born in Trenton, Landry grew up in a family of six. His father was a steel worker at the Trenton and Maritime Steel plants while his mother was an EI agent in New Glasgow. His political aspirations were evident early on.
“I was involved with student council stuff in school,” said Landry. “I’ve always had a strong interest in reading and had a vast library on political leaders, politics and the dynamics of politics. I decided to turn my past career and knowledge into seeking office.
His past career was in policing and his education started at Trenton High School. He then attended the Atlantic Police and RCMP Academy and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology/Native Studies from the University of Manitoba, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Regina and a Bachelor of Law from the University of Ottawa.
“I remember in Grade 9, sitting and looking out the window dreaming of the day I’d become a police officer,” said Landry. “I’ve lived out west and Ontario before I came back. That experience, living in different communities and cultures, greatly enhances my ability to serve the community.”
When he moved back to Pictou County and took the role of RCMP police commander, he was eventually approached by then opposition leader Darrell Dexter.
“We had some dialogue and at a certain point I made the decision to retire from the RCMP and seek the nomination for Pictou Centre.”
According to Landry, he wanted to run because of his interest in addressing the air pollution and desire for the jail to come to Pictou County rather than Springhill.
“I’m a cyclist, runner, sports enthusiast, both the air quality affected by Trenton generating station and Northern Pulp,” he said. “I’d have a stronger voice at the table to try and work on the amount of effluent in the air.
“As a former police commander here, I thought (the jail going to Springhill) was completely wrong. It’s now in the right place,” Landry said. “The financial mismanagement that was going on by the Rodney MacDonald government needed to be addressed and I thought I could do something about it.”
In the 2009 election Landry was elected and took the seat from incumbent Pat Dunn. He believes that the race in Pictou Centre in still between the NDP and PC party.
“This election here, in this riding, is between myself, Pat Dunn and Billy Muirhead, more so just Pat and I,” said Landry. “This is tight between Pat and I, with no disrespect to the Liberal candidate.”
He said incumbency is no reason to feel safe.
“I take nothing for granted. I firmly believe that I am actually applying to be rehired and that I’m going out and asking the people for the job.”
Landry made a promise to knock on every doorstep in Pictou Centre. He said after starting in Jan. 2010 he accomplished his goal in March 2013.
“The difference between this election and the last one is that there was a protest against the Rodney MacDonald government and the mess that he and his cabinet left in this province,” he said.
While he admits there is some animosity against the current government, Landry said that four years isn’t enough to deal with the problems and issues the NDP inherited. He said he’s proud of his record, which includes DSME in Trenton.
“I believe in this campaign you have to put yourself out there. I have a Facebook page and a blog that has photos and outlines the many activities I’m involved in,” said Landry. “It’s an opportunity for the public to get a glimpse into the life of a candidate and see how hard I’m working to win their support and to be transparent.”
He said that while many people have limited interest in the political process, they have been engaging with his blog.
“In this contest I had many people say to me, forget the youth, they’re not worth engaging, they don’t vote,” Landry said. “It is an important voice, there’s an important segment for which texting is important.”
If elected, Landry said he’d like to remain as justice minister though the final decision would be Darrell Dexter’s.
“In my circles I’m starting to get a good feeling and people are realizing that if they vote, politicians have to work for them, if they don’t vote they may be disregarded,” he said. “I’m far from perfect but this is what you’re getting.”
On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn