MacFarlane says her involvement in community sets her apart

Amanda Jess
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Karla MacFarlane and her PC team have been working hard campaigning in Pictou West. From left to right are Gord Barnes, David Porter, Stan Jones, James Murphy, Jennifer Sullivan, Karla MacFarlane, Win Barnes, her father Frank MacFarlane and Eddie Noel. AMANDA JESS – THE NEWS

After eight months of deliberation, Karla MacFarlane knew that running for MLA in Pictou West was exactly what she was meant to be doing.

MacFarlane had always been involved in politics, but never considered running until Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative party leader Jamie Baillie approached her.

“I said to Jamie, ‘If I sign up for this, you have to know my integrity is not negotiable.’”

Baillie asked MacFarlane to think about it during the Lobster Carnival in Pictou in 2011.

She finally committed in February 2012 after going to the PC annual general meeting in Halifax.

MacFarlane says she wanted to be sure of Baillie and the party’s policies.

There were also a lot of personal factors to consider.

One of the reasons MacFarlane took so long to decide to run is because her family is so important to her.

“I’ve been a mother who has never missed a dentist appointment, never missed a soccer game because I have been flexible. I had that advantage….

“I knew that by signing up for this, they wouldn’t get the time with me that they were used to. So I struggle with that.”

MacFarlane has two children, Chloe and Jack.

When she told them, her 11-year-old son told her to go for it while Chloe, 15, wanted to hear about how government works.

“My children knew my passion and desire and they’ve been most supportive.”

Although she is single, she says she’s not a single parent. Her ex-husband, Andrew, is her best friend and an amazing father, she says.

They divorced eight years ago and he remains only a few blocks from her home near the Pictou waterfront.

“I’m very blessed that he was in my corner. He came to my nomination with my children. I just can’t say enough how grateful I am for all of his support and encouragement.”

MacFarlane grew up in Three Brooks with her father and her stay-at-home mother.

She went to West Pictou District High School and was involved in many activities, including ringette and the Heatherbell Girls Pipe Band.

After graduating in 1987, she moved to Maine to obtain an associates’ degree in business and communications at Husson University.

She worked out of Fredericton for a year doing New Brunswick sales at an American TV and radio station.

She returned to Portland, Maine, for a few years, working at the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism and Culture.

When she was in her mid-20s, she came back to Pictou County and hasn’t left since.

She’s now in her mid-40s and has owned several businesses, including the Ship Hector Company Store that she currently runs.

Once she made the decision to enter the political race, her business went on the back burner.

Although she loved the flexibility of being self-employed, she wants a boss again.

“If I am so lucky to be elected, I know exactly my position. I have over 11 thousand bosses. I am an employee. I am their voice.”

Her happiness reaffirms that she made the right decision to run, she says.

She believes her involvement in the community and the fact that she has been here for most of her life sets her apart.

“Pictou West is my nucleus. I have a bond here and these are the people I will represent. They will always be first.”

She wants to establish better communication with her potential constituents and get the younger generation more involved in the political process.

It’s surprising to her the number of people who don’t understand what each level of government is responsible for, and she wants to fix that.

Education is high on her priority list as well.

“For me, education is the foundation for making everything else better in Nova Scotia.”

She’s finding that is the main concern people want to discuss on the doorsteps, too.

Her list doesn’t end there.

The lack of female representation in politics is something she wants to change. She says that’s another thing that made her consider running because Baillie was looking for that.

“It’s not that we bring anything better to the table, but we certainly bring something different and of equal value.”

Her ideals match with the party platform, she says.

She investigated other leaders before jumping into the blue, but Baillie’s plans sat well with her.

“He’s a numbers man and in my opinion, that’s what Nova Scotia needs right now,” she says, citing high taxes, high power rates and a bad job record as examples of changes that need to be made.

She says she’s knocked on 85 per cent of the doors in Pictou West and she’s very grateful for the welcoming reception.

She hopes to get the rest done before Oct. 8.

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda

Organizations: West Pictou District High School, Heatherbell Girls Pipe Band, Husson University Nova Scotia Department of Ship Hector Company Store

Geographic location: Pictou County, Halifax, Portland, Maine Fredericton New Brunswick Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Moral Compass
    October 03, 2013 - 09:15

    Someone is feeling a little overwhelmed at how insignificant and irrelevant the Liberal party is on a provincial level and, more acutely, at her local level. There, there Wendy ... everything will be alright.

  • Tammy Gillis
    October 03, 2013 - 06:13

    "She wants to establish better communication with her potential constituents.....". Really? Why, then, would someone who wants better communication refuse to answer a quedtion posed by one of these potential constituents, not once, but three times before she just blocked the constituent from posting any more comments or questions? If a candidate really wants to improve communications, they should likely NOT refuse to answer questions or block comments. If elected, you can be sure there will be lots of tough questions and comments constituents will expect will be answered and addressed. If you can't take a little heat BEFORE the election, what will you do if you are elected? Karla is a lovely person, and works hard in her community; this experience, though, has made me question whether she really has what it takes to go to the House of Assembly to apeak for us.

    • Judy
      October 03, 2013 - 21:15

      Having questioned Karla on many occasions regarding her party's policies, I know she is honest, dedicated, and prompt in her responses. It may not always be what I want to hear, but it is always truthful. She will be a great MLA.

    • judy
      October 03, 2013 - 22:30

      Karla has always answered my questions promptly and honestly. I admire her integrity in that she is always honest, whether it is what you want to hear or not!

  • Wendy
    October 01, 2013 - 10:16

    Supporting our nurses Since coming to power, the NDP has failed to update the Nova Scotia Nursing Strategy. A Liberal government will work with the Provincial Nursing Network to review and update the strategy and focus our existing financial resources on a plan that will retain nursing graduates as well as experienced nurses. - See more at:

  • Wendy
    October 01, 2013 - 10:07

    Now I understand why you are in third place. All I could picture while reading this article was you running through a field of daisies so happy with this fictional life you created above. Put the peace pipe down and wake up, you have an election to show up too! My favourite part of this whole story was "you were investigating all the leaders" really? I can't imagine Darrell or Stephen knocking on your door saying "pick me, pick me!" I was happy to see 2 females running in this campaign and up until today I wondered who would be the most competent of the two to support with my vote. Thank you for making it that much easier.

    • Anne
      October 02, 2013 - 12:51

      Sounds personal Wendy! Clearly not following too closely if you think Karla is in third place!!

    • d. kenny
      October 02, 2013 - 16:45

      A "field of daisies' Wendy. Perhaps you're hung up on The Sound of Music if you're comparing Karla with those fictional figures? I concur with Anne, and perhaps you had better have another look at the two females who you have the opportunity to vote for and select the one who will listen to your concerns, take positive steps to make change, and at the end of the day represent the people of Pictou West in a professional and forward thinking manner.