» Nomination Speech

This is a copy of a speech I gave at a nomination meeting to elect the candidate for the Alliance party for the riding of Kings/Hants in the 2000 Federal General Election.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen: My name is ken smith and it's likely that most of you have never heard of me, so let me take a few minutes and give you some background on me and my life to date.

I was born in Truro, nearly 51 years ago, as was my mother, father, and both of my brothers. I see myself as an ordinary Nova Scotian, who has tried over the years to fashion a decent lifestyle for both my family and myself. As we three boys were growing up, we moved every two to four years to such varied communities as Chatham, New Brunswick to San Antonio, Texas, with stops along the way in North Bay Ontario, Summerside, Prince Edward Island, and Belliol, Quebec (just outside of Montreal) We came to rest in Toronto, where I finished High School. Having been to three separate high schools in three different Provinces, all with various systems designed to lead students toward a senior matriculation, I decided to go out to work for a while before proceeding on to post secondary education. I went to work for a concrete pipe company and started as a welder, learning flat welding on steel reinforcement cages and quickly progressing to the lead hand in the welding shop. I was made quality control supervisor within 10 months and became the production foreman within 14 months.

You know, this was the only time I was ever fired from a job, and it was my own fault. I was sitting around on a Friday night with the Plant Manager, my boss, and a few of the other managers and I spoke up and told the boss, that I wanted his job next. I was just a smart mouthed kid who thought he had the world by the tail, and learned in the next two months that I was expendable.
OUCH! Message received, Lesson learned. Enough said about that.

I then took some time off and hitchhiked around Europe for about four months, on a shoestring, staying in youth hostels most places and trying to learn something of the cultures in the countries of Western Europe. I saw this at the time, and still do to this day, as a valuable facet of my education.

When I returned to Canada, I enrolled in Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, taking a three-year course in Computer Applications Technology. I still had a lot to learn and did not realize the value in getting a diploma, at the end of my three years there, thinking that if I acquired the tools to get a job, I would be able use them as a stepping stone up the ladder of corporate Canada.

Indeed, this turned out to be the case and I went to work for a medium sized Computer Time-sharing company, in the operations department, making the grand sum of seven thousand dollars a year.

I was so confident in my endeavors, that I married the love of my life, my wife and best friend Lynn, a choice that, 25 years later, I still regard as the wisest decision, I have made to date.

I spent 6 years giving everything I had to this young growing company and rose to a middle management position, where I had a team and a budget that I was responsible for. We gradually found that our quality of life wasn't what we had expected it to be at this time of our lives, and we started to contemplate making a change. In 1981 my wife and I decided to leave the city behind and move to the family farm in North Salem and take up farming in the hopes of growing some roots in a community and finding a little different pace of life. This became the second wisest move we have made to date.

The family farm has become our home for these past 19 years and we have managed to overcome the dramatic change in lifestyle, from the fast paced, rat race of the big city, to the quiet solitude that is rural Nova Scotia.

This farm has been in my father's family for over two hundred years. My Grandmother was born on this farm and my father, may he rest in peace, died on it, in 1977. He was a good man, an honest man, a man of integrity. Some one I could look up to, someone I have attempted to emulate throughout my life, whenever a critical choice had to be made, I ask myself, what would Dad have done in this situation? I still miss him every day. Fortunately we still have our mother with us, eighty years young and still driving in to Truro every week, doing our grocery shopping for us, and driving a tractor in the hay fields when we need her. She is here in the audience tonight, and I hope she finds some measure of pride in her middle son standing up for a cause he believes in.

I knew nothing of farming when we moved back to Nova Scotia and literally had to learn it from the ground up. It has been a lot of hard work and I have enjoyed it immensely. We have worked, both myself, my wife, my mother, and my older brother Bob, who introduced me tonight, as well as his family, to build a place where we could have some measure of independence, some contentment at the end of the day, as well as some pride in a farm that our forefathers had to carve out of the wilderness over two centuries ago. I think we have succeeded somewhat over the years, but as all of you in agriculture know, there is always much more to do.

Moving around while I was growing up, I never had the privilege of living in my home province. We visited at least a couple of times a year, as most of my aunts and uncles lived in Truro all their lives, and I always felt a warm feeling when we crossed the provincial border, a feeling as though I was home.

People have asked me over the years where I was from and I always responded with pride that I was born in Nova Scotia, then had to add the caveat that, I never lived there though, I just stopped long enough to be born. Now that I have spent a number of years living here, I have rediscovered the warm, kind-hearted people of my native province, and realize that indeed I am home to stay.

Well, that’s who I am in a nutshell, and now I would like to move on to the reasons why I am standing here in front of you good people tonight.

I had no aspirations to run for political office. I was content to sit on the side-lines and complain about the government of the day, thinking that one person could not make that much of a difference.

Over the last couple of months I had decided that I would get off my posterior and work for the Canadian Alliance in any small way I could to help get our message out. I had worked for Joe Clark back in the seventies in Toronto when he was able to form a minority Government, just driving people to the polls on election day, passing out leaflets, and other minor tasks as needed. I thought I would offer my assistance in any form needed, in this election, as my way of doing my part for a party I had come to believe in.

A week ago, the president of this riding association informed me that we had NO candidate for this riding for this election, I found myself thinking, that this was unacceptable. The selection committee had not found one person at that time who was willing to run for the Canadian Alliance here in Kings/Hants. When I was asked if I might not run for the Alliance I said

Well, I don’t know how good a candidate I would be. I am not known outside of the small community where I live, I have no experience in the business end of the political process, I really don’t like public speaking, I don’t feel comfortable in crowds, preferring to communicate on a one to one basis. On the other hand, I felt we really had to put up a candidate in this election, having just gone through a by-election against the leader of the Progressive Conservative party, where we took a lot of flak for not giving him a free ride, as the Liberals had. How would it look if we just stood aside in a general election, didn’t contest a seat, left vacant by a party leader who had used this riding to get himself into Parliament, and then abandoned us while he went back to Calgary to run in the general Election? I thought it would make us look like political opportunists, who took an opportunity to embarrass Joe Clark in a race we had little chance of winning, and then couldn’t muster what it takes to run a campaign in a general election where all bets where off.

I said I would put my name up as a candidate, work hard to overcome my shyness, my fear of public speaking, and do the best job I could, to increase our share of the popular vote for the Alliance in this riding. At the time I didn’t really think we had a great deal of hope as to actually winning a seat for the Alliance in this riding, but I felt it was important that we at least showed up for the fight.

Once I had slept on this decision, I realized that it wasn’t enough just to show up, I had to really make an effort, to do everything that I could to advance our cause in this struggle to achieve better government.

When Mr. Fulton decided to contend for this nomination, I welcomed an opportunity to present to you, the membership, a true choice at your nomination meeting, another voice to be heard. This, I believe is what Democracy is all about, choices, made by We, the people, as to who runs for office in the place we call home.

If I am honored, by winning this nomination tonight, to be your candidate in this General Election, I promise to give everything I have until the polls close on election night, to give us the best chance possible of obtaining a seat in Parliament for the Canadian Alliance in the riding of Kings/Hants.

If, on the other hand, you decide that Mr. Fulton is the better candidate, I promise to work just as hard to get him elected, as that is all I wanted to do when I signed on in the first place. Some people seek out opportunity, some have opportunity thrust upon them. I am grateful for this chance to speak to you tonight, to let you know who I am, where I have been, and what I hope to accomplish in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for listening. May the will of the people be expressed here tonight, and let the word go forth from this hall, We are here to stay, we have a voice, and we will be heard. Thank you again, and may the best man win.