Monday, October 8, 2012

Candid Conersation #35 Peter Grabosky On Running For Municipal Council In Halifax Nova Scotia

Way back when I had more hair, meaning when I was younger, I met a gentleman by the name of Peter Grabosky. Pete was involved with a youth group in Greenfield Park Quebec. I decided to become a part of that group. Peter and I became good friends and have been for many years now.

Peter has been in the military for years starting out as a sailor, working in signals and then moving into logistics as a cook. Now in his current incarnation he is a buyer for DND. But, that is going to change if Pete has his way. You see Peter Grabosky has decided to jump into the fray that is politics and he is doing so at the civic level running for council in Halifax.

Pete welcome to Candid Conversations.

Peter G: Thank you Cliff for inviting me I appreciate the opportunity to chat with you. It’s been a while.

Cliff T.: Some would ask are you nuts, do really want to enter politics given the attitudes people have towards political figures. My question is based on the fact that I know you are interested in politics, you always were even at a young age. So why now, what prompted a run for HRM council?

Peter G: As you are well aware, I have been interested in the affairs of the community and I guess when I was younger I used to enjoy watching question period on T.V. and listening to the CBC current affairs shows. In high school I ran for student council for five years representing my class or grade. And, then in grade 11 I ran for School President. I did not win, I came in second but, I surely fell in love with the debate and interaction with other students working to find out the needs of the students.

I have been serving in the Canadian Forces for over 20 yrs and as a serving member I had to remain neutral. I am retiring soon I felt that this is a great opportunity to give to my community & stop debating with the television when watching Tuesday night council meetings. We often hear we need a change but, this time in HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality) there has to be a whole new vision & direction. HRM has been managed and mismanaged for 19 years. And, I believe that I can provide sound, experience and leadership to work with a new group of councilors to improve transit, provide homes for the homeless & establish a equitable fair tax system.

Cliff T.: What district are you running in and why did you choose it?

Peter G: I am running in District 11 Spryfield, Sambro, Prospect Rd. It is on the Western shore of HRM and it is the 4th largest district with 30 distinct communities. I live in the district and will represent both the district and HRM. 

Cliff T.: What would you say are the key issues that you are getting feedback on in the run up to election day in HRM?

Peter G: I am hearing about the need for road repairs, transit issues, Access-A-Bus service, speeding vehicles, fair taxation and the feeling of not being heard. Our district is suburban/rural and residents feel that their concerns have not been held to high standard vs the concerns on the Peninsula.

Cliff T.: Are there any red hot button issues that seem to be popping up as you go around speaking with voters? And, if so what do you think or more accurately speaking what would you like to see done about that red hot button issue?

Peter G: Within Dist. 11 Metro Transit is a red hot button. The Sambro Loop communities have fought a battle for public transit for many years almost losing their bus. The Prospect Communities, are not served at all by Metro Transit & we are only 20 minutes from downtown.

Cliff T.: If you could pinpoint what is missing in the political discourse in HRM, what would that be. What issue do you think needs attention that is not getting any at all and why is it important?

Peter G: Since Halifax won the Shipbuilding contract prices of housing, rents & condo prices are rising exponentially due to speculation. Low cost housing practically does not exist. I believe rent control has to be be studied and I am a proponent of mixed housing developments and as a councilor I would work with developers and other councilors to create communities that are environmentally sustainable. I would convince developers that it would be in their interest to build new developments with ample green spaces to play as in parks and introduce small variety stores, bakeries, shops in the local neighborhood so families are self sustaining without having to use their vehicles to purchase a litre of milk. Presently, cookie cutter housing developments without any amenities within 5 km are being built and this must end in my opinion. We must rely less on vehicles and more on public transit.

Cliff T.: A real big problem is low voter turnout. Many see political figures as less than honest people, some would go as far as to say many are more like mobsters. Knowing that you can not change everyone's mind how are you combating this thinking?

Peter G: In the last election in HRM slightly over 36% of the population voted in 2008. Yet, if one follows HRM politics for the past number of years I believe the voter in HRM will respond positively in this election because there is an air for a cleaning of house! Citizens have become more engaged this time around and I personally began visiting homes in mid-June knocking on doors and visiting business’s from West Dover thru Brookside, Spryfield, over to Sambro Communities.

I will say that I have heard from at least 2/3’s of the people and they tell me that this has been the first time anyone has visited their door and shared personally election literature and bothered to visit and listen. Therefore, I believe we have developed a relationship and I hope an open-ended dialogue that will continue. As it is both the responsibility of the candidate and the voter to remain in touch and engaged to seek solutions to issues and creating a trusting relationship.

Cliff T.: Having come from a big city, Montreal, do you think Halifax and the region can and will one day be a rival to cities like Montreal and Toronto and if so how?

Peter G: No. Halifax Regional Municipality is an entrance to Canada and an East Coast playground but, it will not rival the major cities like Montreal or Vancouver. There are many factors that Halifax would have to create and because of its geography major businesses would not locate to HRM. I believe there is no need to compete HRM is complimentary to the larger cities and it is O.K. to be number two as we are distinct, proud and very welcoming here on the East coast.

Cliff T.: It is tough going out and working a campaign. What or who inspires you to go on especially when you are feeling tired or have heard and said the same things over and over?

Peter G: It is the voter, the resident when I knock on the door who has questions and really is engaged with his/her community who provides me with energy and they offer vision and hope to me. I began thinking that people don’t care about their municipality or municipal politics but, I have been proven wrong. There are some that are disgruntled, or indifferent but, usually after some discussion we come to agree that municipal affairs is vital to our very existence. My wife, Anne is an inspiration and my backbone. She is my strength. Finally, the late Jack Layton is my light that drives me to pursue a positive outlook seeking compassionate, hopeful solutions to challenges, keeping a vital, open mind to all suggestions and not work against the residents but, for them in a creative, ethical and morally accountable direction.

Cliff T.: Have you been surprised by anything or anyone yet as you campaign?

Peter G: I have been pleased and humbled people I have just met or made friends with that wish to volunteer their time, experience and some financial donations. There is a misconception that people are tired of politics and politicians. That is a false assumption because people really care and want to be productive, participants in their grass-roots decision making. I am so proud to have met so many good, fully engaged artists, members of various cultural groups, business leaders, government employees, moms & dads with families full of hope who are determined to contribute and be included in this democratic process.

Cliff T.: Pete it has been interesting to hear or, shall I say read your thoughts. Thank you for taking time to do a Candid Conversation. 

Peter G:Thank you Cliff, your wisdom and experience as a journalist is evident by the questions you have presented I was honoured to have the opportunity to discuss the HRM Election and respond to some of your queries. It is only days away and we will soon see a new Mayor & Council get elected in Halifax Regional Municipality and I have been honoured to be part of creating a new vision for tomorrow.

To follow Peter Grabosky and his campaign you can visit him on Facebook at his page Peter P. Grabosky or, his main page at and Peter is running for a council seat on the HRM council in Halifax NS. He wrote to us from Halifax. The election for mayor and councilors plus the school board trustees takes place October 20th 2012. For more on the election visit,