By Richard Bell
Lots of politicians will tell you that they’re “fighters,” but Janet Moulton isn’t kidding. She really was a fighter back in the 1970s, when she studied judo for 8 years and traveled to bouts around the country.
“I had so much confidence from my experiences with judo, of doing the competition, of fighting in public,” Moulton said in a phone interview.
Moulton was born on the outskirts of St. Johns, Newfoundland. She got a strong sense of rural life from visiting her grandfather’s nearby farm. “He lived just down the road from us,” she said. “He sustained himself delivering food to the city. And he used horses for all of his farm work.”
Moulton graduated from university with a science degree in physics and math. But she also got to work doing some computer programming with a state-of-the-art company, an experience that turned her into a full-time programmer. After a stint at another company, Maritime Life, with state-of-the-art computer equipment, she became a trainer of programmers. She ended up working as a teacher at Nova Scotia Community College for many years, until she retired in 2015. She and her late husband raised three kids in Elderbank, where they also owned two large, wooded lots.
Moulton learned about the problems her neighbors were having with food security as a volunteer delivering meals to people in need. “I didn’t know how serious just getting enough to eat was for so many people in the community. I’m concerned about the farmers who are surviving here. Young people have trouble starting a farm, it’s costly. If we want young people to get into farming, we need to support them. There used to be an interest-free forgiving loan for buying all the expensive equipment new farmers need. We should bring that program back.”
Moulton currently serves on the board of the Bicentennial Theatre in Middle Musquodoboit.
“I love the theatre,” Moulton said, “and I promised myself that when I retired, I would join the board, and I did.” She’s produced several events there, of which her favorite was a Canada Day celebration in which the band played using solar power from the Deanery Project’s portable solar panels parked outside the building.
Moulton got involved in politics for the first time when a family friend, Gary Burrill, now the leader of the Nova Scotia NDP, asked her to help out with his campaign. When the 2017 election rolled around, Burrill had left the district. “When they called the election, I was frustrated with a lot of things in our rural area, especially poor Internet service. My husband had passed away, and my life had changed a lot since he passed. And the arrival of my four grandchildren got me thinking of their lives, and what they were going to inherit from us. So I decided to run.”
Moulton found she loved campaigning, especially going door-to-door and talking with people.
“I’ve always been a people-person. I was a little nervous at first knocking on peoples’ doors, but during the whole campaign, I only had two really negative experiences.” When I asked her if she still had her campaign signs, she laughed: “They’re all down in my basement right now—but we are also printing some new ones.”
Another critical rural concern is the decline in the local hospital’s availability. “It’s really hitting me hard that people can’t get services. When my husband was sick, he could go to the hospital anytime. Now we don’t have access to that. The emergency room at the local hospital here is closed every weekend. We don’t have enough doctors.”
The pandemic also drove home the problems rural Nova Scotians have had with getting high-speed, reliable Internet service. “Children in rural areas were really disadvantaged.”