By Richard Bell
For 33 years, Larry Harrison was pastor at two churches, preaching two sermons every Sunday, one at 9:30 at one church, and another sermon at 11 at the other church.
“I had never even thought about running for office,” he said in a phone interview. “I spent 33 years trying to assist people to have a better life.”
As a minister, Harrison says he learned that he needed to be involved in all aspects of the community. He’s been Chaplain of the Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department, a member of the Brookfield Men’s Club, a member of the Brookfield Train Station Historical Society, and a member of the Elm Masonic Lodge. He also works with the palliative care team at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre.
Harrison is the president of the Middle Stewiacke bowling league, and a member of the Brookfield Golf and Country Club, although he admits his best golfing days are behind him. When I asked him what his current golf handicap was, he laughed: “It wasn’t bad a number of years ago. But now I don’t want to discuss it.”
When he finally retired, people asked him “to take my skills and put them into government.” Politics was another path for him to continue serving people.
He pointed out that there were several problems that were more pressing in rural areas, starting with health care, especially mental health care. “People are falling through the cracks in the mental health care system,” he said. “There aren’t enough people. This issue is one our party’s really going to look at.” He also mentioned the current crisis in finding affordable housing, with home prices soaring and rentals disappearing. And he wants to the province to do a better job dealing with the riding’s many gravel and 2nd class roads.
Harrison thinks that we’re not going to “go back to normal” when Covid is over. “Things are going to be very different, starting with fewer colds and flu because we’ve gotten used to washing our hands more often.”
When it comes to what the provincial government can do to help small businesses that have suffered losses from Covid, Harrison noted that Nova Scotians were already carrying a very high tax burden. “We’re already taxed to the hilt,” he said. “People can’t stand any more taxes. We’ve got to build the economic base to carry all the other problems and expenses, like health care or more roads.”
Harrison said he hoped that life after Covid would see an increase in volunteering by younger people. “My generation was very involved in community activities,” he said. “We volunteered to keep things going. The new generation is not quite there yet. My son’s generation, they’re not joiners like we were, they don’t belong to so many civic groups. But if you ask them to help with something specific, they’re generally going to do it. They just don’t commit like we used to.”
Harrison takes a dim view of the Liberal’s decision to hold an election in the dog days of August. “It’s got to be one of the first times we’ve had an election in August. They know lots of people are on holidays. And some people are going to be hesitant to come out and vote. We’ve got to encourage people to vote.”
Although he’s served as shadow minister for two ministries, Harrison says he’s not that interested in becoming a minister if the PCs win. “I really like listening to people, and being with them,” he said. “Once you’re in Cabinet, that adds another 30 hours to your week away from people. I really prefer to be on the front lines.”