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National Citizens Alliance leader's tactics upsetting other Cumberland-Colchester candidates

Stephen Garvey, founder of the National Citizens Alliance, is running in the upcoming federal election in the riding of Cumberland-Colchester, N.S., in the upcoming federal election. He's shown here on June 1, 2018 in Halifax.
Stephen Garvey, founder of the National Citizens Alliance, is running in the upcoming federal election in the riding of Cumberland-Colchester, in the upcoming federal election. - Eric Wynne
TRURO, N.S. —

The tactics of a candidate for Cumberland Colchester in the federal election campaign have left several of his adversaries uneasy and expressing concern.

Yet, Stephen Garvey, leader of the National Citizens Alliance remains unapologetic, if not downright defiant.

“I do not feel very safe, as the only woman in the race to have to deal with this kind of… I call it abuse,” Liberal candidate Lenore Zann said, following a candidates’ discussion Tuesday at the Colchester Food Bank.

Zann is the only female candidate of eight vying for the Cumberland-Colchester seat.

“I don’t feel safe around him,” she said of Garvey. “I was triggered today as I was triggered at the women’s prison when I was forced to sit beside him when I had already seen that he had posted things on his Facebook and his website.”

One depiction was of her in a wheelbarrow, with him dumping it over and “putting me in the trash.” She said the message was, “ ‘let’s trash Zann, let’s put Zann in the can’ or something like that.”

Conservative candidate Scott Armstrong has also had his issues with Garvey.

The NCA has a video posted to its website of a “confrontation” Garvey had with Armstrong during a barbecue the Conservative candidate attended Sunday.

“Going to be going live here. There’s a crony, trough-feeding Conservative candidate here …” Garvey is heard saying. There are also profanity-laden comments just before he approaches Armstrong with questions related to the national debt.

“He disrupts our race…” the Conservative candidate said.

Armstrong said Garvey was acting like an “aggressive” television reporter, something he does not feel is socially appropriate between opposing candidates. While it is one thing to interact during debates or to hold pubic discussions, Armstrong said, that does not appear to be Garvey’s end game.

“To interact with each other, that’s not part of the deal,” he said.

It was another incident though, that left Zann shaken and Armstrong steaming.

It occurred outside the federal Nova Institution for Women in Truro following a recent debate there.

In a video posted to the NCA Facebook page, Zann can be seen moving back and away from Garvey who confronted her in a dark parking lot.

“I don’t appreciate you trying to ambush me right now… I’m not feeling safe with you,” Zann is heard saying, as Garvey asks why she doesn’t want to have a dialogue.

“And then when I came out of the women’s prison, they kind of jumped out of the dark and shoved a phone camera in my face and started demanding ‘what do you think about human rights’?” she said Tuesday.

Zann said she was chased to her car with them yelling to her.

“I’ve been abused, I’ve been sexually assaulted. I’m a survivor, so when an angry, large male confronts me right there in public, it’s very disconcerting …”

Zann said the anxiety of that confrontation carried over to Tuesday’s event, where she said “every time he got angry, which is all the time – he’s an extremely angry person – it just made my hackles rise and I could see the audience felt the same way.”

According to Armstrong, while it was one thing for Garvey to approach him during a daylight event, how the NCA leader approached Zann was “disgraceful and totally unacceptable.”

“To come up to a female in a dark parking lot, with your camera – and he is a bigger guy – it upset me. I thought that was totally unacceptable and inappropriate.”

Asked about his tactics, Garvey was unapologetic.

“Because I want to deal with these issues, the policies, the platforms, they’re critical. It’s important we have these dialogues,” Garvey said. “We are different, we want to be different. I’m not a career politician I never want to be a career politician. I want to shake up the system. It’s not working, so you are seeing why we are different.”

Garvey, who is from Alberta, said he currently resides in New Brunswick, just outside the Cumberland-Colchester riding. He said he chose to run here, in part, because of issues he had with Zann when she posted comments on her Facebook account after he had booked an event at the Truro legion, prior to the start of the campaign. 

Zann said she made the Facebook posts because of concerns she had with NCA policies and content on its website.

“I didn’t make one phone call or send one email, all I did was let the community know he was coming, and the community basically took care of it,” Zann said. “So, he’s blaming me for that.”

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