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Life in the Regan household not all politics

Nov 19, 2009

 

Long before Geoff and Kelly Regan got married in December 1993, the pair knew Geoff intended to pursue a political career.


In October 1993, Geoff was elected as the Member of Parliament for Halifax West. Although defeated in the 1997 election, he was re-elected in 2000 and has held the seat for the federal Liberals ever since.
 

It took another 16 years for Kelly to take the plunge into political life after a great deal of consideration and a bit of pushing from the local provincial Liberal riding association. The former journalist is passionate about women’s issues and is a founding member of the Nova Scotia chapter of Equal Voice. That multi-partisan group is dedicated to increasing the number of woman elected in Canada.
 

This past June, Kelly Regan became the newest provincial MLA for Bedford-Birch Cove. Her Bedford household then became the base for the region’s Liberal MLA and Liberal Member of Parliament.
 

One of the first things you notice about the pair is there’s a lot of good-natured teasing and laughter between them as they relax at home. Although life can be somewhat hectic, Kelly said juggling their schedules and responsibilities hasn’t been as difficult as people might think.

 

The couple are used to chaotic schedules. When they first got engaged, Kelly was a widow with two young children. In a relatively short span of time, Geoff experienced marriage, a new house, and being a father to Kelly’s two daughters whom he adopted as soon as he was able. In addition, he embarked on his first term as a Member of Parliament. Kelly had the children and a busy career herself.
 

“We’re kind of used to not having a traditional relationship,” Kelly explained. “And although it’s a juggling act, it’s a doable juggling act.”
 

Geoff’s frequent stays in Ottawa means that the couple are used to not seeing each other most week nights, although they do speak on the phone and email each other daily.
 

With their two oldest daughters both at university, their immediate, hands-on parenting responsibilities are now geared toward their 13-year-old son Harrison. When Geoff is in Ottawa and Kelly’s spending a late night at Province House, family and friends pitch in, ensuring Harrison’s looked after and gets to his extracurricular activities.
 

“I was worried about how he’d handle it, but his marks are great, probably better than before, and he’s doing really well,” Geoff said.
 

Their son attends many events alongside his parents, and is also helping out around the house.
 

“Harrison made breakfast the other morning, which is a new skill for him, and Geoff is helping out with the laundry,” Kelly laughed. “It has been seamless.

Everybody has to pitch in in different places to make it work.”
 

Although he believes there are bound to be issues that will crop up on which the federal and provincial Liberal parties will take a different view, Geoff said it hasn’t happened yet.
 

“In theory, someone could ask us about an issue and get different answers, but we haven’t had that problem,” Geoff said.
 

“Most of the time we’re asked about different things, with me being with the Government of Canada and Kelly being on the provincial side.”
 

Kelly added that the pair occasionally hear from the same constituents, particularly if an issue  has provincial and federal components. Recently, the same family approached both politicians about their frustrations stemming from the long H1N1 vaccination line-ups. They had four children under the age of five and struggled waiting in the cold for two days before getting the shots.
 

Kelly said now that she is experiencing political life personally, she has a greater appreciation for what Geoff does.
 

“I think I had a pretty good idea what his job was, but until you actually do it, you don’t really know,” she said.
 

The large size of his federal riding means Geoff’s territory cuts into communities served by a handful of provincial MLAs.
 

Geoff joked that while he gets along well with all of the MLAs, Kelly just might be the MLA who makes him work the hardest.
 

“It isn’t the case with all the MLAs that I hear from them as soon as I get home with a ‘Honey-Do’ list, so that’s definitely a bit different,” Geoff laughed.
 

“I certainly don’t get a ‘Honey-Do’ list from Bill Estabrooks.”
 

ydentremont@hfxnews.ca

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