Joshua Bates has learned the ropes at all three levels of government; first with Toronto city council after he completed his master’s degree, then in Ottawa where he worked with MPs and later an advocacy group for Canadian municipalities, and finally in Halifax with the former provincial NDP government before he landed a job working with the mayor’s office.
For nearly five years, Joshua played a key role in expanding the municipal government’s mandate to go beyond traditional responsibilities and engage in innovative action to strengthen the social fabric of Halifax. Some of Joshua’s projects included a mobile food market – a transit bus that will deliver fresh, healthy and affordable food to parts of Halifax that don’t have access to grocery stores – starting in spring 2016, as well as assisting the municipal government in establishing a housing partnership.
“It’s really satisfying to be in a position where I can affect change and have a positive impact on my community,” Joshua says.
Halifax isn’t the only place where Joshua is making an impact. In 2015, he was selected as an Action Canada Fellow. As part of this national leadership development program, Joshua presented a report and policy recommendations to advance the nation’s future in 2016.
These days, Joshua is working with the Department of Justice in the provincial government’s Accessibility Directorate, where he works alongside municipalities and community groups to ensure that Nova Scotians of diverse abilities can participate fully in daily life. One of his recent projects involved working to develop the province’s first comprehensive accessibility plan for Wolfville, Nova Scotia – a development which is intended to lead the way for other municipalities in the province.
“I’ve always been interested in expanding the social mandate.”
Although it might be hard to believe, politics wasn’t a natural ‘calling’ for Joshua. “When I started at King’s, I had no idea what I wanted to do,” he says. However, reading thinkers like Machiavelli, Marx and Sartre gave Joshua an introduction to political thinking. “The Foundation Year Program (FYP) was pivotal because it exposed me to different ways of thinking and philosophizing.”
Joshua believes the liberal arts foster intellectual curiosity, useful in any career.
“I left King’s as someone who was fascinated about what was happening in the world—particularly ideas and politics. That’s what really shaped my career.”
The opportunity King’s provided to hone his writing skills has also been crucial, Joshua adds.
“The ability to write and think critically are two things King’s brought to my life that I think back to,” he says. “A liberal arts education makes you a more complete person who asks questions and knows how to analyze (information), and once you demonstrate those skills, that’s what opens up the doors.”
Updated: Aug. 2020