‘Change is com­ing’

Hous­ton elected leader of Nova Sco­tia Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives

Annapolis Valley Register - - FRONT PAGE -

Promis­ing “change is com­ing,” Tim Hous­ton swept to vic­tory at the Nova Sco­tia Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive party con­ven­tion on Satur­day.

Hous­ton rode his per­ceived front-run­ner sta­tus to the party’s top job af­ter pri­mary chal­lenger Ce­cil Clarke con­ceded fol­low­ing the first bal­lot.

“It’s a great feel­ing,” Hous­ton said mo­ments af­ter Clarke and fel­low can­di­dates John Lohr and El­iz­a­beth Smith-McCrossin all threw their sup­port be­hind him.

“I’m ex­cited for the fu­ture of the party and I’m ex­cited for the fu­ture of the prov­ince. This party can do good things for Nova Sco­tians.”

A short time later, a tri­umphant Hous­ton, ac­com­pa­nied by his wife, Carol, and young adult chil­dren Paget and Zachary, took the stage in front of more than 500 party mem­bers at the Hal­i­fax Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre. He im­me­di­ately called for his fel­low can­di­dates, in­clud­ing Julie Chais­son, to join him. Then, he wel­comed the en­tire Tory cau­cus.

“This is the PC party,” said Hous­ton, a 48-year-old ac­coun­tant who has claimed the Pic­tou East rid­ing in each of the last two pro­vin­cial elec­tions.

“We will do more great things. We will go and sell this mes­sage to Nova Sco­tians that we are ready and that we want to earn their trust and do good things for the next 20 years. We are a party of so­lu­tion­ists, we are prob­lem­solvers … We need ev­ery one of you, we’re send­ing a mes­sage to Nova Sco­tians, we’re com­ing to see you, we’re com­ing to lis­ten to you, we’re com­ing to learn from you and we want you to know one thing - change is com­ing.”

In the one-mem­ber, one-vote sys­tem adopted by the party, each of the 11,600 card-car­ry­ing Tories in the prov­ince were el­i­gi­ble to vote in per­son or by mail-in bal­lot. How­ever, all 51 pro­vin­cial con­stituen­cies were weighted equally, each worth 100 points in the fi­nal tally. With a to­tal of 5,100 points up for grabs, the win­ning can­di­date had to amass 2,551 points.

Hous­ton scored 2,496.75 points, just 54 shy of the first-bal­lot vic­tory. Clarke, the mayor of Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and a for­mer PC pro­vin­cial cabi­net min­is­ter, placed more than 1,000 points back with 1,385.71.

“I said last (Fri­day) night unity of the party was para­mount, and I had to put my ac­tions where my words are,” Clarke said of con­ced­ing.

In the points count af­ter the first and only bal­lot, Lohr polled 692.45 points, Smith-McCrossin picked up 384.96 and Chais­son trailed with 140.13. Chais­son was au­to­mat­i­cally dropped off a po­ten­tial sec­ond bal­lot and the other can­di­dates were given a half hour to de­cide if they wanted to stay in the race.

“It was a long cam­paign and peo­ple were en­thu­si­as­tic about their sup­port­ers,” Hous­ton said. “For him (Clarke) to do that, it was a great thing for the party and I am grate­ful he did it.”

Hous­ton said later that di­vi­sions borne from the 10-month lead­er­ship cam­paign won’t ham­per the party go­ing for­ward.

“The race is over. We are cau­cus col­leagues, we are mem­bers of the PC party to­gether and we’ll just get to work,” Hous­ton said.

Af­ter the blue bal­loons had cas­caded to the con­ven­tion floor, Hous­ton spoke about knock­ing off Premier Stephen McNeil and the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment.

“Our most im­me­di­ate hur­dle is Stephen McNeil and form­ing a gov­ern­ment but we need to look past that be­cause this is a won­der­ful prov­ince,” Hous­ton said.

“We won’t stop at our first ma­jor­ity, we won’t stop at our sec­ond ma­jor­ity, we won’t stop at our third ma­jor­ity, we won’t stop un­til Nova Sco­tia is the leader and the best prov­ince in At­lantic Canada.

As the vote count­ing was con­clud­ing, the party paid trib­ute to Karla MacFar­lane, the in­terim party leader who took over from Jamie Bail­lie af­ter his forced res­ig­na­tion in Jan­uary in the wake of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour.

“We owe Karla so much,” party pres­i­dent Tara Miller said. “She has worked tire­lessly, step­ping up in chal­leng­ing times.”

MacFar­lane, the MLA for Pic­tou West, was de­scribed as hum­ble and kind and touted for her bat­tle against the fed­eral car­bon tax and stand­ing up for equal­ity.

Key­note speaker An­drew Scheer, the fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive leader, told the au­di­ence it’s an ex­cit­ing time for the pro­vin­cial party.

“You are here to find out who will be­come the next premier of Nova Sco­tia,” Scheer said.

Scheer said McNeil sat near him on his re­cent flight to Hal­i­fax and he was asked to say some­thing nice about the premier at the con­ven­tion.

“I will,” Scheer told the con­ven­tion. “Stephen McNeil was a pretty good leader of the op­po­si­tion and ev­ery­body in this room is go­ing to work hard to make sure that he gets that job again.”

RYAN TAPLIN/SALTWIRE NET­WORK

Tim Hous­ton ac­knowl­edges the crowd at the Hal­i­fax Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre af­ter he was named the new leader of the Nova Sco­tia Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

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