Chuck Porter leaves PC caucus, cites leadership as a factor

Hants West MLA Chuck Porter has left Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative caucus, citing Jamie Baillie's leadership as a factor in his decision.

N.S. PC Leader Jamie Baillie says Porter has been 'neglecting' his duties

Chuck Porter, the MLA for Hants West, says the dispute between him and PC Leader Jamie Baillie is personal. (CBC)

Hants West MLA Chuck Porter has left Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative caucus, citing Jamie Baillie's leadership as a factor in his decision. 

Porter announced Friday that he will now sit as an Independent in the legislature.

He said he had problems with Baillie's "management style."

"I don't agree with the way things have been running. I don't agree with the conversations that the leader and I have had," he said.

"In the fall sitting of the legislature," he added, "I was told to be quiet until the rest of caucus spoke and then if I wanted to share my opinion I could share it then. That's telling 15,000 voters in Hants West to be quiet."

Baillie has fired back, saying Porter has been "neglecting" his duties.

"The difference of opinion is that I expect MLAs to show up for work and do the job they're paid to do, and Mr. Porter was not doing that," Baillie said.

"I called him on that as recently as yesterday. That's why we are where we are today."

Missed meetings

The PCs say since the election last October, Porter has missed 12 caucus meetings and five public accounts committee meetings, of which he's the PC caucus representative.

Porter said the party knew he had high blood pressure and would be absent. He said another MLA attended the public accounts committee.

As far as his constituents are concerned, Porter said nothing will change in the way they are represented.

Graham Steele, a former NDP cabinet minister, said nobody in Hants West will likely notice much difference.

"The reality of today’s MLAs (other than cabinet ministers) is that they’re spending 90 per cent of their time on constituency casework," Steele wrote in an opinion piece for CBC.

Porter's defection leaves the PCs with 10 sitting MLAs. The caucus also gives up more than $40,000 a year in funding.

The Hants West seat had been among the safest in the Nova Scotia legislature, having been occupied by a member of the PC caucus since 1978.

Porter is the second PC caucus member to leave the party in recent years. In 2011, MLA Karen Casey crossed the floor and joined the Liberal Party

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