Halifax farmers market exec joins race to lead Progressive Conservatives

Julie Chaisson has become the fifth person to enter the contest to lead Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative Party.

Julie Chaisson promises to bring new leadership style to party she ran for in 2017 election

Julie Chaisson says she wants to bring a new leadership style to the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives. (Submitted by Julie Chaisson)

Julie Chaisson has become the fifth person to enter the contest to lead Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative Party.

Chaisson, the executive director of the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market, said Thursday that her experience running for the party in the 2017 election convinced her to run for the leadership.

"I have 30 years of private-sector business leadership experience, most of which specialized in leading and implementing transformational change," she told CBC News in a phone interview.

She ran for the Chester-St. Margarets seat, getting 2,230 votes to come third. The highlight was going door-to-door to meet residents, she said.

"The low voter turnout was an eye-opener and a signal that people have just disengaged," she said.

If she wins the leadership contest, she intends to run wherever the next byelection is held.

Baillie left over misconduct allegations

Former PC leader Jamie Baillie left his party and his seat in Cumberland South after allegations of inappropriate behaviour, meaning that's the most likely site of the next byelection.

The other candidates are Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, Tim Houston and John Lohr, all MLAs, and Cecil Clarke, mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

Chaisson said her experience as the head of the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market has let her work with rural farmers, new farm startups, innovation in agriculture, and incubating immigrant-started businesses.

She said she leads from "the bottom-up," an approach she thinks will work in politics.

"We have to be able to live here and work here and stay here," she said.

Diverse business background 

She is eager to help small businesses grow, driving change in the provincial economy. She previously worked in the energy industry, transportation, agriculture, retail and construction.

"I have a background of going into businesses where there's some kind of a change that needs to take place, and coming alongside the people that are already there and helping them not only create a plan, but staying and implementing that plan."

Chaisson grew up at Head of St. Margarets Bay and lives in Chester Basin. She will continue working as usual at the farmers market and will use her own time for the leadership contest.