Lawyer MacKinnon joins race for N.S. Liberal leader

Halifax lawyer Kenzie MacKinnon is the third candidate to enter the race to lead Nova Scotia's third-party Liberals.

Halifax lawyer Kenzie MacKinnon is the third candidate to enter the race to lead Nova Scotia'sthird-party Liberals.

The Cape Breton native launched his campaign Friday in Halifax, saying he wants to unite Nova Scotians.

MacKinnon, 53, ran for the Liberals in three elections, but failedto win a seat inthe1984 federalrace in Cape Breton, and the 1998 and 2003 provincial elections in Halifax Chebucto.

"Running as a leader is a very different thing," he said. "I'll be speaking to my fellow party members, and that's just a different thing than appealing to the general public, who don't know me very well."

No Liberal could have won in any of those three elections, he added.

MacKinnon attacked the "mediocrity" of theProgressive Conservativegovernment, and in an apparent jab at its handling of former cabinet minister Ernie Fage's fender-bender, calledthegovernment"the gang that can't drive straight."

MacKinnon said there are divisions between rural and urban Nova Scotia, and between Cape Breton and the mainland, and his primary mission is to unite Nova Scotians.

"Job one for the government of Nova Scotia should be bringing us together, convincing us that we will all be better off if we rise above our differences and work to build a better education system, to improve our health care system, to produce better goods and services," he said.

When MacKinnon was pressed to explain how he would do that, a campaign team member tried to end questioning byreporters.

MacKinnon has the support of former premier Russell MacLellan, who introduced him Friday, and former Halifax MP Mary Clancy. None of the nine Liberal caucus members were at his campaign launch.

Leader will be chosen in April

Liberal party members will pick aleader in April, their thirdin five years.

Halifax-Clayton Park MLA Diana Whalen launched her campaign for the leadership on Thursday, becoming the only caucus member in the race.

Colchester County Mayor Mike Smith kicked offhis campaignlast week.

Annapolis MLA Stephen McNeil is also expected to announce his candidacy.