Tim Houston, MLA for Pictou East, announced Sunday he is running to be the leader of Nova Scotia's PC Party.

Houston, the party's finance critic, made the announcement in front of hundreds of people in New Glasgow next to a sign with the slogan "Tim time to win."

"It's time for a change, it's time for a PC government," he told the crowd of about 400 people.

"I will be a leader who makes people the priority. I'm not here to be the voice of anger. I'm here to be the voice of opportunity. I am ready and willing to be responsible for the future of this province."

Houston 1st leadership bid

Current party leader Jamie Baillie announced earlier this month he would be stepping down from his position and leaving politics altogether. Baillie was the party leader for seven years.

Houston said Baillie encouraged him to run for leadership.

"He said do it. Jamie Baillie is a good friend of mine, I ran twice under him ... I was looking [forward] to forming a government with him. Unfortunately that didn't happen and now we have to turn the page."

The PC Party caucus said Houston is so far the only MLA to announce a bid for the leadership. It said the method of election and timeline will be under consideration in the coming weeks.

Houston announcement

Large crowd in New Glasgow ready with inflatable clappers ahead of Tim Houston's announcement. (Emma Davie/CBC)

Houston, who grew up in the Fairview neighbourhood in Halifax, is in the midst of his second consecutive term as an MLA.

During his announcement, he criticized Stephen McNeil's government's handling of the province's doctor shortage.

"In Nova Scotia right now you are more likely to get an appointment to fix your car with the same mechanic than you are to get an appointment for medical reasons with the same doctor," Houston said. "And it's not right."

'The start of something great'

Roger MacKay, the mayor of Westville, N.S., was one of the emcees the the announcement.

"Today is the start of something great in Nova Scotia," MacKay said

Brad Johns, PC MLA for Sackville-Beaverbank, said he supports Houston in the race.

"Tim has all the skills, the background and the knowledge," he said, adding Houston would be the best premier Nova Scotia has ever had.

Passion for people

Pat Dunn, PC MLA for Pictou Centre, agreed. He said Houston isn't afraid to challenge government positions.

"The timing is right for Tim," said Dunn. "He cares about this province ... It was an easy decision to throw my support behind him."

Pictou West PC MLA Karla MacFarlane said Houston started as a chartered accounted and he understands importance of money management.

"Tim's passion isn't politics. It's people. That's because he's not a politician. He's a successful father, husband, friend and business leader who wants to use his knowledge and experience to simply help others," said MacFarlane.

She said she thought about running for the leadership role herself, but decided the timing wasn't ideal.

"I want to get behind someone that I know will work as hard as I do and probably harder," she said.

Dawn Fraser, who was among the attendees at the announcement, described Houston as a genuine person worthy of being a leader.

"He cares about the people he talks to," she said. "I've never met anybody that hasn't met Tim that hasn't instantly felt a connection with Tim."

Social media savvy

Houston, in the midst of his second consecutive term as an MLA, is very active on social media and has been regularly posting videos to his Facebook page since 2014. He streamed his leadership announcement on Facebook.

Houston has also made videos speaking about his videos on provincial issues such as tax structure, the cost of the Yarmouth ferry, the amount of money spent on the Bluenose II and talking about the need for more mental health support.

With files from Emma Davie