Nova Scotia

Country music star George Canyon to run for Conservatives in Nova Scotia

George Canyon has announced he's running as a Conservative candidate in the riding of Central Nova in the upcoming federal election.

Canyon added to party's roster after candidate Roger MacKay dropped out this week

Canyon has won several Juno and Canadian Country Music Association awards for his work, and currently sings the national anthem at Calgary Flames games. (Kiah Welsh)

One of Nova Scotia's best-known country music stars is walking on to the political stage.

George Canyon has announced he's running as a Conservative candidate in the riding of Central Nova in the upcoming federal election.

"I've always wanted to serve, I've had a very serving instinct in my life since I was a kid," Canyon told CBC News on Wednesday.

Canyon's name was added to the Conservative roster after the previous candidate, Roger MacKay, dropped out this week, citing "personal reasons."

Canyon, who is originally from Nova Scotia's Pictou County, said he had just landed in Calgary after performing a show in South Mountain, Ont., on Sunday when he received a phone call from the Conservative Party asking if he wanted to be its nominee.

"They said it's so tight into the election, we know how much of a heart you have to serve and this is your home," he said.

This is not the first time Canyon has shown an interest in federal politics. In 2014, he threw his hat into the ring to run for the Conservatives in Alberta's Bow River riding but withdrew due to a "health scare."

Canyon currently lives in Alberta but said he's looking around for a home to buy in the Central Nova riding. 

Canyon has announced he's running as a Conservative candidate in the riding of Central Nova in the upcoming federal election. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Canyon has won several Juno and Canadian Country Music Association awards for his work, and currently sings the national anthem at Calgary Flames games.

Canyon said he expects to be busy because, in addition to campaigning, he will be honouring his tour commitments.

"I've talked about it with the leader's office as well and they feel the same as I do, they feel it's important. A man gives his word, he gives his word," he said.

"So I'm going to fulfil those concerts and at the same time, I'll be jumping on flights and catching red eyes, driving, doing everything I can to make sure I'm meeting with the people in the riding."

Political stars

While his star is sure to add to the Conservative shine for this election, the riding is well acquainted with being a home for political stars.

Brian Mulroney ran from there to get a seat in the House of Commons after becoming leader of the Progressive Conservatives in the 1980s, and for over a decade it was home to Peter MacKay, who served as a cabinet minister in Stephen Harper's Conservative government.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May also attempted a run for the seat in 2008, but lost to MacKay.

MacKay held the riding until stepping down ahead of the 2015 election, and the seat fell into the hands of Liberals as part of a red sweep of the Atlantic provinces. Liberal Sean Fraser currently holds the seat, and is running for re-election.

But the Conservatives count Central Nova among the seats they intend to recapture this fall. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has made multiple stops in the Atlantic provinces already this summer.

Canyon said MacKay is his mentor and is "like a brother to me."

"He and I have had so many long conversations about the political world and Canada and the government and representing people and how important it is, how that's really one of the biggest things you can do to serve," he said.

The federal election takes place on Oct. 21.

With files from Canadian Press

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