Nova Scotia

Major parties in Nova Scotia gear up for possible spring election

Premier Iain Rankin has roughly a year left to call a provincial election, but Elections Nova Scotia is ready for one this spring. The three major parties are gearing up for that possibility.

Elections Nova Scotia ready to ship supplies across province

Workers Curestien Balanga, left, and Harjinder Singh handle boxes in the Elections Nova Scotia warehouse in Dartmouth, N.S. (Naomi Shelton/ Elections NS)

The Elections Nova Scotia warehouse in Dartmouth is jam-packed with shipping pallets stacked high with office supplies, cardboard boxes and personal protective equipment.

All of it is ready to ship the moment Premier Iain Rankin calls the next general election.

The material will be shipped to 55 constituencies, up from 51. It's a reflection of the province's new electoral map.

The legislature ratified four new constituencies and dozens more boundary changes in the fall of 2019. The map was redrawn by an independent electoral boundaries commission earlier that spring.

Rankin will decide when the next election takes place. Unlike every other province, Nova Scotia does not have a fixed election date.

The current Liberal mandate runs out in May 2022. That means an election is almost certain to happen this year.

Boxes and other materials line the shelves and floors of the Elections Nova Scotia warehouse in Dartmouth. (Naomi Shelton/ Elections NS)

Although what's needed to run an election is ready, Nova Scotia's three main political parties are still working to get ready.

The Liberals nominated their first candidate, Ben Jessome, recently. The second candidate nominated was Deputy Premier Kelly Regan, who was nominated on Tuesday.

The party has a leg up on the others because it has the most MLAs in the legislature. That's despite eight of 26 current Liberal caucus members sitting out the next vote, including former premier Stephen McNeil and former cabinet ministers Karen Casey, Leo Glavine and Mark Furey.

Liberal Party president Joseph Khoury said the fact the party has to find new candidates in constituencies that have voted for the same Liberal candidates over and over again is not a major problem.

Joseph Khoury is president of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia. (Blaise MacMullin)

"That's always to be expected," said Khoury from his Antigonish office. "It's normal.

"Every election cycle, you have a number of MLAs who don't offer. But we have had a lot of really good quality, potential candidates come forward and we're excited about them."

Khoury said the party having a new leader is generating excitement among party members.

"The excitement about our new leader and premier has been really quite, quite, quite lovely.," he said. "People are really coming forward, actually more easily than people think."

Nova Scotia's Official Opposition is at the head of the pack when it comes to nominated candidates. The PCs have already chosen 32 people to run in the next general election. 

Cameron MacKeen is the co-chair of the Nova Scotia PC Party's campaign committee. (Kirstie MacKeen)

Cameron MacKeen, co-chair of the PC Party's election campaign committee, said he is happy with preparations so far.

"Some candidates may not want to declare until the writ is actually dropped, but we're frankly way ahead of where we were even the last couple of elections," he said.

"We feel really good and we feel really good about the diversity of our candidates, and how many new women candidates we have as well," he said.

Of the 32 candidates already chosen, 12 are women.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill is also excited at the slate of candidates who have agreed to run for his party in the next election. Of the 25 people chosen so far to represent the NDP in the next election, 20 are women or do not identify as male.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill stands in the Red Room at Province House. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

Burrill said unlike previous elections, it has been easier for the party to recruit candidates during the pandemic. He attributed that to many people re-evaluating their priorities over the past year.

"When you're asking someone to consider the possibility of offering themselves as a candidate in an election, you're asking them to consider, 'Is this the right time for me to really think about some pretty major change of direction in my life?'" he said.

"Well, those are conversations people have been having with themselves and their families a lot."

All three parties have held nomination meetings to choose candidates, either in person or virtually. Voting has taken place in person, online or by mail. 

All three parties plan to run a full slate of candidates and expect to have those people in place either just before or just after the writ is officially issued.

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