Nova Scotia

More Tory MLAs consider run at federal office

Veteran provincial politicians Alfie MacLeod and Eddie Orrell say they’re both considering a run at federal office.

Cape Breton MLAs Alfie MacLeod and Eddie Orrell both weighing federal jump

Eddie Orrell said he'll decide after the spring sitting of the Nova Scotia Legislature whether to run for federal office. (Patrick Callaghan/CBC)

Veteran Nova Scotia politicians Alfie MacLeod and Eddie Orrell say they're both considering a run at federal office.

With a federal election later this year, all parties are lining up candidates. The Conservative Party of Canada, in particular, has turned its attention in Nova Scotia to sitting MLAs. Argyle-Barrington MLA Chris d'Entremont has already said he'll seek the nomination for West Nova.

Orrell, the MLA for Northside-Westmount since 2011, said he's been asked by the federal party to run and he's also received support from within his community. Orrell said he'd make a decision after the upcoming spring session of the Nova Scotia Legislature, which begins Feb. 28.

"I have to balance what's best for myself, my family, my constituents and both the provincial and the federal party," he said.

Tory MLA Alfie MacLeod is weighing a run at the federal seat of Cape Breton-Canso. (CBC)

Speculation around Orrell's run at Ottawa increased Wednesday when Sydney-Victoria MP Mark Eyking announced he would not reoffer in the upcoming election after sitting for 19 years as a Liberal.

While Eyking has cited securing funding for the cleanup of the Sydney tar ponds and an additional cruise ship berth in Sydney harbour as proud accomplishments, Orrell said he doesn't hear as much praise from people for Eyking's tenure.

"They said he's a nice guy, but they weren't sure what he did and how he did it. I figure if I did it, I'd have a lot to offer."

'Time for a change'

MacLeod, Orrell's caucus colleague and the MLA for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg, said he's been asked to run for the Cape Breton-Canso seat, which Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner has held since 2000.

"A lot of people are just thinking it might be time for a change, and they see me as maybe an agent of that change," said MacLeod.

"I keep reminding them I've been around a long time, too."

Cape Breton has been a difficult political area for the provincial Liberal government lately as it confronts challenges with health-care services and growing outcries from the public and health-care employees.

Meanwhile, the federal Liberals are experiencing their own problems, with high-profile allegations of interference by the Prime Minister's Office involving the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, follwed by the resignation of Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer speaks to reporters in Halifax on Thursday. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

MacLeod said it's the first time he can remember at least one level of the Liberal brand not being in a position to provide a boost to the other. In recent years, the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives struggled to make inroads because of the unpopularity of the former Conservative federal governments of Stephen Harper.

Orrell said Liberals in Nova Scotia may be about to get a taste of a similar effect.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who was in Nova Scotia Wednesday, said he's optimistic his party can regain seats in Atlantic Canada after being shut out in the last election.

Scheer said he and Nova Scotia Tory Leader Tim Houston "both support each other's efforts to replace scandal-prone Liberal governments." They'll co-operate on efforts, but Scheer said it's ultimately up to each person to decide if and for whom they would run.

Houston said it's a good reflection on the caucus's work that members are being approached to run.

"I'm proud that people are being asked to kind of step up and do more for their communities."

MORE TOP STORIES

About the Author

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca