Nova Scotia

N.S. Environment Minister Gordon Wilson not reoffering in next election

The Liberal MLA for Clare-Digby said he made the decision to not reoffer last December after talking with his family.

Wilson's time as minister included Northern Pulp decision, new emissions legislation

Environment Minister Gordon Wilson will not reoffer in the next provincial election. The Clare-Digby MLA was first elected in 2013. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Nova Scotia Environment Minister Gordon Wilson will not reoffer in the next provincial election.

The Liberal MLA for Clare-Digby said he made the decision last December.

"The premier had asked most of us if we wanted to share what our plans were on re-election," he said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

"With a little bit of soul searching and discussions with my wife and family … I made the decision."

Wilson was elected as part of the Liberal wave in 2013 that saw the party return to power with a majority government led by Premier Stephen McNeil. He spent all of the government's first term and part of its second as one of the most prominent committee members for the party before being moved into cabinet.

"It's been an amazing experience of how close and how I do feel like I'm part of a family," he said. "It isn't what you typically see on TV."

When the government made moves to alter the way the public accounts committee operated, Wilson was the face of the decision for the government. In April of 2019, Wilson was named to cabinet and took over the Environment portfolio from Margaret Miller, a caucus colleague who is also not reoffering.

Weighty issues immediately greeted Wilson, including legislation the government passed last October that lays the groundwork for updated emissions reductions targets, and perhaps most notably making a decision on the environmental assessment application by Northern Pulp to build a new effluent treatment facility at its site in Pictou County.

The minister said he welcomed the challenges of the job and they were not a factor in his decision.

"I love what I'm doing. This is a rare opportunity, really," he said.

"That's been something I will always pride myself in."

But Wilson said the job of a politician means thinking about the future, and when he thought about the next five years, the 65-year-old said he simply decided it was time to spend more time with his family, especially his wife, Deidre. Wilson once joked in the legislature that his wife said she would always stand by him, unless he supported fracking.

Along with Wilson and Miller, Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank MLA Bill Horne and Premier Stephen McNeil have also announced they will not be reoffering in the next election.

Nova Scotia Liberal Party members will select a new leader on Feb. 6, 2021. Wilson said he'd be making his decision on whom to support based on a variety of factors when the candidates list is finalized, including their respective stances on and plans related to the environment.