Nova Scotia

2nd Liberal to enter N.S. leadership race wants more action on climate change

Former Nova Scotia environment minister Iain Rankin has announced his Liberal leadership bid. He is promising to lower greenhouse gas emissions faster and spend more on energy efficiency program to spur the economy.

Iain Rankin announces leadership bid, cabinet colleague Lena Diab says she will not run

Iain Rankin announced he will run for the leadership of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party at an event on Monday at the Prospect Road Community Centre. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

Cabinet minister Iain Rankin on Monday became the second candidate to launch a Nova Scotia Liberal leadership bid, drawing on his past as a former environment minister in building a platform with climate change action as a central plank.

At a campaign launch held indoors because of rain, the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect made it clear his primary focus is on the need to accelerate efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.

"The climate emergency is here and the time to act is now," Rankin said to dozens of supporters gathered at the Prospect Road Community Centre.

Rankin served as environment minister for a year before being shuffled in 2018 to lands and forestry. He has resigned from cabinet in order to enter the race to replace Stephen McNeil, who announced in August that he will step down as Nova Scotia premier once a new leader is chosen.

Speaking to reporters after a roughly 12-minute speech to friends, family and supporters, Rankin said as premier he would do more than what's already planned when it comes to climate change.

"Driving down greenhouse gas emissions faster, getting more energy efficiency programs in place, those things, as I said in my speech, can create jobs. They can elevate people out of energy poverty, but they can also make sure that we continue to be the leader in the country when it when it comes to environment," he said.

Supporters of Rankin are shown at his campaign launch. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

It looks likely the leadership race will be an all-male affair.

Nova Scotia Immigration Minister Lena Diab, who was mulling over making a leadership bid, on Monday posted a message on her Facebook page saying "it is not the right time for me to run."

"I've decided that at this moment I look forward to supporting the next leader of the party and building a more equitable, inclusive and diverse province, a province that I love. I wish everyone that is running the very best of luck," she said.

Nearly two weeks ago, Community Services Minister Kelly Regan announced she would not be seeking the leadership. Other high profile woman who are business and community leaders have also said they were not interested in the job.

Support from 3 cabinet ministers

Rainkin is only the second person to enter the race, and the nomination deadline closes on Friday. His former cabinet colleague Labi Kousoulis launched his campaign last week surrounded almost entirely by family and friends.

By comparison, Rankin has the support of three cabinet ministers and three caucus colleagues. They are Education Minister Zach Churchill, Energy Minister Derek Mombourquette, Municipal Affairs Minister Chuck Porter, and MLAs Keith Irving, Brendan Maguire and Ben Jessome

Former finance minister Diana Whalen and former community services minister Joanne Bernard are also supporting his bid, as is the MP for Kings Hants, Kody Blois.

Whalen, who never served alongside Rankin in cabinet, said the 37-year-old politician also represented generational change, something she felt was needed especially now.

"Even just as a result of COVID and the idea of redefining where our society goes, the whole country, the world," she said. "It's a time to reassess.

"I think that some of the issues, the social justice issues and climate and the environment are areas where Iain has good ideas, and I think will be able to advance this province."