Jamie Baillie: 'I'm fully charged and ready to go'

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie says he is happy to continue to lead his new 17-member caucus, but won't commit to the job in the long term.

PC Leader needs vacation, talk with family to decide how long he'll continue in job

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie is happy to continue to lead his new 17-member caucus but won't commit to the job in the long term. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

PC Leader Jamie Baillie walked into the boardroom Wednesday at his Halifax office to hearty applause and cheers from the 16 men and women he now leads as a caucus, their first meeting as a group since the May 30 provincial election.

Although Baillie mused aloud last week about possibly stepping down, his focus was on the job ahead and leading the Progressive Conservative caucus into the next session when he spoke to reporters before his staged entrance ahead of the caucus meeting.

"Look, I'm fully charged and ready to go and I'm going to be that way for a while yet," he said.

Asked if that was a commitment to lead for four more years, Baillie deflected.

"When I said I'm going to talk to my family some time over the summer that's exactly what I intend to do," he said. "Out of respect for my wife, who's been by my side through all of this, of course I will be talking to her over the summer and if I have news I'll make sure you know."

Baillie walked into the boardroom at his office to hearty applause and cheers from the 16 men and women he now leads as a caucus. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

Caucus members new and old want him to stay on as long as he wants.

"I think he should stay," said Chris d'Entremont, PC House Leader. "He's the guy that got the seven extra seats, you know it's up to him what he does next."

'Good leader for the party'

Caucus colleague Tim Houston also praised his leader, even though the party didn't win government.

"I was hoping for a different result. I think Jamie would have been an excellent premier," he said. "If you look at where we've taken the party over the last five or six years … I think he's been a good leader for the party."

Wednesday was the first PC caucus meeting as a group since the May 30 provincial election. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

Same sentiment from Alana Paon, who defeated Liberal cabinet minister Michel Samson by just 21 votes in Cape Breton-Richmond.

"He's worked very hard on our behalf and on the province's behalf to be able to make some significant gains in the House, so I definitely feel that he has earned the right and then some to stay on as leader."

Rookie MLA Tim Halman said Baillie "has absolutely earned the right to stay on."

"If you look at the gains we made in metro, throughout Nova Scotia, he's definitely earned that right," he said.

Leadership review

Despite the endorsements from caucus members, it's the PC membership that has the final say. 

The PC constitution mandates that if the Tories do not win government, then delegates at the next annual meeting of the party are asked by secret ballot: "Do you wish to have a leadership convention?"

If more than 50 per cent vote in favour, a leadership convention is called.

Traditionally, the party holds its annual general meeting in February, which will likely give Baillie at least until next winter to decide whether he wants to stay or go. 

About the Author

Jean Laroche

Reporter

Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.