Nova Scotia

Liberal candidate David MacLeod quit Central Nova run over Bill C-51 vote

David MacLeod of Antigonish says he reversed his decision to run against Justice Minister Peter MacKay in Nova Scotia's Central Nova riding after the Liberals supported the controversial Bill C-51.

'I did this for integrity, not for political reasons,' says MacLeod

David MacLeod, the former Liberal candidate in Central Nova, said he decided not to run in the federal election after the party supported Bill C-51. (Liberal Party of Canada)

The former Liberal candidate picked to take on Justice Minister Peter MacKay in Nova Scotia's Central Nova riding says he threw in the towel when the Liberals decided to support Bill C-51, the Conservatives' controversial anti-terrorism legislation.

"I did this for integrity, not for political reasons," David MacLeod said Monday.

MacLeod says he watched in disbelief as the Liberals moved closer to supporting Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives on the controversial security bill.

"I kept waiting for a political sleight of hand, a political manoeuvre. That didn't materialize and instead, they voted for the bill. That really surprised me," he said.

MacLeod calls Bill C-51 "offensive."

"I served in the Canadian military for 27 years. My grandfather served as well, he served to hold back tyranny. More often or not, I usually faced oppressive political systems and I did that in the name of Canadian democracy," he said.

"But when I come home now, I find that C-51 is going to really affect our Charter of Rights and Freedoms or in some cases, negate the Charter and I find that very offensive."

Giant slayer

MacLeod was nominated the federal Liberal candidate for the riding of Central Nova last fall, as the giant slayer who would take on MacKay.

Both men have since decided not to run in the next federal election. MacLeod notified his party on May 27 and MacKay announced he would not be re-offering on May 29.

MacLeod, who served in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo, admits he is disillusioned by the Liberals' decision to vote for the bill.

"There was no indication, no one told me anything," he said.

"You have to understand I was the very, very low man on the totem pole. There was blind hope on my behalf, which is not obviously a good way to live."

MacLeod said the bill has more potential to cause damage to democratic freedoms of Canadians than the previous War Measures Act.

"A lot of the definitions are extremely broad. One of my favourite ones is the economic stability — something that adversely affects the economic stability," he said.

"I mean, the weather affects economic stability — what are you going to do, charge the weather?"

Strategic timing

MacLeod said he believes the Liberals chose to release information on his departure on as candidate on May 29, the same day as MacKay's announcement, for strategic reasons.

"I didn't give them a complete reason. I just said personal circumstances had arisen. I was withdrawing from the race. That was on the 27th of May. Then they asked me to reconsider on the day that Peter MacKay resigned. I said, 'Thank you but no,'" he said.

"I was speaking to Kristen Hines of the Liberal Party, and she was the one who asked me to reconsider. Kind of odd, don't you think. I think the party saw it as an opportunity to use Peter MacKay's retirement to bury the story that I was leaving. It makes sense, Peter MacKay was quite a newsmaker that day."

MacLeod is not tempted to jump to any other party.

"The Liberal Party is a fine party. Many of the policies, programs and ideas and value I fully support, but C-51 just struck me the wrong way," he said.

"There is going to be a candidate running here in Central Nova, I don't want to steal the limelight."

He said he does not know who will  be running as the Liberal candidate in that riding.

The Liberal Party of Canada told CBC News on Monday that they respect MacLeod's decision and thank him for serving the country.

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