Nova Scotia

3 Tory MLAs likely to say goodbye to provincial politics and run as MPs

The end of the spring session at Province House Friday almost certainly brings with it the last day for three Tory MLAs, all of whom have indicated interest in running in the upcoming federal election.

Chris d'Entremont, Alfie MacLeod, Eddie Orrell have all indicated plans to run in upcoming federal election

Argyle-Barrington MLA Chris d'Entremont has indicated his intention to seek the Conservative Party of Canada nomination for West Nova. (Robert Short/CBC News)

The end of the spring session at Province House Friday almost certainly brings with it the last day for three Tory MLAs, all of whom have indicated interest in running in the upcoming federal election.

Argyle-Barrington MLA Chris d'Entremont, Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg MLA Alfie MacLeod and Northside-Westmount MLA Eddie Orrell have all openly discussed the idea and earning nominations later this spring for the Conservative Party of Canada would require them to step down from their provincial posts.

d'Entremont, an MLA for almost 16 years whose time has included several cabinet posts such as Health and Community Services, said what will stand out most for him about his time is friendships he's made, being in cabinet and the work he's been able to do for constituents.

It's the latter that's motivating him to seek the West Nova nomination, said d'Entremont. A few of the things he'd still like to do, related to the fishery and infrastructure, have big federal components.

"I'd like to be able to try myself [in Ottawa] so I could actually help my constituents that way," he said.

Northside-Westmouth MLA Eddie Orrell is all but certain to seek the Conservative Party of Canada nomination for Sydney-Victoria. (Patrick Callaghan/CBC)

Orrell, likewise, sees the opening in Sydney-Victoria as a chance to do more. The MP who has represented that riding for almost 19 years, Liberal Mark Eyking, is not reoffering.

"I'm up for a challenge," said Orrell. "Just the hope that I could do more for a lot more people would be something that I'm interested in; I just hope the people of Sydney-Victoria are interested in that."

While political differences might exist at Province House, Orrell, first elected in a byelection in 2011, said he was pleased MLAs of all stripes on Cape Breton were able to work together for the people of the island.

"We've kind of had the agreement that if it's good for Cape Breton, we'd do that first and then we would deal with the political side later," said Orrell.

'I think that there's an opportunity'

MacLeod, who's done several stints at Province House dating back to 1995, has served as Speaker of the House and is perhaps best known for having one of the most booming voices in the legislature. He's previously indicated interest in running for the Cape Breton-Canso nomination and on Friday said he'd make a final decision in the coming weeks.

"What I want to do is just make sure that we can build a team, because we haven't had a team in the area for a long time," he said.

"Obviously, I think that there's an opportunity and a chance that I can and will win if I do go forward … I do think that people are talking about looking at change."

Sydney River-Mira-Louisboug MLA Alfie MacLeod has said he's weighing a run at the Conservative Party of Canada nomination for Cape Breton-Canso. (CBC)

In 2014, an infection led to MacLeod having a foot amputated. The matter became a steady source of groan-inducing jokes in the House.

Tory Leader Tim Houston wished the three members well. He said he's not surprised they'll likely make the jump because they've been good MLAs.

"I think it's an honour when you represent a constituency and you do a good job and people in that constituency ask you to do more, to step up and do more, to look at other opportunities as has happened with them," said Houston.

While MacLeod and Orrell backed someone else in last year's Tory leadership race, Houston said he believes the move has more to do with what's happening in Ottawa.

"I think what it says is that the federal Liberals are doing a terrible job and it's creating opportunities for people to step up and do a little more," he said.

'A more cordial way'

Premier Stephen McNeil, likewise, had praise for the three men, noting political lines are often left at the door over time.

"Most people just see the adversarial nature of this place, but you cross party lines often times [and] you find beyond that person someone you would enjoy spending time with, someone that you'd often go out and have a beer with," he said.

d'Entremont said of all the changes he's noted since 2003, one that hasn't been for the better has been the discourse and political attacks.

"I think we do need to get back to a more cordial way of dealing with things and, like I say, that's from all sides of the floor in the legislature," he said.

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

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