Nova Scotia

Zach Churchill launches Nova Scotia Liberal leadership bid in Halifax

Yarmouth MLA Zach Churchill has officially launched his candidacy for the leadership of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party. The 37-year-old former cabinet minister enters the race two weeks after rookie MLA Angela Simmonds.

Yarmouth MLA says party should learn from mistakes following election defeat, not 'wallow and point fingers'

Zach Churchill announced he will run for leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party on Tuesday in Halifax. (Mark Crosby/CBC)

Yarmouth MLA Zach Churchill officially launched his campaign for the Nova Scotia Liberal Party leadership to a roomful of supporters in a Halifax church hall Tuesday.

"I'm really energized about the rebuilding part of this leadership race, working with our grassroots people in every single riding across the province to sign new people up and bring new ideas to the party," he told current and former MLAs, longtime party members, family and friends.

During a brief speech in the hall at Saint Antonios Antiochian Orthodox Church, Churchill told supporters that Liberal Party members had a choice following last summer's disastrous provincial election results.

"We can wallow and point fingers at each other and assign blame, or we can wrap our arms around each other recognize what we did wrong, recognize the mistakes, learn from them and do better next time," he said.

Taking a run now

Churchill, 37, didn't seek the job when it came open after Stephen McNeil announced in 2020 he would be stepping down as leader and premier. Iain Rankin won that leadership a year ago, but his party lost power in the election and he announced earlier this year he would resign.

Churchill said he was ready to set up now for a leadership run for a few reasons. He said he and his wife, Katie, have a plan to "keep us to keep us together as much as possible," and noted he no longer has the duties of education minister, a portfolio he held for nearly five years.

"Well, I feel like we're coming out of the lockdown situation, so I'm not worried about being separated from my family for months at a time, although there's family sacrifices that come with this for sure," he said.

Churchill was first elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly in a byelection in 2010. He was re-elected in 2013, 2017 and 2021.

He has served in ministerial roles in education, health, natural resources, communications and municipal affairs.

Rankin announced on Jan. 5 that he would step down as Liberal leader once a new leader is selected. He will remain as the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect and intends to run in the next provincial election.

Preston MLA Angela Simmonds is the only other person to declare an intention to run for the leadership of the party.

The party has set a March 21 deadline to enter the race. A new leader will be chosen at a convention on July 9.