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Byelection June 19 in riding formerly held by ousted Nova Scotia Tory leader


HALIFAX — Voters in the Nova Scotia riding that was held by former Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie will go to the polls in a byelection June 19.

The announcement regarding Cumberland South was made by Premier Stephen McNeil on Thursday.

The riding became vacant after Baillie resigned as both party leader and member of the legislative assembly on Jan. 24, following an independent investigation by his party that found he acted inappropriately and breached the legislature's policy on workplace harassment.

Baillie had held the seat since first winning it in a byelection in 2010.

"As I have said we wanted to get to the byelection before summer came," said McNeil. "We made sure everyone had gone through their nominations . . . and this is the date that we chose."

Baillie won the riding in the May 2017 election capturing 51.5 per cent of the vote, while the Liberals registered just over 40 per cent support and the NDP only 5.8 per cent.

McNeil said the Liberals will run on the government's record. He said the byelection represents an opportunity for voters in the riding to "join government."

"To ensure that when issues arise across the province whether it's related to health care, education, or programs to keep young people here, their voice will be part of helping to shape those policies," he said.

That drew an immediate response from both opposition leaders who characterized McNeil's pitch to voters as "old style politics."

"I think the number of people for whom this is attractive is much smaller than it was a few years ago," said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. "I think what we need to do is look at the current issues."

Burrill said a pressing issue he hopes his party can make headway on is the shortage of nursing home beds in Cumberland County.

Interim Progressive Conservative leader Karla MacFarlane expressed disappointment with McNeil's assertion and said the Tories are ready for a fight.

MacFarlane said she doesn't believe there will be any fallout because of what occurred with Baillie.

"No one has brought it up with me in the general public when I have been there," she said.

Tory Rushton will attempt to retain the riding for the Tories, while Scott Lockhart will carry the Liberal banner and Larry Duchesne is running for the NDP.

Heading into the byelection the governing Liberals hold 27 seats in the 51 seat legislature, while the Progressive Conservatives have 16, the NDP 7, and one seat is vacant.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

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