Tim Houston’s announcement that he will run as candidate for leadership of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party was met with the sound of thundering applause on Sunday afternoon.
The Glasgow Square Theatre was packed to capacity on Sunday, with supporters showing enthusiasm for the Pictou East MLA’s vision for the future of the province.
In his address to guests and supporters, Houston said he is ready to “turn the province around,” bluntly outlining the problems he sees with the provincial government’s handling of issues like health care, referencing a shortage of doctors, and what he sees as general fiscal mismanagement.
“Nova Scotians are proud people, we shouldn’t tell our medical histories to a new doctor, over and over, every time we have a checkup,” said Houston, referencing complaints from constituents about doctor shortages and insufficient mental health supports.
“Politics are about choices, and too often, we see the wrong choices being made. We know our health care system is in crisis. It’s not the doctor’s fault. They’re working overtime to help as many patients as possible,” said Houston, who added, “Lieutenant General David Morrison once said, ‘The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.’ Well folks, I’m here to tell you today, I will not accept this standard.”
Shortly after his announcement, Houston said the response from those who showed up was “overwhelming,” noting that, “Pictou County is known for punching above its political weight. I thought people would be interested in provincial politics, and I was pretty blown away by all the support today.”
Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane, and Pictou Centre MLA Pat Dunn both personally endorsed Houston, praising him for his strong financial background. Houston is a chartered accountant and was praised for his ability to make sensible fiscal decisions, because of his financial competency.
MacFarlane said Houston “will restore Nova Scotia’s faith in the government,” and is looking to make life for people in Nova Scotia easier.
MacFarlane said that that to achieve such a feat, Houston is eager to listen to the people, “give it to them straight,” and use his ability to address complex problems. She lauded his understanding for the need for financial practicality, as well.
Dunn praised Houston’s achievements and actions in matters like the teacher’s contract disputes, the introduction of Cailey’s Law, giving support to struggling youth and the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Act.
Dunn gave Houston accolades as someone who “isn’t afraid to challenge government decisions of various departments,” asking tough questions to the government, and “demanding answers from deputy ministers and senior parliament staff,” often posing questions to the auditor general on his report.
“A leader should be assertive, and Tim can certainly be assertive. A leader should be aggressive, if necessary, and certainly Tim can be aggressive if he has to be,” said Dunn. “A leader should be able to give and take and negotiate, and Tim has demonstrated he can do this. A leader should be a good debater – once again, Tim can match anyone in the House of Assembly.”
According to a media release from Houston’s office, he plans to release his platform as leader, after touring Nova Scotia to hear constituents’ concerns, and consulting party members to reach consensus on his ideas and their own.
The announcement was one of great enthusiasm with guests punctuating each speech with loud applause, and even getting up to dance when the entertainment for the afternoon, the Pistol Packin’ Papas, bookended the announcement with the sounds of their rock ‘n roll tunes.