HALIFAX. - The next leader of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party will not be from Cape Breton, as leadership candidate Cecil Clarke, mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality, was hoping for.
Tim Houston won the leadership after nearly clinching the result on the first ballot.
Shortly after that, Clarke, who was in second place, threw his support behind Houston at the leadership convention in Halifax on Saturday, giving the Pictou East MLA the points needed to become the next leader.
On the first ballot, Tim Houston received 2,496 points, just 54 shy from the amount necessary to be declared leader.
Clarke had 1,385.
Clarke said he did that to maintain party unity.
“I spoke last night about party unity and how the party comes first,” Clarke said. “No one person is bigger than the party.”
He said he didn’t want to go through subsequent ballots that could have proven divisive.
“Frankly, campaigns are what they are, someone has to win,” he said. “I did what I believed to be the right and honourable thing, as a true blue Tory, and that’s supporting Tim Houston to make this unanimous.”
Clarke said he still has a lot he wants to do as mayor, but “my number 1 priority right now is planning my honeymoon.”
When asked if he would consider running in the next provincial election, Clarke said he would evaluate that at a later date.
“This is Tim’s moment, and we’ll move forward from there,” he said.
Convention format lauded
Leigh Prescott, a new member of the party who lives in Bedford, moved to the province two years ago.
He said the leadership selection process seemed to be going pretty smoothly.
“When I moved to Nova Scotia two years ago after I retired I knew I wanted to be in the party, like I was in New Brunswick,” Prescott said.
“Personally, I think this process is going very well, I have no reason not to think that,” he said. “It seems quite smooth, it was easy to vote today.”
Prescott said he checked out all of the candidates platforms online, but ultimately decided to vote for Clarke, especially after hearing his speech on Friday, the first day of the convention.
“He’s fiscally responsible and has a real proven track record, and I think in our times we really need that experience,” he said. “I know everybody says new blood is great, but, we need an experienced leader.”