In a move that may have been surprising to some, longtime Cumberland South MLA Murray Scott announced this week his plans to retire from politics later this year, bringing to an end a career that had its achievements outmatched only by his popularity.
The retired police officer entered politics in 1997 when he received the Progressive Conservative nomination for Cumberland South, at a time when few could imagine anyone other than Liberal stalwart Guy Brown representing the riding. Brown retired prior to the 1998 election, and Scott was elected for the first time to the Opposition benches.
One year later, he was re-elected to the first John Hamm government, a feat he repeated in 2003, again under Rodney MacDonald in 2006, and back to Opposition in 2009. Later in his career, he was elected by whopping margins, the largest in the province.
Why was Scott so successful in politics? There’s three main reasons.
First, he put his constituents before his party. This stance may not have won him favours with party brass, and likely kept him out of cabinet during the Hamm era, but his loyalty to Cumberland South was faithfully reciprocated.
Second, he delivered the goods. Whether it was asphalt, new schools or economic development cash, Scott consistently backed up his talk.
Third, he is a genuine nice guy. No matter how busy he became with various cabinet portfolios, he somehow always managed to show up at community suppers, funerals and festivals. His trademark smile was never forced or phony.
The timing of his decision makes sense. His influence, at its height during the MacDonald era, obviously diminished with the coming of the NDP government, and the PC Party is in rebuilding mode. Launching partisan attacks from the Opposition benches is just not his style.
He has served his province and his constituents well.