Congratulations to Jamie Baillie on his coming coronation as the next leader of Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative Party, although it is too early to guess how much of an impact he will have on the political scene in this province.
He has the credentials to back up his bid to be the next premier. As president of Credit Union Atlantic, he has been named one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 CEOs for the past five years, and is already in the Atlantic Business Hall of Fame at the relatively young age of 44. While government should not be run like businesses, one has to trust that Baillie has the instincts to see us pointed in the right economic direction.
His political connections cannot be discounted either. Baillie was chief of staff for former premier John Hamm, and has been a loyal soldier for the Nova Scotia Tories for 25 years. He also boasts close relations with thelikes of Peter MacKay and Scott Armstrong and their respective camps in Pictou and Colchester Counties.
But the new leader’s test will be to get in touch with average Nova Scotians. Despite some feelings of disappointment with the Dexter government, there has been no indication that people in this province wish to bring the Conservatives back to power. The province’s last two byelections were won by Liberals.
Regardless of which riding Baillie decides to run in - Cumberland South would be a logical fit - his real work will begin once he reaches the legislature, where he will have a small caucus to work with, and a lack of experienced voices around the table.
Last year’s NDP victory was not a surprise from out of nowhere, but rather a general trend that had been building for more than a decade. As capable a leader as Baillie may be, his road to becoming premier will be a lot longer and rougher than he expects.