Things seemed on the up-and-up for Cumberland South’s MLA Jamie Baillie in 2017.
The leader of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives quickly secured his seat for the third time in the May 2017 general election and his party gained seats once again in the legislature. Not enough to make government but, still, gains made at the expense of the ruling Liberals.
Then, with two months left in the year, Baillie announced he is stepping down as leader of the party this coming March while staying on as the representative for Cumberland South.
Looking back at 2017, Baillie says the year highlighted the needs of the riding, the province and his family.
“My proudest moment was being elected in Cumberland South for the third time,” Baillie said. “I will always be proud of that.”
Baillie says he gave the party lots of notice about his decision to step down as leader to make sure the gains made didn’t come to a sudden halt. The role of leader is no easy task, and relieving himself of the responsibility will allow him to focus more on the riding and return time back to his family.
“The number one reason was family,” Baillie said. “I’ve asked a lot from my family for two full-terms. I’m not prepared to put them through another four years as leader.”
That’s not to say the role is thankless and without rewards. Baillie is drawing his tenure as leader to a close on a lot of high notes, he says.
“I’m very proud of the work we’ve done on mental health and family doctors. On a more local level, we know have a beautiful school in River Hebert, and winning back Cumberland North to the PC Party is an accomplishment.”
In 2018, however, fighting for the riding is far from over. Ongoing closures of emergency room services at local hospitals continue to plague the region, and Baillie says he considers the matter to be a public health issue at this junction.
There also remains a long-overdue resolution to getting the government to listen to the Chignecto Central Regional School Board’s recommendation Springhill needs a new elementary school. Springhill has ben overlooked a number of times for a new school despite the school board’s recommendation, but Baillie says the fight is not ever.
“My number-one priority is for a new school in Springhill,” Baillie said. “All the work is done. All the petitions are signed. The school board has identified new school for Springhill as a priority. There is no remaining reason to not include a new school for Springhill. I will be waiting for the new school list and seeing Springhill is on that list."