Cumberland South is a riding without a representative.
It was well known in November Jamie Baillie intended to step down as the Progressive Conservatives leader but a number of surprising developments Jan. 24th saw Baillie announce via Twitter he was resigning immediately as the representative for Cumberland South. Later that same day the Progressive Conservatives revealed they asked for Baillie’s resignation following a third-party investigation into allegations of harassment.
Now the riding sits without a representative and many are wondering what happens next.
Andy Leblanc, Director of Policy and Communications with Elections Nova Scotia, explains there are two acts governing vacancies in the province like Cumberland South is now undergoing – the House of Assembly Act and the Elections Act.
“It’s pretty detailed in the two acts,” Leblanc said. “When a vacancy happens, a by-election must be called in six months… then the election would be 30 to 46 days after the writ. And it must be on a Tuesday.”
For the sake of example, Leblanc says with Baillie’s resignation occurring Jan. 24, the latest the province could announce a by-election – also known as dropping the writ – would be July 24th. The election would follow 30 to 46 days later.
In the meantime, there are a few things that will stay the same and few things that will be different.
A representative with the Office of the Clerk for the Nova Scotia Legislature says Baillie’s constituency offices will remain open for the next three months, and it is likely neighbouring MLA’s will help with constituency issues and bring up issues concerning the riding in the provincial legislature until a new MLA is chosen.
Cumberland South sits between the ridings of Cumberland North and Colchester North. Progressive Conservative Elizabeth Smith McCrossin holds the Cumberland North riding, while Liberal Karen Casey holds Colchester North.
The Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives have been asked if they have tasked any of their MLAs to shoulder the responsibility of Cumberland South in the interim but an answer was not immediately available.
So, for now, it’s a waiting game.