SPRINGHILL – Cumberland South Liberals have begun preparing for a byelection to replace Jamie Baillie.
The association has formed a search committee as part of an open and transparent nomination process.
“As the Liberal Party always has, we will run an open nomination process, and are committed to putting forth the very best person to represent the residents of Cumberland South," association president Scott Lockhart said Wednesday. “It is important we keep the process open to anyone in Cumberland South who feels they can contribute. We encourage anyone who is thinking about running for the Liberal nomination to put their name forward.”
Premier Stephen McNeil has yet to call a byelection to replace Baillie, who resigned abruptly as party leader and Cumberland South MLA last week amid allegations of inappropriate behaviour. The premier indicated late last week that he typically hasn’t waited long when the need to call a byelection has arisen. He is also mindful of the processes that each party would have to go through to host a nominating meeting and select a candidate.
Lockhart said the date of his party’s nomination meeting has not yet been announced. Membership in the Liberal Party is free, and anyone wishing to vote at the nomination meeting can sign up at www.liberal.ns.ca.
Lockhart notes the byelection presents an exciting opportunity in Cumberland South.
“There are three years left in Mr. McNeil’s mandate and the day after the election if a Liberal wins he or she will be sitting on the government side. It’s something we haven’t had in Cumberland South in a long time,” Lockhart said. “If we ever had an opportunity to win the riding this is it because there are a lot of bit issues we’re facing. There’s a school needed in Springhill, River Hebert and Joggins lost their liquor store and there’s the Rainbow Bridge that needs to be replaced. Someone on the government side would be a big plus for the area.”
Considering Baillie did not live in the riding in the time he was its MLA, Lockhart said it would be good to have someone from Cumberland South representing the riding in Halifax.
Lockhart ran unsuccessfully for the party’s nomination prior to last May’s provincial election, losing to Kenny John Jackson. While Jackson is not expected to run this time, Lockhart is still mulling over his options.
“I’m strongly considering it, I have not made up my mind yes or now,” Lockhart said.
He said the association hopes to have a plan in place by its next meeting on Feb. 11. By then, he hopes the association will know when its nominating meeting will be and who will be seeking the nomination.
Anyone who has questions about the nomination process or eligibility is encouraged to visit www.liberal.ns.ca or contact Scott Lockhart at 902-297-1500.
The Progressive Conservatives have at least one candidate who’s believed to be considering seeking that party’s nomination while the NDP began its candidate search on Jan. 27. Larry Duchesne was the party’s candidate last May.
The Atlantica Party, which recently moved its Nova Scotia headquarters to Springhill, has begun raising money for a byelection but it’s not known if Michael ‘Thor’ Lengies, who ran in the May provincial election, will run again this time.