Liberal Party AGM to go ahead despite Rankin's resignation

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Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Iain Rankin announced Wednesday that he is stepping down. The party's annual meeting will take place in March as planned. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Iain Rankin announced Wednesday that he is stepping down. The party's annual meeting will take place in March as planned. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

The Nova Scotia Liberal Party might be in the market for a new leader, but the annual general meeting in March will go ahead as planned.

Joseph Khoury, the party's president, said the only change to the agenda will be the removal of the leadership review of Iain Rankin. Rankin announced on Wednesday that he will step down as leader once the party chooses a successor.

"We haven't had [an annual meeting] in two years, so that plan is not changing," Khory said in an interview.

The two-day event is expected to be virtual, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Political conventions tend to involve a lot of policy debate and Khoury said that will still be the case, even after Rankin's announcement.

Platforms often come from policies

"Our policies, basically, when they're adopted, they're on the books for five years because we know that in politics things change all the time," he said

"So a policy gives sort of a very broad outlook on an idea that the membership would like to have in place. Platforms come up from policies often, so what the membership decides can still be on the books for years to be considered."

Khoury said the meeting can also be a setting for potential leadership candidates to hear what party members have to say and to share and test their own visions and ideas.

The party constitution requires that a leadership vote happen within 18 months of a leader's resignation. Khoury said the board would meet in the next few weeks to determine what the process will look like and when it will happen.

Khoury wouldn't speculate about that discussion and how, if at all, the timing of a leadership vote would be influenced by the current pandemic and the fact the party went through a leadership convention less than a year ago.

What Liberal MLAs have to say

CBC News reached nine members of the Liberal caucus on Thursday to ask if they'd given any thought to pursuing the party leadership. Their answers are summarized below.

Patricia Arab

The MLA for Fairview-Clayton Park and former cabinet minister said she wasn't expecting Rankin to resign from his post and the idea of seeking the job isn't on her radar.

"I'm not even entertaining it at the moment," she said.

Zach Churchill

The Yarmouth MLA said he finds the idea compelling, but will make sure first that his decision is what's best for his family and the party.

Churchill said that after eight years in government, he has thoughts on shortcomings of the system and how it can evolve to better serve people and help those most in need.

"The thought of developing a new, transformative vision with the party in the position of leadership to tackle those challenges is a really exciting and motivating thought for me."

Tony Ince

Ince, a former cabinet minister and the MLA for Cole Harbour, said he's not interested in the job.

Ben Jessome

Jessome said it's too early for him to make a decision.

The MLA for Hammonds Plains-Lucasville and former cabinet minister said he wasn't expecting Rankin's resignation.

"There's lots to consider, so I wouldn't say no, but I wouldn't say yes."

Derek Mombourquette

Mombourquette said his focus is entirely on helping constituents navigate the pandemic and its related challenges, and he's given no thought to a leadership bid.

The Sydney-Whitney Pier MLA and former cabinet minister said he doesn't think it's the right time to talk about the leadership selection process.

"We're trying to keep people safe and we're trying to adjust to a variant that is spreading faster than ever before," he said.

"This is the time to do what we can to support our communities and do what we can to support the amazing health-care workers."

Lorelei Nicoll

The former municipal councillor, who was elected provincially for the first time last summer in Cole Harbour-Dartmouth, said she hasn't given a leadership bid any thought yet.

"I always keep an open mind," she said.

"I'm sad to see Iain leave. I think as a leader he was doing great things."

Niccol said it would be up to all party and caucus members to work on the rebuilding effort.

Kelly Regan

Regan, a former cabinet minister and the longest-serving member of the current Liberal caucus, said she's taking time to think about her plans.

"I will make my decision quickly," she said.

Angela Simmonds

Simmonds, first elected in Preston during the most recent election, said Rankin's decision came as a shock to her and that it's too soon to say whether it's a job she'd be interested in.

"I came to this platform because of Iain and his accomplishments. So for me I've just been thinking about what he's done, the team that he's built, which is so diverse, and really what I hope is that the next leader … has the same values and mindset and keeps moving forward that way."

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