Nova Scotia Independent MLA Hugh MacKay won't seek re-election

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Independent MLA Hugh MacKay, shown in this headshot photo, says he will not be reoffering in the next provincial election. (Nova Scotia Legislature - image credit)
Independent MLA Hugh MacKay, shown in this headshot photo, says he will not be reoffering in the next provincial election. (Nova Scotia Legislature - image credit)

One of two Independent politicians in the Nova Scotia Legislature won't be fighting to keep his job.

Hugh MacKay, the MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's, has announced that he will not reoffer in the next provincial election, expected sometime this year.

MacKay said he has to focus on his own personal health and family relationships.

"Politics is a full-on, seven days a week, 24 hours a day profession and I no longer feel that I really have the time to serve the constituents of beautiful Chester-St Margaret's to the best of my ability," MacKay said in a phone interview Monday.

Elected as a Liberal in 2017, MacKay resigned from the governing caucus in February 2020 after he was charged for a second time with impaired driving.

In November 2019, he pleaded guilty to driving with a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit, was fined $2,000 and stripped of his driver's license for a year.

'It's a lonely place to be'

His Liberal colleagues, including former premier Stephen McNeil, supported him throughout that process.

But when RCMP charged him a second time for an incident that predated the charge he pleaded guilty to, MacKay resigned to sit as an Independent.

He said his time in Province House has been difficult.

"Quite frankly, having sat as an Independent for the past year, it's a lonely place to be," said MacKay.

"It's far more difficult to be on ... the leading edge of political activity when you're by yourself."

He also acknowledged that trying to win a seat as an Independent would have been an uphill struggle.

MacKay due back in court next year

MacKay said he had no regrets of his time as an MLA, but he was sorry for his personal mistakes.

"I regret my actions that led me to be in the spotlight a year ago and certainly the very poor judgment that I exercised that led to that," MacKay said. "So I regret that but I accept those consequences."

Before politics, MacKay spend 30 years as a geomatics consultant, doing area mapping. He plans to go back to that during what he called his "semi-retirement."

MacKay is due back in provincial court in January for his impaired driving trial.

Earlier this year, a lawyer acting on his behalf tried and failed to have that charge dismissed as an abuse of process.

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