Nova Scotia Liberals choose Iain Rankin for next leader and premier of province

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HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's Liberals have chosen former provincial forestry minister Iain Rankin as their next leader and the future premier of the province.

Rankin garnered just over 52 per cent of the vote after the three-person race went to a second ballot.

Rankin defeated former labour minister Labi Kousoulis and Randy Delorey, who held the province's health, finance and environment portfolios under outgoing Premier Stephen McNeil.

The leadership contest was triggered last summer when McNeil announced his retirement after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 8,100 party delegates cast virtual votes over the past week in support of the three candidates, all of whom held cabinet roles in McNeil's government.

Rankin was the youngest candidate in the race at 37, and cited both his youth and commitment to environmental issues as assets during his bid for the party's top job.

He reaffirmed those pledges during a brief victory speech and said he looks forward to having a hand in writing the next chapter of the province's history.

Rankin, a native of Cape Breton, drew support from high-ranking Liberals such as former party leader Vince MacLean and former deputy premier and finance minister Diana Whalen.

Delorey was considered by some pundits to be a front-runner in the contest, but was dropped from the race after the first-ballot results of the ranked vote

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press