Rankin speaks to resignation timing, speculation begins on leadership race

·3 min read

HALIFAX – “Last year was a roller coaster for all of us; personally, my life went through many changes,” Nova Scotia Liberal leader Iain Rankin said at a Jan. 5 press conference.

“And, given the pace of 2021 and all the changes, this holiday season was my first chance to slow down and think and reflect on the year,” Rankin continued. “After having that time to reflect, I have decided that the best path forward for the Nova Scotia Liberal Party is to step down and make room for a new leader.”

Rankin continued, “And, given the outcome of last year’s election, I believe that all of you need to have a say in how our party moves forward. I will stay on as leader until a new leader is chosen and will remain neutral in the leadership process. I believe in staying on as the leader until a new one is chosen by the party, is the best way forward.”

Timing

Given the turmoil caused by the continuing pandemic and the importance of government decisions at this time, The Journal asked Rankin if this was the best time to divert the Liberal Party’s attention away from keeping government accountable and towards a leadership race.

Rankin responded, “I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. This is actually a good time to ensure that we are ready. I am the leader of the party and we’ve been holding them to account with their decisions. I believe they are two steps behind with restrictions, testing, looking at decisions around schools.

“We’re going to continue to be a strong opposition party and the leadership race isn’t going to happen overnight. I expect it will be sometime this year but there’s some planning that needs to take place and this actually is about stability and keeping our party united.”

Local response

Neil Black, president of the Guysborough-Tracadie Liberal Riding Association, told The Journal that the announcement, “came as a surprise but understanding the fact that we did not have a good showing in the last election, I would probably do the same thing.”

During the press conference, Rankin was pressed by a reporter several times on whether party members told him he should resign as leader after the loss.

Black said, “I don’t think the level of politeness in Nova Scotia is that removed.”

If there were questions about the leadership of the party, they should be answered through a leadership review, said Black, “That was my take on the issue.”

Black added, “If you go down through the years, it is not an uncommon event for a leader that has lost an election to either go before a leadership review or to step down. Although I was surprised, he’s a young guy, that he did it at this time. But, over the years if you go back and look at the different wins and losses, it’s not uncommon for the person that was the leader to say, ‘Yup, ok.’”

Looking ahead to the upcoming leadership race, Black said, “I would suspect that Mr. (Labi) Kousoulis [who ran against Rankin for the leadership] may [run]. I wouldn’t be surprised if the former speaker of the federal Liberal party, Mr. Geoff Regan, that he or his wife [Kelly Regan], wouldn’t give it consideration. And even possibly Mr. (Zach) Churchill from the Yarmouth riding…he’s a pretty well-rounded gentleman, solid, feet on the ground type of guy.

“To be honest, don’t count out some of the newer MLAs, and newer being in the last 10 years or so. There’s some astute individuals in that Halifax core. And Halifax, of course, carries that big vote in the province. It’ll be interesting to see who decides to come out.”

Rankin said he plans to run again for the seat of Timberlea-Prospect in the next provincial election.

Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal

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