Well-known Tory to contest Halifax district in next provincial election

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Well-known Tory to contest Halifax district in next provincial election

The Progressive Conservatives are hoping a familiar face in downtown Halifax can help the party make inroads on the peninsula.

Rob Batherson, co-owner of Colour PR and well known among downtown Halifax business circles, announced Wednesday he will run in Halifax Citadel-Sable Island whenever the next election is called.

Batherson, a former party president, said the time was right to run as his commitments with the boards of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce and Nepture Theatre wrap up. He said he was looking for other ways to get involved and politics seemed like the right choice.

'Time to make a change'

While he touted all the virtues and attributes of the district, it's not actually where Batherson lives. He resides in Halifax Armdale — the same district where Tory Leader Jamie Baillie lives. Batherson said he thought Citadel was the best fit because it's where he works, volunteers and his son goes to school.

Batherson said he's running because he doesn't think the Liberal government has done a good enough job on the major issues, such as job creation and access to family doctors. He also alluded to the "war" with teachers and lack of progress on Ivany Report-related goals.

"When someone's not getting the job done, it's time to make a change," he said.

Leadership an issue

He then talked about what the Tories clearly want to make a central issue in the upcoming election: the leadership style of Premier Stephen McNeil.

Batherson, who worked for former premier John Hamm for five years during his time in power, criticized McNeil's leadership style as dismissive, confrontational and unwilling to admit mistakes.

"Whether we like it or not, whether he's a good guy, this election is becoming a referendum on Stephen McNeil."

He said he would have been happy to "sit this one out" had McNeil done a better job of bringing people together to solve problems, "but it's not happening," said Batherson.

"People are not happy and they don't have a government that's making them feel good that there are some real solutions out there."

Baillie doubled down on the idea.

"His style of leadership, which has been to divide people, which has been to keep people down — like nurses and teachers who want to make the system better — is not getting us where we need to be."

Liberals current hold district

Batherson said he would take a leave from his job whenever the election is called. Should he succeed, he would resign his post on the Conservative Party of Canada's national council.

This marks the second time his name will appear on a provincial ballot. Batherson ran for the Tories in 1998 in the district of Sackville-Cobequid, finishing a distant third to New Democrat John Holm.

Halifax Citadel-Sable Island is currently represented by Internal Services Minister Labi Kousoulis, who is reoffering. Glenn Walton is running for the NDP.