Pictou East MLA Tim Houston is the new leader of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives.
Houston garnered 2,496.75 points out of a total of 5,100 after the first round of voting. He required 2,551 points to win the leadership.
Shortly after the result was announced, however, the remaining candidates on the ballot stood down in favour of supporting Houston as the new party leader.
Houston was followed by Cecil Clarke with 1,385.71 points, John Lohr with 692.45 points, Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin with 384.96 points and Julie Chaisson with 140.13 points.
Tim Houston, speaking with voters as they wait their turn in line during Saturday’s leadership convention, has won the party’s leadership. (Michael Gorman/CBC)
Clarke was first to cross over to Houston. He led his supporters across the floor of the venue to shake Houston’s hand and merge his supporters with those of the Pictou County resident.
Clarke, the mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality, said his decision was based on what’s best for the party.
« I said last night the unity of the party is paramount, » he said. « I believe in bringing this party together. As I just said to Tim, we need to set any campaign differences aside. It’s about the next election. The party is bigger than any one person. Bigger than me, and I am happy to support our new leader, Tim Houston. »
Clarke promotes party unity
Houston called it a joyful moment and said it was very helpful for party unity.
« I think they’re sending a message as well to their supporters and to party members and really to Nova Scotians, » he told reporters.
« I’m totally grateful that that happened. »
He’d been the target of the most prominent attacks throughout the campaign, but on Saturday Houston said he believes that’s all in the past.
« When you’re in a campaign, people have a strategy for a campaign, » said Houston. « That’s over now. The race is over now. We’re caucus colleagues, we’re members of the PC party together and we’ll just get to work. »
Hundreds of Tories descended on Halifax’s Exhibition Centre Saturday to cast their votes and watch the new leader be elected. About 300 people were voting at the event, while there were 8,868 ranked ballots cast by mail ahead of time.
People wait in line for their turn to vote at the Nova Scotia Tory leadership convention in Halifax. (Michael Gorman/CBC)
Each candidate had an opportunity to make a speech to the crowd on Friday night. During the lead-up to the first round of voting, candidates could be seen working the voting line, making one final pitch to uncommitted voters.
The event also included a tribute to outgoing interim leader Karla MacFarlane, who assumed the role when Jamie Baillie was forced to step down after the party found he violated the legislature’s workplace harassment policy.
Karla MacFarlane and her son, Jack, look on as a video tribute is played for the outgoing interim leader. (Michael Gorman/CBC)
MacFarlane said she was honoured to hold the role and humbled by the support, but she was also ready to turn things over to the new leader.
She joked she wouldn’t trade the past year for $1 million — « nor would I do it again for $1 million. »
When it was Houston’s turn to address party members, he called on volunteers for the other campaigns and the thousands of new party members to remain engaged and promised there was a place for everyone within the party.
« We need you to stay involved and to keep going. We have so much work to do, » he said.
« You are on the ground floor of a movement, and I think you can feel it, » he said, before pledging the party would go on to form successive majority governments.
« Won’t stop until Nova Scotia is the leader and the best province in Atlantic Canada and beyond, » he said.
« Change is coming. »
Candidate John Lohr shares a word with a convention attendee ahead of the results of the first round of voting. (Michael Gorman/CBC)
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Have questions about the leadership vote? Jean Laroche and Michael Gorman took reader questions via Facebook Live Friday.