Nova Scotia Prime Minister Iain Rankin called provincial elections for August 17, hoping to secure a third consecutive term for the Liberal Party.

Rankin was sworn in as prime minister less than five months ago, replacing Stephen McNeil before Nova Scotia, the only province with no fixed election date, entered the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. At 38, the soft-spoken former business manager is Canada’s youngest prime minister.

In late April, when COVID-19 infections spiked in the Halifax area, Rankin imposed strict lockdown measures and closed the province’s borders. As with two previous blockades, Nova Scotia followed the rules and the number of cases dropped rapidly.

A poll of 1,200 adult voters in May suggested Nova Scotians were impressed with the way Rankin handled his first real challenge as Liberal Prime Minister, which he handled with the help of Dr. Robert Strang, the popular medical director of health. from the province. The poll, published June 3 by Narrative Research, placed liberals way ahead in support of voters.

With a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, the poll found that 52 percent of determined voters said they would vote Liberals. The Progressive Conservatives lagged behind with 24 percent, the NDP with 19 percent and the Green Party with five percent.

“Nova Scotians have a favorable opinion of the new prime minister, but these results represent a snapshot of public opinion at the end of May, before the launch of the reopening plans,” said Margaret Brigley, CEO of Narrative Research, in that moment.

On June 30, Rankin eased restrictions on businesses and reopened Nova Scotia’s borders to travelers from outside Atlantic Canada, though isolation requirements are maintained for those who have not been fully vaccinated.

All Canadian provincial or territorial governments that have sought re-election since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 have won. That includes the governments of New Brunswick, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Yukon.

Despite their leadership in the polls, Nova Scotia Liberals face some challenges, notably the fact that many members of the Liberal group have chosen not to run for re-election, including seven former cabinet ministers and the former prime minister. Minister. , McNeil.

Additionally, Rankin was put on the defensive earlier this month after he revealed that as a young man he had been convicted of drunk driving in 2003, and was charged again in 2005, although he was acquitted in the latter case.

In the days that followed, the prime minister repeatedly apologized for poor decisions he made in his 20s and said he regretted that alcohol was once “a big part” of his life. He insisted that he was a changed man and announced that he and his wife were expecting their first child in November.

#NovaScotia Prime Minister Iain Rankin calls the #summer election with the vote scheduled for August 17.

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston has recognized that Liberals will benefit from launching a campaign when the province emerges from a tough lockdown.

Houston, a 51-year-old public accountant who has led Conservatives since October 2018, has argued that the province should focus on fully vaccinating the population rather than electoral politics. This will be Houston’s first pick as a leader.

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His party has taken a hard line on the issue of drunk driving, saying repeatedly that Rankin misled Nova Scotians by downplaying the 2005 incident, which resulted in a drunk driving conviction that later it was overturned on appeal.

Meanwhile, NDP leader Gary Burrill, a 65-year-old United Church minister who has led the party since February 2016, is contesting his second election as leader.

The last time the Liberals won three or more elections in a row was in the 1930s and 1940s, when they won six consecutive elections, all but one under the leadership of Angus L. Macdonald. The Conservatives won three or more consecutive elections between 1978 and 1988, and again between 1999 and 2006.

Having entered the fifth year of his current term in May, the resignations had reduced the Liberals to a minority of seats in the legislature. At the time of dissolution, the Liberals held 24 of the 51 seats, followed by the Progressive Conservatives with 17. The New Democrats had five seats, with three independents and two vacant.

The upcoming elections will feature races in 55 constituencies because the province decided last year to revive four “protected” seats in districts where the government wants to increase the turnout and representation of Nova Scotia’s Acadians and Africans.

This Canadian Press report was first published on July 17, 2021.

This story was produced with financial assistance from Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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