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N.S. Liberal leader calls Brendan Maguire’s floor crossing ‘transactional’

Click to play video: 'MLA Brendan Maguire joins N.S. Progressive Conservative party'
MLA Brendan Maguire joins N.S. Progressive Conservative party
Halifax Atlantic MLA Brendan Maguire is joining Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative government after more than 10 years with the Liberals. Maguire told reporters Thursday that he was impressed with Premier Tim Houston's leadership. Zack Power reports. – Feb 22, 2024

Nova Scotia Liberal leader Zach Churchill is raising doubts about a former Liberal MLA’s decision to cross the floor and join the Progressive Conservatives last week.

Last Thursday, Halifax Atlantic MLA Brendan Maguire said he was joining Premier Tim Houston’s government after more than 10 years with the Liberals. He was also appointed as the new Minister of Community Services.

During a news conference on tax affordability Monday, Liberal leader Zach Churchill suggested that Maguire’s decision was not based on values.

“Brendan was offered a cabinet post to leave our team and join the government’s team, and he accepted it,” he told reporters. “So it seemed to have been a decision not based in values or issues, but it seemed to be transactional, from what was presented.”

Last Thursday, Maguire said he was impressed with Houston’s leadership and found it difficult to be critical of his government.

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“He’s delivering results and won’t settle for the status quo when it’s not working for Nova Scotians,” he said.

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He added that his life experience would help him in his new role as Minister of Community Services.

“I’ve been homeless. I’ve lived in foster care. I know the challenges, but I also know the opportunities,” he said.

Former Liberal MLA Brendan Maguire has joined Tim Houston’s government as the new Minister of Community Services.
Former Liberal MLA Brendan Maguire has joined Tim Houston’s government as the new Minister of Community Services. PC Party of Nova Scotia

But Churchill questioned if Maguire will be able to make a difference as a member of Houston’s cabinet.

“Now the question’s going to be whether Brendan Maguire can move the premier closer to his values in supporting working class and low-income Nova Scotians,” he said, “or if Mr. Maguire’s going to move closer to, I think, the premier’s approach of not dealing with those issues in a meaningful way and allowing poverty to increase.”

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During Monday’s announcement, Churchill said his party will introduce legislation to cut HST in the province by two per cent and index income tax to inflation.

“We’ve been pushing every single session to index income tax to inflation. We’re the only province that doesn’t do that,” Churchill said. “This would be a good time to provide some income tax relief to Nova Scotians who are paying the highest income tax in the country.”

The spring session of the legislature began Tuesday, with the provincial budget expected to come out Thursday.

Nova Scotia NDP leader Claudia Chender said the Progressive Conservatives have done a “relatively terrible job” in the area of community services, and is unsure about if Maguire’s new position will help make a difference.

“We have more people sleeping outside than ever before. We have an increase in child poverty rates … Things for which Brendan Maguire has been an extraordinarily harsh critic for government,” she said.

“So, time will tell. He’s going to step in and take responsibility for a budget that he didn’t craft, and if there aren’t some revolutionary measures that are going to ameliorate some of these issues, then he’s the one who’s going to have to answer for it.”

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