Nova Scotia premier says election call could come before next summer’s fixed date

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Could N.S. head into an early election?
Political parties in Nova Scotia are preparing, in case there is a snap election. As Zack Power reports, at least one expert says it’s not unreasonable for the PC Party to call an early election ahead of 2025 – Jun 11, 2024

Nova Scotia’s premier is casting doubt on whether he will adhere to the fixed provincial election date his party passed into law soon after coming to power.

Amendments to the Elections Act fixed the next election for July 15, 2025, but Premier Tim Houston passed up an opportunity Wednesday to end speculation about an early election. The speculation was sparked by a flurry of recent candidate nominations announced by his Progressive Conservatives.

Houston told reporters that a call could come before the fixed date depending on circumstances, although he wouldn’t be specific about what he was referring to.

“When something is so significant that I think it’s important for people to have their say, I wouldn’t say you have to wait … because it doesn’t suit the fixed election date,” he said. “Events happen and you have to be mindful of events.”

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Houston wouldn’t say whether an election was imminent and added that his government remains focused on governing and “listening to Nova Scotians.”

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“We have 55 constituencies across the province …. The party is nominating candidates and will continue to do so.”

To date, the governing Progressive Conservatives have nominated 14 incumbents to run again, the Liberals four and the NDP has set its first nomination for the end of June.

The leaders of the Liberals and NDP said Wednesday that they don’t trust the premier to stick to the legislated date and they added their parties will be ready should he call an early election.

Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Zach Churchill said he thought it was strange for the premier to link an election call to the will of the voters. “I can’t be the only person who thought that was a very weird and ridiculous statement. It was nonsensical,” said Churchill. “The fact is, he controls when an election happens.”

NDP Leader Claudia Chender was also left puzzled by the premier’s comments.

“One thing is sure, when the premier decides to go to the polls will have nothing to do with when Nova Scotians should have a voice, and everything to do with when he thinks he can win,” Chender said.

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The Tories came to power in August 2021 and the fixed election date legislation was among the first laws passed by the new government in October of that year. Under the law, future elections are to take place on the third Tuesday of July every four years.

When the law was passed, a government news release said it would give voters “certainty” on the timing of future elections.

“Nova Scotia voters need to have confidence in their electoral system,” Houston said at the time. “Having a fixed date will mean predictability, transparency and it will limit any perceived advantage by the government to control the timing of the next election.”

Nova Scotia was the last province or territory in the country to set a fixed election date.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 12, 2024.

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