May 6, 2016 6:38 pm

NS NDP leader won’t run for seat before a general election

Gary Burrill, centre, celebrates with supporters following his election as leader of the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party in February. Burrill doesn't have a seat in the legislature and says he won't run until the premier calls a general election.

Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia NDP leader Gary Burrill says he won’t run in the Halifax Needham seat left open by former NDP MLA Maureen MacDonald.

Burrill said he made the decision not to throw his name into the nomination race Monday. He lost his seat in the legislature in the 2013 election, but won the NDP leadership race in February.

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Instead of working to win a seat in the legislature, Burrill said Friday he’s “concentrating on the work of the rebuilding” the NDP across the province.

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MacDonald resigned her seat in early April, but a byelection hasn’t yet been called in the Halifax Needham riding. Premier Stephen McNeil told reporters a byelection is coming but says he wants to give parties the time to nominate candidates first.

“Obviously I’m going to call a byelection, I just haven’t decided on a date.”

Setting aside the question of a byelection, Burrill said he believes a general election will be called within the 18 months.

“I will be getting a seat in the house when the election comes,” he said.

At her resignation announcement, MacDonald didn’t directly endorse Burrill for her seat, and also wouldn’t commit to campaigning for him. She told reporters she supports the NDP but plans to travel after her retirement. She held the Halifax Needham riding for 18 years.

In April McNeil said he hasn’t ruled out calling a general election in 2016, if he does he would be dropping the writ three years into his mandate.

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