McNeil dampens election speculation as spring legislature sitting ends

WATCH ABOVE: Premier Stephen McNeil says he intends to hold at least one more sitting of the legislature before calling an election. Global's legislative reporter Marieke Walsh has the details.

Premier Stephen McNeil says he intends to hold at least one more sitting of the legislature before calling an election.

Without giving a firm ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a fall general election, McNeil said his “intention” is to have a fall legislative sitting, making a 2016 election less likely, but still leaving the door open for one.

“I’ve been given a mandate, I’m looking forward to continuing through that mandate, I have not at all thought about an election campaign,” McNeil said Friday — the last day of the spring sitting.

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Speculation about a general election has been in the air recently, after McNeil said he wouldn’t rule out a 2016 election.

The scuttlebutt at the legislature intensified when the Liberals started scheduling nomination meetings ahead of the opposition parties. So far, the Liberals have scheduled fifteen nomination meetings for May and June.

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Liberal party executive director Mike Mercer says it will take “some months” to complete all of the nominations.

McNeil previously told reporters he expects to hold the byelection to replace retired Halifax Needham MLA and interim NDP leader, Maureen MacDonald before a general election.

On Friday, McNeil said the new MLA would be sworn in for the fall sitting, yet he gave no hints as to when the byelection would be held.

Last year, three byelections were held in mid July, those elections saw the Liberals pick up an extra seat, at the expense of the NDP.

Opposition parties organizing at slower pace

Both opposition parties are starting the search for candidates, but neither have nomination meetings on the horizon.

The third-place NDP are likely the least organized, with their leader, Gary Burrill, still undecided on where he will run in a general election.

The one guarantee is that Burrill won’t be running in a byelection, after he announced two weeks ago that he won’t run for MacDonald’s seat.

“There are about 350 considerations involved” in choosing where to run Burrill said. “I’m about up to number 275.”

Burrill’s home-base is in the Musquodoboit Valley. He lost Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley riding in the 2013 election to Tory MLA Larry Harrison.

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The Progressive Conservatives have opened up three ridings for applicants.

Once the deadlines for those ridings pass, the party will either schedule a nomination meeting if the riding is contested, or proclaim a candidate in uncontested ridings.

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