September 1, 2017 6:24 pm
Updated: September 1, 2017 7:45 pm

Survey questions the future of Nova Scotia Tory Leader Jamie Baillie

WATCH: After two elections where he fell short of forming government, questions are mounting about Jamie Baillie's future. As Marieke Walsh reports, a survey circulated this week by a party member asked insiders for their take on Baillie.

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After two elections where he fell short of forming a government, questions are mounting about Jamie Baillie’s future.

Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative Party leader has held the post for almost seven years. And while the Tories surged in the May election, they fell short of knocking the Liberals out of government.

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An online survey, obtained by Global News, was circulated this week questioning Baillie’s future.

Created by a party member, it questioned Baillie’s leadership and the direction of the party.

The survey was taken down within a few days but its creator told Global News the information collected was meant for his eyes only.

“This information was sought privately by me only, and for me only and for nobody else, and it will remain private to me,” Thomas Kayter said over email.

‘This is not about me’: Baillie

In May, Baillie said he would decide whether to stay on as the leader in the fall. In the meantime, he’s dismissing the survey as something from the party’s fringe.

“This is not about me,” he said. “This is about a small group of extreme right-wingers who want to take the Conservative Party in the U.S.-style, alt-right direction and I strongly oppose that.”

Baillie said a question in the survey is evidence of that “alt-right” undertone.

The question asks whether the party “should adopt a more courageous platform on social, industrial and economic advancement?”

Kayter declined to comment on Baillie’s allegation. But Baillie said the survey has emboldened him.

“It makes me more determined to lead this party to the moderate place I know it needs to be,” he said.

READ MORE: Baillie mulls future as Nova Scotia settles back to status quo

The party’s vice-president of policy and former candidate Rebecca Taylor said she wasn’t involved with the survey but didn’t read it the same way Baillie did.

“The questions that were asked might not be the questions I would ask,” she said. “But in general, having discussions about the direction of a party is the foundation of an active membership.”

She also said, however, that the survey was “unnecessary” because the party has a process in place to review leaders after an election.

‘Need to have the conversation’: party vice-president

District vice-president Paul Russell said he thought the survey’s tone was off-base, including a question about creating a new Progressive Conservative party. But he also said the debate needs to happen.

“We need to have the conversation around what we do with the leadership,” Russell said.

“This is three elections that we have not won, two with Jamie Baillie.”

He said he’d like to see a party-sanctioned survey with questions about whether Baillie should stay on, what the party wants to see in a leader, whether Baillie meets those qualities and other general policy questions.

‘Putting the cart before the horse’: party president

The party’s constitution sets out the rules for a leadership review, post-election. So party president Tara Miller said the discussion was premature.

“It’s putting the cart before the horse,” she said.

If Baillie decides to stay on, the membership will get to have its say at the annual general meeting in February.

“He deserves the opportunity to stay or leave on his own terms and we have processes in place for the party to have a say in that if he decides to stay,” Miller said.

She said she’s heard from many party members who want Baillie to stay on as leader.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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