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Nova Scotia PCs hold convention to select new party leader

Click to play video: 'What to expect during this weekend’s PC convention' What to expect during this weekend’s PC convention
WATCH: Jeremy Keefe breaks down what you should expect during this weekend's Progressive Conservative convention in Halifax – Oct 26, 2018

Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives are gathering in Halifax for a convention that will select a new party leader.

The convention begins later today at the Halifax Exhibition Centre with speeches from five candidates.

The leadership race started when former party leader Jamie Baillie announced he would step down as leader last November, then resigned in January amid unspecified allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

Vying for the top job are perceived front-runner and Tory caucus member Tim Houston, Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke, caucus members John Lohr and Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, and Julie Chaisson, executive director of the Halifax Seaport Market.

WATCH: We chat with former PC MLA Mary Ann McGrath about the upcoming PC leadership convention in Halifax.

Click to play video: 'PC leadership convention primer' PC leadership convention primer
PC leadership convention primer – Oct 26, 2018

All five have spent months travelling the province to sign up party members, a process that saw more than 11,600 people purchase memberships.

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Those members will select a new leader on Saturday through a vote that will use ranked ballots and weighted ridings.

Each of the province’s 51 constituencies will count for 100 points, allocated according to the proportion of votes each candidate receives from that riding.

READ MORE: Tim Houston fined $2.5K for breaking PC leadership rules over Argyle Street party

Houston, the party’s finance critic, was the first to jump into the race. He pitched himself as a middle-of-the road candidate who is best positioned to challenge the Liberals in the next provincial election, which is still about three years away.

Cecil Clarke, who is seen as Houston’s main rival, has campaigned as an experienced hand, the candidate best equipped to take over as premier.

Smith-McCrossin, a former nurse and small-business owner, has championed private sector job growth, while Chaisson has positioned herself as a party outsider and voice for change.

Lohr has gained attention by claiming ground as an unabashed conservative on social issues, and by professing his support for oil and gas exploration using hydraulic fracturing.

The convention’s keynote speech will be delivered Saturday by federal Conservative Leader Andrew Sheer. Party members will also pay tribute to outgoing Interim leader Karla MacFarlane.

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Voting is expected to begin around 10:30 a.m., with the initial results expected around 1:00 p.m.

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