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Nova Scotia PC leader distances provincial party from federal Conservatives’ outreach campaign

Tim Houston is distancing the province's Progressive Conservative party from text messages sent as part of a federal Conservative outreach campaign.
Tim Houston is distancing the province's Progressive Conservative party from text messages sent as part of a federal Conservative outreach campaign. Global News File

Three months ahead of a federal election, Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative leader is distancing himself and his party from a federal Conservative outreach campaign.

Tim Houston posted a message on his Facebook page that begins: “Hi, I’m not Sarah, I’m Tim and I want to assure you that the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia is not behind those texts or calls you’re receiving.”

The post references text messages that are being sent to cellphones across the country from “Sarah from the Conservative Party” asking whether the party can count on a person’s support in the federal election.

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Houston says he and PC caucus members have been getting feedback from the public on the messages, and he felt he needed to make it clear they are not coming from his fundraising campaign.

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“It’s two parties. The federal Conservative Party is a different party than the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party,” he said.

“They have different leaders, they are different memberships.”

As for the federal party, Conservative spokesperson Cory Hann says in an email that he took Houston’s Facebook post to be “fairly tongue-in-cheek.”

Hann says it’s up to every party to decide on their voter outreach tactics and calls the texting campaign “virtual door-knocking.”

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“For us, this is simply all about using 21st-century technology to do voter outreach. Many Canadians regularly use their cellphone and text messaging — including my own parents back home in Cape Breton — and this is us trying to engage those people and gain an understanding of whether they’d be open to hearing more about what our party offers,” Hann said.

Houston says while there is a lot of crossover between the PCs and the Conservatives, pointing to fiscal policy in particular, being socially progressive is important to his party.

And when he deems it necessary, the provincial PC leader says he will continue to “draw the line” of distinction between his party and its federal counterpart.

Asked whether he will be campaigning with Andrew Scheer in Nova Scotia this fall, Houston talked about the 11 Conservative candidates running in the province.

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“I’ll be supporting the people that have supported me and I’ll be out working on some doors with some of my friends that are working on those elections,” he said.

“But for me, I don’t feel that Justin Trudeau has been good for Canada. I certainly don’t feel that the 11 federal members that we sent to Ottawa have done well for this province.”