Despite much speculation fueled by promises of tax cuts for businesses and his government’s enforcement of the Boat Harbour Act, premier Stephen McNeil made it clear Friday that he has no intention of calling an election in 2020.
Speaking to reporters at Province House, McNeil indicated that he knows rumours have been spreading that his plans were to make quick work of the legislature’s spring session and call a general election shortly after, however he assured that’s not in the cards.
“There’s been a lot of election speculation,” he said. “You guys won’t have to cover an election this year, just let me put that to bed for you now.”
McNeil’s reasoning pointed to the fact that his government’s three year anniversary is still two months away, saying an election a year ahead of schedule isn’t something he believes voters want.
“I don’t think Nova Scotians would look kindly upon a government that went to the polls at the three year mark,” he explained.
“We have a lot of work to do,” he said.
But taking this direct stance after weeks if not months of rumours has PC Leader Tim Houston thinking the premier has only recently changed his mind on the topic.
“The premier is probably a little nervous of an election,” Houston said. “He’s got some things he’s got to sort out.”
Houston says the five byelections held during McNeil’s second term, all won by the PCs, might have something to do with his plans to hold off until the fourth year before testing the electorate.
Two more byelections are scheduled for Tuesday, March 10 in previously NDP-held ridings Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River, and Cape Breton Centre which Houston thinks McNeil may be waiting to see the results of before giving a general election any more thought.
“I’m sure the premier is anxiously awaiting to see what Nova Scotians have to say about his record in those byelections,” he said.
Both opposition party leaders, Houston and NDP Leader Gary Burrill say they’ve already been planning for the next time ballots are cast and that regardless of timing they’re prepared for a campaign.
“Whenever the premier’s ready for an election, we’re ready,” said Houston.
“If he called an election this afternoon we’re ready to set our proposals out against their record and go toe-to-toe,” Burrill said. “If he calls an election next month we’re ready to do the same.”