Claudia Chender unopposed in bid for Nova Scotia NDP leadership

Click to play video: 'Claudia Chender Announces Her Bid for Leadership of NS NDP Party'
Claudia Chender Announces Her Bid for Leadership of NS NDP Party
We chat with MLA Claudia Chender about her decision to run for leadership of the Nova Scotia NDP Party – Feb 14, 2022

Dartmouth South MLA Claudia Chender is likely to become the next leader of the Nova Scotia NDP after an unopposed run.

Chender, 45, was the only registered candidate when the deadline to enter the race passed at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

“It means that our party decided against a divisive leadership race in favour of showing our unity, and how ready we are to grow and continue to fight for people across the province,” said Chender in a phone interview Saturday.

She will officially become the new NDP leader as long as party members vote to ratify her leadership at the upcoming party convention, which is scheduled for June 24 to 26 in Dartmouth.

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She said the support for her leadership bid has been “incredibly humbling.” As party leader, her biggest priority will be ensuring people’s needs across the province are met, said Chender.

“I think between the affordability crisis that we’re really in right now, all of the issues in health care piling up, and looking at how those two things and other elements impact our rural economy in particular, there’s lots of work to do, and we are ready to do it,” she said.

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“My biggest priority is making sure that all Nova Scotians are represented and accounted for in government decisions, and in meeting with as many of them as possible to show them that we are the best alternative in 2025 for a government that will really take action on the things that matter to everyday Nova Scotians.”

Click to play video: 'Gary Burrill stepping down as leader of N.S. NDP leader'
Gary Burrill stepping down as leader of N.S. NDP leader

Formerly a lawyer, Chender was first elected an MLA back in 2017. Now she is NDP House Leader and critic for justice, the status of women, economic development, natural resources and renewables, and fisheries and aquaculture.

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Chender threw her hat in the ring after current NDP leader Gary Burrill announced he would step down after nearly six years in the role. He made the announcement on Nov. 9, months after the 2021 election, when the party gained only one seat over the previous election.

Currently, the NDP hold six seats in the legislature. The governing Progressive Conservatives have 31 and the Liberals have 17. One seat is held by an Independent MLA.

Nova Scotia’s next election is scheduled to take place on July 15, 2025. Chender said she will spend the next three years hearing from Nova Scotians.

“We are a small party, and so what we need to do is to just continue to organize and really show up right around the province,” Chender said, noting that different communities across Nova Scotia have different needs, even if some of the issues they’re facing are universal.

“Top-down doesn’t work very well, it never has, and so I think the alternative that our party offers is an approach really based on the wisdom that people have in community already.”

Another leadership race

Chender won’t be the only new provincial party leader for long. The Opposition Liberals are scheduled to hold a leadership election on July 9, after current leader Iain Rankin announced in January that he would be stepping down.

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The last day to register as a candidate for Liberal leadership was March 21, and there are two candidates vying for that post: Preston MLA Angela Simmonds and Yarmouth MLA Zach Churchill.

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