Iain Rankin will become Nova Scotia’s 29th premier, after winning the Liberal leadership on Saturday.
Rankin won after the second ballot with 52.41 per cent of the vote by Liberal delegates. He takes over from Stephen McNeil, who announced his retirement last summer.
“It will be an honour of my lifetime to serve as your premier,” Rankin said in his speech. “Nova Scotia’s next chapter begins now.”
Rankin lives in Timberlea with his wife, Mary. He was elected the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect in 2013, and was re-elected in 2017. He was selected as the minister of environment and minister of lands and forestry.
Rankin has promised to get Nova Scotia completely off coal by 2030.
He told reporters Saturday that while he will work hard to create economic growth, he will be mindful “that the infrastructure we build is climate resilient.”
At 37, Rankin will be the province’s second-youngest premier when he’s officially sworn in.
The voting was done with preferential ballots, meaning that delegates had to rank the three candidates in order of preference. Over 8,100 people voted. Rankin failed to secure over 50 per cent of the vote in the first round, before eliminating third place contender Randy Delorey. Labi Kousoulis came second with 47.59 per cent in the second vote. Registered delegates voted online or by phone.
The premier-designate said he will call Delorey and Kousoulis on Sunday to determine a role for them in his cabinet.
Due to physical distancing restrictions, the event was also livestreamed on the Liberal party website.
Replacing Stephen McNeil
Rankin’s succession marked the end of an era for Stephen McNeil.
McNeil announced he would be resigning on Aug. 6, after being premier of Nova Scotia since 2013. He held the title of leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal party since 2007.
Rankin described McNeil as “a mentor” on Saturday.
McNeil has said he had planned to resign earlier in 2020, but delayed his departure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, McNeil told reporters that he would help the new premier transition into working with Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.
“Meeting with Dr. Strang is going to be the top priority to me,” Rankin said to reporters.
Before being a politician, McNeil owned a small business in Bridgetown, N.S., for 18 years. He became the MLA of Annapolis in 2003, and was re-elected four times.
“I want to thank you for your commitment to me over the last 17 years, and particularly over the last seven,” McNeil said Saturday before the winner was announced. “I want to ask you to give the same energy and commitment to the next leader.”
The Liberal party has been in power in Nova Scotia since 2013, currently holding 26 of the 51 seats in the house of assembly.
About the author
Emily McRae is a journalist based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia.