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N.S. Deputy Premier Karen Casey announces retirement

The Colchester-North MLA will not seek re-election

2 min read
caption Karen Casey, deputy premier of Nova Scotia and minister of finance, announces Thursday she will not seek re-election.
Communications Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Deputy Premier Karen Casey announced her political sunset Thursday afternoon, ending a 15-year run in politics.

Casey, MLA for Colchester-North and minister of finance and treasury board, will not run in the next provincial election.

“My name will not be on the ballot,” she told reporters after cabinet on Thursday.

“It’s time for somebody else to represent Colchester-North.”

While Casey said she wasn’t one to shy away from challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic and Portapique tragedy made 2020 what she called “probably the most emotional and most tragic,” of her political career.

“It was great to be part of a government with our Premier Stephen McNeil,” Casey said, “who was not afraid to make tough decisions that perhaps other governments may or may not have done.”

She recalled the Liberal party’s majority government victory in 2013 as one of the greatest rewards of her career.

A colleague and confidante

The decision comes as McNeil is planning his departure while the Liberal party votes for its next leader and premier in early February.

The two worked closely together for a decade, with McNeil referring to Casey as a “confidante” who kept him balanced as premier.

“We have really run a dual operation here in a lot of ways,” McNeil told reporters after Casey’s announcement.

“I think together we did some extraordinary things,” he said, noting Casey’s fingerprints were “all over” many decisions made as a government.

“Friendships last a lot longer than elective office,” McNeil said, “and she will always be someone that I will turn to and lean on in the next chapter of our lives.”

Casey rose to office in 2006 as a member of the province’s Progressive Conservative Party, where she served as interim leader between 2009-10. In 2011, Casey crossed the aisle to join McNeil and the Liberals, leaving behind a potential leadership bid to become a central figure in McNeil’s government.

Premier may be ‘disappointed’ but not ‘surprised’

Casey, who became a politician after years of teaching, served as minister of education under both parties.

While Casey made the news public today, she said she made the decision over the past week.

“He may have been disappointed,” Casey said of McNeil, “but I don’t think he was surprised.”

She encouraged her successor as minister of finance, who will inherit a considerable deficit, to use good fiscal management.

“We really should not be building up debt for our grandchildren,” she said.

Casey will continue to serve as MLA until the next provincial election. She’s also staying on as the finance minister until the next premier names her successor. Casey was appointed to the position in 2015 after a cabinet shuffle.

When asked if she would consider a return to the political sphere, the 73-year-old hinted her family will be her priority.

“I’ll still have my grandchildren after the next election.”

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Stephen Wentzell

Stephen Wentzell is an ambitious and resilient investigative writer from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has been a journalist for a third of his life....

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