Paon welcomes new PC leader

RICHMOND: Despite not endorsing any of the leadership nominees, a local member of the Progressive Conservative (PC) party is welcoming the election of Pictou East MLA Tim Houston as the party’s new leader.

Alana Paon, MLA for Cape Breton-Richmond, said after a long leadership race it’s exciting to have a permanent leader for the PC who has a great vision for the province, and she feels there is a new enthusiasm within the party.

“Certainly I was happy for Tim, for his win. He’s been working really, really hard on behalf of the party and on behalf of his leadership bid,” she said about her legislature seat-mate. “He came out really strong and early, he continued to have a strong campaign throughout, and obviously, he finished on a high note, so I think that is an indication of things to come for our party and I’m very proud to be serving with him.”

Paon said Houston brings with him a great deal of experience and a different scope; highlighting an idea from his platform in reducing the tax burden for young people in their 20s, which she said will be helpful in retaining youth here in Nova Scotia.

“He has a really strong background as a businessman and understands the value and the importance of business development in our province,” she said. “I know he has a strong interest in a job plan for this province but also to make certain we are where we’re supposed to be with economic development as well.”

Paon maintained a neutral position throughout the leadership bid, and as she said early on in the process, she’d be backing whoever was selected as winner.

“I’ve been really mindful of not speaking out or for any particular candidate because we’ve had five fantastic candidates that put their name forward,” she said. “And I would have been proud to serve under the leadership of any one of those candidates.”

Houston garnered 2,498.75 points out of a total of 5,100 after the first round of voting as the PC party held their convention to choose a new leader in Halifax on October 27. He required 2,551 points to win the leadership, and shortly after the results were announced, Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke, crossed the floor to support Houston as the new party leader.

“I think that it said a lot about the Progressive Conservative Party and about us as Cape Bretoners when Cecil crossed the floor and conceded for the betterment of our party and [for] our party’s unity to Tim,” Paon said.

As leader of the opposition, Houston takes over a party that has 17 of the 51 seats in the provincial legislature, which in the last election saw the party gain seven seats.

Nova Scotia’s PC party membership has soared to 11,600 members and had an 80 per cent voter turnout for this leadership race, Paon said.

“Which is something we should really try to be striving for on a provincial level as well, as far as the next election,” she said. “We’re coming out a stronger and I think a [more] united party. He’s going to be a great leader for our party and he will be a great leader for this province.”

While Paon did not endorse a candidate, Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster supported Houston’s leadership bid.