HALIFAX: With a new leader for the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia comes new critic responsibilities for several members of the PC Caucus.

“I’m proud to lead such a strong team of motivated MLAs,” said Tim Houston, who was elected leader of the PCs at a convention held on October 26 and 27.

On November 7, he announced the new critic responsibilities for his caucus.

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“Our role is to hold the Liberals to account and also put forward solutions that will make life easier for people in our province.”

Cape Breton-Richmond MLA Alana Paon will remain the critic for Tourism Nova Scotia, but a new addition to her portfolio includes serving as the critic for the Department of Agriculture and Youth. She will continue as a member of the Standing Committee on Human Resources.

Prior to November 7, she was the critic for Tourism Nova Scotia, Business, Trade, Nova Scotia Business Inc., and Innovacorp.

Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster’s new portfolio has himas the critic for the Finance and Treasury Board, as well as Gaelic Affairs and Energy and Mines. He will sit as a member of the Standing Committee on Assembly Matters.

Prior to the change, he was also the critic for Service Nova Scotia and the Chair of Public Accounts Committee.

Speaking to The Reporter last Friday, Paon said she’s excited about the critic role and also excited to remain a part of the Standing Committee on Human Resources.

“I feel like Christmas came early for me with the roles and responsibilities I’ve been assigned,” she said. “Having been farming myself for the last 10 years, I’m well-versed in the difficulties that go along with starting a farm. I’m looking forward to meeting with farmers across the province and talking about the importance of food security and the obstacles that are in their way.”

Paon said, in her 20s, she did a lot of work with youth leadership development, making her a good fit to work with youth. She added that Houston did a great job engaging young people during the leadership convention.

“We’d really like to keep that going,” she said. “The three portfolios I hold can overlap. Youth is connected to agriculture; I myself was a young farmer, and that’s what we need. I see an opportunity to have young people mentored by farmers who are maybe aging out.

“So far as youth and tourism, we have an excellent example of outside the box thinking with [the Whycocomagh business] Farmer’s Daughter – a perfect example of providing an opportunity for young couples coming to Nova Scotia.

“We need to look at outside the box thinking to marry certain sectors.”

MacMaster spoke to The Reporter about his new portfolio last Monday morning.

Shortly after being first elected in 2009, MacMaster was named Finance Critic. He served in that capacity for three years, so his new role as Critic of Finance and the Treasury Board is familiar territory.

“I’ve got a lot of interest in finance, and I think I have a pretty good knowledge of where everything is in the budget,” he said. “I can speak a little bit of Gaelic; I have a passion for it, so I’m looking forward to resuming those duties. Energy is also something I’m very interested in.”

He noted that mining in the province still has an economic impact, but the industry is not operating at its full potential.

“It makes a huge impact on the economy if there’s something to extract and it can be done safely.”

The Standing Committee on Assembly Matters isn’t expected to meet all that often but when it does, MacMaster said, it will serve an important purpose.

“It’s supposed to be for members of legislature to review how legislature is run,” he added.