HALIFAX -- The race to replace Premier Stephen McNeil as leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal party got a little more competitive Thursday after recently resigned health minister Randy Delorey announced a run.

Delorey, who resigned from his portfolio Wednesday, is the third member of McNeil's cabinet to enter the race, following announcements by former ministers Labi Kousoulis and Iain Rankin.

"We need a leader who is ready to keep guiding us through these challenging times and who is planning for life after COVID," Delorey said in a video he posted to Facebook announcing his bid.

"This moment calls for a proven leader. I am that leader."

Delorey, who represents the Antigonish riding, touted his experience holding several portfolios under McNeil, including finance and environment.

He said his campaign will focus on improving health care and education while supporting those who struggle financially. "And we need to embrace the social awakening taking place and address systemic issues within our society," he said.

His launch video included endorsements from cabinet ministers Kelly Regan and Gordon Wilson; Liberal members Margaret Miller, Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, and Bill Horne; MP Mike Kelloway; former MP Rodger Cuzner; and former provincial Liberal party president John Gillis.

Delorey was first elected to the legislature in 2013 and was re-elected in 2017.

The candidate deadline is Friday, therefore barring a last-minute entry, the race to replace McNeil will be a three-man affair.

Kousoulis, member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island and former minister of labour and advanced education, became the first candidate when he entered the race last week. Rankin, who represents the Halifax-area riding of Timberlea-Prospect, launched his campaign Monday after resigning as minister of lands and forestry.

McNeil announced his resignation in August. The party picks its new leader Feb. 6.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 8, 2020.