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N.S. Community Services minister steps down, Liberal crosses floor to take his place

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Former Liberal cabinet minister and Halifax-Atlantic MLA Brendan Maguire has broken his rank with the party and joined the Houston Progressive Conservative government as its new Community Services minister.

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston announced Thursday morning that Progressive Conservative MLA Trevor Boudreau was stepping down as minister of Community Services immediately due to personal and health reasons.

Brian Wong, conservative MLA, will become L’Nu Affairs minister on top of his role as Advanced Education minister.

Maguire was first elected as a Liberal MLA in 2013 and has represented constituents of Halifax-Atlantic ever since. He has also served as deputy speaker and the Minister of Municipal Affairs under the previous Liberal government.

Maguire will be sworn in today as a member of the Progressive Conservative caucus.

“The fact is I have been homeless,” said Maguire, who read from a prepared statement. "I have lived in foster care and I know the challenges but I also know the opportunities.”

Maguire thanked his constituents, friends and family members and said he got into politics to help the community and this is the greatest opportunity to continue that work.

“I am confident I can better get things done and advocate (for constituents) as part of this government,” said Maguire. “I will work to earn their trust again in the next election as part of Premier Houston’s team."

Maguire said Houston approached him Sunday about joining the party and taking on the ministerial role left vacant by Boudreau, who will stay on as MLA for Richmond.

Houston gave no further details about Boudreau’s departure but said Maguire is the right person for the job and has full support from his caucus on appointing Maguire for the position.

"He’s been in the legislature for ten years,” said Houston. “He is a former minister and at this point in the mandate Brendan is a person who can do good work for Nova Scotians, and we can do it together,” said Houston.

Maguire was first elected as a Liberal MLA in 2013 and has represented his riding and constituents under three successive governments, where has previously served as deputy speaker and housing minister under the previous Liberal government.

Maguire said crossing the floor to the Progressive Conservatives was the right move and he’s proven that he’s able to work with elected members regardless of their party affiliation.

“I am friends with members from all sides of the aisle,” said Maguire.

When asked about changing party affiliations, Maguire said his first commitment is to his constituents but went as far as saying some voters in his riding said they were voting for him but didn’t favour the Liberals.

“The number one thing I heard during the last election was, ‘I’m voting for you in spite of your party,’” said Maguire. “'I am voting for you in spite of your political affiliations.’"

Houston and Maguire have clashed on political issues and policies before but the Premier brushed that aside and says he has full confidence in the newest member of his party and believes he has the experience and tenacity to get things done.

"He’s like a dog with a bone and when he says he’ll do something, he rolls up his sleeves and he gets to work to get things done,” said Houston. “He has the lived experience that will be an asset to the Community Services portfolio."

Maguire has been open about his personal story, where he was part of the foster care system and spent time living homeless in Halifax as a youth and teen.

“Community Services is something that’s near and dear to my heart,” said Maguire. “It’s an opportunity to put Nova Scotians first, ahead of my own career.”

In a statement, Liberal leader Zach Churchill thanked Maguire for his service and his passion for his community.

"I have served with Brendan for 10 years and I admire his passion for his community," said Churchill. "While I am sad to see him leave our caucus, I know he shares our concerns about the affordability crisis."

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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