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N.S. Tories gather in Halifax for first AGM since Houston took over
It's a big weekend for Nova Scotia's opposition Progressive Conservatives.
The party's annual convention is in Halifax and has attracted some big names, including former MP Peter MacKay, but all eyes are on the party's new leader, Tim Houston.
The Tories will discuss a number of issues facing the province this weekend, including Northern Pulp and the economy.
According to Houston, the top concern in Nova Scotia right now is health care.
“We have big issues in the health care system and we have a government that won't accept that there are big issues in our health care system,” Houston said. “When you ask this government about health care, they will quote some statistic or they will tell you some wonderful program they are doing and the reality on the ground is health outcomes are deteriorating.”
This is the first AGM the party has held since Houston took on the top job.
"It's a chance for Tim Houston to really strut his stuff as a leader,” said Nova Scotia Community College professor Ed McHugh.
McHugh says while the Tories face some challenges, they also have some opportunities.
“If you look at what's happened in terms of cutbacks, in terms of the two committees, health (and) public accounts committee restricting the number of meetings they can have,” McHugh said. “I think the PCs have a real opportunity to become the party that communicates with the people and with the labour movement to move some of the causes forward.”
The AGM is expected to bring hundreds of people to the city.
The executive director of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission says the region has been hosting a lot of political events recently.
“There's always something special when it's a political convention like this because Nova Scotia's got such a rich history,” said Paul MacKinnon.“It's the 200th anniversary of the Nova Scotia Legislature, we're great hosts, and it's great to have political discourse happening on our city streets downtown.”
Houston says the party is already gearing up for the next provincial election.
“The time is now to be ready for an election,” he said. “We're two years into this mandate so there'll be an election within two years and we just need to be focused on understanding the issues, talking about ways to address the issues, so that when the election comes, we will be ready.”
The AGM runs until Sunday.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Natasha Pace.