'We have the best ideas and we have the best team,' Rankin says in interview with CTV Atlantic
Nova Scotians choose a new government on Aug. 17. Last Tuesday night, CTV Atlantic launched a series of interviews with the leaders of the three major parties. Tonight, anchor Steve Murphy spoke with Liberal leader Iain Rankin. Here is an edited transcript of that interview.
STEVE MURPHY: Mr. Rankin as the only province without a fixed election date, the decision to have this summer election during a pandemic was yours and yours alone. How can a state of emergency and active state of emergency, possibly be the best time to have an election?
IAIN RANKIN: We're approaching the final phase of our recovery plan. We still need to take it slow. I've been the premier for five months now, I came in at the tail end of the the fourth year of our mandate plan. We did confront the third wave and, credit to Nova Scotians and a strong public health team, we got through that very difficult period of time. I've accomplished the things that I ran on in the leadership race, I delivered on a lot of commitments around equity, environment, and growing back a strong economy, so I'm really excited about going out to Nova Scotians. I feel the momentum out there people are excited, and I'm looking forward to Nova Scotians weighing in on what to do next on ensuring that we have a strong economic recovery now.
SM: You're saying we're nearing the end, when do you plan to end the state of emergency?
IR: We still have a ways to get to 75 per cent of our second doses to complete Phase 4 and enter into Phase 5 -- that's when you'll see masks start to come off Nova Scotians. I do contact Dr. Strang to continue to watch things especially with an uptick in cases in New Brunswick and other provinces, so we're not out of the woods yet. We need to stay focused, but we are recovering and this election is about ideas for the future. (I'm) really proud of some of the investments that we're bringing out to ensure that we have the right training for skills for those jobs of tomorrow and I'm really excited about this province's leading on the economic recovery, the way that we lead the country in our pandemic response.
SM: To be clear though, masks come off at 75 per cent of the eligible population with double doses, that's a firm promise?
IR: I value my relationship with Dr. Strang and Public Health. What he said is that we would shift to an education mode, so we would look at some kind of voluntary wearing of masks in indoor places. We've seen some success, obviously with no flu and other symptoms of other viruses being spread, so we're learning through the pandemic and we're learning about all sorts of things on how to tackle tough issues and healthcare and things like that so we are looking to open up slowly and, again, this is how we were able to lead in our vaccine delivery program because it's evidence based, that's how we should continue to respond to the pandemic.
SM: You will know Mr. Rankin that no government in Nova Scotia has been reelected to a third consecutive majority since John Buchanan back in 1988. So, after eight years of majority rule, your party has had the opportunity surely to implement all of its policies and a party can be judged on what it has done and what it hasn't done in eight years. So, given your eight years in power. Why should Nova Scotians stick with this party, when it's already had two terms, and all of the opportunities, it could have needed to do whatever he wanted?
IR: We have the best ideas and we have the best team, Frankly, I've said in the leadership race that this is about what's next for Nova Scotians. We have done tremendous work. We were in a strong financial position as we entered the pandemic and that's how this province was able to respond to help Nova Scotians that needed it the most -- businesses that were forced to shut down. Now, we need to start to look at the challenges that were highlighted through the pandemic. We've made some real important investments in my first budget in long-term care, expanding mental health supports, recruiting more doctors. These are the things that we need to tackle together in the same spirit that we were able to come together to tackle COVID-19 and I'm really excited about a renewed Liberal team, you know, people from all over different backgrounds and this is really exciting for us.
SM: But you're now talking about doing things you didn't do during the eight years when you had the opportunity to do them. Why didn't you and Stephen McNeil, do these things, when you had the opportunity?
IR: Well I can get many examples of things that we did really well: pre-primary program when we got back to a fiscal position was the single largest social program of my lifetime. Now we've just signed a landmark deal with the federal government for childcare $10 a day childcare. This is how we support families in this province and, yes, of course our population is growing faster than it ever has, so we have housing issues. I'm prepared to make the investments we've already shown commitment to, to ensure that we tackle these tough issues. I want to work together with Nova Scotians with that same tenacity that we've tackled the pandemic with.
SM: But I want to be clear Mr. Rankin for those who like the Stephen McNeil approach his politics and his style. Are you offering what amounts to a third McNeil term or is this a vote for something different?
IR: This is an evolution of where we've come from and where we need to go. Stephen McNeil has been a great leader for this province. He's made courageous decisions confronting environmental racism at Boat Harbour, the way that he was close with Dr. Strang and their response to the pandemic. I want to continue on with that evidence-based approach, but we have obviously different views on different things, and we need to start moving forward. I think I've clearly laid out my vision around equity environment and the economy, how those things go together for my throne speech, to the budget, all the way through to this campaign. I'm going to stay focused on supporting Nova Scotians during this period of time, and look forward to a real strong economic recovery that supports all Nova Scotians.
SM: Your brief tenure as leader of the Liberal Party and Premier has been marked by a few controversies that I do want to touch on. I want to begin with giving you an opportunity to clear the air right here and right now about what really happened with your candidate in Dartmouth South, and why her candidacy was withdrawn. What happened?
Photo via: Liberals Nova Scotia
The Nova Scotia Liberal party has named a replacement for Dartmouth South in the upcoming election, after former candidate Robyn Ingraham dropped out last week following a scathing social media post claiming it was due to revealing photos.
IR: Well, respectfully, Steve, I really like to have an opportunity to speak to Robin myself. My understanding from my team is she withdrew. I'm really proud of the work that my team has done. I've asked them to go out and find very diverse candidates that come from different backgrounds, different life experiences. I wanted to have 50 per cent women on the ticket -- we have 42 per cent. We're going to continue to welcome people from, from different backgrounds, and we obviously have a record on that. We've created programs for equity, we have new office of equity and anti-racism initiatives, so I'm really proud of those efforts. We have a new candidate and Dartmouth South, and I'm looking forward to continuing on in this campaign talking about the tough issues that are facing Nova Scotians.
SM: But Mr. Rankin, this is still shrouded in fog. I mean, at one point you said you didn't know and hadn't spoken with Ms. Ingraham, but surely as leader of the party, don't you approve all of your candidates. Don't you talk to all of your candidates?
IR: I tried to have a discussion with them and I have tried. So three times, I've tried to reach out to Robin, and the green light process is an arm's length one, so that they're able to go through everything objectively. I am sad to lose a candidate, as any leader would be, and I was sad that she withdrew, but I have to move forward and focus on the things that really matter to me. Equity matters to me, confronting the climate crisis matters to me, and growing back a strong economy. These are the issues that are so important in this campaign; I need to stay focused.
SM: You've also said transparency matters to you. You became leader of the Liberal party and premier without publicly disclosing your youthful DUI charges. What might people conclude -- what should they conclude from those DUIs in the way that you have accounted for them?
IR: I was forthcoming with that information when I decided to run for public office. I'm not a perfect person, I never said that I was obviously, when I was 20 years old, I made decisions that I regret deeply. But, I needed to find a way to move on with my life and learn from my experiences, good and bad.
SM: Fair enough.
IR: It's a privilege to be the premier of this province. That's a (matter of) public record, and I'll move on and continue to do my best and focus on what matters to me and that's helping Nova Scotians.
SM: But why did you not feel it was necessary to reveal the DUIs publicly until you were actually asked about it by a reporter just before the writs were dropped? Why not put that on the table, when you start the leadership of the party for example?
IR: Well, I thought what was relevant to running for premier and MLA was what you can bring or who you are, then, and not what happened 20 years ago. I did disclose it voluntarily to everyone who needed to know. This was not something that was a secret amongst my circles, in my community and I wanted to make sure that I was up front with Nova Scotians and that I had an opportunity to tell them myself and that's what I did.
SM: But does the general public, not have a right to know about the criminal conviction of a person seeking public office as a point of principle?
IR: Sure and I did let them know, and, you know, this isn't something that I'm proud of, but I never shied away from it. Anytime anyone asked me a question about this, I was forthright with them. I've moved on and I'm now focused on being the leader of this province and ensuring that we can be the very best that we possibly can be. That's going to be my continued focus this campaign, is about where we need to go next after getting through a very difficult period of time in this pandemic. I believe that we have the best ideas, the best team, and I look forward to earning a support from all Nova Scotians.
SM: As recently as today, you've again characterized yourself as an environmentalist. You were minister of environment, but of course critics say you talk the talk, and didn't walk the walk and they cite the decision to remove Owls Head from the parks and protected areas list. It was identified as a park, by the way in 2013, but not designated and to be clear, the Supreme Court has said that you did nothing illegal, but I do want to ask, knowing that it been on the protected list, and that it was supposed to be a park. Why were you comfortable with the delisting Owls Head?
Calls are mounting for the Nova Scotia government to reconsider a potential sale of a section of "spectacularly rugged" Crown-owned land along the province's Eastern Shore to private developers.The 285-hectare area of coastal barrens and wetlands known as Owls Head, shown in a handout photo, was quietly removed from a government list of lands awaiting legal protection last March. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Nova Scotia Nature Trust)
The 285-hectare area of coastal barrens and wetlands known as Owls Head, shown in a handout photo, was quietly removed from a government list of lands awaiting legal protection last March. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Nova Scotia Nature Trust)
IR: Well I'm glad that the court showed that we followed the right process, but I do believe that we're still early in the process and that the public deserves to have the say that people have Little Harbour deserve to have a say.
SM: Mr. Rankin, with all due respect, I'm asking you, why did you feel it was okay to de-list it?
IR: It was on a list of candidate protection areas and we had the option and, just like every government before us did, Progressive Conservatives, NDP, did not protect that piece of land even though it was on the list. But we're moving forward we've protected over 60 parks recently -- the size of Owls Head are bigger. We're prepared to protect more. We're on our way to hitting 14 per cent with a new commitment today to reach 17 per cent. I think it's obvious that we support conservation in this province, but we need to make sure that all voices are heard, and that's what I'm prepared to do in this case and we're following the right process.
Editor's note: CTV Atlantic will host a round table with all three of the major party leaders Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Atlantic Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
The Canadian government has quietly lifted its advisory against non-essential international travel, marking the first time since March 2020 that the notice has been lifted. 'Be aware that although you are better protected against serious illness if you are vaccinated, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19,' the updated advisory states.
Search resumes for potential unmarked graves outside former hospital that treated Indigenous patients
A search prompted by ground-penetrating radar is resuming again on land in Edmonton that houses a former hospital where Indigenous patients suffered abuse.
A prop firearm discharged by veteran actor Alec Baldwin, who is producing and starring in a Western movie, killed his director of photography and injured the director Thursday at the movie set outside Santa Fe, authorities said.
Edward Rogers is out as board chair of Rogers Communications Inc., a move that comes as the latest development in a boardroom drama that has prompted the departure of a senior executive and the launch of an executive oversight committee.
Queen Elizabeth II spent a night in a hospital for checks this week after cancelling an official trip to Northern Ireland on medical advice, Buckingham Palace said Thursday. The palace said the 95-year-old monarch went to the private King Edward VII's Hospital in London on Wednesday for 'preliminary investigations.'
Canadian propane prices are skyrocketing alongside natural gas due, in large part, to growing demand from overseas markets, a price surge analysts say will have a big impact on rural Canadians this winter.
The FBI's Denver office said Thursday that remains found a day earlier in a Florida nature reserve are those of Brian Laundrie, who disappeared last month just days after his fiance Gabby Petito was reported missing.
It appears one B.C. hatchery program is off to a promising start, by the size of the Chinook salmon they’ve been pulling in from the Wannock River near Bella Bella.
The federal government has announced a suite of changes to the popular income and business support programs put in place during the pandemic and set to expire on Saturday. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland reminded Canadians on Thursday that the measures were always intended to be 'temporary.'
Capacity limits on restaurants and gyms in Ontario could be lifted next Monday, as the Ford government considers new measures for establishments that require proof of vaccination certificates, sources say.
Nephew of former 'Dragons' Den' star who 'inadvertently' shot and killed best friend pleads guilty to manslaughter
A Caledon man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter after he accidentally shot and killed his best friend with a machine gun at his uncle’s home in 2018.
Prayers and pain at funeral for 17-year-old girl killed crossing intersection near Scarborough school
Her death is being described as an excruciating loss. The emotion during the service, held at the Islamic Research Centre of Canada, was overwhelming and raw.
Coun. Sean Chu defies calls to step down despite outrage over admitted sexual contact with teenage girl
Embattled Calgary Coun. Sean Chu said during a press conference on Thursday that he will not resign.
Election officials have denied four separate requests for recounts for Monday's civic election, including in Ward 4, the race that re-elected Coun. Sean Chu.
The man wanted in the accused homicide of Calgary's John Smith is now in police custody.
Alberta county star Corb Lund is not backing down on his fight against coal mining in Alberta’s eastern slopes - as he enlisted some help in a new protest video.
Alberta reported 770 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday as pressure on the health care system starts to ease.
A 5.0 magnitude earthquake shook central Alberta Wednesday night.
A doctor and McGill professor stopped in a no-parking zone in Mount-Royal on Tuesday. It ended with police entering his home, handcuffing him and dragging him out the door in front of his daughters, he says.
An Indigenous land acknowledgement from the Montreal Canadiens last week sent shockwaves through Quebec, with bipartisan backlash from politicians who called the Habs' statement false.
Local and provincial police officers recovered four guns during a raid in a residence in Ville St-Laurent, a borough in northern Montreal.
Capacity limits on restaurants and gyms in Ontario could be lifted next Monday, as the Ford government considers new measures for establishments that require proof of vaccination certificates, sources say.
Brett O'Grady, 35, was reported missing on Thursday, Oct. 14. He was last seen in the area of Avro Circle in the east end.
Ottawa Hospital set to place more than 300 employees on unpaid leave for violating vaccination policy
More than 300 Ottawa Hospital employees who aren’t fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence as of Nov. 1.
Sarnia, Ont.’s mayor is calling on the federal government to remove costly COVID-19 testing as a requirement for Canadians returning to Canada from the United States.
After a nearly two days of delays, Const. Stephen Williams tendered his resignation to the London Police Service effective Nov. 22.
A serious two-vehicle collision closed Highbury Avenue near Manning Drive on Thursday afternoon.
Highway 11 has reopened after a diesel spill that closed the highway and forced evacuations
It was Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day on Thursday, a day to recognize early child care professionals who work with young children on a daily basis.
Jaymie-Lyne Hancock lost her brother DJ seven years ago in a crash involving a drunk driver.
A doctor from Ste. Anne Manitoba is now facing 22 counts of sexual assault after police laid additional charges.
The number of direct-care workers in the province who are on unpaid leave continues to grow.
Following a manhunt that spanned two days, Manitoba RCMP arrested a suspect deemed a high risk to the general public.
On Wednesday, the Saskatchewan government released its COVID-19 data and modelling which projects what the coming weeks and months could look like in a province that currently has the highest coronavirus-related death rate in Canada.
Indoor gathering limits for private and public events must be implemented immediately as a public health order, according to the Saskatchewan Medical Association.
Two more Saskatchewan residents have died of COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths related to the virus to 800.
The Saskatchewan government released a statement Thursday morning saying social media posts about ICU patient transfers should be “disregarded” following immense confusion among doctors and officials over planned ICU patient transfers to Ontario.
Regina police have launched an investigation into the city’s 11th homicide of 2021.
The Saskatchewan government has confirmed that three additional ICU patients will be transferred to Ontario over the next three days, bringing the number of patients sent out of province to nine.
The day after both case-count and death-rate averages rose in B.C., the province's health ministry announced hundreds more cases of COVID-19.
A B.C. supreme court judge has granted the province’s request for a permanent injunction against Rolly's Restaurant in Hope, which remained open and continued to serve customers despite having its business and liquor licences suspended on Oct. 7, for not checking vaccine passports.
B.C. Premier John Horgan seems to be backing away from a steep $25 fee proposed for Freedom of Information requests, while doubling down on controversial legislative changes that would make charging for disclosure possible.
Health officials identified 61 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Thursday as hundreds of coronavirus cases remain active in the region.
An expected 'cyclone bomb' has emergency responders bracing for an increase in activity as the storm moves onto Vancouver Island Thursday and into the weekend.
A whale-watching guide on Vancouver Island has been fined thousands of dollars for getting too close to a pod of orcas.