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With a new Nova Scotia premier about to be chosen, the current one, Stephen McNeil, Wednesday, unveiled his plans after leaving the legislature for the last time: to “rest up,” lose some weight, and then return to the private sector.
Speaking to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, McNeil said that he felt there was a path to his third consecutive majority government if he chose to continue to lead his Liberal party into the next election.
Instead, last August he announced his resignation, because he “fundamentally believes that after two terms of majority government, it is time.”
At his farewell address before the chamber, McNeil reflected upon some of the highlights of his seven years in power.
The premier, whose government fought tough battles with the province’s public sector unions, said his government’s greatest success was that “we asked people to take less and we invested it back in the rest of our economy."
He also pointed to the kind of shift called for by the Ray Ivany-led Nova Scotian Commission on Building Our New Economy, which brought about an attitudinal change in “who we are and what we are,” which has helped the province attract people and jobs.
McNeil also called the province’s aggressive immigration policy “absolutely the number 1 public policy decision that has changed us in the last seven years.”
The premier told chamber members that when COVID19 hit, and emergency rooms filled up around the world, the fear was that Nova Scotia’s health-care system was going to be overrun.
The government thought that by acting aggressively on the front end, and completely closing down parts of the economy, the virus could be controlled, and the economy gradually opened up again.
McNeil told the businessoriented audience that the province’s entrepreneurs bore much of the brunt of that decision.
But, “that has allowed us to be where we are today,” he said.
The premier had some advice for whoever wins the Liberal leadership contest, thereby becoming premier, on Feb. 6: "Stay true to the values instilled in you, no matter how much noise," he said.