Conservatives were furious when Premier Donald Cameron quit his Pictou East seat in a huff on election night in June, 1993. So on election night in June 2009, Premier Rodney MacDonald was careful to say he had no plans to resign his Inverness seat.
That was then; this is now. Rodney announced this afternoon that he is quitting the seat after all, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper is fixing to name some Senators.
Throughout the spring, the assumption was that Nova Scotia’s next Senate seat would go to Brooke Taylor, Harper’s earliest and most ardent leadership acolyte among Nova Scotia Tories—and the only provincial cabinet minister to campaign against Cumberland-Colchester’s ousted Tory MP, Bill Casey, in his successful re-election bid as an Independent last fall.
Taylor, a former Agriculture Minister who was Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal when the government fell, did not seek re-election.
You have to think that, despite tensions between MacDonald’s administration and Harper’s, the just-defeated Premier could jump the Senate queue.
So what becomes of Taylor? A diplomatic posting is unthinkable. Taylor is an affable fellow, but surely lacks the wattage required for the foreign service. He could be in line for one of those traditional patronage sinecures: a Citizenship Court judgeship, or membership on the Veterans Review and Appeals Board. Frankly, he’d be good at either job.
The other possibility is that Taylor will get the Senate post after all, and MacDonald will become ambassador to someplace requiring no heavy lifting. That’s less of a stretch. But contrarian‘s money is on the Senator Rodney.
All three parties will contest the traditional Liberal seat in the byelection. With a strong candidate—former CBC host Ian McNeil is a possibility—the chance to get back on the government side could make the NDP competitive enough to at least make it hard for the Liberals to regain Inverness.
If the Tories lose the seat to the Liberals, that would make it easier for Cape Breton South’s longtime MLA, Manning MacDonald, to step down, since his vote would no longer be required to preserve Stephen MacNeil’s status as Opposition Leader.