Nova Scotia Liberal Party

The Nova Scotia Liberal Party is a centrist provincial political party in Nova Scotia, Canada and the provincial section of the Liberal Party of Canada. The party currently forms government in Nova Scotia, under the leadership of Premier Iain Rankin. It has held power in the province since the 2013 election, and the current government led by Iain Rankin was the first in Nova Scotia to win two consecutive majorities since the government of John Buchanan,[1] after the victory in the 2017 Nova Scotia election.

The party is descended from the pre-Confederation Reformers in Nova Scotia who coalesced around Joseph Howe demanding the institution of responsible government. The Liberals (Reformers) formed several governments in the colony between 1848 and 1867.

The party split during the debate on Confederation, with Howe and most other Liberals forming an Anti-Confederation Party, while supporters of confederation joined Tory Charles Tupper's Confederation Party. Howe, himself, initially opposed Confederation, but accepted it as a reality after initial attempts to scuttle it failed.

In 1868, Howe joined the pro-Confederation forces, serving for a time in the federal Cabinet of Sir John A. Macdonald.

The Anti-Confederation Party took most of Nova Scotia's seats in the House of Commons of Canada in 1867, as well as forming the government of the new province under William Annand. The new, post-1867 Liberal Party was organised by Annand and his anti-Confederate forces, while the Conservative Party was organised by Tupper and supporters of Sir John A. Macdonald's coalition in the province.

Prior to 1956, the Nova Scotia Liberal Party had ruled the province for 76 of its 89 years, most of that time with fewer than 5 opposition members. It had also ruled prior to confederation, and was responsible for bringing the first responsible government to North America. From 1882 to 1925, the Liberals held power for an unbroken 43 years, the second longest serving political dynasty in Canadian history, behind the Alberta PCs.[2]

From 1956 the Tories gained significant ground with Robert Stanfield's reformation of the "Progressive Conservatives", and have successfully challenged the Liberals for control of the government. The Liberals faltered in the province at the beginning of the 21st century, and for a time were the third-largest party in the House of Assembly, behind the Tories and the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party. After the Nova Scotia Liberal Party's dismal performance in the 2006 election (and failing to win his own seat), leader Francis MacKenzie announced his resignation.[3] He was succeeded by Stephen McNeil. In the 2009 election, the Liberals moved out of third-party status and formed the official opposition once again. In the 2013 election, the Liberals won a majority government, their first since the 1993 election under John Savage, and took office for the first time in 14 years.[4] Under McNeil, a self-described fiscal conservative, the party pushed for balanced provincial budgets and took a firm stance against public sector unions.[5]

The Nova Scotia Liberals are the provincial section of the federal Liberal Party of Canada. The two parties have a shared membership, and Liberal Members of Parliament often become Liberal Members of the Legislative Assembly, and vice versa. Gerald Regan, for instance, became leader of the provincial party after serving as a Liberal MP. He joined the federal Liberal government after serving as premier of Nova Scotia. Angus L. Macdonald, the province's most storied Liberal premier, split his term into two by spending five years as a federal Liberal cabinet minister in the wartime government of William Lyon Mackenzie King.

On August 6, 2020, Stephen McNeil announced he will step down as party leader and that he will continue to act as premier and as the party's leader until the a replacement is found.[6]