He hasn’t made a final decision but Kings North MLA John Lohr is “seriously considering” throwing his hat in the ring for the provincial Progressive Conservative (PC) party leadership.
Current PC party leader Jamie Baillie announced on Nov. 1 that he is stepping down, although he will remain as leader of the Official Opposition in the Nova Scotia Legislature until a new leader is chosen.
Lohr, who was first elected Kings North MLA in 2013 and re-elected in 2017, said in a Nov. 21 interview that he’s been gauging support and weighing family circumstances. There are a lot of “puzzle pieces” to put together in making such a decision.
He said party members weren’t sure what Baillie would do before he announced his intentions at the beginning of the month.
“I’m not ready to announce that I’m going to run right now but I’m very seriously considering it,” Lohr said. “It takes a bit of thought and I’ve certainly been in discussions with people around the province and in Kings North.”
Lohr said he believes that Baillie would have continued to lead the party if the PC’s had formed a minority government following the last election. Baillie will leave the party “in extraordinarily good shape” and Lohr believes there will be a number of MLA’s running in the leadership race.
He said Baillie has brought the party back from debt and has the PC’s well poised to form the next government. The PC’s currently have 17 MLA’s.
Lohr said he hasn’t developed a specific platform but he believes in individual entrepreneurship, creativity, accountability and responsibility. Some of the issues that are top of mind for him - issues that would have to be tackled by whoever the successful leadership candidate may be – include health care in general and mental health care concerns.
He said Kings County is on the verge of a crisis with a number of doctors planning to leave the area or retire by the end of the year. Thousands of more people could be left without a family doctor. With the difficulties the health authority has experienced in recruiting new doctors, this is a “frightening possibility.”
Lohr said that he would continue advocating for mental health courts across the province, although he is pleased by work done on that front so far by the Department of Justice.
Lohr said there are many issues Nova Scotia can’t really address until the economy is moving again.
For example, for rural Nova Scotia to truly thrive, he said, everybody needs access to high-speed internet service. Lohr has been working closely with representatives of iValley and said a model similar to that used in southwestern Ontario with federal, provincial, municipal and private partners could help address the service void.
Lohr, a life-long farmer, said Nova Scotians have to better protect agricultural land across the province. It’s a dream of his to see land that was farmed in the past brought back into production. He said it’s also his dream to see the system used in Holland to train farmers brought here.
With regard to economic development, Lohr said he would like to see moratoriums such as those on uranium mining and onshore gas revisited. He sees more potential in resource extraction but community buy-in would be essential.
Lohr said he’s pleased that Nova Scotia has met greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, but he remains concerned over global warming. Nova Scotians have to look at the effects on the province and ways to deal with them. This includes protecting coastal communities and raising the height of dykes before low-lying areas are flooded.
Lohr is in favour of a recommendation from medical professionals to set the legal age at 25 once the federal government legalizes the recreational use of marijuana. He said there is a lot of scientific evidence that marijuana can damage the developing brain and Lohr believes that some mental health issues stem from that.
“I’m not happy at all with the way the Liberal government in Ottawa is bringing this in, they’re leaving it up to the provinces to really decide on the age,” Lohr said.