Premier Iain Rankin fields a question at a Halifax Chamber of Commerce pre-election event in Halifax on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Iain Rankin, former N.S. premier and leader of Liberals, announces resignation

Iain Rankin, former N.S. premier and leader of Liberals, announces resignation

Former N.S. premier and leader of Liberals announces resignation

HALIFAX — Former Nova Scotia premier Iain Rankin said Wednesday he would step down as Liberal leader, after reflecting during the holidays on his career and taking responsibility for his party’s loss in the August election to the Progressive Conservatives.

Rankin, 38, served as premier for just over six months, after the party chose him in late February 2021 to succeed two-term premier Stephen McNeil. He entered last summer’s election campaign with a large lead in the polls and momentum from McNeil’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Rankin ran an ineffective campaign and was unable to connect with the public, according to political observers.

He said he’s looking to spend more time with his family and new child. “I’m looking forward to just being able to be a dad,” he told reporters. “I think that’s my No. 1 job now.”

Rankin, Nova Scotia’s 29th premier, said he intends to continue as leader until the party holds a leadership race. He said the Liberals should modernize and learn from an ongoing campaign review.

After his party lost the election, Rankin said at the time he was proud of his record and intended to remain as leader. But on Wednesday, Rankin accepted responsibility for the defeat, adding that he had failed to lay out a clear vision for how the province would recover economically from the pandemic.

“I started to talk to (Liberal) members over the last number of months about how they see things moving forward and there’s work to do there for sure,” he said Wednesday. “A lot of members obviously were disappointed with the election result, and they want to be included in rebuilding this party after eight years in government.”

He said members also told him the party needs to improve the way it communicates with them.