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As conservative unity falters federally, is Nova Scotia next?

A prominent Canadian political theme in 2022 is conservative unity. After losing a federal election in 2021, the second-largest party in parliament gave the boot to their leader back in February.

The cause of the internal division could result from the frustration of not winning an election in over a decade. It could also result from generational divides in media consumption.

Whatever the cause may be, new conservative parties are popping up and making a significant impact all across the country.

Most Canadians know of Maxime Bernier's Peoples Party, which received about 7% of the vote in the Prairies in the previous federal election. But the phenomenon of conservative defections exists provincially as well.

In Alberta, the United Conservative Party appears to be not so united. The Wildrose Independence Party has polled as high as 16% this year.

The two biggest provinces, Ontario and Quebec, have elections this year. Both have seen new conservative parties split away. But unlike in Alberta, the Parti conservateur du Québec, the New Blue Party, and the Ontario Party have sitting members in their legislature.

The phenomenon has even reached the Atlantic provinces as the People's Alliance of New Brunswick has polled as high as 13% this year. The current premier of New Brunswick is Blaine Higgs, who won a majority in 2020 with 39% of the vote.

Just next door in Nova Scotia, Tim Houston won a majority one year later with 38% of the vote. Despite the similarity, Nova Scotia MLA John A. MacDonald does not think Nova Scotia will be next for a significant new conservative party because of Tim Houston.

"He's open. He listens to all of the members of the caucus. He takes that advice. And that's how he makes his decisions. It's all based on the leadership." - John A. MacDonald, MLA (PC)

The only ideologically similar party in Nova Scotia is the Atlantica party which received less than 1% of the vote in 2021 with only 16 candidates for the 55 ridings.

Currently, Nova Scotia conservatives have a lot to be happy about provincially. Their leader has the highest approval rating of any premier in the country at 73% according to the Angus Reid Institute.

However, the lack of representation on the federal level is not good news for Nova Scotia conservatives. The second-place candidate for the Conservative leadership in the previous race was Nova Scotia's own Peter McKay. The current race does not have any Atlantic Canadians.

"For years, residents have not been heard. They just want to know that their voice matters. Unless they want to start meeting the people that are on the ground doing stuff, I don't know how they're going to deal with it when it comes to the federal leadership."- John A. MacDonald, MLA (PC)

On September 10th, the country will know the next federal Conservative leader. Nearly all polls have indicated Pierre Poilievre to be the clear frontrunner.

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