Fissure exposed within Nova Scotia Tories after Chuck Porter quits

The Canadian Press
June 13, 2014 07:51 AM

HALIFAX - A fissure within Nova Scotia's Opposition was exposed Friday after a prominent member of the Progressive Conservative caucus quit to sit as an Independent.

Chuck Porter said tension with party leader Jamie Baillie was bubbling for some time.

"This started back a long time ago and I have tried to work through that," said Porter, who was the Tory health critic and represents the riding of Hants West.

"I just have not been able to be happy with being part of his team."

Porter accused Baillie of micro-managing, saying the leader became too involved in his affairs and Baillie did not appear to value the opinions of the people he represents.

"I'm not going to be told by my leader to speak when he wants me to speak or on what topics, or meet with whom I want," he said.

Porter said there were many conversations he has had with Baillie since last fall that "did not end well," though he would not be more specific on what those discussions were about.

Baillie agreed he had a difference of opinion with Porter, but said it was centred on Porter's performance and neglect of duty.

Porter missed five public accounts committee meetings and a dozen caucus meetings since the Oct. 8 election, Baillie said.

"When I see an MLA that's only doing half the job, I call them on it," Baillie said.

Baillie said he travelled to Windsor on Thursday to air things out with Porter.

"We had a serious discussion about the expectations I have and that I believe taxpayers have and that's the difference of opinion," he said.

Porter acknowledged that he missed those meetings.

"I couldn't sit there knowing something wasn't right and being hypocritical, if you will," said Porter, a former paramedic who was first elected June 13, 2006.

Baillie said his split with Porter is an isolated case and that he's on the same page with the rest of his caucus, now down to 10 members in the 51-seat, Liberal-dominated legislature.

Porter's departure will cost the Tories in the operating allotment they get for each member.

The legislature's chief clerk said the Progressive Conservatives receive $43,405 per member, a financial hit they would take next year under house rules.

The Tories later notified the Speaker's Office that the party would immediately decline the funding for Porter.


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