McNeil takes government back to where it began
By Heather Killen
Stephen McNeil may well be on his way to becoming the ‘people’s premier,’ at least to folks in Annapolis County.
The new premier surprised many when he announced last week that the swearing-in ceremony for himself and his executive council would take place at King’s Theatre, in Annapolis Royal, rather than the usual digs in Halifax.
Moreover he didn’t search out a swanky party venue for his reception. He did what any of us would do if we had to feed a crowd on a taxpayer’s dime. He rented the local legion.
Brigadier-General, the Honourable J.J. Grant CMM, ONS, CD (Ret'd), Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia arrived at King’s Theatre by limousine. Other special guests at the ceremony included former Premier Gerald Regan and former Lieutenant Governors Myra Freeman and Mayann Francis.
The theatre was filled to standing room only, as special guests and media watched the 28th premier and 15 members of the executive council be sworn in on October 22.
In his speech following the oaths, Premier McNeil welcomed everyone to Annapolis Royal, noting it is the birthplace of democracy in Canada.
He added that a new chapter is beginning on the province’s road to democracy, one that respects the traditional values held by small towns like Annapolis Royal.
‘This town and its people embody Nova Scotia’s proud culture and heritage,” he said. “Communities like this are the cornerstone of our province, we must never forget our history and the sacrifices and investments of celebrated towns such as Annapolis Royal.”
He thanked the community for its support and encouragement along his journey, adding that the province’s future depends on the contributions of people from all communities.
“I am deeply humbled that the people of Nova Scotia have asked me to form a new government in our province,” the premier said. “The task before us will have its challenges, but I am eager to begin work.”
Geoff Keymer, manager of King’s Theatre, says he was surprised and pleased when the premier chose Annapolis Royal for this event.
“I don’t think I’ve seen so many well-dressed people and limousines here before,” he joked. “It’s a tremendous thing for the town to host this here, I hope it’s a sign that there is a different focus and that things will slowly turn around for rural areas.”
Local talent was lined up for special performances during the ceremony and reception. Elizabeth Harwood, ARCT, FRCCO, the organist and choir director at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Annapolis Royal was asked to accompany vocalist Caroline Burton, a Grade 12 student at Horton High.
The Kings Chorale Children’s Chorus were also invited to perform, “Where the Wind Goes,” led by Shannon Patterson Young, and accompanied by Elizabeth Harwood.
When Premier McNeil walked across town to his luncheon, his entourage was a group of students from Annapolis West Education Centre.
When they arrived at the Legion, ties were loosened and the polite chitchat and formal handshakes gave way to hugs, as well-wishers waited to offer up their hometown congratulations.