UPDATED at noon
© Ashley Thompson
Hants West MLA Chuck Porter is no longer a Progressive Conservative member of the House of Assembly. He now sits as an independent.
The Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives have one fewer MLA today.
Hants West MLA Chuck Porter announced he will now serve his constituents as an independent member of the House of Assembly.
Porter, who was first elected as a Tory member in 2006, announced his decision to resign from the Progressive Conservative Caucus this morning, June 13.
His move reduces the PC presence in the house to 10 members.
In an interview with the Hants Journal, Porter admitted he's been contemplating shedding his blue stripes for months due to the direction the party is taking under the leadership of Jamie Baillie.
“This is not just about two people who don't get along,” said Porter. “This is about a way of doing business that I don't accept.”
Porter said he started to feel like he was losing the ability to adequately express the concerns of the people of Hants West.
“I'm not going to be told when to speak and how to speak and what topics to speak on,” he said.
Porter believes he will be more effective as an independent member – and he hopes his constituents agree.
“When you try to stifle me, you stifle 15,000 voters in Hants West,” he said. “That is not democracy. That is not what I ran for.”
Porter said it's easy for politicians to become distracted by partisan politics, but he's always remembered who he works for.
“Where I, as the representative, think I can do the best job is where I'll be,” he stressed.
As for the next election, there's a strong possibility Porter's name will be on a ballot.
“As long as I'm enjoying myself here and enjoying the work that I do for the people - and they'll have me - we'll be around.”
Baillie fires back
Baillie issued a press release of his own following Porter's announcement. The PC Leader said he met with Porter in Windsor June 12 to “address his non-performance.”
“When you try to stifle me, you stifle 15,000 voters in Hants West. That is not democracy. That is not what I ran for.” Chuck Porter
The release issued by Baillie said Porter missed five Public Accounts committee meetings and 12 caucus meetings since the election in October.
“For me, this is a difficult day, but accountability must mean something if people are ever going to have faith in our system again,” said Baillie, in the prepared statement.
Contrary to what Baillie concedes, Porter said he invited the party leader to visit him in Windsor to discuss their strained working relationship.
“It had absolutely nothing to do with my performance. At no time was this ever raised yesterday or in the past,” said Porter.
“His biggest concern, his final comment on leaving was, "If you are planning to do something let's do it together. He wanted to control my leaving.”
Porter said he has missed some meetings in Halifax, but participated via conference call from Windsor.
“I have also shared with caucus that I have had health issues, which included high blood pressure, and was told to take some time to rest. I work every day in Hants West for the people in this constituency and have since I was elected,” said Porter.
“I have to say that fabricated releases such as this are just another reason that I am no longer part of Mr. Baillie's caucus,” he concluded.
Porter has won three consecutive elections, holding onto his seat in NDP and Liberal surges that resulted in majority governments.