NS/NB border reopens with arrests, MLA who called for highway shutdown kicked from PC caucus

NS/NB border reopens with arrests, MLA who called for highway shutdown kicked from PC caucus
PAUL CREELMAN / CTV ATLANTIC
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Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston has removed MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin from caucus, releasing a letter this morning attributing the politician's removal to her participation in a blockade shutting down the province's main land entry to New Brunswick.

After Liberal Premier Iain Rankin went back unexpectedly on his announcement to allow New Brunswickers to travel to Nova Scotia without quarantining, Smith-McCrossin, the Progressive Conservative MLA for the border region of Cumberland North, posted a message on Facebook urging locals to shut down the Trans-Canada highway near Amherst to protest.

Protesters gathered at both the main highway and at a smaller land crossing in Tidnish. After a half day of blockading, Smith-McCrossin posted an update on social media yesterday morning urging an end to the protest and for residents to join her in Halifax to demand a meeting with the premier.

RCMP were on scene during the protest, but did not move to clear the blockade and make arrests until yesterday evening.

Houston announced the removal of Smith-McCrossin this morning, stating that he had the “full support of [the PC Caucus] in this decision to remove her:

After a Zoom meeting with PC MLAs and a discussion with Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, I made the decision to remove Ms. Smith-McCrossin from the PC Caucus. The decision will also extend to future elections where Ms. Smith-McCrossin will not be permitted to run as a PC.

I appreciate her frustration and the frustration of everyone affected by the Premier's 11th hour changes. These changes are a gut punch to people and to businesses in Nova Scotia. As a Caucus, we are focused on holding the Premier to account for his decisions but Ms. Smith-McCrossin's failure to accept accountability for her actions at the blockade shows a lack of judgment and personal responsibility. 

As colleagues for the past four years, I owed her an opportunity to explain her actions, and the efforts she took to conceal those actions from her Caucus colleagues. Unfortunately, Ms. Smith-McCrossin refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing and — when explicitly asked by her Caucus — refused to apologize to Nova Scotians.

Rankin was elected as the head of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia during a party convention to take the place of the outgoing Stephen McNeil, who resigned after nearly twenty years in politics.

On Tuesday, Rankin, along with chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang announced that while residents from Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island may enter the province freely, New Brunswickers would not be given the same courtesy and must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. Rankin later stated that he had not discussed this departure from earlier plans to throw the doors open for New Brunswickers with the province's premier Blaine Higgs.

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