Nova Scotia Tories’ ag critic returns as party wins election

PCs oust incumbent Liberals, form majority

John Lohr. (PCPartyns.ca)

The agriculture critic for Nova Scotia’s opposition Progressive Conservatives is set to return to the legislature, this time as part of a majority government, following Tuesday’s provincial election.

As of about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, Tim Houston’s PCs were elected or leading in 31 of 55 ridings, followed by Iain Rankin’s incumbent Liberals with 17 and Gary Burrill’s New Democrats with six, along with one independent, ex-PC MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin.

The vote brings Nova Scotia’s PCs back from the opposition benches where they’ve sat since 2009.

John Lohr, the PCs’ incumbent opposition critic for agriculture as well as addictions and mental health, held his Kentville-area riding of Kings North on Tuesday night, drawing 3,971 of 8,883 votes cast with all polls reporting.

Lohr’s count was well ahead of Liberal challenger Geof Turner, with 2,602 votes, and NDP candidate Erin Patterson, with 1,876.

As per his biography on the party’s website, Lohr came to the ag critic portfolio with a long resume in the industry, buying his father’s farm in 1987 and growing crops including potatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots, dill, parsley, leeks, garlic, beets, wheat and soybeans.

After studying in England as a Nuffield International scholar in 1997, Lohr bought a spice processing company in 1999 and rebranded it under the name Farmer John’s Herbs. In 2017 he sold both the farm and spice business to his two eldest sons.

Lohr has also served with organizations including the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, Horticulture Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Vegetable and Potato Producers Association, the Crop Development Institute and Farmers Helping Farmers. He entered provincial politics as the MLA for Kings North in 2013 and was re-elected in 2017.

While Houston — who beat Lohr and three other contenders in the provincial PCs’ leadership race in 2018 — has yet to name a cabinet, Lohr comes up as the most obvious choice for the agriculture minister’s post in a new government bench with limited ag experience.

The province’s Liberals and New Democrats will also be seeking new critics on the agriculture file before the legislative assembly resumes sitting.

Keith Colwell, the Liberals’ incumbent agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture minister and an MLA for 28 years, announced last month he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Lisa Roberts, the provincial NDP’s ag critic and an MLA since 2015, announced earlier this year she would instead seek the federal New Democrats’ nomination for the Halifax riding. A federal election was called Sunday to be held Sept. 20. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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Dave Bedard

Editor, Daily News, Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.

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