Diana Whalen has been removed from the position of deputy leader of the Liberals.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil eliminated the position, held by Whalen for the past three years, on May 19. According to McNeil, the move was simple restructuring and had nothing to do with Whalen refusing to publicly support him in the run-up to his leadership review.
“This was really just the sharing of the workload,” said McNeil. “Since (2009’s) general election, we now have more members in metro, all of whom have a year under their belt, have performed very well in two sittings of the legislature, and have taken on some of the (deputy leader’s) responsibility.”
Whalen also played down the move yesterday, saying the position was never meant to be permanent.
“That title (of deputy leader) was never used in the past in our party,” she said. “It was a courtesy extended after the leadership race in 2007 … It seems like a natural thing to phase that title out.”
McNeil defeated Whalen in a 2007 race to lead the Liberals by a second ballot vote of 718-650. She said McNeil created the position of deputy leader to promote party unity and inclusion after a close race.
May 15’s leadership review, however, was anything but split — McNeil handily won the vote of confidence, with 83 percent of Nova Scotian Grits endorsing him. He said the strong endorsement proved the Liberals are unified in moving forward.
But despite the new message of cordiality between McNeil and Whalen, the last month has been somewhat rocky.
Whalen, along with MLAs Michel Samson and Wayne Gaudet, refused to publicly endorse McNeil in the weeks before his May 15 leadership review, saying they did not want to influence rank and file members.