Fixing the province’s financial problems is one incentive to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia, Jamie Baillie said yesterday.

Baillie, the chief of staff to former premier John Hamm, announced what has been widely been speculated for months — he will run for vacant leadership of the party.

Baillie made the announcement before about 100 supporters at the Dartmouth waterfront campus of Nova Scotia Community College.

“We face the prospect of a shrinking economy, a declining population, fewer services, and a loss of hope and opportunity for the future,” he told the crowd. “This is unacceptable. We cannot watch our province become uncompetitive in the greater world.”

Baillie, 44, is the first candidate for the leadership of the Tories. He said his campaign will be based on running a transparent government and rebuilding the PC party that now sits at third-party status.

“I think that the whole point today is that it’s time for a new chapter,” he said to the crowd gathered in the school’s cafeteria.

“We need a government that is truly accountable, and truly open and truly transparent.”

Baillie, current CEO of Credit Union Atlantic, does not have a seat in legislature and wouldn’t speak to what seat he would be seeking if elected.

“This is a very challenging endeavour that I am about to start on,” he told reporters. “Winning the leadership is a challenge. Seeking a seat is a challenge. I just happen to believe it’s important work, and that it is worth the challenge.”

Baillie said he will not quit his job at the Credit Union until officially winning the race. If he wins, the party will pay his salary until he is elected to the legislature, he said.

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A who’s-who of provincial Tories attended yesterday’s campaign launch by Jamie Baillie. Notables included former premier John Hamm and former Tory cabinet ministers Jamie Muir, Angus MacIsaac, Mark Parent, David Morse, Judy Streatch and Barry Barnet. Current Tory MLA Chris d’Entremont was also in attendance.