Stephen McNeil is anxious to get his judgment day over with.

This Saturday the Liberal party will end many months of speculation when members vote on whether they support McNeil as their leader at their annual general meeting.

He wishes it hadn’t taken this long.

“It should take place much quicker following a campaign. We’re now 12 months almost into this government’s mandate and we still have this issue of the review that’s been hanging there,” he said on Thursday.

In the future, McNeil would like to see the mandatory leadership reviews wrapped up within six months of an election.

If support is under 50 per cent, a new leadership race is automatically triggered. But anything above that it’s up to McNeil to decide whether or not to stay on as leader.

He’s refused to declare what number he considers a proper mandate so people have been left to guess. Is 70 per cent support good enough? 60 per cent?

Also, considering the party’s history of kneecapping its leaders and the anonymous smear campaign being waged against McNeil behind the scenes, why would anyone even want to be leader of the Liberal party?

When McNeil hears this he chuckles.

“It’s not just the Liberal party. More recently Dr. (John) Hamm, for example, went through this as leader of the Conservative party prior to forming government,” he said, noting he spoke with Hamm over the phone recently.

McNeil’s been travelling around the province pushing hard for the chance to stay on as leader. And while he still won’t lay out a number, he’s confident he’ll be around for a while longer.

“I fully believe, from the support I have received from the party membership, that I will have a percentage that will not only make me happy but will make you happy and anyone else,” he said.

Blogging live
Metro Halifax political reporter Paul McLeod will be blogging live from this weekend’s Liberal AGM in Antigonish. You can follow his blog Behind the Back Bench at

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