Rodney MacDonald's political career began in 1999 when he secured the Progressive Conservative nomination in his home riding of Inverness. In the previous election, PC candidate Randy MacDonald had run a poor third behind Liberal victor Charles MacDonald. In 1999, however, Rodney MacDonald effectively doubled his party's share of the vote and turned a 2445 vote deficit into a 327-vote victory. Four years later, Rodney MacDonald's winning margin grew. An effective campaigner, MacDonald frequently charmed voters with his fiddle-playing on the hustings.
Rodney MacDonald has never sat on the opposition benches at Province House. In the cabinet of Premier John HAMM, MacDonald served as Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, Nova Scotia Health Promotion and Immigration and as Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation and administration of the Heritage Property Act.
In September 2005, Hamm announced his plans to step down as party leader. At the time MacDonald's lack of experience in administering a major government department made him an unlikely successor. Nevertheless, MacDonald was the only member of the government caucus to seek the leadership against former finance minister Neil LeBlanc and retired executive Bill Black. MacDonald campaigned on strengthening the four "pillars" of Canadian society: the economy, education, health care and the environment. He also made specific pledges to reduce class sizes, make physical education mandatory in upper grades, create a separate department of agriculture, and place Nova Scotia at the forefront of wireless technology. While some questioned whether MacDonald was too young to be premier, MacDonald pointed out that beloved Tory icon Robert STANFIELD was also 34 when he became party leader.
After a closely contested race, Rodney MacDonald was sworn in as Nova Scotia's 26th premier on 24 February 2006. Heading a minority government but well-situated in public opinion polls, MacDonald waited less than three months before introducing a proposed budget, dissolving the legislature and calling a general election for 13 June 2006. MacDonald's PC Party won enough seats to form a minority government.
The popularity of both MacDonald and his government was short-lived, culminating in a vote of non confidence over a proposed money bill in 2009. On 9 June the PCs and Liberals were defeated by the NDP, and for the first time in the province's history another party would be in power. The NDP's leader, Darrell DEXTER, succeeded MacDonald as the new premier. He resumed his musical career shortly after.
See alsoPREMIERS OF NOVA SCOTIA TABLE.