There's a new leadership team at the helm of the Green Party of Nova Scotia.
In a vote held Saturday afternoon, the party elected Anthony Edmonds as leader and Jo-Ann Roberts as deputy leader.
Party convention dictates that leadership contenders run in pairs. Edmonds and Roberts were the only team on the ballot.
Richard Zurawski and Nick Hendren had previously announced a leadership bid, but the running mates withdrew from the race last month.
Members voted both in person, at a small event in Middle Sackville, N.S., and virtually.
Ninety-three per cent of participating members voted in favor of Edmonds and Roberts. There was also a "none of the above" option on the ballot.
Edmonds is an aerospace engineer and has run as a Green candidate in several provincial and federal elections.
Roberts, also a Green candidate several times over, is a retired CBC journalist and served as interim leader of the Green Party of Canada for nearly a year, between Elizabeth May stepping down and Annamie Paul being elected.
In a joint interview a few hours before Saturday's vote, Edmonds and Roberts said they're hoping to grow Green Party membership and get Nova Scotia's first Green MLA elected in the next general election.
There are fewer than 300 Green members across the province. Edmonds said he hopes to double that within a couple years.
"I expect by the time we approach the next election, if things are going according to plan, we should have membership numbers that are on the same order of magnitude as some of the larger parties in the province," he said.
Pushing for first Green MLA
As for getting a Green into Province House, Roberts said the party plans to identify and focus on one riding with the "best chance" of winning. Roberts said it may be a couple years before the riding is determined and it will depend on potential candidates, among other factors.
"We will be spending time in that riding doing good old fashioned … knocking on doors, holding events, building the party within that riding and building the brand [of the party] and the brand of the candidate," Roberts said.
While efforts would be concentrated in that one riding, Roberts said the party will still aim to have a full slate of candidates.
Nova Scotia Greens garnered just over two per cent of the popular vote in the 2021 provincial general election, one per cent ahead of Independents and far behind the third-place NDP, which won nearly 21 per cent of votes.
Greens in other Maritime provinces have gained ground in recent years. In the past two New Brunswick elections the party has won three seats, and Greens now sit as the official opposition in Prince Edward Island.
The federal Greens also seemed to be making strides recently, taking a record three seats in the 2019 election, but things got rocky after that.
Earlier this year, Jenica Atwin, Green MP for Fredericton, crossed the floor to join the Liberals after taking issue with Paul's comments on Israel and Palestine. Not long after, the party attempted to oust its leader. Paul eventually stepped down, after failing to win a seat in this fall's election.
"We know how much that has certainly hurt the Green brand, to have an internal fight," said Roberts.
For that reason, she said a "pillar" of her and Edmonds' leadership strategy will be to develop a method for handling internal disputes.
They laid out that approach in general terms in a document they shared with members as part of their leadership campaign. Edmonds and Roberts said in the document they would establish "informal guidelines for constructive disagreement," and use a system for classifying the degree of consensus on issues.
"In this way, we aim to orient our healthy and robust internal debate toward useful ends, and away from pointless infighting over irreconcilable disagreements, with the aim of promoting party unity and fostering a culture of mutual respect and harmony," the leadership team wrote.
Shadow cabinet to come
Edmonds said he plans to create a shadow cabinet in the coming months and he expects its members to attend provincial committee meetings and engage with the public.
He said he expects the shadow cabinet to be the most visible outward change to the party under his leadership.
"We're going to be incredibly incredibly active in that respect, and I think that's going to really put us into the starting blocks and launch the party into the next phase of its history."
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