Nova Scotia premier on defensive over drunk driving charges he faced years ago

Four days after Nova Scotia's premier revealed he was convicted of drunk driving as a young man, Iain Rankin faced more questions Thursday about his record and whether members of his caucus had faced similar allegations.

With speculation intensifying about an imminent election call, the Liberal premier again apologized for his actions and insisted he has become a different person, having learned important lessons about the "dire impact of selfish decisions."

Rankin confirmed Monday he had been convicted of impaired driving in 2003 when he was 20 years old, and he also revealed that he faced impaired driving charges in 2005 but was later cleared.

When asked if other members of his caucus had criminal records, the 38-year-old premier said he was not aware if that was the case.

He also said he would consider publicly disclosing a list of candidates and caucus members with criminal records -- as the parties in Saskatchewan did last year -- but he did not make a firm commitment.

As well, Rankin said that he still enjoys drinking "a beer or two (and) going out to a pub," but he stressed that he doesn't abuse alcohol -- though he admitted he drank too much when he was in his early 20s.

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative party issued a statement Thursday saying the party "has no nominated candidates or caucus members convicted of a criminal offence."

"Publicly releasing caucus or candidate criminal records is not something we have discussed, but can look into," said the statement, attributed to election campaign co-chairs Tara Miller and Cameron MacKeen.

The statement also accuses Rankin of misleading Nova Scotians.

"We are sympathetic to anyone who tries to turn their life around after making a mistake as an adult, and we believe in second chances," the statement says. "However, the premier misled Nova Scotians regarding his second arrest for a DUI and downplayed the severity of it. It speaks to poor judgment and weak leadership."

The province's New Democrats issued a statement from provincial secretary Jamie Masse, saying NDP candidates have disclosed criminal convictions ahead of an election in the past.

"We will discuss a more formal release of this information with our candidates over the next few days," Masse said.

-- With files from Michael Tutton

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2021.