Rankin's DUI admission won't affect his fortunes in election: Dal poli sci prof

The director of the Dalhousie School of Public Administration doesn't think the recent acknowledgment from Premier Iain Rankin that he was charged with impaired driving nearly two decades ago will have an impact when Nova Scotians head to the polls.

"Do I think that it's going to cost him on the campaign trail? Honestly, no, I don't," said Lori Turnbull.

On Monday, Rankin surprised many when he announced that in 2003 he was found to be driving under the influence, fined and had his licence suspended for a year.

Two years later, in 2005, Rankin said he was again charged with impaired driving but court records indicate he was ultimately acquitted of that offence.

"I'm very, very sorry for my actions half a lifetime ago," Rankin said at a press conference.

"I've heard some people start to ask questions and I think I owe it to all Nova Scotians that I take this opportunity to speak directly about what happened and the lessons I've learned, it was 18 years ago, and, I've moved on with my life."

The CEO of MADD Canada says he wants to see action from the Premier when it comes to impaired driving.

"For him, there's absolutely no excuse because he's part of the new era where it's not acceptable to drink and drive," said Andrew Murie.             

"We want to see the Premier release a statement on impaired driving. Especially if there's going to be an election. What can we look forward to in the next government of Nova Scotia when it comes to impaired driving?"

Rankin said he previously told former Premier Stephen McNeil and the Liberal party about the charges.

But opposition MLAs say Rankin should have been more transparent.

"I think what he ought to have done is as soon as he became premier to have addressed the people of the province and said look, there's something I need to tell you about my past," said Nova Scotia NDP leader Gary Burrill.

"The issue here is that the Premier needs to be someone that we trust and we already have an issue with people not trusting politicians," said PC MLA Barbara Adams.

Turnbull says Rankin's situation raises some interesting questions.

"What is the accountability to the public from an elected official, particularly a Premier and does he owe us an explanation for everything he's done wrong in his whole life?" said Turnbull.

"I think also the fact that we're living in the social media time that we are means that come to probably most people will have something come to the surface that they don't want to come to the surface."

Turnbull is expecting Rankin to call an election in the near future.