One political scientist in Nova Scotia is watching a string of political nominations closely ahead of the next provincial election. It comes on the heels of 14 names inked from the Progressive Conservatives and four from the Opposition Liberals.

Under a new piece of Nova Scotia’s Elections Act, the next provincial election is slated for July 15, 2025. Political scientists at Cape Breton University wonder if calling over a dozen candidates 13 months away from that date could signify that the province is heading to the polls early.

“Even though we have a fixed election law, a fixed election law is not binding,” Tom Urbaniak told Global News in an interview on Tuesday.

“(Premier) Tim Houston is probably hoping that Justin Trudeau is still prime minister when the next election happens. He’s been able to take a lot of the lighting that would have otherwise gone to others in the political field.”

Of those publicly announced, Houston, John Lohr, Brian Wong, Brad Johns, Tim Halman and Kent Smith have all publicly put their name on the ballot for the next provincial election for the Tories.

On the other side of the floor, the Nova Scotia NDP has yet to put together names, while the Liberals offer Braedon Clark, Brian Casey, Gerard Bray and Lorelei Murphy as candidates.

Urbaniak said that while polling can change, the PCs took a “boost” from the recent byelection, where the Tories received more than four times the votes of the next closest competitor.

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In turn, both opposition parties have been scrambling to find new faces to represent them. The Nova Scotia NDP leader told Global News she has been working the phones to find names to put on a ballet.

Speaking from Cape Breton as she speaks with constituents, Claudia Chender says she wouldn’t take Houston’s election laws “to the bank,” saying the premier is known to quickly change his mind on policies.

The Tories won their spring byelection by a landslide

The Tories won their spring byelection by a landslide.

Zack Power / Global News

It’s a similar feeling a few seats down in the legislature. Liberal Leader Zach Churchill says his party “needs to be ready,” saying Houston may see something to his “political advantage.”

“If the premier keeps his word, we won’t have an election until 2025. Unfortunately, it’s become a bit routine that the premier breaks his word in certain commitments to Nova Scotians,” Churchill said in an interview Tuesday.

Urbaniak cites precedent for sidestepping election date laws, pointing to political pressure in Ontario to get an early election and a need to avoid clashing with the federal election.

In Ontario, Liberal Leader Bonnie Crombie asked the party’s executive council to declare an “electoral urgency,” allowing the Liberal nominations commissioner to speed up the timeline to hold local races and help the party avoid being caught flat-footed before the vote.

“I’ll be looking for some signs over the course of the next few months. Are there major and very frequent funding announcements?” Urbaniak explained.

Is there a cabinet shuffle? Usually there is a cabinet shuffle not too long before an election. And that’s because some MLAs will identify to the premier that they do not intend to reoffer, and those MLAs are usually retired from the cabinet if they are currently in cabinet and a fresh face is brought in order. It is thought to increase that person’s prospects of re-election right there if they have a seat in cabinet.”

Elections Nova Scotia noted that it has not yet received any word on a sooner election and stated that it is ready for July 2025.

While the premier declined to speak with Global News by deadline, one of his cabinet members, Halman, who is on the ballot in Dartmouth East, calls it business as usual.

“There are 55 districts in the province that parties have to get in place, and that’s what you’re seeing,” he said.

“A lot of work goes into planning and preparing for an election.”

— with files from Global News’ Colin D’Mello