Black lady in dark blazer smiles for the camera.
On Friday, February 4, Angela Simmonds announced she is running for the leadership of the provincial Liberal Party. Photo: Angela Simmonds.

Angela Simmonds is running for leadership of the provincial Liberal party. She’s the first person to declare they’re running for the leadership. If elected, she will be the first person of African descent to lead a major political party in Atlantic Canada and the first female leader for the provincial party.

“I’m running because this province and party needs an approach to leadership that tells honest truths, and makes space for diverse views, and works to stay in touch with everyday Nova Scotians,” she said in a video posted to social media on Friday morning. “I’m running because I am that everyday Nova Scotian.”

Current Liberal leader Iain Rankin announcement last month that he would be stepping down.

Simmonds was elected as MLA for the riding of Preston this past August. After being sworn in as an MLA, Simmonds was selected as one of two deputy speakers to the legislature — the province’s first Black MLA to hold the position.

Simmonds is a law school graduate who, prior to being elected, worked as the executive director of the Land Titles Initiative in the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism.

She currently serves as the Liberals’ official critic for Justice, Equity and Anti-Racism, the Human Rights Commission, and the Accessibility Act.

Simmonds is married to Dean Simmonds, a superintendent with the Halifax Regional Police.

After announcing her nomination as MLA for the Preston riding this past summer, Simmonds and her husband made headlines when they accused the Cole Harbour RCMP of racial profiling following a traffic stop where they say they had carbine rifles pointed at them.

“The interaction with RCMP police officers provides yet another example of the way Black people continue to be subjected to inhumane treatment and are regarded as dangerous, dishonest, guilty, criminals,” Angela Simmonds said in a statement.

Left Photo: Liberal MLA Angela Simmonds, RCMP Superintendent Jeremie Landry in red surge uniform, Halifax Police Superintendent Dean Simmonds in while collared shirt HRP uniform
Liberal MLA Angela Simmonds, RCMP Insp. Jeremie Landry, and HRP Supt. Dean Simmonds

This past fall, Zane Woodford reported that Jeremie Landry, acting chief officer of Halifax-district RCMP at the time, had leaked alleged details of an ongoing investigation into the traffic stop with select members of Halifax regional council where he denied the Simmonds’ claim about having guns pointed at them.

Later in the fall, Premier Tim Houston fired a staffer who worked in the Department of Justice and had been in at least one meeting with Simmonds, following what he said were “racist comments” the staffer made about Simmonds on social media.

“This person worked in a department that I am a critic for. I need to be able to do my job and ask questions and not be it about my race, where I come from, or where I sit,” Simmonds told reporters. “I need to be able to do my job and people who look like me need to be able to do their job.”

A Liberal Party AGM is scheduled for next month and is the deadline for candidates to join the leadership race is March 21. The party will elect a new leader on July 9.

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Matthew Byard writes news, profiles, and stories of the Black Nova Scotia community. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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