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HALIFAX — Stephen McNeil, Nova Scotia’s premier-designate, comes from a family that likes to do things in a big way.
The 48-year-old Liberal leader is the 12th of 17 children, all raised in the province’s scenic Annapolis Valley. He also stands 6-foot-5.
Before entering politics, McNeil owned an appliance repair shop, but public service and his big family has always figured prominently in his life.
McNeil’s late mother, Theresa McNeil, was left to raise the family on her own when her husband, Burt, died suddenly in 1977. But that didn’t stop her from later becoming the high sheriff of Annapolis County — the first woman to hold such a position in Canada.
The Liberal leader has often said that his mother was the driving force in his life.
“I know how grateful my mother was to this community when we as a family faced the challenges that many families face,” McNeil said during his victory speech in Bridgetown, his hometown.
“The warmth and generosity that you all showed her as she was raising her children — she had a few of them — it’s what makes a community. In our difficult days, someone comes to our rescue.”
In his speech, McNeil spoke several times about the families he met while campaigning across the province.
“You have told me about your hopes and your dreams for a Nova Scotia where your children and grandchildren can prosper,” he said. “I share that dream.”
A soft-spoken man who speaks in a deep register, McNeil has a reputation…