By Ruth Davenport - Metro Halifax
HALIFAX - The first full day of campaigning in the provincial election kicked off with all three party leaders declaring themselves the underdog in the race.
‚ÄúAbsolutely, but that‚Äôs nothing different for New Democrats,‚ÄĚ said Premier Darrell Dexter during a campaign event Sunday morning at the Italian Canadian Cultural Association. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve been underdogs in almost every campaign we‚Äôve ever been in, so we‚Äôre used to that position.‚ÄĚ
A poll released last week by Corporate Research Associates suggests the Liberals are leading the NDP by 10 per cent among decided voters ‚Äď but Liberal party leader Stephen McNeil said he‚Äôs not the front runner.
‚ÄúGovernment always has the upper hand‚Ä¶.they‚Äôve been out there promoting themselves using taxpayer dollars over the last number of months,‚ÄĚ he said during an announcement in Dartmouth Sunday afternoon. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm going to continue to‚Ä¶talk to Nova Scotians, continue to lay out ideas that we think are in the best interests of Nova Scotians.‚ÄĚ
Jamie Baillie, whose Tories trail the other two parties in the polls, said he‚Äôs relishing the role of underdog in his first provincial election campaign.
‚ÄúAs people are getting to know, I used to run the credit union and we would compete against Canada‚Äôs banks every day and win,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI enjoyed that, and I have the same feeling about this race, and I‚Äôm enjoying it already.‚ÄĚ
All three party leaders brought up power rates and the provincial economy during campaign events on Sunday, touting plans to manage one and improve the other.
Both the NDP and PCs issued news releases attacking each other and the Liberals, apparently setting the stage for four weeks of attacks on the Grits.
Dexter said that negative strategies such as attack ads are necessary to help voters distinguish between the three parties.
‚ÄúPeople need to know what the difference is between the approach that we take and the approach that the Liberals and the Conservatives take,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThose kinds of ads are hard-edged, but they‚Äôre there for a reason. It‚Äôs becuase there are substantial differences.‚ÄĚ
At the time of dissolution, the NDP held 31 seats in the legislature, the Liberals 12 and the Progressive Conservatives 7. Two seats were vacant.