Jamie Baillie’s relatively easy victory in the Cumberland South byelection tells us a few things.
First, voters were not as concerned by the fact that Baillie “came from away” as his competitors seemed to believe. New leaders need to find a seat in the legislature, and it rarely is available near their home. Plus, if Baillie had run closer to home in the Halifax area, he would have had a much tougher road than he found in Cumberland South. His decision ton run here made sense.
The second thing this shows us is that the decisions of the NDP government have not gone over well in Cumberland South, and will not soon be forgotten. Issues like the cancelled jail construction in Springhill and proposed changes to the forestry industry proved too much of an obstacle for candidate Scott McKee, who suffered the consequences with only 276 votes.
The endorsement of former MLA Murray Scott, who is still more popular in Cumberland South than Mom’s cookies, also went a long way for Baillie.
The real benefit of this process has been that the issues facing Cumberland South have taken centre stage, and the new MLA’s work is just beginning. He made several concrete promises to carry out if he was elected, e.g. to introduce a bill to keep all the recreational trails open in the Chignecto Game Sanctuary. He also promised to remember that his first job in the legislature will be to represent Cumberland South, and he must keep this in mind as he also works on rebuilding his party.
Baillie won handily, but he did not put up Murray Scott-like numbers. The task before him over the next 3-4 years will be to earn the trust of constituents, no matter what their party loyalties, that the former MLA enjoyed throughout his career.