NDP hold on to Halifax-area seat

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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EASTERN PASSAGE, N.S. - The New Democrats have shown they're maintaining political strength in Nova Scotia by holding on to a Halifax-area riding in a byelection.

Becky Kent took the riding of Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage in the first byelection since the minority Tories won a narrow victory in the June 2006 general election.

She defeated Tory candidate Mike Eddy, Halifax's former fire chief, who was promoted by the Conservative party as a star candidate and potentially influential voice in the community.

His candidacy was launched in late August when Premier Rodney MacDonald and 10 cabinet ministers turned out to tell voters that Eddy would be able to help the riding more than an opposition member.

Liberal candidate Kelly Rambeau, an elementary school principal, placed third.

Beverley Woodfield, the mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan, finished a distant fourth for the Green Party.

Tory gaffes and scandals have often dominated the province's politics over the past 15 months.

MacDonald's biggest embarrassment came last winter when his human resources minister, Ernie Fage, resigned after news broke that the minister was under investigation for allegedly leaving the scene of an accident.

Fage pleaded not guilty to the charge. His trial is slated to begin next month.

The premier has also faced criticism for two policy reversals - implementing gas price regulation and scrapping the province's ban on Sunday shopping.

However, the NDP hasn't taken a strong stand on these and other issues, preferring a low-key approach.

Don Mills, president of Corporate Research Associates, had said the race would test the NDP's recent strategy of defensive politics.

With Kent's victory in Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, the governing Tories hold 23 seats, the NDP 20 and the Liberals nine.

Organizations: NDP, Green Party, Corporate Research Associates

Geographic location: Halifax, EASTERN PASSAGE, Nova Scotia Afghanistan Don Mills

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