While there was cause to celebrate for the Liberals, it was tempered with the sober realization that this election cost them seven seats, including a pair of cabinet ministers and some very close calls in a handful of other ridings.
It was evident from his victory speech Tuesday night that the premier has gotten the message from a cranky electorate that they expect him to take a more conciliatory tone with the opposition Tories and New Democrats.
While McNeil stuck to his message and platform to stay the course and as the campaign slogan suggested build on a stronger Nova Scotia, PC leader Jamie Baillie and NDP leader Gary Burrill hammered away at the dominant issue of health care and Liberal government’s “broken promises.”
Baillie’s message that health care was in shambles with doctor shortages, emergency room closures and a lack of mental-health services.and the timing of health care rallies across the province certainly resonated on Cape Breton Island where the Tories made their biggest gains. Having the luxury of a majority will no doubt give the governing Liberals some leverage in passing the budget introduced prior to the writ being dropped, but expect some provisions to be added to appease the opposition.
An unexpectedly strong showing by both the PCs with their 17 seats and the NDP with seven would indicate that both party leaders’ jobs are safe for some time to come.
In the case of Cumberland County, both ridings have been painted Tory blue and for the first time in recent years, there will be no representation on the government side of the House. Cumberland North Liberal incumbent Terry Farrell, who went down to defeat despite providing yeoman service to his constituents over the past three-and-a-half years, was one of those candidates who paid the price for the anti-MacNeil sentiment.
Full marks, though, to PC Candidate Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin who ran a well-organized campaign and now becomes one of 15 women who will sit in the legislature, a new record.
The most disappointing outcome of this election was the abysmal turnout.
After a good turnout at the advanced polls, Elections Nova Scotia expected a busy election day. Despite excellent weather, only 53 per cent of eligible voters took the time to cast a ballot, the lowest in the province’s history.
Sadly, we have too many Nova Scotians who are quick to voice their criticism, but are a no show when it really counts …at the ballot box.
Geoff deGannes is the past chairman of the Tantramar Radio Society. His daily commentaries can be heard on 107.9 CFTA.