Sunday, June 7, 2009

NDP might be on verge of victory in Nova Scotia

This is from the Canadian Press.

This will be historic win should it happen. It seems that the NDP ran a conventional type campaign. I wonder if there will be any continuing trouble because of the union donations. Perhaps there will be a legal challenge if the NDP should win. If the NDP does form the government there will now be two in Canada, the long lasting Manitoba NDP and way to east the new historic Nova Scotia NDP government. Neither one of them will be particularly radical no doubt. This probably will not have much if any effect on the fortunes of the Federal NDP.

As election campaign concludes in N.S., NDP might be on verge of history
By Michael Tutton – 3 hours ago
HALIFAX, N.S. — As Nova Scotia's 35-day election nears the finish line, the province's political landscape could be on the verge of a massive shift in appearance, although at least one political observer is struggling to believe that Atlantic Canada will see its first NDP government.
The Opposition NDP began the race leading in the polls and on the eve of Tuesday's election, a pollster says the party remains in the strongest position after a decade of power for the Progressive Conservative party.
"The major theme is change, and change in a substantive way," said Don Mills, a Halifax pollster who has tracked Nova Scotia politics for two decades.
Mills said his polling has suggested there are consistently high levels of dissatisfaction with the Tories, whose minority government fell May 4 on a bill that would have allowed it to avoid a deficit by putting off legally required payments on the province's debt.
"Traditionally, when Nova Scotians were dissatisfied with their government they turned to the other party that governed - Liberal or Conservative. But this time we see a move to a group that has never had the opportunity to govern."
During the campaign, the Tories portrayed the New Democrats led by Darrell Dexter - 51, a former journalist and lawyer who has led the party for eight years - as a tax-and-spend party that has made $2 billion in unrealistic promises.
Premier Rodney MacDonald, 37, the Cape Breton gym teacher and award-winning fiddler who took over the party leadership in 2006, argued the NDP couldn't pay for promises such as support to help seniors stay in their homes, or a plan to slice sales tax off electricity.
He believes his message that the Tories are best positioned to run the economy is getting through.
"We feel very good about what's happening on the ground. I can assure you that not only have we run a strong and effective campaign, but we're going to be doing very well on Tuesday," he said.
Stephen McNeil, 44, a former small business owner from the Annapolis Valley who is running in his first campaign as Liberal leader, promised to create a new day off for workers in February and cut small business taxes in a bid to create jobs.
In the dying days of the campaign, both McNeil and MacDonald were on the offensive over a questionable $45,000 campaign donation to the NDP from unions belonging to the Mainland Building and Construction Trades Council.
The election rules state that a trade union can only make a single donation of $5,000, prompting the New Democrats to return the money while the Chief Electoral Officer reviews the matter.
The campaign turned particularly nasty over the issue, with MacDonald likening Dexter to a car thief who returns his ill-gotten gains and argues no damage was done.
Mills said he hasn't polled on the last-ditch attacks on the NDP, but he doubts it dislodged the desire for a change of government.
The Tories have also had some embarrassments during the race.
Early in the campaign, MacDonald blamed the opposition parties for jeopardizing summer road work by forcing an election.
That accusation fizzled when Dexter and McNeil pointed out that despite MacDonald's accusations against his opponents, his cabinet had exercised special spending powers to free $130 million for paving and building projects.
Mills argues that when MacDonald's government had to dip into a fund provided from offshore resources to balance the books, their old image as guardians of the public purse started to fade among their traditional supporters.
"The Conservatives haven't behaved like a Conservative party over the past year or so. They were overspending and that disenfranchised a lot of their core support," he said.
Jeff MacLeod, a political scientist at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, said all the parties ran a "pallid campaign."
"You have a historic election, and we could be talking about it for years ... but the means by which it was achieved was a very safe campaign," he said.
He said that unlike previous campaigns, Dexter seldom went on the attack, instead repeating his mantra that his party had a "better deal" for middle-class families.
"Maybe that's telling in itself," he said. "Maybe the NDP decided to play it safe and to talk and sound like a traditional party."
MacLeod said he thinks the Liberals under McNeil remain strong in many ridings, and incumbent Tory cabinet ministers will be difficult to dislodge, making it hard for the NDP to make big gains outside of the Halifax area.
At dissolution, the Tories held 21 seats in the 52-seat legislature, the NDP had 20, and the Liberals nine. There was one Independent and one seat was vacant.
Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved

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