Wins her seat

Glace Bay na­tive squeaks out win in Dart­mouth South

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - BY NANCY KING nk­ing@cb­post.com

Only a pair of this week’s three pro­vin­cial by­elec­tions took place in Cape Bre­ton rid­ings, but a trio of Cape Bre­ton na­tives were elected.

It came down to the last poll counted, but Glace Bay na­tive Mar­ian Mancini nar­rowly won the rid­ing of Dart­mouth South for the NDP over Lib­eral Tim Riss­esco by only 81 votes. Also elected on Tues­day were Lib­er­als Derek Mom­bour­quette in Syd­ney-Whit­ney Pier and Dave Wil­ton in Cape Bre­ton Cen­tre.

“It was pretty bizarre, re­ally,” Mancini said in a phone in­ter­view the day af­ter the tight race. “Tense would be an un­der­state­ment.”

A re­tired le­gal aid lawyer, Mancini grew up on Main Street in Glace Bay in a fam­ily of six chil­dren, the daugh­ter of the late Tom and Jane Bor­den.

“My fa­ther was a coal miner, my mother was a nurse ... we were a pretty nor­mal fam­ily in Glace Bay, par­ents were re­ally, re­ally hard­work­ing and they were strong Ro­man Catholics,” she said. “It was pretty great, grow­ing up there.”

Mancini at­tended St. Fran­cis Xavier Univer­sity and ended up teach­ing school for a time in Al­berta. She wanted to re­turn home to Nova Sco­tia but didn’t be­lieve she would be able to do so un­less she took steps to cre­ate a job for her­self, so she pur­sued a law de­gree.

“I just felt like I needed to get into a ca­reer that would al­low me to stay in the province,” Mancini said.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing, she ap­plied for a po­si­tion with le­gal aid in Syd­ney.

“At the time, I wasn’t re­ally sure if I wanted to prac­tise law and I’m telling you prob­a­bly within a cou­ple of hours I re­al­ized I had just found the place where I wanted to be,” Mancini said. “I have al­ways loved the work, it’s very chal­leng­ing work.”

Mancini has had a long­time as­so­ci­a­tion with the NDP, hav­ing served on var­i­ous party com­mit­tees as well as act­ing as pres­i­dent of the pro­vin­cial party from 1999-2001. She also had a taste of what it was like to be the spouse of an NDP politi­cian, as her hus­band Peter served as MP for Syd­ney-Vic­to­ria from 19972000. Now Peter, who is also a le­gal aid lawyer, is her clos­est ad­viser, Mancini said.

“He gives ad­vice con­stantly and it’s al­ways pretty sound,” she said. “He’s pretty ar­itcu­late in his abil­ity to deal with is­sues and I’ve al­ways re­ally ad­mired that. I can’t copy that, I can’t even come close, but it’s al­ways been help­ful to watch it.”

The fam­ily, which in­cludes three grown chil­dren, re­lo­cated to the Dart­mouth area from Cape Bre­ton in 2001. Her chil­dren are also NDP sup­port­ers and as­sisted on Mancini’s cam­paign.

As for what mo­ti­vated her to fi­nally throw her hat into the ring as a can­di­date her­self, Mancini said it was mea­sures in the most re­cent Stephen McNeil Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s bud­get that she op­posed, in­clud­ing changes to the film tax credit which she said has had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on Dart­mouth South and fund­ing cuts to not­for-prof­its.

She was also moved by the case of Joel­lan Hunt­ley, a dis­abled An­napo­lis Val­ley woman the province sued and with whom it ul­ti­mately set­tled out of court. The province launched the law­suit in an at­tempt to get some of the in­sur­ance set­tle­ment the fam­ily re­ceived af­ter she was left per­ma­nently dis­abled in a car ac­ci­dent to put to­ward the cost of her health care.

“I know from my own ex­pe­ri­ence with a le­gal back­ground how stress­ful court cases are for peo­ple,” Mancini said. “That kind of thing just set a tone ... It was just cut­ting, cut­ting, cut­ting. It didn’t seem to mat­ter that it didn’t make a dif­fer­ence to the bot­tom line.”

She be­lieves those steps as well as ris­ing univer­sity tu­ition aren’t go­ing to help in the ef­fort to keep the province’s young peo­ple here.

“I don’t think it’s the road we should be go­ing down,” Mancini said.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Glace Bay na­tive Mar­ian Mancini is the new NDP MLA for Dart­mouth South, hav­ing nar­rowly won the rid­ing over her Lib­eral op­po­nent on Tues­day.

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