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