Election Day is almost here and for the politically inclined Tuesday evening is sure to be filled with joy or angst, depending on the outcomes.
Will the Liberals maintain their majority, albeit a slightly reduced one? Or, undone by a growing chorus of discontent regarding health care, will they lose more than eight seats and see their majority become a minority?
Will the Progressive Conservatives somehow increase their seat count by 16 and form the next government? After all, at least one poll suggests they have some momentum on their side heading into the last three days of the campaign. Or, like 2013, will they simply continue the climb back to respectability by picking up another handful of seats?
And what of the NDP? After their not-so-memorable term running the province from 2009 to 2013, are they destined to spend another four years in political purgatory? It certainly appears that way.
In Cape Breton, there are eight seats up for grabs, five of which were held by the Liberals when the election was called last month and three by the Progressive Conservatives.
And it is on this Island where the PCs will be hoping to pick up at least one of the seats they need to form a new government or at least erase the Liberal majority.
Certainly, their incumbents seem poised for another term with Alfie MacLeod winning the newly created Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg constituency in 2013 and previously capturing Cape Breton West in 1995, 2006 and 2009. Tough to beat? Definitely. Tory roots also run deep in Inverness where Allan MacMaster took over the reigns from former premier Rodney MacDonald in 2009 and was reelected in 2013. And Eddie Orrell seems a lock in North side West mount, having won the riding in 2013 after being elected in Cape Breton North in 2011. This followed the resignation of another Tory, Cecil Clarke, who had held the riding for 10 years.
So where might any Tory breakthroughs possibly occur?
Well, certainly not in Glace Bay where Liberal cabinet minister Geoff MacLellan holds one of the safest seats in the province. And surely not in Cape BretonRichmond where Michel Samson, another cabinet minister, has won six consecutive elections dating back to 1998.
Cape Breton Centre and Sydney-Whitney Pier are interesting, given that both ridings switched to the Liberals in the 2015 byelections after supporting NDP candidates for many years. Were newly elected Dave Wilton and Derek Mombourquette simply the recipients of the red wave which swept the province in 2013 or have they done enough to endear themselves to the electorate despite the difficulties which come with having to actually defend the government’s track record?
This brings us to Victoria-The Lakes, which could be THE Cape Breton riding to watch on election night. Certainly it is one the PCs want badly and with former MLA Keith Bain on the ticket they have themselves a formidable opponent to Liberal incumbent Pam Eyking. Bain won the riding in 2006 and 2009 and Eyking’s margin of victory in 2013 was only 303 votes, a narrow margin considering the Liberal dominance in that election.