PROVINCE

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - BY KEITH DOUCETTE

It’s down to the short strokes now, with Nova Sco­tia’s provin­cial elec­tion set for Tues­day.

Nova Sco­tia’s three ma­jor party lead­ers lob­bied for ev­ery pos­si­ble vote Sun­day, tar­get­ing rid­ings that are ex­pected to be highly com­pet­i­tive in Tues­day’s provin­cial elec­tion.

NDP Leader Gary Bur­rill vis­ited a com­mu­nity food cen­tre in the rid­ing of Dart­mouth-North, where can­di­date Su­san Leblanc is ex­pected to mount a stiff chal­lenge to in­cum­bent Lib­eral cabi­net min­is­ter Joanne Bernard.

The rid­ing is in a work­ing­class area of Dart­mouth that had been a safe NDP seat for 15 years un­til Bernard won it in 2013.

In be­tween push­ing loads of dirt in a wheel­bar­row as vol­un­teers helped to plant vegetable gar­dens out­side the food cen­tre, Bur­rill said the party is op­ti­mistic it can make a strong show­ing there and in sev­eral other Hal­i­fax-area rid­ings that were for­merly NDP strongholds.

“We’ve had a strong tra­di­tion here (Dart­mouth-North) for a long time,” said Bur­rill. “We are run­ning a cam­paign all across the province, but we have some very strong can­di­dates in Dart­mouth

and Hal­i­fax. We are very ex­cited about their chances so we are putting all the ef­fort that we can into those rid­ings too.”

Leblanc, an ac­tor and the co-artis­tic direc­tor of Zuppa The­atre, said she has found a re­cep­tive au­di­ence to the NDP’s mes­sage of in­vest­ing again in peo­ple.

How­ever, she said suc­cess at the bal­lot box will de­pend on get­ting peo­ple to vote in a rid­ing that has had a his­tory of low turnout.

“So we have to make sure that ev­ery­one who is re­spond­ing gets to vote and that’s go­ing to be our big fo­cus,” said Leblanc.

Bernard, who worked in the

non-profit sec­tor and es­tab­lished a res­i­den­tial fa­cil­ity for women prior to be­ing elected, be­lieves be­ing on the gov­ern­ment side makes a dif­fer­ence in a rid­ing she says was ne­glected for too long.

“There’s never been any in­vest­ments and over the past three-and-a-half years we’ve been able to turn that around,” said Bernard. “I’ll stand on my record in this rid­ing and let the chips fall where they fall.”

Mean­while, Premier Stephen McNeil ral­lied with Lib­eral troops on the grass out­side a li­brary in Ham­mond Plains Sun­day morn­ing, wav­ing at pass­ing cars and shak­ing hands with red-clad sign-hold­ers. Sup­port­ers of in­cum­bent Ben Jes­some chanted “Ben again” over the sound of honk­ing horns.

Jes­some is thought to be in a tough three-way race in the Ham­monds Plains-Lu­casville rid­ing, with Tory Matt Whit­man - a Hal­i­fax re­gional coun­cil­lor and for­mer deputy mayor - thought to be his big­gest threat.

But McNeil said ev­ery rid­ing is equally im­por­tant to his party in win­ning a re­newed ma­jor­ity. The Lib­eral leader was to take his cam­paign to Cape Bre­ton later Sun­day, where there are also ex­pected to be sev­eral close races.

“There’s a ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment out there for the Lib­eral party and we’re go­ing to go chase ev­ery vote that we can to try to de­liver that,” said McNeil shortly after pulling up to the li­brary in his cam­paign bus.

“Ev­ery rid­ing is key for me.”

CP PHOTO

Nova Sco­tia Lib­eral leader Stephen McNeil, left, and Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive leader Jamie Bail­lie get their mi­cro­phones ad­justed as they par­tic­i­pate in a lead­ers’ round ta­ble at Saint Mary’s Univer­sity in Hal­i­fax on Thurs­day. The provin­cial elec­tion will be held Tues­day.

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