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.”
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.