Ten things to know about the N.S. elec­tion cam­paign

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page -

Ten things to know about the Nova Sco­tia elec­tion cam­paign, which ends Tues­day:

1. Polls fore­cast a Lib­eral ad­van­tage, but no sure thing.

Most polls have showed the in­cum­bent Lib­er­als in the lead through­out the race, but the Tories ap­peared to be clos­ing the gap as the clock ticked to­wards Tues­day’s elec­tion.

A Main­street/iPol­i­tics poll re­leased on Mon­day sug­gested a spike in the num­ber of un­de­cided vot­ers and volatil­ity in seat pro­jec­tions that could mean that an ar­ray of elec­toral out­comes — from a sec­ond Lib­eral ma­jor­ity to a Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment — are pos­si­ble.

2. The Lib­er­als have po­si­tioned them­selves as the party of sus­tain­able eco­nomic growth.

The Lib­eral plat­form in­cludes more than $1 bil­lion in spend­ing com­mit­ments and tax cuts over four years, along with prom­ises to do more for vul­ner­a­ble Nova Sco­tians.

3. The Tories have vowed to keep prov­ince in the black with an “op­ti­mistic,’’ pro-growth agenda.

The Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives have put for­ward a bullish plan to spur eco­nomic growth through mil­lions in spend­ing com­mit­ments with­out re­turn­ing to deficit, ac­cord­ing to the party.

4. The New Democrats have promised new spend­ing at the ex­pense of bal­anced books.

Leader Gary Bur­rill has pledged to make com­mu­nity col­lege free; make day care more ac­ces­si­ble; boost so­cial as­sis­tance ben­e­fits; and spend $120 mil­lion over four years for new doc­tors and pri­mary care givers. The cost: Deficits to­talling $966 mil­lion over four years

5. The Tory leader frames the elec­tion as a “ref­er­en­dum’’ on Premier Stephen McNeil.

Jamie Bail­lie has pitched

him­self as a sunny al­ter­na­tive to the in­cum­bent premier, but that hasn’t kept him from drag­ging McNeil’s name through the mud. The PCs is­sue a daily blast of anti-Lib­eral talk­ing points, and Bail­lie has cast him­self as cure to four years of “mean­spir­ited’’ gov­er­nance.

6. McNeil took off the gloves in the fi­nal stretch of the cam­paign.

For the most of the elec­tion, McNeil brushed off his op­po­nents’ crit­i­cisms with pol­icy-based re­join­ders, but as the race has ap­peared to tighten,

the Lib­eral leader has gone af­ter Bail­lie for po­lit­i­cal “fear­mon­ger­ing’’ and try­ing to pa­per over a “$500-mil­lion hole’’ in the Tory plat­form — a claim a PC party spokesper­son has dis­missed as base­less.

7. NDP is an­gling for po­lit­i­cal come­back.

The New Democrats have a steep hill to climb for the party to re­assert it­self as a ma­jor player in Nova Sco­tia. It suf­fered a hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat in the 2013 pro­vin­cial elec­tion, fall­ing from a 33-seat ma­jor­ity to third place. On the plus side, be­ing in last

place has made them less of a tar­get for the other par­ties this time.

Bur­rill hopes to win his own com­pet­i­tive race in Hal­i­faxChe­bucto, hav­ing won the lead­er­ship last year with­out a seat.

8. Can­di­dates of all stripes were haunted by their on­line his­to­ries.

Each of the three ma­jor par­ties lost a can­di­date due to on­line posts.

The Tories turfed their Dart­mouth South can­di­date be­cause of off-colour so­cial me­dial posts in­clud­ing a joke about date rape, while the NDP can­di­date in Dart­mouth East was forced to with­draw over sex­ist and ho­mo­pho­bic con­tent on a web­site he hosted. The Lib­eral can­di­date for Pic­tou East was also ejected for mock­ing peo­ple with men­tal dis­abil­i­ties on Twit­ter.

9. Messy labour dis­putes could haunt the Lib­er­als on elec­tion day.

Long-sim­mer­ing ten­sions be­tween the McNeil gov­ern­ment and Nova Sco­tia’s 9,000 pub­lic school ed­u­ca­tors ended with an im­posed agree­ment. The Lib­er­als have since made strides to ad­dress teach­ers’ class­room con­cerns, but the party’s pop­u­lar­ity ap­peared to take a hit even be­fore the cam­paign be­gan.

Labour ad­vo­cates still have a watch­ful eye on the gov­ern­ment’s un­pro­claimed Bill 148, with its power to im­pose set­tle­ments and re­strict ar­bi­trated set­tle­ments.

10. The num­ber one bal­lot box ques­tion is health care — or so the Tories and NDP hope.

The Tories and NDP have laid the prov­ince’s health-care de­fi­cien­cies — in­clud­ing doc­tor short­ages, emer­gency room clo­sures and lack of men­tal health ser­vices — at McNeil’s feet.

The premier says the sys­tem has im­proved dur­ing his term, but has been dogged by an un­ful­filled 2013 cam­paign pledge to en­sure all Nova Sco­tians have ac­cess to pri­mary care.

Bur­rill

McNeil

CP PHOTO

From left, Nova Sco­tia Lib­eral leader Stephen McNeil, Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive leader Jamie Bail­lie and NDP leader Gary Bur­rill, have a chat be­fore the start of a lead­ers’ round ta­ble at Saint Mary’s Univer­sity in Hal­i­fax on Thurs­day. To­day, all the pol­i­tick­ing comes to an end as the peo­ple of Nova Sco­tia cast their votes to de­cide their next gov­ern­ment.

Bail­lie

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