A look at several ridings that could prove interesting as voters in Nova Scotia go to the polls today:
Home riding of Liberal leader Stephen McNeil, he won it with 76 per cent of the votes in 2013. In fact, his support has increased in every election since 1999 when he lost in his first outing to Frank Chipman. While there is some speculation his support may have eroded over the course of his first term as premier, it’s unlikely he’ll lose the seat.
QUEENS-SHELBURNE Normally an NDP stronghold, the riding is now being listed as too close to call after sitting NDP MLA Sterling Belliveau decided he would not reoffer. This riding is one of only two NDP ridings on the South Shore. Since Belliveau bowed out, there are four candidates, but it is shaping up to be a battle between PC candidate Kim Masland and Liberal candidate Vernon Oickle. The new NDP candidate, John Davis, doesn’t seem to be resonating in the district.
CUMBERLAND SOUTH Cumberland South has been a solid Progressive Conservative riding dating back to the 1998 provincial election when former Springhill police officer Murray Scott captured the riding.
Following the 2009 election, Scott — who won the riding with the largest percentage in the province — resigned his seat so new PC leader Jamie Baillie could run.
Baillie won the seat in 2010 over Liberal Kenny John Jackson and repeated the feat in 2013 — winning by more than 1,200 votes. This is the third election the two have squared off.
KINGS SOUTH Typically a bellwether riding, Kings South will be one to watch. In 2013, Liberal Keith Irving was elected over NDP education minister Ramona Jennex.
Irving, a Liberal backbencher, is running again in 2017 against a slate of new challengers. The riding has been held by all parties in the past three elections, and prior to that, was held by the Conservatives for 10 years.
In 2013, it was a surprise to many that Liberal candidate Pam Eyking upset incumbent PC Keith Bain by 303 votes. The riding, which is known to flip back-and-forth between the PCs and the Liberals, had been solidly Tory since 2006. Eyking, who is the wife of Sydney-Victoria Liberal MP Mark Eyking, has been criticized for not responding to community concerns by some people. Bain, a local entrepreneur and volunteer, is well-known and liked in the community and as a two-term MLA will be a formidable opponent in this rematch.
CUMBERLAND NORTH There’s a good possibility this riding could go back to the Progressive Conservatives after being held by both the NDP and the Liberals.
The riding is made up of the old riding of Cumberland East that was held by former premier Roger Bacon for more than 20 years. It was held by Liberal Ross Bragg during the John Savage government of 1993, but reclaimed by the Progressive Conservatives in a 1997 byelection in which Ernest Fage was elected. Fage’s expulsion and decision to reoffer as an Independent in 2009 left the party split and New Democrat Brian Skabar did the unthinkable and won the seat for the Darrell Dexter government.
In 2013, Terry Farrell became its first Liberal MLA in 20 years.
The Progressive Conservatives have a strong candidate in Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, a registered nurse and successful businesswoman.
YARMOUTH Yarmouth is considered the regional hub of southwestern Nova Scotia. It is also a riding that has seen a lot of debate played out on social media about voters choices. People who have been pleased with the representation of Liberal MLA Zach Churchill but are displeased with Premier Stephen McNeil — over issues such as health care and the imposed contract on teachers — must reconcile how to mark their ballot.
Voters have four candidates to choose between Churchill for the Liberals, PC Mitch Bonnar, NDP David Olie and Green Party Jim Laverie.
With a few election exceptions, the Yarmouth riding typically tends to end up on the government side.