N.S. by­elec­tions mid-term test of Lib­eral gov­ern­ment: pro­fes­sor

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - BY ALY THOM­SON THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

By­elec­tions in three Nova Sco­tia con­stituen­cies will be a midterm test of the province's ma­jor­ity Lib­eral gov­ern­ment, a po­lit­i­cal science pro­fes­sor said Mon­day.

Jeff MacLeod, chair­man of po­lit­i­cal and Cana­dian stud­ies at Mount Saint Vin­cent Univer­sity in Hal­i­fax, said Tues­day's by­elec­tions will put Premier Stephen McNeil's spring bud­get to the test.

“It's the gov­ern­ment that's most on trial here,” said MacLeod in a phone in­ter­view.

“It's a mid-term test. There are three seats and they should be com­pet­i­tive in all three... not so much to win all three but are they run­ning strongly in seats that they haven't held be­fore?”

Seats are up for grabs in the Cape Bre­ton rid­ings of Syd­ney-Whit­ney Pier and Cape Bre­ton Cen­tre, which were pre­vi­ously held by NDP mem­bers Gordie Gosse and Frank Cor­bett.

The Dart­mouth South rid­ing has been va­cant since the death of Lib­eral mem­ber Allan Rowe in March.

MacLeod said if the gov­ern­ment were to lose the race in that con­stituency, it would be a clear in­di­ca­tion that for­tunes are chang­ing for the party.

He said be­cause there are no in­cum­bents in any of the rid­ings and some of the can­di­dates' names may not be rec­og­niz­able to vot­ers, he be­lieves the public will be vot­ing for the po­lit­i­cal party rather than the politi­cian.

“You have peo­ple with lim­ited ex­pe­ri­ence in pol­i­tics run­ning, so re­ally it's go­ing to be the party la­bel and the leader's rep­u­ta­tion that's prob­a­bly go­ing to de­ter­mine many of the votes,” said MacLeod.

“From that per­spec­tive, it will be a re­ally in­ter­est­ing test be­cause it could be a true test of gov­ern­ment sup­port or lack thereof.”

But Don Mills, chair­man and CEO of Cor­po­rate Re­search As­so­ci­ates, dis­agreed that the by­elec­tions were a mid-term as­sess­ment of gov­ern­ment sup­port.

Mills said the races are in­con­se­quen­tial to the gov­ern­ment's 32-seat ma­jor­ity.

“So I don't think there's a lot of in­ter­est in them as a re­sult,” said Mills. “It's re­ally the party that's most ef­fec­tive at get­ting their vot­ers out that stands the best chance of win­ning those seats.”

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