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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Provincial election called

October 8 vote will largely be a referendum on the NDP.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 at 4:38 PM

click to enlarge Darrell Dexter
  • Darrell Dexter
Nova Scotians will be going to the polls. Premier Darrell Dexter formally asked lieutenant governor J.J. Grant to dissolve the assembly Saturday, an action that will lead to an October 8 election.

The election will largely be a referendum on the performance of Dexter’s NDP government. That party won power in 2009, in the wake of the global financial collapse, and after the previous scandal-plagued Progressive Conservative government of Rodney MacDonald imploded. Voters in 2009 rejected the traditional PC and Liberal parties, both of which had a deserved reputation for corruption and incompetence. The NDP, which had never held power in Nova Scotia, formed a majority government.

But with four years in power, voters may be growing weary of the NDP. Opinion polls show that nearly half of potential voters are undecided, but after that block, the Liberals are polling somewhat ahead of the NDP, with the PCs a distant third.

Dexter has governed via a middling course, abandoning the party’s leftist core and continuing Nova Scotia’s long history of corporate bailouts, payroll rebates and flat-out subsidies. In particular, Dexter gave the family-owned Irving, Inc, a $260 million forgivable loan for upgrades to the Halifax shipyard. The Irvings are billionaires.

The Liberals under leader Stephen McNeil have criticized Dexter’s agreement to purchase hydro power from the Churchill Falls project in Labrador, as well as the formation of a new energy efficiency program funded by ratepayers. But it’s hard to see how Nova Scotia can meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets without Churchill Falls, and the efficiency program set-up is considered “best practices” in North America. The PCs' Jamie Baillie says he’ll freeze power rates, which strikes most observers as an empty, unworkable pledge.

Health issues will also factor into the election, particularly in hotly contested rural areas.

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