Sterling Belliveau says the NDP will reset and rebuild after its disasterous loss.
By Greg Bennett
With the ashes of the 2013 provincial election behind them, the NDP will lick its wounds and begin the process of rebuilding says Sterling Belliveau.
The Queens-Shelburne winner was one of only two NDP cabinet ministers that survived the Liberal tide of victory on Tuesday night. Out of 31 seats the NDP held at dissolution, the party was left with seven after the election.
The following day, while dealing with a personal tragedy in his family, Belliveau was introspective about the party’s loss, which also saw Premier Darrell Dexter personally defeated in his Cole Harbour-Porter Valley riding.
It was a crushing loss for the first term government.
The Queens-Shelburne MLA elect noted that the NDP had failed to communicate and connect with the voters. He said the party had also been hampered throughout its term in its efforts to improve the province by a sputtering economy.
Nova Scotia’s first NDP government had been a vote for change. By the end of its term, too many voters found that change wanting.
“The expectations were very high for us as a new government,” he noted. “But this is not a question about the voters’ decision …they make the right decision every time.”
Belliveau said an issue that haunted the party was the cancellation of the Yarmouth ferry subsidy, a decision made very early in its term.
“The one mulligan, if I can use that term, was the ferry,” he said. “It was an extremely difficult decision that we could have handled better and communicated more effectively.”
The NDP walked into government in 2009 with major economic problems facing them. Those tough economic issues will not evaporate for the incoming Liberal government, he said.
“There were difficult economic times and a deficit and our challenge was to be fiscally responsible,” he said. “Those tough issues are still there.”
As a member of the opposition, Belliveau says it will be part of his job to hold the new Liberal government and the province’s new premier accountable.
Before that happens he will say goodbye to many of his defeated colleagues and join a much smaller cadre of NDP MLAs in Halifax for a discussion on the future.
“We’ll hit the reset button and rebuild from here,” he said. “I hope to be a part of that.”