The Queens/Shelburne riding managed to stay orange on Oct. 8, but the rest of the province was swept over by a Liberal wave.
© Brittany W. Verge
Sterling Belliveau, the winner of the Queens/Shelburne riding, came to thank his supporters shortly after the polls were all in.
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.
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.”
Belliveau says he was surprised with the metro collapse and the loss of support in the Queens and Shelburne areas.
"We have done a lot for this area and Shelburne area, with Shelburne and Queens and I was proud of that record and I will be echoing that for quite some time. Right now it appears my job and my other colleagues jobs will be to hold the present government’s feet to the fire. I predict that the honeymoon is going to be short lived and I take my hat off to the Liberals right now and I understand the magnitude of their win and I respect the decision of the Nova Scotia Electorate."
He adds it took a lot of work to get their victory in this area, with a lot of people behind him.
"I’m proud of our team, we took on a challenge as you know, the boundaries have changed, the complexity of this constituency and we took on that challenge and certainly I am pleased with the results that a small group of people have created very positive change."
Liberal candidate Benson Frail says he was disappointed in the results, but thanked those who took the time to go out and vote regardless of the party.
"It's democratic and the majority won. It's as simple as that," he said.
The Liberals came third in the running by about 780 votes, but it was one of the better showings by the party in this area in over a decade. Frail credits that to a lot of hard work and dedication on his part and the support behind him.
He does feel though the NDP's victory goes against what he heard on the streets.
"Whether I was going door to door, to the general public, businesses and on the street what I heard was the NDP will never get in," he said.
He points out he has no axe to grind against Belliveau, it just surprised him on how things turned out.
Frail isn't sure where he will go from here, however he says his supporters have asked him to run again and he will give that consideration for the next election.
PC Candidate Bruce Inglis could not be reach for comment by press time.