Nova Scotians will go to the polls on Oct. 8.
The long-anticipated provincial election officially got underway on Saturday afternoon as Premier Darrell Dexter dropped the writ while at a campaign event in Cape Breton.
In 2009, Dexter formed the first NDP government in Atlantic Canada’s history. There has been a lot of water under the bridge since then.
The NDP was also the first out of the gate with its official platform, taking the unusual step of releasing its election pitch a day before the premier’s announcement.
The NDP is promising a reduction in the HST, to move forward with the Maritime Link project, and to maintain a balanced budget. In their one-page release, the government says the annual cost of the entire platform is $34,350,000.
It didn’t take long for opposition parties to respond to the NDP platform.
Liberal leader Stephen McNeil took issue with the numbers. Using current spending figures, he said reducing the HST by one per cent would cost the province $200 million.
For PC leader Jamie Baillie, the NDP platform was a matter of déjà vu.
“The premier’s plan is the exact same as the one he presented four years ago,” he said in a media release.
The NDPs platform does offer much the same as four years ago in terms of health care, protection of seniors and support for kids.
Baillie said it was “offensive” to see that the government is now promising to lower the HST when it ran in the last election on a promise not to raise taxes.
In the media release the province’s premier, NDP leader Darrell Dexter said, “The experience of the NDP allows Nova Scotians to see a platform that is fully costed and will keep the budget balanced so that important programs and services for families and seniors will be protected.”
As the election was called, the NDP held 31 seats, the Liberals 12 seats and the Progressive Conservatives had seven. There were also two vacant seats.
The province also goes to the polls with a redrawn election map that eliminated the formerly protected Acadian ridings in Clare and Argyle and split the former Shelburne riding in two at the Clyde River.
With the electoral change, the province has dropped from 52 ridings to 51 for the 2013 election.
In the new 4518 sq. kilometer riding of Queens-Shelburne there are three candidates so far; Benson Frail, Liberal; Sterling Belliveau, New Democrat and Bruce Inglis, Progressive Conservative.
The Queens-Shelburne returning officer is Ted Bulley.