Nova Scotia voters heading to the polls
HALIFAX - Nova Scotia voters cast their ballots today after a 31-day election campaign that will decide the fate of Atlantic Canada's first NDP government.
Premier Darrell Dexter is hanging his hopes on what he believes is a large block of undecided voters to give his New Democrats a second term in office.
"We are finding more and more in the way of undecideds who are coming to our campaign and we want that momentum to continue," Dexter said Monday.
Dexter is also asking voters to allow him time to finish what he started, citing jobs that are around the corner from a program to build navy warships in Halifax, a budget that's balanced for this fiscal year, and fewer emergency room closures in rural parts of the province as evidence of his government's achievements.
In its campaign ads, the NDP has warned that progress could be at risk under a Liberal government led by Stephen McNeil, a theme Dexter repeated Monday.
"We have a strong program we have articulated over the course of the campaign," he said. "They know they can rely on us to build on this strong foundation. They also understand the risk that comes with Mr. McNeil and the Liberals, which is essentially throwing away what we have and starting over."
Dexter began the campaign calling himself the underdog to McNeil's front-running Liberals.
McNeil, Dexter and Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie all spent time campaigning in Halifax on Monday, where a large batch of seats is available. In recent elections, the city has become an electoral fortress of support for the NDP.
While acknowledging that he'd like to win seats in the province's largest metropolitan area, McNeil said his party will need to win ridings across the province if it is to end its run of 14 years without power.
"There's no question there is a huge volume of seats here in metro and we need to be part of that, we need to win some of those seats," said McNeil, who urged campaign workers to speak with disaffected NDP and Progressive Conservative supporters.
"I would ask you to forget about the traditional way families have voted and the way communities have voted. Reach out and ask everyone you see for their support."
He implored Nova Scotians who have yet to make up their minds to examine whether each party's promises are feasible, repeating his message that the campaign is about trust.
"I would encourage them to look at all three parties and determine for themselves which platform is doable, which party can they trust and which leader can they trust to deliver on the commitments we've made over the last 30 days," he said.
McNeil, whose commitments include less government spending and a cut to the harmonized sales tax as long as the books are balanced, wrapped up a three-day tour where he visited all but a handful of the province's 51 ridings before ballots are cast.
Baillie also travelled Monday to his hometown of Truro, which was once a Tory stronghold.
He agreed with Dexter that there was a large group of undecided voters across the province going into election day, but he believes they have decided to get rid of the governing NDP.
"They're now looking at the two choices they have, the PCs and the Liberals," Baillie said.
Baillie, whose main promises include frozen power rates and tax cuts, said his party is offering the province a brighter future with more jobs.
The NDP held 31 seats in the legislature when the election was called, followed by the Liberals with 12 and the Tories with seven.