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Nova Scotia Elections: A Savage sweep

For generations, Nova Scotia's politics were a largely predictable affair that saw the Liberal Party serve in virtual dynasties that lasted in excess of 40 years. That all changed in the 1950s, when voters' loyalties to the "party of their parents" ended and the Progressive Conservatives began to emerge as a viable alternative. CBC Archives takes a look back at the decades long tug of war between the Liberals and Conservatives in "Canada's Ocean Playground."

In the 1993 provincial election, Liberal John Savage snaps 15 years of Tory reign with a decisive majority win. Savage, the former mayor of Dartmouth, won voters over with his promise to end pork-barrel politics and introduce a new style of governing. Savage captures a whopping 40 of the province's 52 ridings and defeats Conservative leader John Cameron and the NDP's Alexa McDonough, as shown in this CBC Television report. 
• In this provincial election, the Tories won nine seats and the NDP captured three.
• Conservative John Cameron had a tough record to overcome. His predecessor, John Buchanan, suffered allegations of patronage. Cameron vowed to end patronage and balance the budget within three years or resign. But, during the election Cameron made the unpopular decision to appoint two unelected women to his cabinet right before the election.

• Also in this election, the Liberals' Wayne Adams became the first black MLA in Nova Scotia history. For more on Adams, please visit our clip Nova Scotia elects its first black MLA.
• The Welsh-born Savage was trained as a physician. He moved to Canada in 1967 and quickly developed a reputation as a social activist after establishing a free clinic and a drug detoxification centre.

• Under Savage's leadership, Nova Scotia agreed to a 15 per cent Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) which blended the Provincial Sales Tax and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on April 1, 1997. This shift angered some residents who now had to pay taxes on things that had previously been exempted, such as home heating fuel. He also implemented an unpopular highway toll. Savages successes included a balanced budget, an income tax cut and provincial home care hospital system.

• Savage's continued attempts to end party patronage won him few friends within his own party. In 1995, Savage's own party called for a leadership review, which he passed. Continued party infighting led to Savage's resignation in March 1997.
• Savage died of cancer in May 2003. He was 70.
Medium: Television
Program: Prime Time News
Broadcast Date: May 25, 1993
Guests: Donald Cameron, Brian Crowley, Alexa McDonough, John Savage
Host: Pamela Wallin
Reporter: Patricia Chew
Duration: 3:11

Last updated: September 13, 2013

Page consulted on January 10, 2014

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