NOVA SCOTIA VOTES
NDP Leader: Darrell Dexter
Last Updated: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | 2:28 PM ET
Darrell Dexter has led the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party through two provincial elections, winning sought-after rural seats and achieving the party's best-ever result in 2006. But can he keep up the momentum and become head of the first NDP government in Atlantic Canada?
Dexter is certainly a familiar face to Nova Scotians.Nova Scotia NDP Leader Darrell Dexter waves to supporters during his election night speech in Halifax on June 13, 2006. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)
He has been an MLA since 1998 and leader of the provincial New Democrats since 2002, making him the senior statesman among Nova Scotia’s political leaders. His party's slogan — "for today's families" — hasn't changed since he took over as leader
A poll carried out by Corporate Research Associates (CRA) in February suggested it could be the New Democrats turn to govern. According to the survey, the NDP had 36 per cent of support from decided voters, compared to 31 per cent for the Liberals and 30 per cent for the Progressive Conservatives.
When the poll results were released in March, CRA pollster Don Mills said they reflected the trend that support for the Tories was on the wane, while support for the NDP has remained constant over the previous two years. The poll results are considered accurate to within 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Influence in minority government
As leader of the Official Opposition, Dexter has wielded a degree of power with the minority PC government. His caucus backed Tory budgets in July 2006 and April 2007, claiming the government had adopted key elements of the NDP’s platform, such as taking the tax off home heating and allowing senior citizens to keep more of their assets when entering a nursing home.
In May 2008, however, the New Democrats voted against the government's proposed budget, denouncing the end of the eight-per-cent rebate on electricity — which the party had fought for — as a clawback.
In a speech earlier this month, Dexter, 51, signalled he was ready for a fight to lead the province.
The Tories may be sensing a shift too. Earlier this year, they singled out the NDP in a campaign called "riskyndp," claiming promises made by the New Democrats would cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
But Dexter, the son of a sheet metal worker from Milton who likes to play up his working-class roots, appears ready for the challenge an election campaign will bring.
Dexter holds a degree in journalism from the University of King's College, and education and law degrees from Dalhousie University. He was a sub-lieutenant in the navy before working as a lawyer. He became a Dartmouth city councillor in 1994, and was elected MLA for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour in 1998. He was re-elected in 1999, as well as in 2003 and 2006 in the new district ofCole Harbour.
Dexter is married to Kelly Wilson and has one son, Harris.