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Green party Leader Elizabeth May reacts to election results in Central Nova Tuesday night. ((Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press))

Green party Leader Elizabeth May represented the party's best hope to win its first seat Tuesday, but Conservative Peter MacKay dashed that hope in Nova Scotia early on election night.

MacKay, the minister of defence, was declared the winner in Central Nova by CBC News less than an hour after the polls closed in the Maritimes. At the end of the night, MacKay had pulled in 46.6 per cent of the vote in the riding, compared with May's 32.2 per cent.

Nationally, the Greens earned about 6.8 per cent of the vote, up from the 4.5 per cent they recorded in 2006.

"We had the kind of campaign that other parties can only dream of," May told supporters at her headquarters in Central Nova Tuesday night, adding that the Green party had set out to do the right thing for Canadians.

The party had one parliamentary seat going into the election after Vancouver-area MP Blair Wilson, who was formerly with the Liberals, decided to move to the Greens. The Greens have never elected an MP in Canada, though.

Their aspirations to end that drought were buoyed in this campaign after May was included in the English and French leaders' debates in Ottawa for the first time.

She acquitted herself well in the debates, holding her own against more seasoned leaders, and polls showed the party hovering in the 10 per cent range throughout much of the campaign.