The leaders of Nova Scotia's three main political parties took pains Friday to differentiate themselves from one another in seat-rich Halifax as they launched their final push to court voters ahead of Tuesday's provincial election.
New Democrat Leader Darrell Dexter said he will spend the final weekend of the campaign reminding voters of his NDP government's successes since it was elected four years ago, such as a balanced budget and an improved credit rating.
"I keep pointing out we have made a lot of progress over the last four years," Dexter said while at the site of a Habitat for Humanity home under construction in the suburb of Spryfield.
"I think the most important thing over the next four days is just to keep pushing as hard as we can in every constituency, get our message out to people, talk about not only the accomplishments that we've had but the fact that there is a way to build stronger communities and a better future."
Dexter, who became the first NDP premier in Atlantic Canada after the June 2009 campaign, was asked about his political future if he isn't re-elected, but he said he wouldn't speculate on that.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil visited an outdoor and sporting goods store owned by a local Liberal candidate where he said he was aiming to visit 46 of the province's 51 ridings before the election.
"We believe every one of the seats across this province are in play and we want to make sure that the people in those ridings recognize the Liberal party is prepared to work hard for their vote," McNeil said as he laced a pair of bright red shoes intended to symbolize a race to the finish.
"This is my chance to get back into those communities one more time to send the pitch that we're the party they can trust, I'm the leader they can trust and we're ready to govern."
Tories to focus on NDP-held ridings
Across the harbour in Dartmouth, Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie stood alongside several of his party's candidates and said he will focus his time in ridings held by the NDP.
"We will be meeting as many Nova Scotians as we possibly can to tell them this one, simple story: if you want the economy growing again, vote for the PC candidate in your area, and if you want to keep things going the way they are under the NDP, the Liberals are just a slightly darker shade of orange," Baillie said at Alderney Landing.
"The Liberal party is no jobs, no hope, nothing different, same old, same old, coasting along. And the PCs are working hard every day to turn this economy around by putting money back into people's pockets. End of story."
McNeil, who has been increasingly in the sights of the Tories and NDP since the campaign began four weeks ago, said Baillie is not in touch with voters and accused his platform of being "Stephen Harper-like."
"He's actually transformed the Progressive Conservative party into the Conservative party of Nova Scotia," said McNeil.
"It's the progressives, actually, who are coming to our party recognizing that we are the only option to defeat the NDP government."
At dissolution, the NDP held 31 seats in the legislature, followed by the Liberals at 12 and the Progressive Conservatives with seven. There were two vacancies.