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Darrell Dexter

CBC Online News | Updated May 13, 2006

You could call Darrell Dexter the bridesmaid of Nova Scotia politics.

Darrell DexterHe was part of the New Democratic Party wave that beat out the Liberals to form the Official Opposition in 1999, the year after he was first elected to the legislature.

Dexter became leader of the New Democrats in June 2001. Two years later, he led his party through a provincial election. The NDP won 15 seats, retaining its second-place status in the house.

Now, fresh on the heels of a renewed mandate from the NDP faithful, Dexter is once again leading his troops through a campaign race.

Darrell DexterIn order to win the most seats this time, says David Johnson, a political scientist at Cape Breton University, the NDP must establish a base outside of the capital region.

"[Dexter] has to hold what he's got and reach out to rural voters."

Darrell DexterBut the party remains in a tie with the Liberals for second place, a poll suggests.

The NDP has 29 per cent of decided voters, according to a Corporate Research Associates survey released in March. The Progressive Conservatives lead with 36 per cent, while the Liberals trail the New Democrats slightly at 27 per cent.

Yet in the world of a Tory minority government, Dexter seems to wear his bridesmaid dress with pride.

Under his leadership, the NDP propped up the Tories by voting in favour of their budgets in 2004 and 2005. Dexter says those budgets reflected NDP issues, such as eliminating the health-care charges for seniors in nursing homes.

And the NDP took credit for a number of the promises listed in the 2006 speech from the throne, which included lower university tuition fees and an expansion of the provincial drug program.

Darrell Dexter in the Nova Scotia Legislature"We're here to be the generator of good ideas. If [the Tories] can't generate their own then we're pleased to share ours with them," Dexter told reporters.

Days later, the budget contained more items from the NDP platform: the removal of the HST from home heating and the addition of more nursing-home beds for seniors.

The son of a sheet metal worker from Milton, Queens County, Dexter continues to sell himself as the leader who puts families first.

Dexter was a lawyer before entering public life. He was first elected to Dartmouth city council in 1994. In 1998 he made the jump to provincial politics, winning the Dartmouth-Cole Harbour seat. He was re-elected in 1999 and 2003.


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Quick Facts

Born:Grew up in Milton, Queens County.

Education:Holds a degree in journalism from the University of King's College and education and law degrees from Dalhousie University.

Employment:Sub-lieutenant in navy.

Politics:Elected to Dartmouth city council in 1994. Chosen leader of the Nova Scotia NDP in June 2001. First elected as MLA for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour in 1998; re-elected in 1999 and 2003.

Family:Married to Kelly Wilson; son Harris

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Key Leaders

Progressive Conservative Leader Rodney MacDonaldProgressive Conservative leader Rodney MacDonald became premier of Nova Scotia by winning the Progressive Conservative leadership just three months ago.

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New Democratic Party Leader Darrell DexterNew Democratic Party leader Darrell Dexter
has been leading the left since 2001 and says his party is ready to assume power.

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Liberal Leader Francis MacKenzieLiberal leader Francis MacKenzie has two battles: one to win a seat in the legislature, the other to lift the Liberal party from its third-party status.

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Green Party Leader Nick WrightGreen Party leader Nick Wright looks at it this way: the Green party in Nova Scotia is a winner even before the province's voters go to the polls on June 13.

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