Nova Scotia voters opt for little change

Nova Scotia turned a little more blue with a Conservative win in West Nova, but basically stuck with the status quo Tuesday.

Nova Scotia turned a little more blue with a Conservative win in one riding, but basically stuck with the status quo Tuesday.

The only upset was in West Nova, where Greg Kerr defeated longtime Liberal MP Robert Thibault. The riding had been heavily targeted by the Conservatives in this federal election campaign.

In Halifax, political newcomer Megan Leslie held on to the riding for the NDP.  With Alexa McDonough's retirement, it was the only Nova Scotia riding without an incumbent.

Leslie, a community legal worker, said she owes a lot to the former NDP leader.

"Alexa has done a lot of work here and she's really reached out to different populations, different communities within this riding and built a really broad base, and I think that's translated into NDP support, for sure," Leslie told CBC News.

Nine of the 10 incumbents in Nova Scotia were re-elected.

Seat count at dissolution:

Liberal - 6

Conservative - 2

NDP - 2

Independent - 1

Other than the switch in West Nova, the seat count looks a lot like it did at dissolution of Parliament. There are now five Liberals, three Conservatives, two New Democrats and one Independent.

Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay held off Green Leader Elizabeth May in Central Nova, winning by more than 5,600 votes.

Most observers expected MacKay to win. The defence minister has represented the riding in northern Nova Scotia since 1997. It once belonged to his father, Elmer MacKay.

In South Shore-St. Margarets, Conservative Gerald Keddy held off a challenge by New Democrat Gordon Earle, pulling ahead by 958 votes.

Seat count after Tuesday's vote:

Liberal - 5

Conservative - 3

NDP - 2

Independent - 1

Bill Casey, who was kicked out of the Conservative caucus last year in a disagreement over the budget, won handily as an Independent in the riding of Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley, taking 69 per cent of the vote.

Cape Breton stayed Liberal, re-electing Mark Eyking in Sydney-Victoria and Rodger Cuzner in Cape Breton-Canso. Both had close to 50 per cent of the vote.

Though the results are very similar to the last two elections, Cuzner said this campaign was unusual.

"This was a different type of campaign, having to defend the [Liberal] Green plan," he said. "But I worked hard in the last seven years. I worked hard at getting out to each of the various communities — 9,500 square kilometres in Cape Breton-Canso."

The Conservatives had campaigned against the Liberal's proposed carbon tax plan, saying it would cost the province. Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative government sang the same tune.

But it was the "incumbency juggernaut" that proved impossible to overcome, said Cuzner's closest rival, Conservative Allan Murphy.

Liberals Scott Brison, Geoff Regan and Michael Savage also held on to their seats. Brison was re-elected in Kings-Hants, Regan in Halifax West and Savage in Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

Peter Stoffer is going back to Ottawa as the NDP representative for Sackville-Eastern Shore. He won handily with 61 per cent of the vote.

The overall results aren't surprising at all, said Jim Bickerton, a political scientist at St. Francis Xavier University.

"I think it turned out more or less as expected," he said. "Greg Kerr was not too big of a surprise. I know Thibault was teetering on the edge down there anyway."

The Liberals took 29.8 per cent of the popular vote, compared with 28.9 per cent for the NDP and 26.1 for the Conservatives. The Green party trailed with eight per cent.