Nova Scotia

3 former MPs battle for N.S. seat

A Nova Scotia riding is pitting three former members of Parliament against one another in the bid to represent the area after the May federal election.

A Nova Scotia riding is pitting three former members of Parliament against one another in the bid to represent the area after the May federal election.

Voters in the South Shore-St. Margaret's constituency will select either Conservative candidate Gerald Keddy, the NDP's Gordon Earle or Liberal Derek Wells.

Keddy has held the seat for five consecutive terms, while Earle represented a neighbouring riding for one term in the 1990s. Wells held the South Shore seat for one term in the 1990s. Combined, the three have run for federal office 16 times.

A Conservative has held the seat for 50 of the last 54 years and Keddy is confident he will win it again.

"We've worked hard on behalf of the fishermen. It's not only the big things; it's the little things we do. A lot of immigration and passports," Keddy told CBC News.

He also highlighted federal spending on wharves, sports facilities and sewer and water projects in the riding. Keddy has faced criticism for using a ceremonial government cheque marked with the Conservative logo and attaching an election sign to a Canada Action Plan sign. He removed it when the issue was raised by the NDP.

Keddy, who is a Christmas tree grower in New Ross, said it was an "unneeded and unwanted" election that the other parties had forced.

NDP lost by 932 votes in 2008

Earle said voters were tired of having the Conservative in government and wanted change.

"The Conservative government seems to feel they are beyond the scope of the law and can do whatever they want," he said. "We need a government we can trust; one we can have confidence in, one that is not playing games and is in it for the right reasons."

In the 2008 election, he lost the seat by 932 votes, and in 2009 the provincial NDP won all five seats in the federal riding. Keddy said the provincial NDP government's decision to cut funding to the Yarmouth to Maine ferry and to raise the provincial sales tax would hurt the federal NDP's chances in the area.

"The NDP could promise the world. The people in South Shore-St. Margaret's had nothing to compare; now they have a record," he said.

Earle said people do ask him to explain the decisions of his provincial counterparts.

"People don't think as much about the good stuff with the provincial government. They focus on the one or two decisions they don't like," he said.

It's about trust, says Liberal

Wells, the Liberal candidate, gave a similar message.

"This is about trust. It's about priorities and it's about democracy, really," he said. "This election was called on a contempt of Parliament vote. People are talking about the trust issue."

Wells, a lawyer in Chester, is the only non-Conservative to have held the riding in the last half-century. He won the seat in 1993, when the Progressive Conservatives dropped to just two seats in Canada.

He has since lost twice to Keddy.

Green alternative gathering signatures

The Green Party also intends to field a candidate in the riding. Mountain Equipment Co-op employee Kris MacLellan is still gathering signatures to get his name on the ballot.

"I'm here to provide an alternative. If we vote for the three old parties nothing will ever change. I hope to give all residents a chance to vote for a new and different vision," MacLellan told CBC News.