Nova Scotia·RIDING PROFILE

Canada election 2015: Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook and what's at stake

Would he or wouldn't he? Peter Stoffer created some political intrigue back in September by fuelling speculation he might not run in the 2015 federal election.

'It would be pretty hard to argue he wouldn't win,' political scientist says of Peter Stoffer

The candidates for Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook include, from left, Mike Montgomery (Green), Darrell Samson (Liberal), Peter Stoffer (New Democrat) and Robert Strickland (Conservative). (Green Party, Twitter, The Canadian Press, Conservative Party)

Would he or wouldn't he?

Peter Stoffer created some political intrigue back in September by fuelling speculation he might not run in the 2015 federal election. He spoke in the past tense when asked about his political career and even said he'd like to become the ombudsman for Veterans Affairs Canada.

But a day later, the veteran MP — flanked by federal New Democratic Leader Tom Mulcair — announced he would indeed run in the new riding of Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook.

Political scientist Jeff MacLeod said that may be the most election drama coming from the riding this fall.

"Right now, it would be pretty hard to argue he wouldn't win," MacLeod, a political science professor at Mount Saint Vincent University, said in a recent interview.

Outspoken advocate for veterans

"In Nova Scotia, I think name recognition still matters."

The Liberals have nominated Darrell Samson, the superintendent of schools for Conseil scolaire acadien provincial, the province's only French school board.

The Conservative candidate is Robert Strickland and the Green Party candidate is Mike Montgomery.

​Stoffer has been an MP for the area since 1997 and has made a name for himself as an outspoken advocate for veterans as the critic for veterans affairs.

But the former airline worker's lengthy political career has not been without some turbulence.

In 2010, Stoffer, a long-time opponent of the long-gun registry, was accused of flip-flopping on his stance. He voted not to scrap the registry, saying most of his constituents supported it. Stoffer's vote proved key to keeping the registry alive — for a while. The bill known as the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act came into force in April 2012.

'He knows who he is'

The new riding, which is slightly changed from the former riding of Sackville-Eastern Shore, includes the communities of Waverley, Sackville, Beaver Bank, Lake Echo, Chezzetcook and Eastern Passage.

Stoffer has won by large margins in the past. In 2008, he took more than 61 per cent of the vote. The following election he won with 54 per cent.

MacLeod said Stoffer has the image of a likeable everyman who is a supporter of local issues.

"He knows who he is and how he relates to his constituents," he said.

Is he unbeatable?

"No," MacLeod said. "But I don't see it yet."

The new riding of Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook, which is slightly changed from the former riding of Sackville-Eastern Shore, includes the communities of Waverley, Sackville, Beaver Bank, Lake Echo, Chezzetcook and Eastern Passage. (Elections Canada)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After spending more than a decade as a reporter covering the Nova Scotia legislature, Amy Smith joined CBC News in 2009 as host for CBC Nova Scotia News as well as Atlantic Tonight at 11. She can be reached at amy.smith@cbc.ca or on Twitter @amysmithcbc

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