Liberals, NDP say Central Nova wants change in Peter MacKay's absence
Conservatives looking to political insider to try to hold party's longtime seat
Peter MacKay's decision to step down has created political opportunity in Central Nova where there was little or none before.
And the Conservatives have turned a political operative with Nova Scotia roots to try and hold the seat.
"This election is about protecting and growing the economy," said candidate Fred Delorey during a break while in campaigning.
"I have young children and I want them to have an opportunity to live in rural Canada."
If anybody should know about staying on message it's Delorey.
He is a former director of political operations for the Conservative Party of Canada — serving as spokesperson during the robocall scandal — who has worked in Stephen Harper's PMO.
The Antigonish native says MacKay's announcement four months ago sped up plans to move back to Nova Scotia with his wife, Marilissa Gosselin, an accountant and former Ontario PC candidate.
"My wife and I had a long discussion last year that this was going to be my last national campaign and we were going to be moving back," he says.
Liberal also hopes to return home as MP
Pictou county native and lawyer Sean Fraser also hopes to return to Nova Scotia as an MP: a Liberal MP.
Fraser relocated from Calgary with his wife, lawyer Sarah Burton.
"We made a sincere effort to find work here and like too many young people we had to move out west to find a job," he says.
For NDP candidate Ross Landry the election is chance at redemption.
In 2013 the Dexter government cabinet minister was defeated along with every other provincial New Democrat in Pictou County.
He too sees opportunity in MacKay bowing out.
"I think the race would be significantly different if he was in the race," Landry says.
Trying to crack Tory stronghold
Peter MacKay was part of Conservative legacy that stretches back more than 40 years and includes a lengthy stint in Parliament by his father Elmer, who served in previous Conservative cabinets.
In 2011, Peter MacKay took 56 per cent of the vote. The third place Liberals received just 14 per cent.
Recent polls have sent contradictory signals about the race. One put the Liberal way ahead while another put the Conservative in front in a tight three-way race.
"I think we have already started to crack it. We don't have that far to go," Fraser said.
"I think the numbers that you have seen historically reflect the fact that this was perhaps a MacKay family riding. I don't think it was ever a Stephen Harper or Reform Conservative party riding."
Landry, a former Mountie, says there is a strong feeling Stephen Harper has to go. He considers it a three-way race.
"I'm absolutely in it," he said.
"There's a number of people who say they don't want the Conservatives this time around. They are just trying to decide between the NDP and the Liberals. There's a large amount of people in that category."
Central Nova is also where Green Party leader Elizabeth May ran in the 2008 election. At the time, Liberal leader Stephane Dion did not run a candidate against her and May got 32 per cent of the vote.
In 2011, the Green vote slid back down to 3.8 per cent.
This time, Wall Street trader turned farmer David Hachey of Meadowville is running for the Greens.
"The green economy is not the enemy. It represents the opportunity of a generation," he said.