Liberals see gains, form Nova Scotia's Official Opposition

The Nova Scotia Liberals are leading in 11 seats in the provincial election, up from nine in 2006, which was the party's worst showing.

The Nova Scotia Liberals have been elected in 11 seats in the provincial election, up from nine in 2006, which was the party's worst showing.

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil handily won his Annapolis district, with all polls reporting.

Although the Liberals are well behind the NDP, which has been elected in 31 districts, the Grits defeated the Progressive Conservatives in the fight for Official Opposition status.

Rodney MacDonald's PCs have been elected in 10 districts, one behind McNeil's Liberals.

Speaking in Bridgetown, McNeil said he had already called Nova Scotia's next premier, Darrell Dexter, to pledge the support of the Liberals during these turbulent economic times.

"It is important for Nova Scotia that we not only survive this economic downturn but we are ready to face the opportunities that are there at the end," McNeil told his supporters.

This is McNeil's first election since being chosen as the party's leader in April 2007.

Started the race in 3rd place

Although the Grits entered the campaign a distant third in terms of seats in the provincial legislature, a poll released in the final week of the campaign suggested the Liberals were in a tight race for second place with the Progressive Conservatives.

That led to the Liberal leader spending Monday trying to convince PC supporters to cast their ballots for his party in order to block a wave of support expected to flood to the NDP.

McNeil argued his party was best positioned to beat the NDP.

The Liberals worried that if too many Tories didn't bother to vote, then NDP candidates would get a free ride into Province House.

At dissolution, the PCs had 21 seats, the NDP had 20 and the Liberals had nine, and there was one Independent elected and one seat was vacant.

Nova Scotia's Liberals haven't formed a government since 1999 and the party has fought each of the past three elections with a different leader. In 2006, under Francis MacKenzie, the Grits failed to run a full slate of candidates and saw the party's seat count drop to nine — a historic low.