Nova Scotia

NDP, Tories win 1 each in N.S. byelections

The ruling New Democrats picked up a seat in the electoral district of Antigonish in Nova Scotia byelections on Tuesday.

The ruling New Democrats picked up a seat in the electoral district of Antigonish in Nova Scotia byelections on Tuesday.

The NDP, which formed the government after the provincial election in June, took Antigonish from the Progressive Conservatives. In the other byelection contest, the Conservatives retained Inverness — the district previously held by former premier Rodney MacDonald — by a narrow margin.

The Liberal Party was shut out.

NDP candidate Maurice Smith won Antigonish with 3,310 votes, ahead of PC candidate Darren Thompson, at 2,855 votes. The campaign was Smith's third attempt at the seat, which was held by Tory Angus MacIsaac for a decade.

MacIsaac, who was the deputy premier, resigned as MLA for Antigonish on Sept. 4.

In Antigonish, Smith was given a hero's welcome at the fire hall in a room filled with plastic orange chairs. The legal aid lawyer thanked his supporters and said the NDP won because it had not promised things it couldn't deliver.

"I think it's an encouragement, that 'keep going, we're doing the right thing.' That's the message I take from this," he said.

Premier Darrell Dexter said he was looking forward to having Smith in the house.

"It's always exciting when you win a seat that you've never held before," Dexter said. "I think there's no question he'll be able to take his seat before the end of the current session. We're lucky to have him, he's a great candidate."

Thompson, the defeated Tory candidate, said the campaign was a tough challenge to start with.

"We all knew that, but I think we did very well, for sure, in the big picture," he said. "We did better than most people thought we were going to do."

Liberal candidate Miles Tompkins and Michael Marshall of the Green Party placed third and fourth, respectively.

The NDP win in Antigonish gives the party 32 seats in the legislature. The Liberals have 11 and the Tories nine.

Conservatives hold Inverness

Allan MacMaster, an investment adviser, won in Inverness with 3,155 votes, beating Liberal Ian McNeil by just 50 votes.

The atmosphere was tense Tuesday night for MacMaster's team, with McNeil leading by a slim margin as the votes were counted. Cheers erupted when the final results — and MacMaster's victory — were announced.

MacMaster, whose father is well-known fiddler Buddy MacMaster, acknowledged his father in a speech and said the campaign seemed to fire him up in the midst of an illness.

Conservative Leader Karen Casey, who had travelled to Antigonish to support the party candidate, said she was satisfied with the results.

"Well, I'm excited about having lost one, kept one," she said. "Winning two would have been wonderful but taking one is good."

McNeil said the campaign had been the experience of a lifetime and he would love to do it again. He said he did not intend to seek a recount.

New Democrat Bert Lewis won 2,342 votes, and Nathalie Arsenault of the Green Party won 223 votes.