Nova Scotia·Nova Scotia Votes

Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin elected as Independent in Cumberland North

Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin has been elected as an Independent in Cumberland North after vote counting was suspended in several ridings early Wednesday. It's the first time an Independent politician has been elected to the legislature since 1988.

Vote counting was suspended early Wednesday in several Nova Scotia ridings

Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin was first elected in Cumberland North in 2017. (Robert Short/CBC)

Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin has been elected as an Independent in Cumberland North after vote counting was suspended early Wednesday in several Nova Scotia ridings.

Elections Nova Scotia said due to "an outstanding volume of votes and limited staffing," counting would resume mid-morning in the ridings of Argyle, Cumberland North, Dartmouth South, Halifax Atlantic, Halifax Chebucto and Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

Smith-McCrossin won her riding of Cumberland North 1,747 votes ahead of Bill Casey, a former federal Liberal who served seven terms as the MP for Cumberland-Colchester and came out of retirement to run in this election.

"There's been a big undercurrent for a couple years now with people being very dissatisfied with the state of our health-care system and on top of that, the pandemic, and then of course with all the challenges our border community felt," Smith-McCrossin said.

Smith-McCrossin was ejected from the PC caucus earlier this year after she was accused of helping instigate a blockade at the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border over COVID-19 isolation requirements. She denied having anything to do with the protest.

"I was simply being a voice conveying the frustration of the people living here," she told CBC News after being elected to the legislature.

"The uprising you saw was a result of the people here being ignored for months on end and decisions being made without any consultation or consideration on the impact of them."

Smith-McCrossin said the pandemic has shed light on the need for more collaboration between the Atlantic provinces, particularly Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, which share a land border in her riding.

When it comes to the pandemic, she said it doesn't make sense that provinces in this region have different public health protocols.

First elected Independent MLA since 1988

Smith-McCrossin — a small business owner who worked as a registered nurse for 27 years — took the seat of Cumberland North in the 2017 general election from an incumbent, winning 51.7 per cent of the vote.

While Independents have sat in the legislature, one has not been elected to the House of Assembly by Nova Scotia voters in decades.

With Smith-McCrossin retaining the seat, it's the first time an Independent politician has been sent to the Nova Scotia Legislature since 1988, when Paul MacEwan was elected in the riding of Cape Breton Nova.

In Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, Liberal incumbent Labi Kousoulis was trailing early Wednesday morning. He ultimately lost the riding to NDP newcomer Lisa Lachance by 441 votes.

Kousoulis said he planned to find a business to buy or would start his own, now that he's lost his seat at Province House.

Labi Kousoulis won Halifax Citadel-Sable Island in the 2017 general election with 41.6 per cent of the vote. (CBC)

The two-term Liberal cabinet minister blamed his loss on the NDP's promise to bring in permanent rent control. He said many voters in his downtown Halifax riding were keen to find relief from rising rents.

"Because it's a real problem, they were grasping on to anything and they grasped on to the idea of a rent control fixing the problem, which, you know, will fix the problem for those that have an apartment but will not create more units for those that don't," Kousoulis told CBC News in a phone interview Wednesday.

"It was grasping on to one simple message for a very complex issue."

Kousoulis said he didn't want to close the door to running again for office, but planned to take a break to spend time with his wife and two young daughters.

As for the drubbing his party took overall, Kousoulis said there would need to be a hard look at the campaign.

That runs counter to what his leader Iain Rankin said on election night about being happy with the campaign and that he wouldn't have changed a thing.

"They have to look at what the messaging of opposition was, what our messaging was, what resonated with people, what was our weak points," said Kousoulis. "You have to take a hard look at yourself to learn from your mistakes and, you know, try not to repeat them in the future."

Kousoulis placed second to Rankin in the Liberal leadership race earlier this year. The third place candidate in that race, cabinet minister Randy Delorey, was defeated Tuesday night in the riding of Antigonish.

Counting resumes

CBC News was projecting NDP Leader Gary Burrill to be re-elected in his riding of Halifax Chebucto, where voting was also suspended. He was leading by more than 1,300 votes.

By 10 a.m. AT Wednesday, Elections Nova Scotia finalized the count in Argyle, where PC incumbent Colton LeBlanc won, and in Halifax Atlantic, where Liberal Brendan Maguire was re-elected. 

Counting continued in the four remaining ridings.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aly Thomson

Reporter/Editor

Aly Thomson is an award-winning journalist based in Halifax who loves helping the people of her home province tell their stories. She is particularly interested in issues surrounding justice, education and the entertainment industry. You can email her with tips and feedback at aly.thomson@cbc.ca.

With files from Carsten Knox and Jean Laroche

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