Election night in Nova Scotia could bring changes in 6 ridings
Several ridings have extremely tight races, made trickier by vote splitting potential
Six Nova Scotia ridings look like change is guaranteed — but the winner is still to be determined.
The Liberals look poised to win a few and claim they're the only party competitive in all six.
Much has changed over the course of the 11-week campaign, but the contest between Conservative Scott Armstrong and former Conservative MP Bill Casey, now a Liberal, remains the marquee grudge match in Nova Scotia.
Since 1988 Casey has run and won as a Progressive Conservative, Conservative and as an independent. In 2008 he took an astonishing 69 per cent of the vote as an independent.
That was after Stephen Harper kicked him out of the Conservative caucus for voting against a budget that altered the Atlantic Accord, which guaranteed federal funding to the province.
Armstrong was the riding association president at the time. He had served as Casey's campaign manager. After Casey retired, Armstrong stepped in and was twice elected as a Conservative member of Parliament.
Casey is back in the game, running for the Liberals — and against Stephen Harper, he says. His campaign signs urge voters to send Harper a message by voting for Casey.
New Democrat Wendy Robinson has said she is concerned some of the NDP base is voting for Casey to hurt Stephen Harper.
Next door in Central Nova, long-time MP Peter MacKay has been trying to persuade voters to elect Conservative Party staffer Fred DeLorey to replace him.
With one brief exception, Central Nova has been a MacKay family dynasty for 40 years, first represented by Elmer MacKay and since 1997 by his son, Peter.
Liberal Sean Fraser argues it was more of a MacKay riding than a Stephen Harper Conservative riding.
Early in the campaign, one poll gave Fraser the lead, but another put DeLorey ahead.
Saturday morning, former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is going to Central Nova to help Fraser, a Calgary lawyer, who is hoping to return home as a member of Parliament.
The outcome could be affected by how New Democrat Ross Landry, a former Nova Scotia justice minister, does. Here the original Conservative game plan of vote splitting between the Liberals and the NDP helps DeLorey's chances.
Well before their prospects started improving on the national stage, Liberals were confident about winning in West Nova with Yarmouth lawyer Colin Fraser. The rural farming and fishing riding traditionally swings Liberal or Conservative.
West Nova is another Nova Scotia riding where a Conservative incumbent has not re-offered. Instead Conservative Arnold LeBlanc is trying to succeed two term MP Greg Kerr, for whom LeBlanc worked as an assistant for the last six years.
The NDP have been fading as a force in the riding over the last three elections. Greg Foster is the NDP candidate for West Nova.
South Shore-St. Margaret's
This riding has 75,000 voters, the most of any Nova Scotia riding.
It also has one of the youngest candidates: 23-year-old Richard Clark, another political assistant. He is trying to keep a Conservative stronghold represented by Gerald Keddy since 1997.
With Keddy out and a mood for change, both Liberal Bernadette Jordan and New Democrat Alex Godbold see opportunity.
Going into the election, the NDP hold three of four urban ridings in the Halifax area.
Based on 2011 results, Dartmouth-Cole Harbour New Democrat Robert Chisholm appears to be the most vulnerable. He beat Liberal Mike Savage by less than 500 votes last time.
Party leader Tom Mulcair visited the riding this week to charge up the troops.
Liberals say their best chance in the metro Halifax area is Darren Fisher, a municipal councilor running in this riding.
Liberals say it's no coincidence that party leader Justin Trudeau is holding a campaign rally in Halifax Saturday morning. This is his Nova Scotia stop on a final cross-Canada tour.
They're saying this is a sign Liberal candidate Andy Fillmore in Halifax has a chance to upset Megan Leslie, the NDP's deputy leader.
Leslie admits Fillmore is a strong candidate, but says she thought her Liberal opponent in 2011 was also a strong candidate. She beat him by 12,000 votes — taking 52 per cent of the vote overall.
The campaign has been an ordeal for Leslie on a personal level. She has had to leave the riding to be at the hospital bedside of her ill mother in Ontario.
Monday will show whether Liberal hopes here are hype or the final stage of a Liberal wave in Nova Scotia.