April 30, 2017 12:21 pm
Updated: May 2, 2017 10:30 pm

Nova Scotia election called for May 30

WATCH: Premier Stephen McNeil asked the lieutenant governor to dissolve the legislature Sunday, kicking off the province's 40th general election. Jennifer Grudic reports.

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Nova Scotians will head to the polls on May 30 for the province’s 40th general election.

On the request of Premier Stephen McNeil, Lieutenant Governor J.J. Grant dissolved the legislature on Sunday — kicking off an election campaign which has essentially been underway for weeks.

READ MORE: All our Nova Scotia Election 2017 coverage

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Both the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats have already launched their campaigns as McNeil’s Liberals have been on a two-month long spending spree which included more than $69 million in additional funds.

The election call is the worst kept secret in Nova Scotia politics – on Friday, the Liberal party accidentally scooped its leader, posting a video announcing a May 30 election.

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie has promised if his party wins the election he will introduce fixed election dates. Nova Scotia is the only province without a fixed date.

READ MORE: Major issues of Nova Scotia’s upcoming provincial election campaign

McNeil is making a bid for a second consecutive majority mandate —something that has evaded his predecessors since 1988. The last premier to win consecutive majorities was Progressive Conservative John Hamm.

The Liberals won the 2013 election with 33 seats in the house. The Progressive Conservatives formed the official opposition with 11 seats, and the NDP won seven seats. Following several byelections, a floor crossing, a recent resignation and a dismissal from caucus, the seat distribution at dissolution was 34 for the Liberals, 10 for the Tories, five for the NDP, one independent, and one vacant.

Below a graphic shows the poll-by-poll results of the 2013 election

McNeil pitches stronger finances while opposition hopes for referendum on his leadership style

McNeil is dropping the writ on the tail of his government’s fourth budget. Introduced on Thursday – few people expected it would become law before an election was called.

READ MORE: Facts and figures of Nova Scotia’s upcoming provincial election

With back-to-back balanced budgets, McNeil will run on his government’s record of getting the province’s books out of the red. But opposition parties are hoping that how he got there will leave a sour taste with voters.

The Liberals sparked massive protests on several occasions in the last three-and-a-half years. Protesters surrounded Province House over cuts to the film and TV tax credit and several pieces of legislation that restricted the power of unions.

READ MORE: Jaimie Baillie: Veteran Tory leader takes second kick at election can

While McNeil is making a balanced budget part of his brand, the Progressive Conservatives and NDP are giving themselves more spending wiggle room by entertaining deficits.

On Friday, Baillie told reporters a balanced budget is always a Tory “objective.” He said it would be irresponsible to rule out deficit spending “when the needs of people are so great.”

READ MORE: Stephen McNeil: N.S. Liberal leader looks for second straight majority

Burrill in the meantime said his government would post several years of deficit spending, pledging that his party’s platform will show how big the deficits will go.

“We need to make serious investments at this moment in Nova Scotia,” Burrill said. “We could be in a deficit position for five, six, seven years.”

No back-to-back majority wins since 1988

For almost three decades, Nova Scotia voters have churned through four majority governments and three minorities — consistently denying parties multiple majority mandates.

READ MORE: Gary Burrill: The clergyman at the helm of Nova Scotia’s New Democrats

Former NDP premier Darrell Dexter swept to power in 2009 but was swept back out by McNeil’s Liberal landslide in 2013. Before Dexter, Progressive Conservative premier Rodney MacDonald secured one minority government in 2006 before losing to the NDP in 2009.

The last party to win consecutive majorities was the Progressive Conservative party – under John Buchanan, the Tories won four consecutive majorities starting in 1978.

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