Nova Scotia will once again be ruled by a Liberal government with Stephen McNeil returning for his second term as premier.
It’s the first time since 1988 that a party has achieved a back-to-back majorities.
For full election coverage, go to our N.S. Election 2017 page.
The Liberals won their first majority in the 2013 election, which saw them move from Opposition status to the governing party.
“To Nova Scotians who have supported our vision thank you. It was a hard fought campaign and I’ve lost some colleagues tonight,” McNeil told his supporters in Bridgetown.
“I will take energy and inspiration from tonight’s results. I will work for each and every one of you, every day to make this province all it can be.”
McNeil cast his ballot with his wife Andrea at a community centre in Granville Centre, just outside of Bridgetown, where the Liberal party’s election night headquarters were located.
Hours later, he easily won his riding of Annapolis with 64.7 per cent of the vote.
Election night started with a Liberal government projected, but it was unknown whether it would be a minority or majority for several hours. It was not until just before 1 a.m. Global News projected a majority government. Six ridings were still undeclared at about 11 p.m. with the Liberals short of the 26 seats needed for a majority.
By the end of the night, the Liberals were elected in 27 seats, the Progressive Conservatives were elected in 17 seats — forming the official opposition once again — and the NDP took seven.
WATCH: Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil speaks to Liberal party faithful early Wednesday after learning he would be the victor in the 2017 Nova Scotia provincial election.
McNeil campaigned on several initiatives promised in the previously announced budget – which was not passed before the writ was dropped – including a pledge to reduce taxes for 500,000 low- and middle-income earners as well as a pre-primary initiative for four-year-olds that would include 9,000 children by 2020.
The Liberals also promised in their platform that they would allow doctors to choose where and how they practise. They also pledged to roll out a $116.7-million package to establish more collaborative care clinics and recruit more doctors.
McNeil faced criticism over several issues throughout the election campaign, but with health care and education grabbing the most attention.
His first majority was defined by the decision to rein in spending by limiting wage increases within the public sector. This led to protests at the legislature, two brief strikes and back-to-work legislation that unions called draconian.
McNeil’s government also made a series of cuts to seniors’ long-term care and public service organizations.
They included cutbacks for non-profit groups that serve people with hearing loss, eating disorders and epilepsy. As well, the government’s decision to eliminate a film tax credit led to protests in the streets.
But even with McNeil’s approach, the Liberals maintained a strong lead in decided voter support throughout their mandate, while the Progressive Conservatives under Jamie Baillie remained in second place.
“Nova Scotians have given me the privilege to be their premier once again and part of that is you have to make decisions not everybody is going to like, but you have to do it,” McNeil told Global News. “But I’ve said this many times, my responsibility is to all Nova Scotians, not just a certain segment or certain population, I have to represent everyone and sometimes that puts you at odds with people.”
WATCH: PC party leader Jamie Baillie addresses his fellow Conservatives, congratulating the Liberals and leader Stephen McNeil on their victory.
Baillie won Cumberland South on election night with 51.5 per cent of the vote.
He was chosen as party leader in 2010 and was first elected in his riding in October 2010.
The PCs won 17 seats on Tuesday night — six more than they won in the 2013 election. However, with only 10 seats when the legislature dissolved, they managed to gain seven in this vote.
“I am so proud of our Progressive Conservative team. Look how far we’ve come, look at the gap we closed, look at what you have done,” Baillie told supporters who were on hand in Springhill.
WATCH: It was a very boisterous NDP headquarters as Gary Burrill and the NDP celebrated a strong showing in the 2017 Nova Scotia election.
Baillie congratulated McNeil for his win and also congratulated NDP Leader Gary Burrill for winning his seat in the legislature.
Burrill, who did not hold a seat in the legislature at dissolution, won his seat against Liberal incumbent Joachim Stroink with 46.1 per cent of the vote.
Burrill thanked his supporters at the Marriott Harbourfront in Halifax.
“I want to say just a deep word of gratitude to all,” Burrill said. “Think of us all, the hundreds and the hundreds and the hundreds of people who have contributed to our effort in all the 51 ridings across the province … It is the truth that Nova Scotia owes a deep gratitude to all have taken part in this great effort.”
While they did form a majority, McNeil’s Liberals also saw a few upsets.
In Cape Breton-Richmond, Michel Samson, who was the longest-serving current Liberal MLA, lost his seat to PC candidate Alana Paon by 20 votes. Samson was first elected in 1998.
Former community services minister Joanne Bernard also lost her seat to NDP candidate Susan Leblanc in Dartmouth North.
The NDP also suffered a blow with Denise Peterson-Rafuse losing her seat in Chester-St. Margaret’s.
—With files from The Canadian Press
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