Global News is projecting a majority government for the Progressive Conservatives in the 41st Nova Scotia election, ending the Liberals’ eight-year mandate.
Five hours after the polls closed, the PCs, led by Tim Houston, were elected or leading in 31 ridings compared to the Liberals’ 17 and the NDP’s six, with one independent.
Twenty-eight seats are needed to form a majority government in the new 55-seat legislature.
“What a night,” said Houston, addressing a jubilant crowd of supporters during his victory speech late Tuesday night.
Houston took a moment to call out “the pollsters and the pundits” and other “so-called experts” who predicted a Liberal victory early on in the campaign.
“They were all writing us off. Well, I wonder what they’re writing right now,” he said. “Make no mistake: tonight, together, we made history in this election.”
The party’s campaign largely focused on improving access to health care.
Houston thanked his supporters and his family and promised “we are just getting started.” He also thanked his opponents, Liberal leader Iain Rankin and NDP leader Gary Burrill.
“I may be the one on stage, but it’s Nova Scotians, you are the ones who spoke loud and clear during this election,” he said. “You are ready for change.”
Rankin ‘wouldn’t have changed anything’
During a subdued speech from his party’s headquarters late Tuesday night, Rankin said he respected the results of the election.
“You can never make a mistake casting your ballot, and I respect that,” he said. “I respect our democratic process. It gives us a chance every four years to have a voice, to ask for a change and to judge us on our record and our ideas.”
Rankin said he was proud of his party’s work throughout the campaign, despite a significantly weakened Liberal caucus. The party went into the election with 24 seats in the legislature.
He said he would remain leader of the Liberal party.
“I know it was a challenging race. It’s always challenging after you’ve been in government for over eight years, trying to get a third mandate. But I had fun,” he said.
“And the people that stepped forward, that really valued what they believe in and the vision that we put forward in this race — I still wouldn’t have changed anything.”
The NDP, which held five seats at dissolution, also made gains, increasing their seat count with wins in Halifax. The party focused on social issues such as rent control and raising the minimum wage throughout the campaign.
NDP leader Gary Burrill — whose speech late Tuesday night was interrupted by Rankin’s — commented that there were some surprises during this election.
“It’s a campaign that has not, from the start, followed the script that our opponents expected and wanted,” he said.
Some ridings are seeing some major upsets from the blue wave. Two Liberal cabinet ministers, Lloyd Hines and Randy Delorey, have lost their seats to PC candidates so far.
In Cumberland North, independent candidate Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin — who was booted from the PC caucus in June for her role in a protest that ended up shutting down the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border — has been re-elected.
The province last elected a PC majority government in 1999, when the party was led by John Hamm.
While the PCs won the next two elections in 2003 and 2006, they were reduced to a minority government both times, before being beaten by the NDP in 2009.
— with files from Nathalie Sturgeon and The Canadian Press