Watch a full recap of tonight’s election coverage in 5 minutes with all the highs and lows as the Liberal party soared to a majority government
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s Liberal party will lead the province once again, knocking out the incumbent Nova Scotia NDP out of power.
It didn’t come as a surprise to many. After weeks of polls showing the Liberals and leader Stephen McNeil to be in the lead and expected to end four years of NDP government in Nova Scotia.
“Friends, Liberals and fellow Nova Scotians. I’m so humbled and honoured that Nova Scotians have put their trust in me and our Liberal team,” McNeil told the crowd at his election campaign headquarters.
“It is with a deep sense of responsibility and purpose that I will make certain that our plan is delivered and our that our commitments are kept.”
“Tonight we celebrate. Tomorrow we go to work,” he said.
By the end of the night, the Liberals won 33 seats, the Progressive Conservatives had 11 — forming the official opposition — and the NDP took just seven.
“We were encouraged leading up to this camapaign, by the support our candidates were receiving,” McNeil told Global‘s Natasha Pace after his victory speech. “I was very proud of that group of men and women who ran with us, very proud of the platform we laid out and grateful to the people of this great province.”
NDP leader Darrell Dexter cast his ballot Tuesday morning in his home riding of Cole Harbour-Portland Valley, but it was his last as premier of Nova Scotia.
Dexter lost a fierce battle with Liberal Tony Ince in an attempt to at least remain an MLA.
Ince was called the winner of Cole Harbour-Portland Valley as of 9:58 p.m., with 100 per cent of the polls reporting. Dexter lost the seat by just 31 votes.
“The people have spoken and as democrats we respect their decision,” Dexter said in his concession speech.
“Anyone who gets into politics has to know that it’s about losses as well as wins… Tonight’s result does not take away from what we have accomplished together.”
Dexter congratulated McNeil’s win, saying the premier-designate for his hard work.
He told his supporters to “try to have some fun tonight. Tomorrow is time to think about the future.”
But the night belonged to McNeil.
McNeil, who easily won the Annapolis riding he has held since 2003, ran on plans to re-invest money cut from education back into the school system, a promise to “break the Nova Scotia Power monopoly” and to create job opportunities in the province by supporting small business.
The NDP, which came to power for the first time in the province in 2009, are waiting to see if they will now sit as official opposition in the legislature — as they did under the previous Progressive Conservative government.
Current PC Party leader Jamie Baillie celebrated a return to government — once again as an MLA and now the leader of the official opposition.
Baillie won Cumberland South with 51 per cent of the vote.
He was chosen as party leader in 2010 and won a byelection in Cumberland South in October of that year.
His party was up four seats from the last election.
“What a great night to be a Progressive Conservative here in Nova Scotia,” Baillie told his supporters on hand at the Springhill legion.
“Tonight shows that when you have the right ideas, when you have the right plan, when you have the people of Nova Scotia in your heart, you cannot keep a good team down.”
He said he congratulated Premier-designate McNeil and that he looked forward to looking with him and his new government.
WATCH: A jubilant Jamie Baillie spoke to supporters at PC party headquarters following their second-place finish in the Nova Scotia election.
The NDP led the province through job creation highs and lows, with a federal shipbuilding contract that promised a bright, but yet-to-be delivered employment future and the closure of paper mills — NewPage in Port Hawkesbury and Bowater in Queens County.
Dexter was criticized for giving a Vancouver-based company a $124-million, 10-year subsidy to bring the Port Hawkesbury mill back to life, albeit with fewer jobs, and for a $260-million forgivable loan to the Irving Shipyard, in Halifax, which won the coveted federal contract.
And then there was the Dexter government decision to raise the HST to 15 per cent following its 2009 election — something Nova Scotians did not forget. The NDP vowed in 2012 it would return the harmonized sales tax to 13 per cent by 2015.
There were other upsets for the NDP, aside from being voted out of government in a landslide result.
Justice Minister and Pictou Centre MLA Ross Landry was ousted from the legislature by PC Party candidate Pat Dunn, with 51.9 per cent of the vote as of 9:30 p.m.
Percy Paris, MLA for Waverly-Fall River-Beaver Bank and former Minister of Tourism and Economic Development, came in third in his riding. Liberal Bill Horne won with 43.1 per cent of the vote.
Also out of office are are Hants East MLA and Agriculture Minister John MacDonnell, who lost his seat to Liberal Margaret Miller with 4,438 votes to MacDonnell’s 3,406 votes.
Education Minister Ramona Jennex is out. She lost to Keith Irving in Kings South, 3,939 votes to 3,568 votes.
The PC Party’s Karla MacFarlane booted Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker in Pictou West, with 40.1 per cent of the vote to Parker’s 34.3 per cent.
The Liberals also took the riding of Dartmouth South from the NDP. Candidate Allan Rowe, a former Global News director in Halifax, won the riding with 46.2 per cent of the vote.
The NDP candidate, Mary Vingoe, had 33.3 per cent of the vote as of 9:30 p.m. Vingoe ran in place of former cabinet minister Marilyn More, who opted not to run in this election.
But, there are some hold outs from the previous NDP government that won’t be going anywhere.
Gordie Gosse, MLA for Sydney-Whitney Pier and current Speaker of the House, has a projected 49.4 per cent of the vote.
Fisheries Minister Sterling Belliveau will also stay put in the legislature, but in the newly formed Queens-Shelburne riding.
Belliveau is one of only three of Dexter’s cabinet minister who will be returning to legislature. The others are Finance Minister and Halifax Needham MLA Maureen MacDonald and Sackville-Cobequid MLA Dave Wilson, who served as Health Minister under the NDP.
While the NDP made history in 2009 by forming the first New Democrat government of Nova Scotia — and the first in Atlantic Canada. But, they’ll be the first incumbent to be voted out after just one term in 131 years.
The Liberals also made history, electing Nova Scotia’s first openly-gay MLA. Joanne Bernard was elected with 43.8 per cent of the vote in a riding that went to the NDP in 2009.
Former MLA Trevor Zinck was kicked out of NDP caucus after being charged in the MLA spending scandal in 2011.
He sat as an Independent until earlier this year when he pleaded guilty and was convicted. Zinck is due to be sentenced on Wednesday.
*With files from The Canadian Press