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Outgoing NDP government lacked focus: Steele

ABOVE: Watch the full interview with outgoing cabinet minister Graham Steele.

HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s outgoing minister of economic and rural development and tourism stopped by the Global News studio in Halifax on Thursday to talk about what went wrong for the NDP and how it will rebuild in the coming years.

Graham Steele said what happened to the NDP in Tuesday’s provincial election was “a fairly comprehensive rejection of the record of the NDP government over the last four years.”

The NDP lost its majority government and was relegated to third-party status.

Steele stepped down as finance minister two years ago, around the same time the NDP started to fall out of favour in the polls, but he said what led to Tuesday’s defeat is a complex issue.

“There was a little bit of a lack of focus of our government,” he said. When voters were asking why they should re-elect the NDP, Steele said the answers were “always way too complicated.”

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He also pointed out the party came to power just months after the largest economic downturn in global history.

“We did our best to approach the issues, and in normal times, I think we would have gotten more of the benefit of the doubt,” he said.

“Our problem was, starting with the MLA expense scandal, we started losing the benefit of the doubt, so that people starting believing the worst of us on every issue.”

Former federal NDP MP Peter Mancini said there was a problem with the way the party communicated its successes.

“What we did right was govern the province well,” he said. “What we did wrong was perhaps not make people aware of that.”

Mancini also pointed out the systemic constraints of the current democratic system, wherein the NDP actually garnered more individual votes than the PC Party, but still ended up with four fewer seats in the legislature.

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