Wednesday, March 25, 1998 Back The Halifax Herald Limited


Diane Doiron/Herald Photo
Roseanne Skoke, Liberal candidate for Pictou Centre, speaks to reporters after coming to Tory Leader John Hamm's headquarters to congratulate him after he won the riding.


Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press
Campaign workers contemplate the results at Russell MacLellan's headquarters in Sydney Mines last night. MacLellan's Liberals finished tied with the NDP at 19 seats each with the Conservatives winning 14.

Grit veterans swept away by 'orange tide'

By JUDY MYRDEN and BRIAN UNDERHILL / Staff Reporters

A lot of Liberal debris was floating along the edge of Halifax Harbour in the wake of the "orange tide" that swept across metro's 16 ridings Tuesday.

Four metro cabinet ministers lost their seats to the New Democrats in the provincial election.

Justice Minister Alan Mitchell lost his case to lawyer Darrell Dexter in Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

Environment Minister Wayne Adams was tossed in the recycling bin by Yvonne Atwell in Preston.

Labor Minister Gerry O'Malley was outhustled in Halifax Needham by Maureen MacDonald.

And Bill Estabrooks short-circuited the political career of Technology Minister Bruce Holland in Timberlea-Prospect.

A tired-sounding Mr. Holland attributed his loss to the NDP tide.

"There was still some disgruntlement from the last five years," he said.

"We're a bedroom community with a lot of public servants in our riding, and we all know they weren't particularly happy, and I think that showed."

Mr. Mitchell said he wasn't surprised by his loss to the NDP.

"From Day 1, people seemed to be very unhappy and they wanted to punish somebody for the difficult time they've been having," Mr. Mitchell said.

"But I feel that we have made a valuable contribution and this province has a much brighter future because of our government," he said.

Led by Robert Chisholm, the NDP won 13 of metro's 16 seats.

Long-serving MLA John Holm was re-elected in Sackville-Cobequid and Eileen O'Connell kept Halifax Fairview.

The new NDP faces also include: Peter Delefes (Halifax Citadel), Kevin Deveaux (Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage), Jerry Pye (Dartmouth North), Don Chard (Dartmouth South), Howard Epstein (Halifax Chebucto) and Rosemary Godin (Sackville-Beaver Bank).

The only Grits to survive were Speaker Gerry Fogarty (Halifax Bedford Basin) and two cabinet ministers, Dartmouth East's Jim Smith (health) and Bedford-Fall River's Francene Cosman (community services).

Strong Liberal contenders like former Dartmouth mayor Gloria McCluskey (Dartmouth North), Bruce Hetherington (Dartmouth South) and Ed Kinley (Halifax Citadel) all failed to make the grade.

Mrs. McCluskey said she did not regret running and said the NDP was just too strong in metro Halifax.

"The orange tide is coming in," she said.

Meanwhile, there were plenty of winners and losers around the province in a race that proved too close to call.

Conservative Leader John Hamm won his riding of Pictou Centre and ran a strong campaign that helped the party garner 14 seats.

Along with Dr. Hamm, the Tories re-elected John Leefe (Queens), George Moody (Kings West), Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley), Ron Russell (Hants West), George Archibald (Kings North) and Ernie Fage (Cumberland North).

They'll be joined in the legislature by former MLAs Neil LeBlanc (Argyle), and newcomers like Hinrich Bitter-Suermann, a transplant surgeon who defeated Fisheries Minister Jim Barkhouse in Chester-St. Margarets, and Murray Scott (Cumberland South).

Neil LeBlanc, former Tory cabinet minister in the Buchanan government, was returned by a huge majority in Argyle.

"I'm a little bit overwhelmed right now," said Mr. LeBlanc. He defeated Human Resources Minister Allister Surette.

Other new PC MLAs include Mike Baker (Lunenburg), Gordon Balser (Digby-Annapolis), Jim DeWolfe (Pictou East) and Jamie Muir (Truro-Bible Hill).

Cabinet ministers who proved strong enough to withstand the NDP onslaught included Premier Russell MacLellan in Cape Breton North; Wayne Gaudet (business and consumer services); Robbie Harrison (education); Don Downe (transportation); Ed Lorraine (agriculture); Ken MacAskill (natural resources); and Manning MacDonald (economic development).

Mr. MacDonald said despite winning his Cape Breton South seat, he was disappointed by the overall results.

"I think Premier MacLellan, when he meets with cabinet on Thursday, will outline his plans where we go from here," he said.

Other Liberals who failed to make the grade were union leader Steve Drake (Cape Breton Centre), Eleanor Norrie (Truro-Bible Hill), and former leadership contender John Drish (Digby-Annapolis).

Liberal Roseanne Skoke, who lost to Mr. Hamm, said this is not the end for her or the Grits.

"A defeat is not necessarily a defeat," she said, adding: "We're going to be around for some time."

The Tories also had some tough losses Tuesday, including Alfie MacLeod, who lost his Cape Breton West seat to Liberal Russell MacKinnon, a former MLA.



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