Grit veterans swept away by 'orange tide'
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.
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
Justice Minister Alan Mitchell lost his case to lawyer Darrell Dexter in
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
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
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
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.